Football Management

Commentary on the management of over 160 English football clubs by Dr John Beech, winner of the FSF Writer of the Year Award 2009/10 Twitter: @JohnBeech Curator of! Football Finance

Administration ain’t easy

Posted by John Beech on June 25, 2009

I have long argued that the option of going into Administration is a far from easy option, and that further punishment by football’s governing bodies not only constitutes ‘second punishment’ but is dysfunctional in that it punishes the club rather than the directors who caused the financial problems, and adds to the likelihood of further financial problems (1). This is not a view that is shared by many in the football business – Graham Turnerof Hereford United, for example, has argued for automatic demotion (2 and 3) for clubs who go into Administration, as has Barry Hearn of Leyton Orient, who sees clubs who go into Administration as guilty of cheating in the same way as athletes who take drugs (4).

One of the few to disagree publicly with this view is David Sheepshanks, erstwhile Chairman of Ipswich Town which spent a period in Administration, who said at the time the 10 points penalty was introduced: “We bore the brunt of the market collapsing and I take issue with those who say Administration is a convenience because it’s anything but” (5).

Today comes a rare insight into what running a football club in Administration is actually like. Peter Rowe, who spent a spell as Chief Executive at Swindon Town while they were in Administration, has commented to the Southern Daily Echo on his experiences:

“I’ve seen what being in administration means from a first hand angle, and it’s so frustrating.

“The situation can go on for months. I think Swindon were in Administration for six months when I was there, I actually joined the club when they were in Administration.

“I ended up working with both hands tied behind my back before we exited Administration.

“Whenever you had a bill to pay, even something as minor as the electricity bill, you had to go upstairs to get the approval of the Administrator to sign it.

“The very last bill that was paid before we could exit Administration was the Administrator’s own bill, and that was something like £900,000.“(6)

A bill of £900,000 is hardly a soft option for a club which is fighting to return to solvency.

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