Lewes & Fisher’s Day In Court

Ian

Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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8 Responses

  1. Barry Anderson says:

    An interesting article and thought-provoking until the sweeping and unjustified generalizations at the end. Of all the clubs you mention, I know Bognor Regis Town the best and I have to say I can think of few better-run clubs in English football. True, they’ve never had much money, but they’ve always tried to live within their means. Contrary to what you say in your article about clubs who “run themselves in a wholly irresponsible way, spending money that they do not have ….on wages whilst not paying basics like their tax bill and the basic upkeep of the stadium”, BRTFC’s only significant debts are to its backers. There are no creditors at the Club’s door, it’s bills are paid and it has (and has always had) one of the lowest wage bills in the Conference. True, a disastrous fire which destroyed the clubhouse, followed by a highly-contentious points deduction for fielding an allegedly unregistered player, means that the club is currently very short of money and points. But it is a sign of how well the club is run – albeit on a shoestring – that there is no danger of it folding. A case of down (possibly) but not out.

  2. Ian Guppy says:

    I feel your comments about Bognor are untrue in saying they are running in a wholly irresponsilbe way. Last season we cleared all debts except to one man – Jack Pearce. This year we have had to deal with a devastating fire destroying the clubhouse which has lost us up to £1,000 per week in revenue and with this defecit, we have cut our wages again and again to accomodate the club still being here in years to come.

    To compare us with the likes of Weymouth and Lewes, who have spent and spent beyind their means, is an injustice to a well run, financially secure club who have simply been punching and succeeding well above their weight!!!

  3. admin says:

    The comments that I made were not aimed at supporters of Bognor Regis Town, which I found to be a smashing club when I visited earlier this year. They were general comments which were aimed at all football supporters. I fully agree that the circumstances surrounding insolvency or near insolvency at different clubs is always different – as such, there is no “one size fits all” solution, and everybody concerned – the leagues, the clubs, the FA and the supporters – need to come together to work out a rescue package that covers as many conceivable eventualities as possible.

  4. Peter Helsby says:

    I am sorry but the way you have written this article absolutely states that Bognor Regis Town to be one of those clubs that you accuse of being badly run and spending too much money. I happened to have spent 12 years of my life asisting in the administration of this club and I take it as a personal affront the way that you portray the Committee and all who assist in the running of this great little club. As has already been very correctly stated, this club owes no money to anyone other than its’ backers. This club runs on the lowest budget in the Conference South. Despite numerous setbacks this season, non more so than the burning down of its’ clubhouse, the committee this season have kept the club running against such odds. Your article, by mentioning this club by name,aligns Bognor Regis Town with clubs who have not managed their affairs correctly. I would suggest that you do a little more research in future before you go to print.

  5. admin says:

    I dispute your contention. Let’s have a look at what I actually said again, shall we?

    “Weymouth, Northwich Victoria and Leigh Genesis, Merthyr Tydfil & Bognor Regis Town are just five clubs that have found themselves in drastic positions for a variety of different reasons this season alone ”

    At no point have I said that Bognor are or were badly run, and at no point have I “compared” Bognor to any of the other clubs in that list other than to say that they have had serious financial difficulties this season.

    On the basis of the language used by supporters of this club this afternoon, I am already revising my opinion of BRTFC as a “smashing little club”.

  6. Richard Essen says:

    “These two clubs may have been the highest profile cases of non-league insolvent (and they are both insolvent in all but legal status), but they are far from being the only crisis clubs in the non-league game at the moment. Weymouth, Northwich Victoria and Leigh Genesis, Merthyr Tydfil & Bognor Regis Town are just five clubs that have found themselves in drastic positions for a variety of different reasons this season alone. Who, then, is to blame for this? The answer, sad to say, seems to be “everybody”. An increasing number of non-league clubs themselves continue to run themselves in a wholly irresponsible way, spending money that they do not have (and, moreover, give no impression of being interested in actually paying back) on wages whilst not paying basics like their tax bill and the basic upkeep of the stadium. Supporters have a degree of responsibilty, too. How many, as a proportion, take any interest in the running of their clubs until it is too late, or join or form supporters trusts to take a more active role in the running of their clubs?”

    To be fair, the reason you have received these comments is that you have mentioned these 5 clubs by name and then followed it underneath with a critique of irresponsibe behaviour ranging from clubs not paying tax bills to supporters not taking an active interest. In that sense your analysis of financial problems at non-league clubs could be over simplistic. At Bognor we owe no money to the tax man and the supporters are paying the wages of one of our players Duncan Jupp. Yet we are still in trouble. The salient and important point is that you don’t need to mismanage your club to be in trouble as external factors like the lack of liquidity in the economy will have an affect on even the best run clubs. In addition to those clubs who are victims of the economy, there are as you pointed out the clubs who are spending today and worrying about tomorrow and they are the ones playing a very risky game. There are still clubs spending to gamble on promotion. This is in fact the very criticism that ex-chairman of Chelmsford Peter Webb levelled at the other directors before they sacked him. The latest clubs at the high court who owe their money to the tax man are just the honest ones. More cynically are those in denial who we will only hear about at the end of the season when the promotion gamble doesn’t pay off, so they complete their league fixtures and take a points deduction when it no longer matters, leaving their creditors high and dry. It is for this reason that league rules will change next year to end this practise. However with the economy in such a bad state this is a high risk strategy and you could end up with the scenario where a club gets promotion and then goes straight into administration. I think you are right to point out the concern about 2 Conference clubs being at the High Court. However this is just as symptomatic of the state of the economy as the way these clubs are run. I suspect that these are just the tip of the iceberg and there will be a lot more to follow after the season has ended where your argument will hold. Please do not be too down on Bognor though as the thought that we have followed your remedy and still found ourselves a crisis club in financial trouble is a sobering one indeed.

  7. Peter Helsby says:

    Despite whatever I and anyone else has written in reply to your article, I can assure you that Bognor Regis Town will always remain ‘a smashing little club’. I replied because you named the clubs that you did, including Bognor. The inference was that clubs were being run in an irresponsible way, your words not mine. Im afraid by naming the clubs that you did it inferred that they were being irresposibly run and thats why people reacted as they did. Had you made the comment ‘clubs in general’ then I dont think you would have received the response that you did.

    Whatever has been written, I have no doubt that during your next visit to Bognor , the club will afford you the same welcome as it always does to any visitors

  8. Ron Ipstone says:

    Does any club make any money, by which I mean an operating profit? The likes of Manchester United etc. might, but in the rank and file of clubs in the Football League and in the leagues below, the answer is no.

    If a business does not make a profit, then how can it survive? What is the purpose of it? It is rightly said that football is not an ordinary business, fair enough. There may be ‘investors’ who are prepared to leave their money in a club without any return thereon, indeed some may be prepared to take a loss. However the economics of professional football just do not stack up and eventually the house of cards is liable to collapse.

    To this extent the author of the article is correct when he states that ‘everybody’ is to blame. He might, however, have been more tactful and not named names.

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