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

Sven-Göran Eriksson’s new chums

Posted by John Beech on August 24, 2009

I don’t have a lot of time for those engaged in professional football who fail to recognise that they are working in a business. But I also have little time for those who do not recognise that they are working in sport. In fact, it’s the challenge of meeting both these two needs in decision-making that I find exciting and attractive to research. Ignore one of the two totally, and you are in trouble.

At Notts County, where Munto Finance took over from the Supporters Trust recently amid some heated debate (1), the new owners have attracted media attention with the appointment of Sven-Göran Eriksson as Director Football (2). Quite what impact this will actually have is yet to be seen – I do, however, recall the much-trumpeted announcement of Ron Atkinson as Director of Football at Halesowen Town (3), an appointment that had little if any impact during its short tenure.

Munto took over the club in mid-July (4), but the necessary approval from the Football league was only announced this week (5).

In the meantime Munto have not been inactive in areas other the appointment of a Director of Football. At almost the same time as the Eriksson appointment, Munto told Nottingham Rugby Club to quit Meadow Lane – whatever their rights, this was hardly a sensitive or sporting sense of timing.

It turned out that Munto were not, in the ruling of a High Court judge, within their rights to expel the rugby club (6). Munto declared “Due to the close relationship both clubs have enjoyed over many years, Notts County FC has been clear that it never wished to hinder professional rugby in the region and had, at every stage, offered to help the rugby club to find alternative accommodation which would suit the requirements and aspirations of both clubs. Notts County will abide by the court ruling but regrets any detrimental effects the ruling may have on its progress and its own drive for promotion this coming season.

In spite of the claim that they have never wished to hinder professional rugby, Munto’s next move, within a fortnight of the High Court judgment, was to lock the rugby club out of their office accommodation (7)! This comprises the old restaurant bar, which the rugby club had cleaned, decorated, and spent £6,000 on installing a suspended ceiling. The lockout followed less than 24 hours after the notice to move out. After discussions, the lockout has now been lifted.

Latest development, just over a week after the lockout? The Football League has approved the takeover of Notts County by Munto Finance. Apparently they think that people who ignore existing contracts and place a fellow sporting club in very severe difficulty of carrying on are ‘fit and proper persons’. I just wonder how many of those supporters who voted to sell their shares to Munto have no qualms about what has been happening. Recent events suggest that Munto’s directors are naive, in particular with respect to public relations, and do not understand the sporting ethic.

Munto have clear aspirations to reach the Premier League. So did George Reynolds at Darlington. Aspirations are fine, but a reality check would be in order. In case Munto have forgotten, and however well this season may have started, Notts County is in League 2 and is the no.2 club in Nottingham. Live the dream, not the fantasy!


2 Responses to “Sven-Göran Eriksson’s new chums”

  1. John Beech said

    It’s worth recalling the statement Munto Finance made on 8 July (1), and in particular a paragraph which says:

    The investment group [Munto Finance] have made clear their intention to develop Notts County as an integral member of the community, and will work closely with Nottingham City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, local schools, hospitals and local sport [my emboldening] to integrate the club more fully into the lifeblood of the community within Nottingham and surrounding areas.


  2. John Beech said

    Hi Campbell
    Happy to oblige. All I would ask is a clickable link to my blog.
    Lower is definitely than going out of existence, and the number of insolvency events in Englsih football hit an all-time high last season. There are too many clubs teetering alarmingly towards even as a new season is just beginning.
    Working in a business school, I’m, not surprisingly, not anti-business in the way that sonsdiary on the Trust blog is. But the appalling business practices at most clubs are being business into disrepute!
    I’m often asked if I think there are any clubs who provide an example of a sound business model – frankly, Walsall is the best I can come up with!
    Yours also in football (and as another of nature’s thorns) – and I’m a Pompey fan, so I know what bad football business means! I stayed in Perth for over twenty years, so St Johnstone’s return to the SPL leaves me with distinctly mixed feelings.

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