The inevitable tension surfacing…
Posted by John Beech on August 20, 2010
Although there is always a tension between, on the one hand, the needs of a club from a footballing perspective, exemplified perhaps by the views of the manager, and, on the other hand, the needs of a club from a business perspective, it is inevitable that the tension will be greatest when a) clubs are facing financial pressures and b) the end of the transfer window is beckoning.
In the last week or so, the tension has been manifest at some clubs (in alphabetical order):
Although Chairman Randy Lerner, a ‘good benefactor’ in my book, has been guarded in his comments on why Martin O’Neill has left, he has said “I can say only that we no longer shared a common view as to how to move forward. To deal in greater detail would do little but cause additional distraction for the club as it faces imminent games and the clear priority of hiring a permanent manager. Finally, there have been no changes in our approach to building the club, aiming always to be as competitive as possible given our size and resources” (1). I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that the clue lies in the last phrase – an expression of ‘cutting our cloth’.
Given the transfer embargoes, it’s hardly surprising that manager Dave Jones should be anxious to add to his squad (2). It’s equally unsurprising that, with the massive Langston debt, the board take a more constrained view. Even allowing for the clearance by the Football League of the Bellamy deal, additions have tended to feature loan deals.
Yesterday Chris Turner quit as Director of Sport (3). He is quoted as saying “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out what could happen if we haven’t improved much from the squad that only just stayed up last season and other teams have strengthened… Whether we will be able to get any more people in, you will have to ask the owners” (4).
Manager John Beck is today reported as leaving ‘beleagured’ Histon (5). Chairman Russell Hands explained “It was a difference of opinion. We couldn’t give him what he needed to do the job. Because of the financial restrictions we’re under he found it very, very difficult…In the end John felt that he had got as far as he could and in the interests of both parties we decided to go our own ways“.
Here, Roy Keane said today “We’re doing a lot of talking but supporters don’t want to hear that, they want to see players coming in. We’ve been close but getting close to signing a player is no good… You’ve got to get the deals done. We’ve been in talks and more talks and more talks. We’ve had players lined up 12 weeks ago who wanted to sign for Ipswich and they weren’t done” (6). In spite of the backing of Marcus Evans, it would seem that there are constraints on spending.
There are certainly others that could be added to the list; please feel free to contribute other examples.
What is noticeable, apart from the general theme of frustrated ambition for the club, is the range of levels of the clubs, and the varying degrees of financial troubles they face.
It will be interesting to see how quickly O’Neill and Beck take to reappear. They should be respected for having the conviction to vote with their feet, but their ambition may prove an impediment when facing the owners of a different club across the interview table. O’Neill in particular has undoubted talents as a manager, but has he revealed his Achilles heel to an employer? There are still clubs out there apparently committed to financial doping, at least while funds last and the Financial Fair Play protocol remains unaddressed, but increasingly owners seem to be opting for realism over ambition.