Football’s postcode lottery
Posted by John Beech on April 9, 2009
Port Vale have had their share of problems of late. They were facing ‘huge losses’ (1) and this a club that had gone into Administration in 2002. Two recent pieces of news will have brought some relief though – first, the club’s shirt sponsor, Harlequin Property, are reported as “set to invest £500,000 in Valiants” (2), and, secondly, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has agreed to a two-year deferment of £227k in capital payments on a loan (3), a repayment holiday which will be most welcome to a club which last November reported annual losses of £384k. Not that the council displays undue favoritism to Port Vale. In 1997 it had part-financed the move of Stoke City to the then new Britannia Stadium to the tune of £3.1m (4).
Such willingness to support local clubs is far from typical, but in my post of April 3 I noted examples of possible stadium purchase (Southampton), possible £100k loan (Cheltenham Town) and £50k sponsorship deal (Bury).
Over the border in God’s ain country at least one council takes a less benign view. North Lanarkshire Council, based in Cumbernauld, one of Scotland’s New Towns built in the 1950’s to help with housing and rehousing the Glasgow population overspill, owns the Broadwood Stadium Company Ltd, through which it operates the multi-purpose stadium of that name. Its first tenants when it opened in 1994 were Clyde FC, who now share the stadium with Rangers’ reserves. Clyde are now being threatened with eviction by the council for rent arrears, said to be of the order of £150k by the club, but £270k by the council. If there is no resolution by the end of this month, Clyde may cease to exist. Either sum would presumably be small beer to Stoke-on-Trent City Council (population of 240,636 in the 2001 Census; the population of the Potteries Urban Area was 362,403), but apparently not to North Lanarkshire Council (population 324,700 in 2007).
Such an extreme range of attitudes to the local football club by their local council is simply perverse.