An argument has kicked off on the SCFC guestbook started by “the Realist” who has question our supporter base – our average crowds of 15k+ and he/she claims that’s appalling.
Many observers have mentioned the fact that there is an economic downturn and money is tight right now.
Others have reasoned that we have support equal to that of some of the clubs dining at the top table.
The Realist countered that the likes of Fulham, Wigan and Blackburn are backed by rich owners.
So the question is are they backed, or backed into a corner? Are we better off growing the club slowly, that’s gates, supporter base and commercial activity, or should we gamble a bit, or find a rich owner?
How better off are these clubs the Realist mentions?
Well Fulham have been bankrolled by interest-free loans by Mohammed Al Fayed over the years, and according to The Independent, he is owed £165m.
That’s ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE MILLION POUNDS!!!
What happens when he decides he’s had enough, becomes ill, dies – he’s 76.
Wigan are over £45 million in the red and Whelan, who until recently owned the towns Rugby League side as well, is looking for investment.
Despite having sold JJB for a reported £150m, in 2005 Whelan bought Orrell’s home, Edge Hall Road, then sold it to developers. The rugby club play their games at a local university now. That sounds like a man counting the pennies to me.
And what happens when he pops his clogs (he’s in his 70s too)? The same as Blackburn I suspect.
Blackburn are over £20m in hock, with a wage budget of £40m.
A reflection of their tight finances was seen last November when they went chasing 43 grand from Livingstone (another club in financial ruin) – profits of Dave McNamee’s sale to Coventry (a player Blackburn gave to Livi for free, and a share of any profits should he be sold).
The club is currently 69 per cent owned by the Jack Walker Trust (who are looking to sell) and only pump money in from the trust coffers when they are in desperate need. 15 per cent is owned by BA – who in a downturn sees airlines losing money like luggage, won’t be putting in any cash. The rest is held by an employees share scheme.
Walker believed that the clubs could become self-financing with an investment of £30m. How wrong could he be?
Walker and the Trust had pumped over £97m into the club by the end of 2007, though the Trust has ONLY been giving the club £3m a year since 2002.
The 2007 accounts for the club stated ‘the trustees “see no immediate requirement to invest further”‘. They have also instructed Rothschild’s to find a buyer for the club.
So I would hardly hold those clubs as examples of where we are – in much better long term shape in my opinion.
A steady growth is what is needed, because a salary cap is coming in some shape or form if UEFA President Michel Platini has his way, and a number of chairman like Reading’s Majeski think it is the only way smaller clubs can compete fairly against the Manure’s of this world.
The Football League are examining a way of implementing one, and even the likes of moneybags Adam Pearson backs the idea.
“The game is close to meltdown at all levels,” he told the Guardian. “Club boards are under pressure to gain success and that leads to them paying ridiculous wages. It cannot carry on or it will end in disaster. There is a growing feeling now that some sort of wage cap has to come in.”
Rupert Lowe agrees (well he would).”Boards should keep wages below 60% of turnover”, is his view.
Ray Ransom thinks, “restraining wages to a proportion of turnover would be a good thing and in today’s climate, people should think seriously about it.”
Even Premiership Chairman now see the value in halting the spiraling debt.
Phil Gartside (whose club in reportedly only £4m in debt) suggested it in October 2008, and his views were backed by Lord Triesman, the FA Chairman.
Dave Whelan has been saying this for over 4 years.
Al Fayed recently agreed to one when Manchester City were looking to spend over £100m on Kaka.
Blackburn’s John Williams said,”The idea of capping to make everything equal in football really excites me…”
So despite the billion dollar deal the Premiership rights have just realised, the football hierarchy are of the opinion that clubs will be forced to be change their operating budgets if they like it or not.
Whether they can force through legislation which would affect the likes Liverpool, Manure, Chelski and Arsenal more than most is open to question.
But according to Deloittes, the Premier league’s clubs owe a total of £3 billion between them, so something will have to give.