Are The Wheels Falling Off The Notts Wagon?

By on Dec 10, 2009 in English League Football, Finance, Latest | 15 comments

“Im struggling to see where the gamble is n other team fans who say crap are just jealous!”

“If you know anyone in serious banking circles your questions would be answered, or, otherwise just take a look at half of the middle east, these guys built most of it.”

“good to see th geen eyed meanies are out for Notts, Our club has rotted in the doldrums for years…finally we find a backer who has a sensible plan and funds available and were the idiots for daring to think that there is more to life than a the slow death that awaited us without this takeover.”

“It is for that reason that our elected Chairman would not place blind hope in Munto Finance if they could not support their claims. They aim to build sound infrastructure with the view to make us become a self-sufficient Championship team.”

“We know very little about the new owners but I’m guessing Sven would have been pretty keen to meet them to see proof of their funding before joining up.”

It is, contrary to received wisdom, not easy to say “I told you so”, and there has been precious little satisfaction to be had from the unravelling of the Notts County story over the last couple of weeks. This morning’s news that Munto Finance are putting Notts County up for sale is worrying news for Notts County supporters, but it is not news that is entirely unexpected. The grim truth of the matter seems to be that the money that was promised to them in the summer was no more than a hill of beans. There simply never were any billionaires from the Middle East that had suddenly fallen in love with a small, loss-making football club from the East Midlands.

Perhaps the question that we need to ask at this point should be this: who was it exactly that was hoodwinked? There can be little doubt that Notts supporters were, in voting to give away ownership of the club without receiving anything in return apart from a vague “bank guarantee” to fund spending at a level that under any other circumstances would be considered completely unsustainable in League Two. Many Notts supporters continue believe that they are better off now than they were under the previous ownership of the club, but this simply doesn’t take into account the bare fact that had they been that unhappy with their trust board, they could have voted them out and voted in a new one. All that they can do now is keep their fingers crossed that someone is going to ride in and save the club.

The team most likely to do this at present seems at the moment to be Sven Goran Eriksson and Peter Trembling. Trembling, however, may have been hoodwinked exactly the same as Notts fans were. It has been he, after all, that has been the public face of the club since the summer, repeatedly making statements that endorsed the received wisdom that the club was owned by billionaires and that rumours of all being not quite what they seemed at Meadow Lane were being written by people with an alternative agenda. Perhaps the time has now come for him to set those supporters straight, especially when we consider that if he didn’t have the wool pulled over his eyes, he must, by definition, have lied repeatedly to supporters of the club. Here, for the record, are some direct quotations from him.

“Now we have sufficient investment to take us through into the Championship in five years. It [Munto] is made up of a number of private investors and they will remain private. I have been out to the Middle East many times over the last few years and met some of the investors quite a few years ago.”

“The investment project is on track; we have brought in a lot of new players and resources into the club but obviously this is a five-year project, not a five-week one.”

“I just can’t fathom why people aren’t applauding the fact that these Middle East businessmen want to invest in Notts County. I don’t know if it’s jealousy or a vendetta or pure spite and maliciousness.”

“In an ideal world, a longer period of due diligence would have been entered into before the acquisition of the club. However, the circumstances of the club and the start of the football season dictated that the purchase had to be completed in a much shorter timeframe in order to protect the long-term best interests of the club.”

He has to explain these comments to the supporters that gave the club to a consortium that he represented, especially if he is now to go ahead with a “management buy-out” of the club. He should also explain what sort of due diligence was done at the time of the transfer of ownership, and how it missed a £400,000 tax bill that had gone unpaid. The continued rumour of Eriksson’s involvement continues to give Notts supporters succour, but the truth of the matter is that their immediate future is likely to be somewhat more modest than they might have thought a couple of months ago, and this time they won’t have any choice over who the knew owners are.

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    15 Comments

  1. Why is it always someone else’s fault?

    Chris Taylor

    December 11, 2009

  2. @Magpie.
    How can Supporter’s Direct be responsible for the problems you outline? I don’t recall Rushden & Diamonds and Stockport County’s fans calling this excellent organisation when the experiment of a Fans Trust trying to run a professional football club was less than successful because of an inability to attract additional sponsorship and in the Diamonds case a reluctance by their bankers to grant an overdraft facility.

    Paul

    December 11, 2009

  3. Magpie – would you care to outline what specific powers the rules governing Notts County Trust gave Supporters Direct the power to overrule the members and owners of the trust and get rid of people those members had elected (and later kept in post)?

    Dave

    December 11, 2009

  4. SD is not to blame for Notts County the supporters of Notts County are and while one is suppose to feel for the fans of any club who may not survive – and my take on the situation is that unless they find a buyer soon who really does have oil billions or the move on a dozen top earners in the window – but I struggle to care a jot for supporters who gave their club away so they could laud and idolise Lee Hughes.

    Michael Wood

    December 11, 2009

  5. Lets be fair it was never going to last. In my heart Notts would have been knocking on the door of the premiership, my head told me different. If sven decides to buy into the club it shows he was always genuinely committed and not after the fast buck. If he doesn’t the very least he has done is brought a great deal of publicicty to the club. Look to the positives. There will be no danger of relegation this year, for the past few years it has often been a last day escape. We have better gate receipts which means more money. People will feel dissappointed and the phrase ‘i told you so’ will be thrown about everywhere. But if the same ‘middle eastern billionaire’ offer came as what we had in July came to Accrington or Bournemouth, fans would have embraced it and started to dream, as what most Notts fans did, be it long term fans or fans who came to the club after July. What we should be thankful for is, for all the debacle that has been going on, we have a good side that is knocking on the door of promotion and through various assets more financially secure than we have for some time.
    However, after all said and done, Notts future certainly for the short to mid term is safe thanks to all the publicity, so it can’t all be bad. And who knows, maybe we can get upto the championship in 5 years with good old fashioned good management and hard work

    sds06

    December 11, 2009

  6. and how it missed a £400,000 tax bill that had gone unpaid

    That’s one of the bonuses about writing about football finance – you get to write lines like that.

    ejh

    December 11, 2009

  7. The only ones to be blamed for this mess are the County fans that were hoodwinked. Supporters Direct couldn’t do anything, as due to the ‘one member, one vote’ scenario, and the fact that the Notts Trust’s own members voted to give them to Munto, says that they are entirely to blame. Most outsiders thought that this whole deal didn’t look right from the outset, and unfortunately that is how it is being proved.

    Alan J

    December 11, 2009

  8. Cheer up Pies – looks like Peter Storrie will be on the market soon.

    mick

    December 11, 2009

  9. @Magpie, I’m not surprised you’re so bitter. As Ian says, you’ve been hoodwinked and proper led down the garden path. And as someone looking at it from the outside, I wouldn’t quibble with your description of your former Trust board as weak and incompetent. And as I am looking from the outside, I’m in no position to comment on whether they did as you say lie, cheat etc. But corrupt? That’s a very strong word, and one which I’d hope you can either substantiate or be prepared to withdraw.

    And btw what everyone else said re Kevin Rye and SD. From my own personal experience, SD and Kevin are extremely competent, professional and their advice was invaluable to us at Swindon in some extremely difficult times which threatened the very future of the club. As I say, I understand why you’re so bitter, but in this instance your bile is misdirected. Best of luck to all Notts County fans in pulling together to help get yourselves out of this mess.

    Paul D

    December 11, 2009

  10. The tax bill ended up being £150k in the end. The Notts Supporters Trust had agreed a repayment schedule with the Inland Revenue, because of the delay in receiving money for Leon Best and David McGoldrick from Southampton (who were in administration). Why Munto’s millionaires didn’t make the scheduled payments, preventing any need for a winding up order, is anyone’s guess.

    sds06 – Not sure where to start, but whan you were Trust owned, you could only spend the money that was coming in. Munto have committed to spending vast amount on player wages for at least the next six months (Lee Hughes is on a two year deal, Kasper Schmiechel signed a reputed five year contract). With Munto not exactly being being prudent on the wage front, any new owners need to cover all costs being met, reduce the wage bill by weakening the team – or even take the administration route to draw a line under the sand. A 10 point deduction at this point would drop Notts to 17th.

    Alan J – There are other people at fault – those doing the hoodwinking. They are not blameless in this at all, in fact, regardless of how the Notts fans have acted, the likes of Munto are the ones most at fault.

    And I’d like to echo what others have said about Kevin Rye and SD. The game would be a lot, lot poorer without them.

    Rob

    December 11, 2009

  11. What a surprise! Shady sounding businessmen turned out to be shady businessmen.

    Rob C

    December 11, 2009

  12. I am afraid I agree with Magpie. During the early 2009 civil war SD and Kevin in particular were unhelpful, obstructive and obsessed with maintaining the status quo. When four former Chairs of an established Trust are begging for help they need more than to be patronised and referred to the rule book. The failure at that point to address the real problems within the Trust Board led to the embarrasing spectacle of Trust SD’s publically rubbishing Trust ownership whilst Kevin looked on from the back of the room.

    It is of concern to the entire Trust movement that when Trusts are in real trouble SD are unwilling or unable to intervene.

    Wheelbarrow

    December 11, 2009

  13. Every day I dutifully clear my Spam E-Mail folder of offers ranging from free holidays, free Ipods all the way to “untold riches”. Somewhere along the line I might possibly (although very unlikely) have deleted a genuine dream ticket…… go on… who thinks it likely? I always give a sagely shake of the head, knowing that these E-mails are only sent because some people are daft enough to bite……. and in this case it was the Notts County fans, believing things that simply were too good to be true. Collectively they only have themselves to blame really, and to try and blame Supporters Direct is lamentable.

    Wyre Forest Red

    December 11, 2009

  14. Yeah, the usual b******t from the likes of Munto “finance” is all Supporters Direct and the Notts County Trust’s fault…

    Are Notts County really this stupid? Heaven help them if so.

    Martin

    December 12, 2009

  15. This is ridiculous and embarrassing blame-mongering.

    Who were SD supposed to support if not the elected heads of the Notts County Trust?

    Remove the log in your own eye first before blaming SD for this totally predictable nonsense.

    Martin

    December 12, 2009

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