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

Call me Stanley Cynical, but…

Posted by John Beech on December 13, 2009

There is nothing that quite winds up [oops!  better change that that to ‘rattles the cage of’ to avoid ambiguity in the current financial low] club owners and directors than the thought that a rival club is being inadequately punished.  Witness for example the stone throwing from a glass house of Hereford United’s Graham Turner at Stockport County when the latter ‘only’ received the standard punishment for going into Administration (see postings passim).

There must have been some spluttering of cornflakes yesterday over the breakfast tables, at least for those directors who read the Lancashire Telegraph. A report announced that Ilyas Khan, Accrington Stanley’s latest acquisition as ‘benefactor’, was minded “against lifting a transfer embargo during the January transfer window” (1).  The rationale for this?  “Because 20 is a reasonable squad size in any caseAs long as our injuries aren’t too bad then perhaps 20 is quite a good number to have

Should this be viewed as a welcome, and long overdue, realism creeping into Stanley’s financial management? If so, then only for the briefest of moments.  The key point here is that the embargo was imposed as a sanction – Stanley owe money to a football creditor, the PFA, who had stepped in to stop the previous regime crumbling, and to ensure that players received their wages.

If a cavalier attitude is taken to the repayment of football creditors, the whole transfer system is severely undermined, and the PFA may be reluctant in future to intervene in helping clubs pay their wages (not that in a properly run club they would ever have to).

The ‘sanction’ is no longer that – the transfer embargo is no longer either a punishment, or an incentive to behave ethically.  In short, it has become dysfunctional as a means of disciplining clubs, in much the same way that, as I have repeatedly argued on the basis of my research , deducting points is dysfunctional as a sanction.  We are moving to a situation where sanctions are dysfunctionally farcical. In the case of the transfer embargo, the effect or otherwise of a transfer embargo comes down to the luck or lack of it that a club has with player injuries.

The Accrington action should be seen as a clarion call to sort out the sanctions system, and rid it of its increasing dysfunctionality. Given the number of Premier League clubs currently with financial issues, now is not exactly the best time to have dysfunctional sanctions for financial mismanagement.


One Response to “Call me Stanley Cynical, but…”

  1. John Beech said


    Manager John Coleman is pushing for any FA Cup monies to be used to pay off the £50,000 PFA debt and thus get the transfer embargo lifted (1).

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