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

Of windings-up and windings up

Posted by John Beech on December 1, 2009

This last week has not been the best week to choose for some leave, but then when is!  Certainly there has been plenty of action off the pitch, and here is a summary of the ‘clubs in flux’.

  • Cardiff City (see postings passim)
    HMRC have been making winding-up moves which even spinmeister Peter Ridsdale is having problems in explaining. Walesonline (1), eurosport (2) and the BBC (3) all carried the story on 25 November that a winding-up order sought by HMRC had been adjourned for 70 days. Ridsdale gushed to BBC Wales I’m delighted. It’s confirmation from the Inland Revenue that we’ve now reached an agreement on any monies that were outstanding from the past. We’ve started paying it back, we have an agreed payment plan and they confirmed to us that they would go to court and withdraw any likely action and I’m told today they suspended that action exactly as agreed.” – presumably forgetting that there should have been an agreement, being kept to, in the first place.
    Walesonline subsequently reported the HMRC debt as being ‘around the £1.2m mark’, small beer compared with the club’s debt to Langston.
    Ridsdale dismissed the HMRC court move as “nothing more than an attempt by the authorities “to rattle our cage“. His cage had obviously been rattled by Walesonline as he is now refusing to speak to them.
    He is meantime trumpeting the appointment of Malaysian property developer to the board of Cardiff City, although there is a marked reluctance for any specific figure to be stated regarding investment beyond ‘millions’ (4), which may be nothing like enough to cover the millions and millions Cardiff owes. The little disagreement with HMRC was, according to Ridsdale, ‘linked to unexpected extra costs for fixtures and fittings at the club’s new stadium‘. My, those solid gold pie holders can be expensive. Of his £350,000 annual salary and a £500,000 bonus when the stadium was completed, Ridsdale commented “I make no apology and believe I am worth it“. Perhaps someone has been watching too many L’Oréal advertisements – I would suspect that increasingly the problem for Ridsdale will be that not so many share that belief.
    If we stay with the Edward Gibbon reference, images of Nero and a burning Rome spring to mind.

  • Chester City (see postings passim)
    I’m beginning to think that, when the time finally comes for it to be written, The Decline and Fall of Chester City will rival for length even Edward Gibbon’s classic The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which runs to 1088 pages in the compressed paperback edition.  Even Ian King at 200% has reached Part 6 of Chester City Football Club: The Death Rattle.
    The Chester City version has all the makings of a classic soap, especially the cliff-hanger at the end of every episode. Lately though the script-writers have begun to run out of ideas as every time the cliff-hanger is ‘Will this deadline actually be a deadline?’ and we know the answer will be ‘No’.Due to be expelled from the Conference for failing to pay football creditors, the deadline has once again been extended (5). Just how much longer can this saga continue?
    There is vague talk of new owners (6) but Vaughan says, with an interesting use of the word ‘still’, “I will still support the club. There will still be money available. All I’ve ever done is put money into Chester and that will still be the case” (7). A threat, a promise, or a wind up?
  • Farsley Celtic (see postings passim)
    Better news for a club that teetered worryingly on the precipice all too recently. Planning permission for 14 houses on land that the club owns has been granted (8). There is still no CVA, HMRC being the obstacle, but at least there is pale glow on the horizon now.
  • King’s Lynn (see postings passim)
    The club lost in court against HMRC, who won a winding-up order on 25 November (9). The present regime is still supping up in the back room of the last chance saloon as there is a seven-day period in which to mount an appeal. Erstwhile benefactor, and still a director, Michael Chinn has spoken of a mystery benefactor coming to the rescue (10).  Time is running out fast, and AFC King’s Lynn is still running favourite in my book.
  • Southend United (see postings passim)
    Chairman Ron Martin who said on 20 November (11) “I shall, next week, be issuing a series of blogs to cover such subjects as:
    • HMRC – how did the position arise
    • How was the debt paid
    • The “consortium”
    • My thoughts about the current squad size
    • The future

    has so far failed to ‘issue a single fatwa blog’.  It’s worth recalling how he began his statement on 20 November: “A few – not many in truth – have commented that I have “gone quiet” over the past two or three weeks whereas supporters would have expected me to add clarity to recent events “as you always do“.  No doubt they still do.
  • Weymouth (see postings passim)
    Pulled back from the edge at the last minute by new owner George Rolls. the latest figure on the club’s debts is £700,000, a deeply worrying level of debt for a club at this level (12).
    My concern if I were a Weymouth fan would be his track record at Cambridge United – appointed Chairman in January this year (13), preaching continuity and stability (luxuries that Weymouth have not enjoyed in a long time), he saw two managers leave in quick succession, and himself resigned at the beginning of August (14).

Normal posting has hopefully been resumed (although I’m heading north to a conference tomorrow, so I’m afraid there is a meassure of uncertainty until Friday evening) with upcoming postings on three ‘new to the blog’ clubs.


11 Responses to “Of windings-up and windings up”

  1. Adam Edge said

    Actually there was a further blog, from Chairman Ron, but it’s well hidden from the front page.,,10444~1887308,00.html


    Adam Edge

    • John Beech said

      Very many thanks for that Adam – I must admit I missed it; that said, it wasn’t at all well sign-posted.

      To be fair, Chairman Ron does go into some fine detail. Included in what he says is a link to a copy of the famous Football League letter which has led a number of clubs (e.g. Accrington) to relax, erroneously, in paying HMRC debts. Unfortunately he only releases the first page, which stops at a rather crucial point.

    • John Beech said

      Latest Southend news is that the transfer embargo is reported as lifted by Sporting Life (1), but I cannot find confirmation of this on the club website.
      The series of ‘blogs’ which Chairman Ron said on 20 November he would be issuing “next week” seems to have stalled at just the one spotted by Adam above.

  2. […] in crisis….. interesting tit bits here…. Of windings-up and windings up Football Management __________________ Eat more chips, Dont let salad […]

  3. John Beech said


    The Chester saga drags on and on – see for details. More comment once I have normal internet access.

  4. John Beech said


    The mood of cautious optimism is fading, with concerns that the Administrator does not see John Palmer’s proposals as being in the best interests of the creditors (1).

    • John Beech said


      A second bidder for the club has emerged (1).

    • John Beech said


      The John Palmer-led bid is not having a smooth passage – it has emerged that the consortium has been seeking a loan from the local council for a loan for an undisclosed amount (1). Worryingly, it has also emerged that the other interested party are wanting the ground ‘for their own business purposes’, which presumably would result in the demise of the club.

      • John Beech said


        Leeds City Council have agreed in principle to provide a loan for the Palmer consortium (1). In September the same council provided limited assistance to Leeds United over their Thorpe Park training ground (2).

    • John Beech said


      Things look distinctly grim. John Palmer’s rescue plan appears to have collapsed and the club is “unable to fulfill this evening’s fixture” (1).

      • John Beech said


        Fans have started a campaign to build support for the John Palmer bid (1). They will have to compete with property developers, and are in a race against time.

        Details of the campaign are here.

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