These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the National League South in a swanky new ground. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Printed in the Southern League South and West game v Windsor and EtoN 24th January 2009. Windsor’s 18 match unbeaten run came to and end with Slough winning
3-2 in front of 385 people.

If something seems too good to be true then it probably is. This is
what the investors with Bernard Madoff are finding out, after he recently
confessed to the worlds largest ever fraud. US Investment manager Madoff
was the ultimate Wall Street insider, the financial wizard to the A-list who
everyone wanted to know. But Madoff established what is called a
“Ponzi scheme” and swindled up to $50 billion from investors from big
banks to charities. But how could he have fooled so many people for so
long? Ponzi schemes are relatively unsophisticated frauds in which the
organisers repay old investors not with genuine gains but with money
from new investors. Madoff gave much better returns than anyone else,
but while the money rolled in few questioned how it was possible.
Too good to be true also sums up the Premiership. Football fans have
been too easily dazzled by money; turning a blind eye to anyone who
flashes the cash, no matter where that money comes from or the dubious
motives of the investors.
West Ham are the Premiership club in the most precarious position.
Owner Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson has put West Ham on the market in order to pay
back debts exceeding £50 million after the collapse of an Icelandic
bank in which he had a 41% stake. Gudmundsson, who bought the club for
£85 million in 2006, is struggling to finalise a deal having initially
expected to raise £250 million, a figure that, surprise surprise, is
proving unrealistic in the current financial climate. If he doesn’t
sell by early March, his company will be declared bankrupt and
stripped of its assets, which includes West Ham. Should that happen
the Hammers could be placed into administration with an immediate
point’s deduction. Sources close to Gudmundsson admitted "It is very
difficult to sell any football club right now, it is hard to maximise
At Blackburn, relegation could finish the club – with wages accounting
for a staggering 85 per cent of turnover. Portsmouth and Liverpool’s
plans for new stadiums look to be going nowhere. Even money-bags
Abramovich has been hit by the collapse of the Russian stockmarket.
Infact Chelsea and Man Utd have a combined debt of £750 million! The
Mr.Big of football take-overs Keith Harris, said "We're in the
toughest economic situation anybody has endured in our lifetime, and
that means we are unlikely to see much activity on the football
takeover scene." An American investor ready to buy the ever troubled
Newcastle United had to pull out after they lost hundreds of millions
of dollars thanks to the Bernard Madoff fraud.
Of course it’s not just Premiership clubs that are feeling the pinch –
football clubs up and down the country have over-stretched themselves
and are in financial melt-down as sponsorship dry’s up.
In the week when Man City made a ridiculous £100 million bid for AC
Milan’s Kaka, Berkhamstead Town went to the wall after their
electricity was cut off because of an unpaid bill. With it go another
community asset and ninety years of history. Meanwhile Lewes,
Northwich, Grays, Weymouth, Workington, Salisbury, Folkestone,
Eastleigh, Stafford, Worcester, Leigh Genesis and Fisher are just some
of the non league clubs in financial trouble.
Football clubs are not just companies or rich men’s playthings, but
run properly can become part of the social glue that binds communities
together. It’s time more football fans took control of their clubs and
became a lot more questioning about the way football is run before the
game is ruined forever.

• Excellent website on football economics

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Printed in the Southern League South and West League match v North
Leigh Tuesday 20th January 2009. 1-1 draw in front of 205 people.

How old should your child be before you drag them along to a football
match? This was the question posed on the excellent Tony Kempster
website by one parent. Well as a dad I feel is part of my parental
responsibility to take my son and get him hooked on footie as young as
possible. Taking children to football is good for their social skills,
gets them used to crowds (well, sometimes there’s a crowd) and more
importantly, very good for their language skills!
Ruben was just 10 days old before his uncle Mad Beard Mark paid for
him to be match sponsor. Ruben slept through the game although he did
have the dubious honour of being breastfed in the Windsor and Eton
boardroom with pictures of royalty bearing down on him. Since then,
he’s come along to quite a few home games, a non league international
at Eastbourne and been on trips to Henley, Hendon, Andover, Uxbridge
and the Isle of Wight. Club-shop Sue brought him a little top which he
wore when he run out as a mascot with his cousin Liam last season. The
only problem being that he now thinks its ok to run on the pitch
His last match was New Years Day when over 2,000 squashed into the
Dripping Pan to watch Lewes v Eastbourne, easily the biggest crowd of
his life. Only once did he complain about ‘too many people’ singing
‘Rebels, Rebels’ and getting very excited about the Eastbourne fans
rendition of Santa Claus. I did try to tell him that the Rebels was
also the nickname for Lewes arch rivals Worthing, and that Slough
weren’t playing, but it was only the lack of chips that really got him
upset. Infact ‘Rebels, Rebels’ is definitely one of his favourite
songs – and he gave a good rendition of it at a recent demo against
the Israeli bombing of Gaza!
I want to be a fly on the wall when Ruben explains to bewildered class-
mates that he supports Slough Town – a town, let alone a football
team, they doubtless will have never heard of. Mind you, at nursery
they think he is singing ‘Seagulls’, the nickname of Brighton and Hove
Albion, and it seems unnecessary to contradict them.
Probably unsurprisingly, Ruben now loves football – be it watching it
or playing it. Infact any ball game is popular - although the hitting-
toys-with-a-tennis-racket isn’t the best game in the world – for his
toys, the windows or our heads.
It seems obligatory at the lower levels of football to have a group of
kids knocking a ball about oblivious to the football on the pitch.
Luckily at Slough there are always quite a few kids home and away to
keep Ruben amused. But it's better to take him when there's little at
stake. When we were fighting relegation at Newport Isle of Wight, I
spent half my time chasing him away from puddles that would have
submerged him.
How long his love affair with Slough will last I don’t know. With work
starting on the brand new Brighton stadium just a mile away from our
house, he’ll no doubt be heading their sometime soon. He will love the
atmosphere, the football will no doubt be better, but there will be no
unofficial football matches, climbing over chairs, running up and down
their aisles or grass fights. And it will cost 25 quid to get in. So
to the man who asked about taking his kids to footie. Yes definitely,
but for smaller children, the non league experience wins everytime.