Tag: Watford

After Notts County: England’s Club Owners. Are They Any Good?

“Are they any good?”  It’s a simple question. And it is in the top one of questions supporters should ask of bidders for football clubs. But, as the BBC’s flagship documentary programme Panorama revealed this week, no-one at Notts County was asking the question while the club was being taken over by ‘Munto Finance.’ Or any question at all for that matter. Not that supporters of other clubs going through ownership ‘issues’ have any reserved seats on the moral high ground. There were many lessons to be learned from Panorama about the need for supporter vigilance and scrutiny of their clubs’ owners and executives. Among some fan bases, those lessons have been ignored. Birmingham City’s appearances in the headlines since their stunning Carling Cup final triumph have been as much about their dismal finances as their dismal form. Hong Kong’s stock exchange regularly features announcements about Birmingham International Holdings, City’s parent company. And they are usually about money lost, money borrowed or money not raised. Yet some Blues fans are convinced of “an anti-Blues and anti-Chinese agenda” in the midst of our national football press. While others suggest the Premier League is probing City’s finances because of Uefa’s ‘pro-Liverpool’ bias. Meanwhile, Watford’s takeover, now all-but-complete, continues to turn logic apex-over-elbow, with some supporters refusing to acknowledge new owner Laurence Bassini’s demonstrable business inabilities. “You can’t judge a book by...

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Odd Goings-On At Blackburn And Watford

There was a rumour circulating recently that Watford Football Club were in takeover negotiations with someone who had neither changed his name nor had a troubled business and financial background. These were quickly dismissed as nonsense. And though it is being too kind to take full notice of what potential Watford owner Laurence Bassini has to say about… ANYthing, it was certainly worth a second look at what he said about his putative involvement with Blackburn Rovers, and how “I was offered Blackburn Rovers, as Jerome Anderson is a good friend of mine.” The Lancashire Telegraph newspaper interpreted this as Bassini being offered the club BY “agent Jerome Anderson,” which isn’t quite what the wannabe Watford supremo said. However, what he did say was enough to get fans up in even more arms than ever before about Anderson’s true role at Ewood Park over the last year. Or at least it should have been. Alas, of the 40-odd comments the article received from Telegraph readers, 36 were a sectarian Burnley/Blackburn argument which was childish and pointless even for a ‘web warrior’ offering. Only four readers thought even as much as “hang on a minute” about a players’ agent’s suggested involvement in seeking a buyer for their club. Maybe Blackburn fans are suffering from lunacy-fatigue and are just pleased that the team is playing football again after months of rollerball...

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2010: A Football Financial Review

You could frame it. If you wanted a short, pithy representation of all that has been wrong with football finance in 2010, you could do no better than quote a Plymouth Argyle fan known as “Sensible Surfer” on the BBC Football website over the Christmas period. “Ridsdale set to take control… good news,” he/she said, a phrase which would sit nicely as an explanation of irony…except that it didn’t appear to BE irony. And it served as fair comment on Argyle’s current state that, relatively, Peter Ridsdale – the failed former Leeds and Cardiff chairman and serial over-borrower – IS good news for the cash and panic-stricken South Westerners, with the heaviest possible emphasis on the word ‘relatively.’ If professional football entered 2010 in a state of moral and financial bankruptcy, it is leaving it in much the same manner. Certain football problems have been “solved.” Some more have emerged. While others, hello Portsmouth, look set to run forever. The “greater fool” theory still underpins much of the game’s financial strategies. The theory is about as scientific as it sounds – buying something in the belief that you will be able to sell it again for a higher price (to a “greater fool”), regardless of what has happened in the meantime (increased debts, usually), or even whether the original price was rooted in reality. Finding a “greater fool” is...

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Match Of The Week: Derby County 4-1 Watford

What, one wonders, were the expectations of Derby County supporters upon the appointment of Nigel Clough in December 2008? Easy though it is to try and draw comparisons twixt father and son, Nigel has resolutely been his own man, seeing out a lengthy managerial apprenticeship at Burton Albion (and leaving them in a strong enough position to be go on to win the Blue Square Premier title five months after he left their club) before leaving to take a job that he may have felt fated to. After all, his father took Derby County from near the bottom of the Second Division to being the champions of England in five years. Such aspirations are beyond all but the most wildly over-ambitious these days, but Derby County is a club plenty capable of hosting Premier League football again. Is Clough the man to take them there, though? In his first half-season at the Pride Park, he dragged Derby out of the relegation places in the Championship, but there was an element of damp squib about last season, which ended with the club finishing in fourteenth place in the table. This season has so far seen the inconsistency continue and Derby County sit in the middle of the Championship table but, this being one of the most unpredictable leagues in the whole of English football, it would be foolish at this...

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At The Sharp End… Dispatches From Southend, Cardiff, Watford, Preston & Portsmouth

One of the most useful research tools for football finance writing is the “Football Management” site run by Dr. John Beech of Coventry University. Dr. Beech took ten days off recently, and came back to an in-tray” of HMRC-related football fun which would have blocked out the light from his office windows. Indeed, any hopes that any of us had of football’s financial woes holding themselves in abeyance while the world’s finest – and John Terry – were strutting their South African stuff were short-lived in the extreme. Instead, it’s almost as if certain clubs regarded the World Cup as a time to bury bad news. The worst news has come from Southend-on-Sea where the extent of the football club’s reliance on Sainsbury’s (Sainsbury’s!!) for survival has been laid bare. The local Echo newspaper has over recent months run numerous stories in its sports, business and general news pages about the funding issues surrounding Southend’s stadium project at Fossett’s Farm. Last month, they joined the dots in an impressive resume of the football club bills Sainsbury’s have recently paid, i.e. pretty much all of the major ones. To cut a very long story short, Sainsbury’s could soon be in control of Southend United if Martin puts them any more in hock to “the supermarket giants.” And while they were joining these dots, another two appeared; yet another winding-up petition...

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