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:
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.
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.
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 ;-).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.