Tag: Watford

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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Watford Football Club: Safe, For 364 Days

While much focus has been on the foot of the Premier League, with the continuing financial travails of relegated Hull and Portsmouth and damn-near relegated West Ham, the foot of the Championship has seen its own three-horse mini-race to financial oblivion. Damn-near relegated Crystal Palace remain favourites, despite a late run from relegated Sheffield Wednesday who have had a week of internal warfare to match anything that clubs such as Southampton and Liverpool could offer. And Watford are now bringing up the rear, “saved” from administration by major shareholder Lord Michael Ashcroft, who has put the club on the road to recovery. For 364 days at least. When this column last looked at Watford’s off-field problems, club legend Graham Taylor was busy muttering “do I not like that” at the boardroom politics of the club, particularly those of chairman Jimmy Russo and his brother Vinny. The Russo brothers have been long-standing financial supporters of the club and major club shareholders (29%) and equally long-standing sources and focuses of antagonism. It was this mix which led to Watford Leisure’s farcical AGM just before last Christmas. The Russos had, via their “Valley Green Salads” company, kept Watford going throughout 2009 with a series of loans so frequent they were given their own names (“the January Loan”, “the July Loan,” “the August Loan,” and so on).  By December, these had totalled £4.93m....

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The Value Of Shareholder Democracy At Rangers & Watford

Both Watford and Rangers have had disagreements at boardroom level over the last couple of weeks. Mark Murphy has been looking at both clubs, and arrives at the conclusion that under all of the smart talk, no-one – not even those directly involved – knows exactly what is going on.

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