football finance

Bullshit Rodeo

August 10th, 2013|

The meaning of Manchester City and Chelsea’s successes

May 21st, 2012|

Would your football club be better run as a co-operative?

May 9th, 2012|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]I’ve done a piece for  The Guardian on football clubs and co-operation, making the case for why it’s the best form for them to take, what progress has been made in the last decade, and what challenges they still face to become a successful part of the landscape.[/author_info] [/author] […]

Darlington, By George

January 13th, 2012|

The news from Darlington FC isn’t good at all. The club could be wound up in the very near future. Two factors make this likelier than not: they’re not in the league, and that they have a monstrously unsuitable stadium which leeches any cash they have. […]

Time to Blacklist the Blackout

February 23rd, 2011|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Written for news and analysis site Sporting Intelligence on the potential ramifications of the Karen Murphy case working its way throughout the European Court of Justice, and how the end of the 3pm rule might not be the end of the world as we know it for smart clubs.[/author_info] [/author]

What will be the long-term impact of the Karen Murphy case be? Assuming the European Court agree with the view of the Advocate General which was announced last week, some have predicted the end of Civilisation As We Know It, whilst others say Sky will become even more powerful.

But what if the decision ends up being the renaissance of lower league clubs? It’s all to do with the 3pm blackout, which dates from the time when football chairman – led by Burnley’s Bob Lord – feared that TV exposure would damage already declining gates, and so the 3pm-5pm Saturday time slot is currently prohibited (voluntarily, not legally) for domestic broadcast of matches. […]

Personal Submission to DCMS Inquiry Into Football Governance

February 14th, 2011|

In my professional capacity I am Chief Executive of Supporters Direct, where I have worked for 10 years. This is a personal submission covering issues beyond the immediate purview of the evidence submitted by Supporters Direct.
Discussion about what to do about football must eventually become discussion about how to do it. Identifying things the FA should do presupposes that it has the ability to do that, so matters of policy inevitably become governance issues. […]

Football in 2011 – Speaker’s Corner Trust Debate

February 10th, 2011|

Too Big to Fail to Notice

October 14th, 2010|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Originally published in football’s business-to-business magazine, FC Business in October 2010 as Liverpool FC ownership under Tom Hicks and George Gillett came to an end following a transatlantic court battle between them and the club’s creditor bankers.[/author_info] [/author]

When clubs like Chesterfield and Exeter became owned by crooks, people who ran football and who wrote about it didn’t seem to care that much, because neither were big clubs, like Liverpool.

When Portsmouth’s owners turned out to have been functionally innumerate, or broke, or maybe to not even exist (or maybe all of those things), people who ran football and who wrote about it didn’t seem to care much because Portsmouth were just a small club which seemed bigger just by dint of the league it played in. It wasn’t a big club like Liverpool. […]

Foreword to Christian Aid Report on Football & Offshore Ownership

May 29th, 2010|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Jointly authored foreword (with Malcolm Clarke, Chair of The FSF) to a report by Christian Aid published at the start of the World Cup. The report pointed to the use of tax and secrecy havens by English football clubs, as part of their wider campaign work to publicise the damage done by such havens to developing countries.[/author_info] [/author]

At first, supporters of football clubs in the world’s wealthiest football nation in one of the world’s most affluent countries might not seem to have much in common with some of the poorest people on our planet, but as this report demonstrates, both are ill-served by the use of the financial block-holes dotted around the world. […]

Chickens Come Home to Roost at Pompey

November 14th, 2009|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Originally published in football’s business-to-business magazine, FC Business in November 2009 as Portsmouth FC were imploding following a series of changes of ownership, and looked likely to become the first Premier league club to enter formal administration in the league’s 20 year history.[/author_info] [/author]

By the time you’re reading Portsmouth could be alternatively bankrupt, in administration, under their fifth owners of the season, have spent next year’s parachute money from their inevitable relegation, and quite probably a combination of several of these. It’s both a tragedy and farce as history repeats itself for a club in administration 10 years previously.

Reading some of the commentary on the events at Fratton Park, you would get the impression that these unfolding events are an unpredictable development. That would be wrong for several reasons. […]

Unfit and Improper

October 14th, 2009|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Originally published in football’s business-to-business magazine, FC Business in October 2009 as Portsmouth’s meltdown continued apace, touching on the ‘fit and proper persons’ which several of Portsmouth’s owners had passed.[/author_info] [/author]

The Premier League’s version of the fit and proper person test was beefed up in the summer, to the extent that it’s probably the toughest and best of the three varieties in operation. Even so, the fact that Sulaiman Al-Fahim passed it suggests there’s more work to be done. […]

That Sinking Feeling, or How Not To Waste a Crisis

May 14th, 2009|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Originally published in football’s business-to-business magazine, FC Business in May 2009 as the UK entered recession and, for the first time since the creation of the Premier League, English football would not be buoyed by the wider economic climate.[/author_info] [/author]

In the last two months of the season, four Football League clubs entered administration, and in the space of one week, three non-league clubs were wound-up. Nobody believes that’s anything but the start. Football Conference Chairman Brian Lee says he can’t remember a more challenging time for clubs at that level, and he’s right to be worried. The issue is not whether clubs will be insolvent, but how many, how far up the leagues the problems will go. […]

There May Be Trouble Ahead

January 14th, 2009|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Originally published in football’s business-to-business magazine, FC Business in January 2009, focussing on how the likely recession might impact on the football sector, given the game’s poor record at managing its finances in good times.[/author_info] [/author]

Every day brings more depressing economic news, and it’s clear that no-one has any idea of when or how this will play out; people who failed to spot the greatest economic collapse since the 1930s now confidently predict it will all be over by next Christmas. Sounds familiar. […]

Should Football Allow Leveraged Buyouts?

January 23rd, 2008|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Published in The Guardian’s Sporting debate column where I went head-to-head with Joe McLean of Grant Thornton’s football unit. Joe was in favour of a relaxed attitude to the leveraged takeovers of football clubs, whilst I took the contrary view.[/author_info] [/author]

The idea of a leveraged takeover is that an asset is undervalued and somebody thinks they can make more money out of it so they use debt to acquire the club and then try to make the money back. It’s based on speculation, so the only sure-fire winners tend to be the people who sell up and leave the clubs behind.

Once the debt has been taken on you are at the whim of capital markets and that means the size of the liability can be beyond the club’s control. At least at Arsenal – though they are hardly without debt – they are on a long-term fixed rate deal. Debt can help achieve new goals but if the only reason is to transfer ownership from one party to another, then the question of most fans would be ” Why are we doing this?” It seems like if you have this kind of debt you have to make more money just to stand still. […]

The Case for Salary Caps

August 20th, 2006|

[author][author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image]
[author_info]Written for Supporters Direct’s quarterly magazine in 2006, making the case for cost-control in football to bring an end to seemingly continual inflationary pressures; the policy ideas behind this were part of a wider debate which influenced UEFA’s Financial Fair Play initiative.[/author_info] [/author]

In a recent article in the magazine, I mentioned the idea of wage constraints on clubs. It’s an issue that’s increased in profile recently, a sure sign that the debate is shifting. The issue is particularly relevant within the Trust movement, as it addresses a major problem they all Trust-run and Trust-influenced clubs face. […]