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

Court aftermath

Posted by John Beech on March 14, 2010

The big court appearances of the last week are beginning to reveal their implications.

Cardiff City
It seems that I am not alone in having concerns about the way Peter Ridsdale has been operating the club.  A detailed report on WalesOnline (1) highlights the problems with the club’s claims that its players are an asset worth £30 million and that its net assets, i.e. the new stadium, are worth £36 million.

There may be better times ahead.  The long vaunted investment by Malaysian businessman Dato Chan Tien Ghee is reported by the News of the World (2) as on the verge of finally materialising.  A condition would be the departure of the Spinmeister, with a club source quoted as saying “Ridsdale must be removed from the helm for there to be a hefty investment.  He’s living on borrowed time“.  So, hopefully two celebrations are imminent.

Chester City
Cheshire West and Chester Council are moving to secure the Deva Stadium (3) for future football use, and City Fans United have been holding talks with local businessmen with a view to progressing the emergence of a successor club (4).

In a blatant attempt to stop the fan-backed bid however, Fodboldselskabet af 06-03-2010 Holding A/S (The Football Company) or Chester Projekt are reported as persisting with their unhelpful and misguided attempt to create their bizarre form of a resurrected club (5).  Let’s hope the Projekt Brønby website (6) will show those thinking of participating just how misguided the plans are.

Unsurprisingly belts are being tightened by the Administrator, and their have been severe cuts among the non-playing staff (7) with 85 jobs lost, and two club shops closed (8).  Peter Storrie, the former Chief Executive, has also gone (9), the Administrator preferring a 100% pay-cut rather than the 40% cut Storrie had offered.

The plight of the ‘Pompey 85’, or at least up to eight of the training ground staff, has been taken up by David James (10), who is seeking a way that is legal and acceptable to the Administrator for their wages to be paid by the players.  He is also reported as being willing to take a pay cut to help the club (11).

James follows, as it happens, on the heels of Shaka Hislop, also a fighter for the rights of, in his case, his fellow Trinidad & Tobago players.  I had the pleasure of meeting Hislop a couple of years ago and was struck by his sincerity and integrity.

With Shaka Hislop and Simon Chadwick at the Play the Game Conference 2007

Between them James and Hislop offer an image of goalkeepers not as the eccentrics of the football scene, but as men of integrity in the game.

Southend United
Chairman Ron has responded to the club’s latest appearance in court.  In an official statement on the club’s website he says of the club’s court appearance “From what I have read so far I must have been in a different place” (12).  That would be Planet Martin I guess.

Consider this part of his statement: “In November I jumped through hoops in a very short timeframe to put a further investment of £2.35million in the Club (£2.15 to HMRC and a further £200,000 of working capital requirement). It wasn’t put in by some fairy godmother. Sainsbury’s may have written the cheque but ONLY against significant tangible security that I was able to put in place… They are not a charity. This was part of a wider transaction to deliver the Club’s Stadium and Sainsbury’s new store – a “partnership” that is well advanced.

Very short timeframe? Presumably he hadn’t been reading the demand letters from HMRC.

Further investment of £2.35 million?  There was me thinking it was a loan, not an investment, the security for which is reported as being £304,000 worth of shares in the club (13).

To deliver the Club’s Stadium and Sainsbury’s new store – a “partnership” that is well advanced? So how exactly has it advanced in the last ten years?

He continues: “My message to supporters of the Club is that I have a clear line of sight to deliver our mutual objectives and that is a new Stadium with increased income, capital investment and the ability to maintain a position in the Championship by fulfilling Southend United’s potential.
With the club in real danger of dropping into League 2 next season, his rhetoric is sounding more and more out of touch with reality, a reality which reportedly includes late payment of players on more than one occasion this season.

On he presses: “I accept it’s been a difficult season so far but – hey – it could have been a great deal worse … Crystal Palace and Portsmouth. Remember your Club does not have an overdraft and is only indebted to its parent company, i.e. me.

The point is that it could – hey – have been a great deal better if he hadn’t continued with his obsessive pursuit of the new stadium, of which he has admitted “The beneficial owners of the Fossetts Farm development are me and my immediate family” (14).


8 Responses to “Court aftermath”

  1. John Beech said


    It looks as if the Spinmeister is preparing for his exit (1) with declarations of how successful he has been. Unfortunately I can’t tag comments, as this deserves a ‘chutzpah’ tag.

    • John Beech said


      A statement on the club website (1) continues to push an optimistic line about discussions with Dato’ Chan Tien Ghee. He says “I am extremely hopeful that with goodwill on all sides we will be able to conclude matters quickly and for the benefit of the Club and I look forward to playing my part in the future success of Cardiff City“.

      WalesOnline (2) gives a fuller account of Dato’ Chan Tien Ghee’s visit to Cardiff. Sadly he does not seem to have caught the spirit of the times, and does not appear to have met with Cardiff City Supporters’ Trust.

      The WalesOnline report speculates that “Mr Ridsdale is expecting to stay on at the club to organise the football side of the business at least until the end of this season.” He, of course, has a track record of falsely optimistic expectations, and, in my opinion, could make better use of his time in honing his predictably self-praising ‘I’ve taken the club as far as I can and to the dawn of a new era’ departure statement.

  2. John Beech said


    The High Court has ruled that Sol Campbell is indeed owed £1.67m in unpaid wages and payments relating to image rights, plus interest of just over £50,000 (1). Campbell has agreed to accept the fact that he will not be paid until the club comes out of Administration (in effect, when it is in the hands of a new owner who will have to pay the debt).

    • John Beech said


      HMRC has now formally dropped its objection to the appointment of Andrew Andronikou as Administrator (1). He is now talking of coming out of Administration through the sale of the club in six to eight weeks. He also plans to challenge any 9 point deduction by the Premier League – PL Rule 62 states:
      The only ground upon which a Club may appeal as foresaid is that
      62.1 the Event of Insolvency was caused by and resulted directly from circumstances, other than normal business risks, over which it could not reasonably be expected to have had control; and
      62.2 its Officials had used all due diligence to avoid the happening of that event
      As this is the first time a PL club has gone into Administration, it remains to be seen how these clauses might be interpreted.

      • John Beech said


        A complication with contesting the 9 point deduction by the PL is that if the appeal drags on until after 27th March, the club may then face a ten point deduction by the Football League next season (1).

  3. Robbo said

    While each redundancy at Portsmouth is a personal horror story for those involved, when I saw the figure and the number still employed, one question sprang to mind: how many folk does it take to run a football club? What do the 200+ still there actually do (and apologies if I’ve mis-quoted the figure)?

    • John Beech said

      To be honest, it’s very difficult to make any sense of ‘number of employees’ data for football clubs!

      The Administrator has been quoted as saying there are 85 redundancies from ‘166 full-time staff, including players, and 154 part-time staff – excluding weekend and matchday staff’ (1).

      From the club accounts you get an interesting perspective. They make no distinction between full-time, part-time and weekend and matchday staff, but they do show a staggering upward trend in Portsmouth’s case. The club’s accounts give the following figures for ‘number of employees’:
      2007/08 635
      2006/07 703
      2005/06 495
      2004/05 356
      2003/04 281
      2002/03 144
      Presumably much of this growth can be put down to increases in the number of weekend and matchday staff needed to police Premier League Games, but clearly not all of it. Another example of how the management of the club has gone off the rails in the past few seasons I’m afraid.

  4. Robbo said

    It’s the fact the figure ‘excludes’ weekend and matchday staff that is amazing. Maybe even the programme editor has a staff of 10!!

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