PAY UP POMPEY
This article should have been printed in the home game v Hitchin Town 6th Feb 2010 but the game was called off because of a frozen pitch.
I’ve been scratching my head to try and work out just what those funny munchkin type creatures, known as the Glazers, actually brought to the Manchester United party. Since the Glazers takeover in May 2005, the once wealthy club are now £716 million in debt, ticket prices have nearly doubled while the Munch-Bunch have paid themselves nearly £23 million in ‘management and administration fees’. Now the bearded wonders are proposing to flog the training ground and then lease it back, just like Leeds United did during their financial collapse. The Glazer takeover led to the breakaway club FC United of Manchester, but those that stayed are also now beginning to protest, with banners and chants at the Burnley game and some supporters groups even asking for Alex Ferguson to resign in protest!
Over in Merseyside, Liverpool’s prospects aren’t much rosier. With a manager they can’t afford to sack and no sign of the promised new ground they are £350 million in debt. There could be even more serious financial repercussions if they don’t achieve their God given right to a Champions League place.
Down at the bottom, Portsmouth are in danger of being the first ever club in the Premiership to slip into administration. Goal keeper David James said “Who would have thought that playing in the Premier League, winning the FA Cup, and playing in Europe would bring such disaster? Unbelievably we are now paying the price for that success at Portsmouth. Late wage payments, severe debts, the threat of administration and relegation, ironically all of these problems can be traced back, in part, to our achievements. After we won the Cup I was told that one of our financial people predicted it would ruin us. They were right.”
Lower down the leagues, it is estimated that over half the clubs are technically insolvent, and picking up a copy of the Non League Paper is more like reading the Financial Times.
Lewes nearly paid for the price for reaching for the Conference stars, and it was only a last minute payment of nearly fifty grand to the taxman that recently stopped the club disappearing into oblivion. Oblivion was the fate of 130 year old Kings Lynn FC of the Unibond Premier who owed the taxman £67,000. Despite regular gates of over a thousand, they were relegated last season because of ground grading regulations and will next season be starting all over again as Lynn FC in the Eastern Counties League. Then there’s Chester City who are doing their best to make Portsmouth look well run.
You would hope that all this financial madness would galvanise the authorities to act and football clubs to start getting their houses in order. But as the list of clubs in trouble, entering administration or going bust ever lengthens you start to realize that those in charge of our football clubs are very much like the big bankers. A year on from screwing the world’s economy, those at the top are once again back to awarding themselves big bonuses. In football we have people like Portsmouth Chief Executive Peter Storrie who received £1.23 million in 2009, part of a trebling of pay and benefits for Portsmouth directors while the club sunk into debt.
As football supporters how long are we prepared to let this continue? To hand over our cash to football madmen who line their pockets, sell off our stadiums and grind football clubs into the ground? I want Man United or Liverpool to go bust in the hope that it will bring everyone to their senses and for football clubs to be seen as essential community assets that shouldn’t be messed with. I’m not holding my breath.