Category: Latest

Rangers: Winners & Losers From Another AGM

The wretched soap opera which has been based in Govan in West Glasgow for so many years now has come to a potentially seminal episode. Rangers International Football Club PLC held its first Annual General Meeting (AGM) after the company, which runs the new Rangers FC, posted losses of approximately an arm and a leg during its first year of trading; gargantuan losses for a Scottish fourth-tier football club with regular home gates of 45,000+ and all the more inexcusable given the financial circumstances which required the club’s formation. The last AGM of “Rangers” shareholders, in 2009, was a chapter in a standard tale of financial mismanagement. The then-manager Walter Smith had said that Lloyds Banking Group were effectively running debt-laden Rangers. And this was manifested in the presence of one Donald Muir on the Rangers PLC board. Disaffected shareholders overwhelmingly voted Muir off on a show of hands. But this wasn’t the “right result” for the Ibrox powers-that-be. So the result was declared “uncertain” from the top table and put to a “card vote” in the style of supposedly archaic trade union block votes; whereupon majority shareholder David Murray’s block vote of 90 million-ish made the result less “uncertain.” It was much the same outcome in 2013, in that the will of the people (which Rangers fans claim “we are”) were thwarted by the card votes of RIFC’s...

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World Cup Magic – Sun, Sea, Sand & Toni Schumacher: Espana 1982

They say, of course, that the best World Cup finals is the one that was held when you were ten years old. In the summer of 1982, I was three months shy of my tenth birthday and this tournament marked the consummation of a love affair that had been growing, steadily and inexorably, for the previous three years or so, and in addition to this there was the small matter of the first involvement of the England team at this stage of the competition for the first time since two summers before I was born. At the end of a season which had finished with Enfield winning the FA Trophy and Spurs winning the FA Cup within a week and a half of each other, I was, just about, at fever pitch. My excitement levels had been sent skywards by marketing men, of course. A combination of the purchase of a Panini sticker album by my parents for the forthcoming tournament – little did they know what they were letting themselves in for there – and the gift, the previous Christmas, of the 1982 Match Of The Day annual had guaranteed this. When commentators wring their hands over such nefarious activities as in-game purchases on mobile phone apps, I’m usually reminded of the wild glint in the eye of ten year olds the length and breadth of the nation...

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The Hedge Fund & The Football Club: A Year-Round Pantomime

Every once in a while, we receive an anonymous email or two here at the 200% underground bunker. Usually it’s a gramatically incompetent stream of abuse from an über-fan because we’ve been mean about his – and let’s face it, it’s only going to come from a “him”, isn’t it? – football club, the little diddums, but this afternoon we received one from somebody looking to vent their spleen on the subject of Coventry City. So, here’s “Tallulah Oppenheimer” (if you’re going to give someone a nom de plume, do it in style, I reckon) with their take on all things Sky Blue of late. Hedge funds in football – now there’s an interesting notion. What’s extraordinary is that there are plenty of people in the football authorities themselves – Football League, Premier League in particular – who see no problem, or rather, wouldn’t want to ‘discriminate’ against the possibility that they might prove to be good owners. Funny line that: it’s somehow a matter of equality that a hedge fund should have the right to own a club. You can imagine the ‘missing’ chapter of Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ focusing on the rights of the downtrodden masses of City of London investment funds to own Rochdale if they so choose – ‘“All are created equal, black, white or banker’, I said addressing a rally of pension...

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Cardiff City – Tan vs McKay: Seconds Out… Round Two

It was, perhaps, unsurprising that barely forty-eight hours after a one-nil victory against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend ended a run of five matches without a win, storm clouds should start to circle The Cardiff City Stadium again. There has, after all, been something of a fractious atmosphere surrounding the club over the last few months or so, and even elevation into the Premier League hasn’t quite allowed us to shake off the feeling that something isn’t quite right behind the scenes at the club. This feeling of disquiet began, of course, with the rebranding of the club in red and black and the debasement of its badge, but the current feeling of unhappiness at the club has more to do with backroom politics than colours and identity. One might expect that Malky McKay, the manager who guided the club into the top division of the English league system for the first time since 1962, would be pretty much universally popular amongst the people of Cardiff at the moment. There may be an element of truth in this – although it is worth pointing out that, these days, there are very, very few managers who enjoy anything like a universality of popularity amongst supporters – but the man upon whose opinion McKay’s continuing employment at the club ultimately rests is not from Cardiff. He’s from Malaysia and, we...

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All Aboard The Managerial Merry-Go-Round… Again

It has, dare we say it, been a tetchy two or three days for the managers of England’s football clubs. Even a breed of people that live their entire lives with a metaphorical axe suspended precariously over their heads will have offered an extra shudder at the events of last three days, which have resulted in the departure of three of their brethren from their positions, and such is the instability of the manager of any club these days that those that remain in work may well even find themselves unable to offer so much as a whispered, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’ tonight. If the form book is anything to go by, there, regardless of the grace of God, they are most likely to go in something like the short to medium term. To begin, then, at the top of the football food chain. Tottenham Hotspur may not have been the champions of England since John F Kennedy was the president of the United States of America, but modern football pays little attention to long-term trends. Spurs spent their Gareth Bale transfer window before they’d even sold that player, and the sheer volume of new recruits at White Hart Lane meant that Andre Villa Boas was always likely to face an uphill struggle in order to placate both the directors and supporters of the...

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