Category: Latest

Bolton Wanderers: Tales From The Gartside

If New Year’s Eve is a day to bury bad news, then New Year’s Eve 2013 was a day for football to bury very bad news indeed. Chelsea received the denunciation of a cynical football press for revealing their latest ludicrous losses, producing only part of their results and doing so on New Year’s Eve. Under all that attention, any non-EPL club’s results seemed destined for the “news-in-brief” section, if they were considered newsworthy at all. The problem with the latest results from Burnden Leisure PLC, Bolton Wanderers’ parent company, was that the figures were just too big and too deep (in the) red to be buried. The Bolton “record debt” story is becoming a traditional annual event for football finance writers. When this site visited the Whites’ finances in 2010, the club were a “record” £93m in debt, placed there by a thumping annual loss of £35.4m.  Since then, of course, Bolton have been relegated and debt records have continued to fall. Last year, Burnden Leisure and club chairman Phil Gartside broke some sort of straw-clutching record when he said that “for the second year running we have reduced our losses.” There was to be no hat-trick, with BL losing (ulp!) £50.7m in the 12 months to June 2013, outstripping Chelsea by £1.3m. These figures brought two quotes to mind – well, three if you include the short...

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Stockport County: Walking A Tightrope

There comes a point in football at which even the most precipitous falls start to slow and reverse themselves, and there has been no other club in England in recent years that has spiralled in a downward direction as dramatically as Stockport County Football Club. Twleve years ago, the club was playing its football in the Championship, but one financial diasaster after another saw it relegated from the Football League altogether eventually. Stockport’s fall from grace, however, didn’t end there, and at the end of last season the club suffered the further ignominy of relegation from the Conference National, and this season hadn’t seen much of an improvement until recently, with the club going into its Christmas and New Year fixtures dangerously close to the relegation places in that division too. What a difference the congested holiday period can make, though. On the Saturday before Christmas, Stockport ended a winless run that stretched back to the start of November by beating Oxford City at home, and they followed this up with a win against Bradford Park Avenue on Boxing Day. There followed a brief stutter in the form of a home draw against bottom of the table Workington, but last Saturday the team returned to winning ways with a five-one win at Gainsborough Trinity, and the club now sits in fifteenth place in the Conference North table. These may...

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Aston Villa & The Pursuit Of Mediocrity

Upon the tootling of the full time whistle at Villa Park on Saturday afternoon, a somewhat familiar chorus of booing rang around one of the few remaining historical homes of English football. A home defeat at the hands of a Sheffield United team that is currently struggling to keep its head above water two divisions below them isn’t a result that it’s possible to put a positive spin upon especially when the manager of your club has chucked his eggs into the basket of stating boldly that the FA Cup doesn’t matter any more, especially in comparison with the relentlessly perpetual battle to hang onto that financially important – but frequently boring – mid-table place in the Premier League. Paul Lambert’s comments regarding Saturday’s match were stupid, but not necessarily for the reasons that you might expect us to say. Quite frankly, we’re quite a long way beyond the point of caring about this tedious annual debate. We know. We see it in the attendance figures. We see see it in the annual caterwauling of supporters with a sense of the sort of sense of entitlement that is a inevitable by-product of the sort of gentrification that the game has been subjected to over the last couple of decades. We know. We’ve had this conversation before. And every year, we say that other sports are available to those for...

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Eusebio & The 1968 European Cup Final

There was a time when it was a sport rather than a merely a business. The scene was Wembley Stadium, on the twenty-ninth of May 1968. In Czechoslovakia, the Prague Spring was in full effect. Just a few weeks previously, Dr Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated in Memphis, whilst both Paris and London groaned under the weight of student protest against the establishment and the Vietnam war. A global summer of political tumult lay ahead. Professional football, meanwhile, trundled on, but serendipity had ensured that this year’s European Cup final would be played in London, at the venue which, less than two years earlier, had played host to the host nation winning the World Cup. And now, for the first time, an English club would be playing in the final of this competition. The benefit of hindsight might now allow us to believe that there was something written in the stars which determined that Manchester United would win the 1968 European Cup. This year was, after all, the tenth anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster, which had torn a gaping hole in one of the finest European club sides of the era and has since provided football historians with one of its great ‘what if’ questions – how close might the Busby Babes have coming to becoming the champions of Europe had death not intervened so cruelly...

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“Person”(s) Of The Year 2013… “Charlotte Fakeovers”

As 2013 was such a rubbish year for football governance and finance, who better to be football’s “man” of it than someone called Charlotte, who told a tale of financial skullduggery and subterfuge and whose real identity, or possibly identities, remain concealed? Mark Murphy thinks “no-one.” The phrase “internet phenomenon” is, granted, clichéd journalese. And I would hesitate to use it about a Twitter account whose origin and veracity remained shrouded in mystery (especially outside Scotland), for its seven months in and out of cyberspace. However, “Charlotte Fakeovers” was such a phenomenon… definitely the best of 2013 at summarising modern football businesses’ ills. Ad worthy of examination, now that “she” claims “my work is done and I’ve cashed in,” regardless of whether the Rangers-related material (s)he published was genuine (probably), genuinely obtained (probably not) or the work of an exceptionally febrile imagination. Project “Charlotte” was the codename for a bid fronted by English businessman Andrew Ellis to buy Rangers from David Murray in 2010 – Murray’s business HQ being in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square. The negotiations broke down and Ellis’s lasting Rangers legacy was to introduce Craig Whyte to the club. Ellis has since apologised… profusely. In May, CF started posting comments on the Scottish Football Monitor (TSFM), website set up “to cast a questioning and watchful eye on Scottish Football officialdom and the compliant mainstream media.” But although they...

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