Author: Mark

The Premier League Ponders A Salary Cap

The Premier League’s Annual General Meeting this summer will provide stringent salary cap regulations for English football’s top tier, to judge by the plethora of club chairmen who have offered unsolicited opinions in favour of such regulations in recent months. It is refreshing to see such a consensus around an issue of such magnitude, especially coming from a group of people of such sound judgement. West Ham co-owner David Gold has struck a discordant note around the subject. But he has expressed his views with admirable consistency, long before salary caps became the sexy subject in the wake of Portsmouth’s financial demise. As he said on BBC Sport last summer, in opposition to “capping”: “I think you have to be very careful that you don’t go all the way back to 50 or 60 years ago, when Blackpool was the top club in the division, because you’d end up with a very bland league.” That, alongside his view that a “league” is “the survival of the fittest,” is a healthy sign that the debate will be constructive and well-informed, I’m sure you’ll agree. The credibility of the salary cap argument is demonstrated by Fulham chairman Mohamed Fayed being its most fervent supporter. As long ago as last April, Fayed was talking in admirably emotive terms on the subject. “Take my crusade against Sky-high players’ wages,” he told London’s Evening...

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Sheffield Wednesday’s “Imminent” Investment

Sheffield Wednesday have been in a state of flux for the last decade or so, since the reign of the current Premier League Chairman, Dave Richards. Mark Murphy takes a look at the Wednesday chairman Lee Strafford’s attempts to get somebody to pour some money into the club and finds a rather long list of near misses. Still, at least they haven’t been to the High Court yet. The February and March headlines in the Sheffield Star newspaper would have made encouraging reading for Sheffield Wednesday: “Owls takeover ‘on course’ says fans’ group” (26 February); “Owls takeover extremely close” (28 February); “Owls takeover deal still on track” (18 March). The problem was they were headlines from February and March… 2008, and Wednesday’s was a takeover tale that was dragging on a bit even then. The headline “Casino boss in Owls takeover talks” was already over a year old, and the casino boss in question was one Carson Yeung, now doing the work of a grateful nation by getting up David Sullivan’s nose on a regular basis in his role as Birmingham City major shareholder. Some of the unfounded takeover rumours were, shall we say, imaginative. Not least the one about former Manchester United big-man Martin Edwards, which was based on Edwards’ car appearing in the Wednesday car park. This was a tenuous enough link even before it was established...

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Cardiff & Southend vs The High Court: Round Three

Cardiff City and Southend United were both given a stay of execution recently by the High Court in their bids to stave off winding up petitions brought against them. Mark Murphy takes a look at what they have been up to since then and doesn’t find much cause for encouragement. Well, reports are emerging of a fourth “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. So technically it’s possible. But surely Cardiff and Southend can’t stretch their material to a fourth script – anymore than I can stretch this film analogy to a fourth sentence. Yet, away from the attention which accompanied Portsmouth into the Companies Court on London’s Strand last month, both the Bluebirds and the Shrimpers have been up before the beak again, promising that next time, definitely, they’ll pay all their taxes. By all accounts (except one, see below), both Cardiff and Southend tried the same “strategy” when they re-appeared in court on March 10th, both promising that there was a shedload of money round the corner, you’ll see, we just need a bit more time. Notts County tried that line before Christmas. And it worked. And remarkably, on March 10th, it worked again. Twice. It seemed Cardiff had found the £1.7m they owed after their February hearing. Newspaper headlines such as “Land sale saves City” and “Land sale to pay tax bill” hinted that the sale of land...

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Old Infirm? The Further Travails Of Rangers & Celtic

Some ill-advised comments made by the Celtic chairman John Reid at last year’s club AGM may now be coming back to haunt him, as rivals Rangers seem to be coasting to a Scottish Premier League championship. Mark Murphy takes a look at how the two clubs have progressed this season and finds that Reid’s bullishness couldn’t have come with much worse timing. As Rangers fly off into the sunset with the Scottish Premier League (SPL) trophy safely tucked under one arm and possible  new owners under the other, I wonder if Celtic chairman John Reid has pondered the advisability of his premature triumphalism at Celtic’s Annual General Meeting last October. Reid dominated the show, as he does. And thinly-veiled attacks on “other clubs that are local and who have had a lot of publicity” were mixed with not-veiled-at-all attacks on “a boring crowd of Holy Willies… (on) the other side of the city.” This was not thought to be a reference to Partick Thistle. Celtic’s AGM discussed a relatively healthy set of financial results for the financial year to 30 June 2009, at a time when Rangers’ £31m debts were the talk of the footballing town. And Reid got all superior about the financial strategy of “borrowing endless amounts of money,” claiming: “that way lies ruin…fans and shareholders know that” and insisting that following suit “is what we won’t...

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Soccerex: All Mouth?

Mark Murphy spent all week peering through the windows of the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester, and found that, even in these financially straitened times, there were plenty of people prepared to part with over £800 in the pursuit of making even more money from football.

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