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

Meanwhile, beyond Fratton Park…

Posted by John Beech on March 7, 2010

… and whichever City bar (that’s ‘City’ as in ‘City of London’) that the Red Knights hang out in,  there’s plenty happening, or not happening, worthy of comment.

Cardiff City and Southend United are both due back in court against an increasingly confrontational HMRC.  Spinmeister Peter Ridsdale has gone unusually quiet – how he survived an EGM is beyond me – other than to appeal directly to the fans to boycott a protest march (1), suggesting that they look themselves in the mirror, advice which he might consider himself.  Chairman Ron has not issued one of his legendary blogs for almost four weeks – can he really have decided that discretion is the better part of valour, or can we expect a rant against HMRC shortly, one of his more unusual ways of ensuring that his focus is “entirely on the bigger picture and delivering success to Southend United” (2)?

Other clubs crossing my radar recently include:

Billingham Town
The club, of the Northern League Divisin One, are facing a winding-up order over a debt of £10,000 due to Hartlepool United (3).  There is an issue of a ‘previous regime’ at Billingham, but the court appearance on May 18th could prove disastrous.

Birmingham City
It seems that the self-appointed People’s Anti-Debt Champion, David Gold, has, together with David Sullivan, managed to knock up an annual loss of £20m before selling Birmingham City, not helped by keeping the players on top flight wages and trousering ‘advanced management fees’ of £420,000 (4).  West Ham fans, be worried.

Bristol Rovers
Rovers latest financial figures show a loss of £1.72m and debts of almost £4m (5).  Chairman Nick Higgs says “Our financial performance for the season reflects both our investment in the playing squad and our lack of success in the cup competitions… This trading loss is unsustainable in the long term and relies on the support of the directors, both in terms of loans and equity.”  His response to this financial crisis?  “It also underlines the need to progress the stadium regeneration plan, which we are still putting a huge amount of effort into, and I hope to be able to make a positive announcement in this respect in the near future.”  Of course, a new stadium!  He is obviously wanting to follow the highly successful paths beaten at Southend, Worcester City and Darlington ;-).

Eastwood Town
A slightly older story this one, but certainly worth noting.  Chairman Rob Yong has said “I personally pay the players’ wages and any other money that comes in from the fans through gate money and the like goes straight into the club.  I’m very conscious that I don’t want to leave the club in any debt at any point – that’s the way it has been structured” (6).  Avoiding debt is of course admirable, but surely such blatant financial doping is hardly within the sporting ethic.

Farsley Celtic
Celtic are teetering on the brink following the failure of the John Palmer takeover (see postings passim), with games no longer being played (7).  A deeply disturbing aspect of this imminent disaster is that the stumbling block in negotiations proved not to be with the club’s creditors, but with the costs of its Administrator (see A forgotten cost).

Harlow Town
Regular readers will know that I am no fan of the benefactor model, essentially because of its vulnerability to benefactor withdrawal.  At Harlow there had been something of an impasse in the running of the club as a result of the breakdown of the marriage of the Bothwells – sad for the people involved, but ludicrous that it should impinge on the running of the football club.  New owner Tommy Cunningham has ‘big plans’ for the club (8), always a worrying signfor a club, especially for one with financial problems (9).  His plans have included bringing in many signings (10) and sacking the manager (11).  I wonder if he ever considered stability and consolidation as options.  Presumably not.

Sheffield Wednesday
We are told that the the club is ‘not heading for Administration’ (12), something which I find only slightly more reassuring than a Chairman saying he has ‘complete confidence in his manager’.  Talk is of a take over by an American investment group.  Well, such groups do have a recent track record of course.

Stockport County
Better news here for a change.  An agreement has finally been reached for the Melrose Consortium to take over the club, although this is still subject to approval by the Football League (13).

Latest saviour of the Terras, George Rolls, is seeking a CVA (14).  His offer of 9p in the pound over 5 years is not likely to prove a tempting one to creditors, which include Barclays Bank, and, you’ve guessed it, HMRC.

Off my regular patch, the saving of FAW Caernarfon Town is duly noted, with the strong involvement of the Friends of Caernarfon Town FC, a consortium of officials, supporters and former players (15).

And finally, partly back to Fratton Park, but partly to West Leigh Park, home of Havant & Waterloovile (16).  Pompey Supporters Trust are working on not one but four business plans, covering a variety of contingencies, including losing Fratton Park.  More power to their elbow!  What a pity that certain Chairmen don’t have the wit to think beyond Plan A.

8 Responses to “Meanwhile, beyond Fratton Park…”

  1. sonsdiary said

    We have heard up here that Andrew Ellis has put a bid of £31 million for Glasgow Rangers.
    I am confused he is a propety developer who I believe tried to sell Craven Cottage and merge with QPR but Govan where Rangers play is not prime real estate.
    Have you heard anything down south about this bid

    • John Beech said

      Ellis first popped up in my files as a director of QPR when they first went into Administration in 2001 (1). He sought to buy the club from the Admistrator, and planned to move it to Heathrow (2), a move that would hardly have been popular! The plan came to nought (3.

      Just over a year later he bought Northampton Town, saving it from Administration (4), with various plans (5). After that, I lose track of him.

      So, Rangers heading for Turnhouse? 😉

  2. John

    Margate FC latest – News update from the MFC website

    The Directors are delighted to announce that the winding up petition served against Margate Football Club Ltd, by HMRC in April 2005 in the sum of £220,000 has this week been finally dismissed after the Club made the final payment of £14,996.35 on Friday the 5th March 2010.

    This final payment included all interest and charges applied by HMRC since the petition was served in 2005.

    All resources now available to the Club will be committed to assist the Manager in avoiding relegation.

    • John Beech said


      Celebrations (see above) were, it seems, premature. News courtesy of Jeremy Jacobs is that HMRC have again issued a winding-up order, confirmed by an announcement in yesterday’s London Gazette (1) that the petition will be heard on 9 June. So far, no comment from the club, but their latest announcement on the website is that a Press Officer has been appointed (2) to support the club’s efforts to “tell the fans first“. Just so.

      • John Beech said

        MARGATE (even) LATEST

        According to a new statement (1) from the club’s Directors, it’s HMRC’s fault:

        The directors have been advised that the Inland Revenue has issued a fresh petition against the club for unpaid taxes.

        However, the directors can confirm the full and final payment of all past and current taxes to the Revenue on 15th May, 2010.

        It would appear that the Revenue failed to notify their legal department of payment. The matter has now been passed to the club’s solicitors to resolve.

        An interesting approach to PR.

  3. John Beech said


    A CVA offering 9p in the pound over five years has, perhaps surprisingly, been accepted by the club’s creditors (1). More, as and when it becomes available

  4. John Beech said


    The attempt by the John Palmer consortium to resurrect the club, albeit having dropped down the pyramid, is being assisted by Leeds Council, who are now seeking to purchase the Throstle Nest ground from the Administrator (1).

    • John Beech said


      Leeds City Council’s offer to buy the Throstle Nest ground has been accepted by the Administrator (1). John Palmer is looking to have Farsley Celtic playing in the Northern Premier League next season.

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