Month: March 2013

Escape To Liquidity: Charles Green, Rangers & The English League System

It wasn’t, in the overall scheme of things, the most auspicious way in which a club could win a league title, but Rangers’ goalless draw at Montrose yesterday afternoon coupled with Queens Park’s one-nil home defeat at the hands of Elgin City meant that the Glasgow giants have now been confirmed as the champions of the Scottish Football League Division Three. Yet the atmosphere of distrust remains as prevalent as it ever has in Scottish football and this morning, the day after the lifting of the trophy at Links Park, a further story linking Rangers and Celtic with a move into the English league system has appeared with reports that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, “is ­taking a ­‘massive interest’” in seeing both of the Glasgow giants obtain entry to English football, reportedly for political reasons relating to the forthcoming referendum in Scotland concerning independence. This isn’t, of course, the first time that such a suggestion has been mentioned but the door has always been considered shut to the prospect of Celtic and Rangers joining the English game. Since Rangers’ fall from grace, the placing of the club into Division Three of the Scottish Football League and the decision to remould Scottish football into a 12-12-18 formation, though, the noises from Ibrox have started to reach a fever pitch, with a steady stream of articles from Scottish newspapers suggesting...

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Sunderland’s Big End Of Season Gamble

In some respects, there was go great surprise to the departure of Martin O’Neill from Sunderland last night. With just two points from his last nine matches in charge of the club, something had gone from the previously ebullient manager’s demeanour, and in television interviews after yesterday’s defeat at the hands of Manchester United he had the air of a dead man walking about him. Where at many other clubs this season it has felt as if managers have been victims of the whims of owners acting with an itchy trigger finger, O’Neill’s departure from the Stadium of Light doesn’t feel like much of a surprise. Ellis Short, the Sunderland owner, had shown loyalty towards O’Neill even after it became more than apparent that Sunderland were heading towards a season of at best mediocrity, but now the club is sliding towards something far more troubling, and whoever steps into his shoes has just seven matches left to try and save the club’s Premier League position. Following this result, Sunderland now sit just one point above the relegation places in the table, out of form and tumbling in a downward direction at a time of year when no-one in such a position can completely rely upon the results of the clubs below them in the table. Yesterday afternoon, Southampton beat Chelsea whilst Wigan Athletic beat Norwich City. This sort of...

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Anticipated Outcomes For Coventry City

So it turns out that the most obvious explanation is exactly that for obvious reasons, in this case. The Football League, an organisation which has become highly attuned to people trying to game the system over the last ten years or so, passed its verdict on Coventry City today and that verdict was as expected: a ten point deduction with immediate effect which effectively ends the club’s already faltering chances of making the League One play-offs at the end of this season. Considering that, whilst the team’s improvement on the pitch has been dramatic considering the dismal start to the season that it endured, it still hadn’t managed to worm its way into the top six in the division yet this season and the fact that the punishment might have been considerably worse had those looking at it taken a less charitable viewpoint on what has been happening at the club over the last few months, the club’s owners, SISU, may well, despite their statement this afternoon expressing their ‘disappointment’ at the League’s verdict, have cause for believing that they have got off somewhat lightly today. This, however, doesn’t mean that they are completely out of the woods yet. If there is one thing that has happened as a result of the considerable coverage that this story has received during a relative lull in the football calendar, it has...

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Dunfermline Athletic Likely To Be Saved… But At A Price

At the start of yesterday, the fate of Dunfermline Athletic hung very much in the balance, but at least by its end it was a little clearer. The Scottish First Division club had until five o’clock yesterday to pay an outstanding £134,000 bill to HMRC over unpaid tax or face the threat of liquidation, and in the middle of yesterday afternoon the club the club confirmed that it was to seek to enter into administration in order to side-step the inevitable insolvency proceedings brought against the club by the taxman. Such a decision buys the club a little more time and, considering the fact that no-one was likely to step in at the last minute with the money required to pay them off, this was effectively the only option available to the club. What is interesting for viewers of this story from south of the border is the extent to which the difference in rules and regulations  are influencing the decisions to be made in Scotland. There is no football creditors rule in Scotland, meaning that players do not have the same level protection afforded to them as their counterparts in England would have. Once the club has entered into administration, the players may be requested to take a pay cut by the administrator, who cannot by law allow the club to continue to trade insolvently, and it would...

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Coventry City Prepare For League Judgement

It has been a day of drama which in many respects revealed very little for Coventry City. The club’s recent tit-for-tat spat between its hedge fund owners SISU and ACL, who run the stadium that the club had been using for the previous year (but not paying rent to use for more than a year, now) had been threatening to blow up for some considerable time now, with patience on the part of ACL having been worn threadbare by what consistently looked like hard-headed negotiation by the club’s owners. Over the last couple of weeks or so, however, things have got very complicated – complicated to such an extent that we perhaps need to strip this story down to its bare minimum in order to make a great deal of sense out of it. Every Football League club has a “golden share,” which could be described as its right to play in the Football League in the first place, and golden shares have come a valuable commodity in recent years, with the number of limited companies that have sprung up with the intention becoming the legal entities that would seek to take control of clubs. In the case of Coventry City Football Club, there are two limited companies with very similar names involved – Coventry City Football Club Ltd (CCFCL) and Coventry City Football Club (Holdings) Ltd (CCFCHL). If...

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