These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

TOO BIG TO FAIL


Printed in the Southern Division One Central League programme v Northwood Saturday 18th August 2012. We won 5-0 in front of 266. Not a bad way to start the season.

They were just too big to fail and if they did it would be the end of Scottish football. Clubs were warned that if they voted to relegate the new Rangers FC to Scottish Division 3 their whole footballing world would unravel. Masters of that universe, or SKY as they like to be known, would take their tainted cash elsewhere. And they would all suffer. But Scottish football isn't dying because Rangers have folded and the new team is starting in the lowest division. It has been suffering a slow death ever since the founders of the Scottish Premier League allowed Rangers and Celtic to hive off the vast majority of the extra cash that came into the game. As a result no one else can compete. 

In the end most clubs told the Scottish FA to get stuffed and most Rangers fans agreed. Forget Champions League it’s off to East Stirlingshire (average attendance 321) instead. Surely it will be a massive financial shot in the arm for clubs ‘lucky’ to be welcoming Rangers. Or at least as comedian Frankie Boyle tweeted ‘Every other Saturday one of Scotland's smaller towns will get to learn what life was like in the time of the Vikings.’
This is also a great opportunity for Scottish clubs to come up with a more sustainable model, negotiate a fairer distribution of the gate and TV revenues and hopefully restore some balance to the league. But don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile last week Manchester United PLC were floated on the New York stock exchange. Why New York? Because US rules give shareholders less rights than they would have had in London and their owners have altered the clubs constitution to block any future hostile takeovers. They will also be based in the Cayman Islands and not because they like the beaches their. Since the Glazers bought United seven years ago, the club have paid around 550 million just for the privilege of having them as owners.  Football investigator David Conn wrote "The 231-page registration document is the latest Glazer candidate for the most depressing document ever produced containing the word football. It features an introductory 'reorganisation' map, so potential investors can navigate themselves through the tax havens within which Manchester United is to be harboured."

Then there’s George Rolls-Royce who has been doing the rounds of various non league clubs like Cambridge United and Weymouth. But he’d hardly stepped through the door at the financial car crash that is Kettering Town before he was suspended from all footballing activity for five years. He was fined ten grand by the FA for over three thousand betting charges and a couple of misdemeanors. Rolls defence was that he didn’t know you couldn’t bet on a club or competition your club was involved in. Well hello, if you don’t understand such basic footballing rules you shouldn’t be in charge of the raffle tickets let alone be in the boardroom. As one Weymouth fan put it "Rolls is the Ebola virus of non-league football and the FA have, for once, stuck the needle in just where it needs to be stuck." 

All of this is just two fingers up to the rest of us. They didn’t know they were doing anything wrong. Paying tax is for suckers. If we don’t let them bend the rules they threaten to go elsewhere. But when it goes wrong, just like the bankers we have to bail them out. Because we must remember they are too big too fail.

But fail they must. And a new way of running things such as more supporters owned football clubs that are a real benefit to the community rather than lining someone’s pocket or stroking their ego must become the norm.

Fantastic websites on football economics 

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