Living across the river from what used to be the oldest club in the football league, 130 years of history torn apart by a single man’s arrogance in pursuing his own fame and status, I am delighted that wages have eventually been paid at Notts County FC (with HMRC next on the list) following the sale of the club to a new Danish Consortium, but in hearing the rising debts and constant financial struggles of Bolton Wanderers and Bury and after reading a tweet regarding the ridiculous amounts of money owed by one of the country’s biggest and most successful clubs Manchester United… Not to mention the gruelling and painstaking length of time it’s taking Newcastle United to be sold by wantaway billionaire businessman Mike Ashley… Is it not time that our football clubs were given back to us the public and not be lead by money-motivated maniacs that couldn’t care less for the future of the team but for the money it brings in?
The tweet I’ve just read regarding Manchester United suggests that since the Glazers took charge back in 2005 where they borrowed £750m from the banks to buy the club at alarming rates, they have since paid back only £44m which means at current levels would take another 150+ years to pay back in full. All this whilst increased interest payments approach £1bn and Chief Executive Ed Woodward enjoys a 60% pay rise (to over £4m a year) despite the club finishing in its worst league position in around 30 years the season just gone.
Whilst Bury have Saturday’s opening match verses MK Dons placed on hold until the FA are satisfied that they can financially survive a season in the league they like Bolton start the campaign with a minus 12 point deficit in League One after both clubs went in to administration this summer.
Elsewhere fans of Newcastle United who have been up for sale since forever are becoming vastly impatient and irritated by the handling of the situation that their club is in… Despite not having any ability to do anything about it.
This isn’t just about the above mentioned clubs, but year in year out there has been about a huge percentage of football clubs in England, vastly over-spending on players wages in order to attract the promotions that attracts the marketing that makes the men at the top very rich… But this is just a gamble.. A throw of the dice… Zero thought, often zero patience, just a simple case of throwing X to get Y… but when it doesn’t quite work out.. What next?
Well now I believe (under the dictatorship of Boris) it is time that Parliament stepped in… These clubs need governing and institutionalising because after all, they are institutions and are part of our religion in this country. We worship our football clubs and attend our stadiums without fail, we support and believe in our team and will never change our faith to follow another… No matter who’s in charge and how they intend on destroying it.
Former Crystal Palace Chairman Simon Jordan last night said “it should be simple, if Bury turn over a million quid their wage bill should be 750k”… “the fact it means that Bury should be a League 2 club? Well so be it, at least that way they still have a club” and I agree with Jordan, why clubs spend beyond their means to ‘gamble’ on their future is beyond me? It should be stopped and the only way it can be stopped is governance, which will also safeguard the future of these clubs in the long run.
So how can it all be done?
Nobody says it will be easy but we need to enforce a long term objective through parliament and the FA that safeguards our clubs and that gives the clubs to the local councils, to the fans, to the community. This can only be done by having a proper structured system in place that says no individual is bigger than a club, nobody has more influence, a 33% share of council/community/FA and fans with the final 33% belonging to the board of directors.
Income revenue streams would be via ticket sales through fans, via FA & Premier League funding filters through the council and via sponsorship/marketing and success on the pitch that comes from having the right board in place. Money equally spread and equally sourced with no more than 50% of income spent on playing budget. Total transparency with the clubs audit and financial record published at the end of each season for all to see (and analyse).
Now this cannot be done overnight, and what football owner in their right mind would let this happen to them? But we can start by having a structure in place, that buys out these clubs from administrators and from those who are actively selling them (or in debt) to take on the responsibility and to set these teams up with a 10 year plus plan in place. The buyers could be funded through the FA and Premier League and eventually all clubs would be sold to this system that ensures only 50% of a clubs annual income can be spent on players wages.
It is time our football clubs were governed, it is time we the fans had a say in our football clubs and it is time that the FA and Premier League started putting money back into these clubs to ensure the sports long term survival away from the short term perks of financial madness at only the top of the industry.
Whether it mean a club like Manchester United be forced by government to be sold back to the fans & councils on the basis that they would otherwise be put into administration for crippling debt owned by Glazer and co? Or whether a mandatory buyout this way could be brokered through the FA to purchase the likes of Newcastle, Bury, or Bolton? That would be x4 clubs out of the 92 secured leaving just 88 more to go and with many more to come under similar circumstances I believe we could go some way to giving our football clubs back to those that actually give a damn.