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Will Premier League learn its lesson?

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Dan Roan | 11:28 UK time, Monday, 10 May 2010

Off the pitch, the 2009/10 season will be remembered as the one that the mountain of debt on which the Premier League sits finally claimed its first major victim, triggering a degree of recrimination and scrutiny not seen before in English football's top flight.

The conditions that led to the barely believable phenomenon of Portsmouth, one of 20 clubs in arguably the richest league in the world, flirting with liquidation had been brewing for years. Equally, the ramifications of the chaos at Fratton Park will be felt for a long time. The game in this country may never be the same again.

As I arrived at Old Trafford on Sunday for Manchester United's final match of the season against Stoke, the inherent contradictions at the heart of the Premier League's economy were there for all to see.

The stadium was full to capacity, packed with supporters and football tourists from around the world, many hoping for one final twist in the most exciting title race in years.

The megastore was packed, the club's merchandising operation as healthy as ever. Smartly dressed corporate customers arrived in large numbers for lavish pre-match hospitality. In the TV compound, the league's billion-pound broadcasting deals were in full swing as gigantic mobile galleries beamed live pictures of the action back to millions of armchair spectators in the United Kingdom and around the globe.

A picture of a sport not in recession but in rude health.

But there was anger alongside the intense commercial activity that has made United the world's most valuable club.

Green and gold was everywhere, protesters venting their fury at the £700m of debt the owners, the Glazer family, have now loaded on to United's holding company, and which cost £67m to service last year.

Demonstrators sang violent anti-Glazer chants, unfurled banners and clashed with police as emotions boiled over. Wednesday will mark five years to the day that the club was bought by the Florida-based billionaires and many fans now blame the family for a season that ended in disappointment.

And all the time, the Red Knights watch and wait to make their move. Since I broke the story of the financiers' interest in a takeover of the club back in January, anticipation among the fans has intensified. A bid for the club will almost certainly be made within a month, but the Glazers seem resolute in the face of the hatred.

On a grand scale, the picture at Old Trafford is indicative of many of United's counterparts throughout the Premier League. Thanks largely to a bumper overseas TV deal worth £1.4bn, clubs are generating more money than ever, while attendance figures have held steady in the face of the recession. The problem is not making money but rampant overspending - on wages and the cost of borrowing more.

As with their arch rivals, Liverpool were bought by American investors who borrowed vast amounts to afford the purchase but secured the loans not against their own personal fortunes but against the club itself.

Last week, Liverpool released accounts that revealed the club recorded a £55m loss, the biggest in its history, despite income rising by over £20m last season. Having to pay £40m in interest on borrowings of £350m did the damage, as did £100m in wages.

For the second year running, the club's auditors warned of a "material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt upon the ability to continue as a going concern". Since then, its main lender, RBS, has again come to the rescue with another short-term loan. But, unlike their countrymen down the M62, Tom Hicks and George Gillett have had enough, putting the club up for sale.

What should worry Liverpool fans most is that these figures were recorded in what can only now be regarded as a good year for the club, a year - the 2008/9 campaign - in which they came close to winning the title and reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Since then, Liverpool have gone rapidly backwards, limping home in seventh place in the league and failing to progress past the initial stage of the Champions League, the riches of which they must do without from now on. Martin Broughton, the club's new chairman, insists there is no need to sell assets like Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. But, unless a new buyer for the club can be found, it is hard to see how.

Elsewhere, there have been similar examples of financial trauma in the last 12 months. At West Ham, for instance, where administration was avoided thanks only to the intervention of David Gold and David Sullivan, who must still tackle £110m of debt. And at newly relegated Hull, who are £35m in the red. A brutal round of cost-cutting will now be embarked on at both clubs as the sport looks to tighten its belt.

Portsmouth fans prepare for life in the Championship
Portsmouth fans are preparing for life in the Championship

Then there is Portsmouth, a club that two years ago were winners of the FA Cup but who today stand as pariahs, an example to the rest of the sport of the dangers of spending way beyond ones means.

Avram Grant's Pompey team can walk out at Wembley this weekend with their heads held high, a last hurrah before the squad is disbanded and sold off in time for next season. But, off the field, Portsmouth remain firmly in disgrace, shamed by the £135m they still owe the taxman, agents, players, clubs, former and current owners, alongside many other more vulnerable, smaller creditors.

The nightmare of Portsmouth reflects badly on the Premier League's fit and proper person test, which raised few alarm bells when Sulaiman al-Fahim, Ali al-Faraj and now Balram Chainrai followed Sacha Gaydamak into Fratton Park.

One of the reasons Ian Watmore felt the need to resign as chief executive of the Football Association was frustration at what he saw as a failure to beef up the rules which allow a man dubbed 'al-Mirage' to buy a club without ever being seen at Fratton Park.

Despite criticism from Uefa president Michel Platini, the Premier League remains loyal to its "liberalism", insisting that Portsmouth's mess is their own fault. That said, it will now vote through a more rigorous screening regime, forcing prospective owners to provide proof of funds and attend meetings before being allowed to buy.

Clubs have had to be more transparent with their finances and prove they are up to date with payments. Hull's accounts are now monitored on a daily basis by the Premier League's experts, while, if required, a club's transfer activity can be controlled and Uefa licenses withheld, as Pompey have discovered.

Meanwhile, Uefa is preparing to phase in its financial fair play rules, regulations that will force clubs to break even to play in the Champions League. The sport appears to be learning from its mistakes. Sadly, at Fratton Park the horse has already bolted.

In contrast, two clubs fortunate enough to be propped up not by banks but by benefactors can look forward to a summer of renewed transfer activity. Roman Abramovich's enthusiasm has no doubt invigorated by Chelsea's title success, while Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan's appetite will have been whetted by just how close Manchester City came to the hallowed land. Tottenham, fourth spot assured, could be another exception to the general trend of belt-tightening.

Despite relegation, Portsmouth, Hull and Burnley can all look forward to a doubling of the parachute payments for clubs who drop down from the Premier League. If the Football League approves the proposal on Monday, Phil Gartside's dream of a Premier League 2 will move a step closer to creation.

The Bolton chairman has long argued that one of the principal reasons why so many clubs have overspent is the vast financial gulf between the Premier League and Championship. These reforms could go a significant way to levelling out that inequality, albeit at the expense of clubs in Leagues One and Two, who will find it harder than ever to climb through the ranks.

Whatever happened on the pitch this campaign, this was the season when administration, normally limited to clubs in the Football League, came crashing through the walls of Gloucester Place. Now we will discover whether the sport has learned its lesson.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I hope the Football League tell the Premier League where they can stick their proposal. Why should lower league teams be at a disadvantage if the Premier League teams can't look after their finances?

  • Comment number 2.

    City and Chelsea have done well this season and though many clubs are jealous and feel its unfair, foreign owners are to thank. However the other 'traditional clubs' in Britain that never used to face such finicial trouble are struggling to compete and now United and Liverpool are both stuck with large debts and unpopular owners.

    However you just need to look at Portsmouth to know that new ownership is a gamble and could be fatal.

  • Comment number 3.

    And all the time, the Red Knights watch and wait to make their move.

    -----------

    Ha.

    Laughable.

    The Red Knights don't have the moolah.

    Take note, by the middle of July they will have completely withdrawn.




  • Comment number 4.

    Would the introduction of the 6 plus 5 idea affect the financial stability of clubs?

    I know it's not guarenteed to go through however people are still pushing for its introduction.

    Would it curb club's spending vast sums of money abroad and promote the more financially stable option of producing young and in some cases, free talent. Leading them to look down the leagues for the best up and coming players?

    OR

    Would it grossly inflate the prices of English and British players around the country even further. With only the Top teams being able to afford them. Increasing the gulf between the top and bottom half of the table as now teams on a tight budget are no longer able to bring in an established international on the cheap to steady their ship.

    Thoughts?

  • Comment number 5.

    So many people trying to ruin football just to help themselves. The glazers, storrie, gartside. So
    many terrible characters. What a state the 'elite' level of our game is in. Shame there aren't as many people like
    Steff Wright and Jeremy Pearce in charge at the higher end of football.

  • Comment number 6.

    "The game in this country may never be the same again"

    Really? How many of the clubs up before the High Court over the course of the season were actually told "enough's enough" when it came to paying the taxman?

  • Comment number 7.

    "Off the pitch, the 2009/10 season will be remembered as the one that the mountain of debt on which the Premier League sits finally claimed its first major victim, triggering a degree of recrimination and scrutiny not seen before in English football's top flight."

    Utter twaddle. Leeds went down with £80m+ debt, fell into the 3rd tier after Bates did his usual and placed them into Administration. At the time everyone said the same thing as now. No-one gives a stuff about the teams going down as long as their team is safe.

    People will say things like "Oh poor Pompey, great fans", etc. But by the start of the World Cup, not many other than Pompey fans will be thinking about Pompey. Even fewer by the time the new season starts.

    Just because Portsmouth were the first to do whilst in the PL, Leeds only avoided it before they dropped due to the flow of TV revenues.

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree with the blog as far as it goes, but as in most things of this nature, once you start to scratch the surface, you find much more than you were looking for...

    Portsmouth gambled their future on Redknapp sticking around, building and progressing steadily with the squad that he put them in so much debt to buy, of course, he got the call from Levi and was gone before the open top bus had got back into its garage.
    It can and will be argued that Redknapp should not have been allowed to spend what the club did not have, but then would he have moved to the club under those conditions, judging by the size of the spending he has done at Spurs, you can only assume he would not have entertained Portsmouth or anyone else, without the promise of the open cheque book..

    I agree with the sentiment of making each club show balanced books every season, but in reality it will never happen...Imagine the Manchester Uniteds, Barcelonas, Real Madrids, Liverpools, Arsenals, Chelseas ect. all being dropped from the European competitions...The tv deal would be reduced to pocket change, which would adversly effect the rest of the clubs in the competition that have managed to keep their financies in order...

    It is not realistic to expect football club owners to ignore the credit market in the running of their clubs, after all, apart from the few major exceptions, none of the owners would be in a position to be club owners if it had not been for the credit markets and their use of them in the first place...

  • Comment number 9.

    A simple rule change that I think should definately be introduced is the end of 'undisclosed' transfers. How can you have greater transparency in account and in payments to agents when the amount is undisclosed - take portsmouth, no-one had any idea how much they were buying and selling players for. its unfortunately come into fashion in the last few seasons and has now infected most of the league.

  • Comment number 10.

    At the end of the day, unless UEFA introduce financial rules parity for all clubs across Europe, Portsmouth will not be an isolated example. Nearly all Permiership clubs live above their means, spending more than they can afford. Unfortunately, there are very few clubs who can afford to live within their means, and compete for European places and of those, only Arsenal and Spurs don't have sugar-daddies to rely on. The solution's not 6+5 as this will inflate the transfer market even more as the great players get scrambled over. Rather it has to be a straight salary cap. You can't do it as a proportion of turnover as this will inherently bias the larger clubs, such as Arsenal, Man U, Barcelona etc., but a simple cap (varied to reflect exchange rates) across Europe will level the playing field. But since Turkey's never vote for Christmas, this will never happen.

    And so, we're back to square one

  • Comment number 11.

    Thing is Dan, there are still plenty of football Clubs in the Premier League who's houses are well an truly in order. As a Spurs fan I am quite proud that my team have managed to achieve fourth place and Champion's League qualification (in a season where we also went all the way to a major Cup competition's Semi-Finals and the quarter finals of the Carling Cup) financed not by our owner, but by the Club itself.

    I would also, grudgingly, point out the example set by Arsenal. They have financed a new stadium over the last few years and, even with the problems that they have had regarding the sale of the Highbury developments, they are still in robust financial shape and finished a very respectable third place in the League. Before anyone mentions the fact that they don't spend money on new players, I would mention that it still hasn't stopped them bringing in £10m+ players in each of the last three seasons (Vermaelan, Arshaving Nasri).

    The thing is that it is PERFECTLY possible to compete at the highest level in English football without the unlimited resources presented by billionaire backers. There is no need for the English game to sell its soul to foreign investors, no matter how tempting it may be to their current owners, Portsmouth being a perfect case in point.

    Although I admit that Mandaric is hardly an English based investor, he did at least have experience with the madness that is Football ownership. He left the Club in a very respectable state. Upon its sale to Gaydamak, at least at the time a safe bet, the Club started using resources it didn't have and following a business plan that was at best dodgy, at worst downright illegal (i.e. trading insolvently). When he realised the scale of his and the Club's problems he didn't look at the future of the Club, as did Mandaric and, hopefully, would any current owner of a well-run Club, but simply how quickly his investment could be realised.

    Therein lies the crux of the matter - too many investors in English football are just that. Investors. Even the City Sheikhs fall into this bracket, although as ever in Arab business their approach is fundementally different to our own. They are in the game just to make money. Yes, English football is a massive money machine but it should be there to serve the fans, rather than line the pockets of a few rich investors. THIS is what the F.A. need to be addressing, not just the financial rules and testing the "good character" of owners. The FA are there to regulate the game in the interests of the Fans, NOT investors.

  • Comment number 12.

    UEFA is being hypocritical in saying that all teams need to break even to play in the Champions League as teams go broke chasing the CL gold pot of TV and prize money. You only need to see that Manchester United got over £25 million from UEFA in 2008/09 to learn why top clubs will push themselves into debt to chase it.

    When UEFA gives out all the TV money to grass routes football then it can give lectures on good finances. Currently they are just dangling a big carrot in front of teams that they will go into debt to get.

    http://engfootyabroad.wordpress.com/ - English Footballers Abroad

  • Comment number 13.

    No they wont until its too late.

    Simple comparison, The world trade market. Spent freely without consequences and what happened, global financial meltdown.
    Football, huge gambles, massive debts, stupidly high salaries, etc. There aren't enough foreign billionaires with more money than sense to keep it afloat and so it is only a matter of time before the inevitable crisis begins.

    There have been warnings too, Italy a few years ago and now Portsmouth. Bring on the day when the big 4 are financially ruined and out of existence then we will see what the 'best league in the world' is like.

  • Comment number 14.

    The simple fact is that the wage and transfer fee structure in the Premier League (which the PL refuse to cap) has resulted in a league where only a small handful of clubs with rich benefactors can survive.

    Those who do it on borrowed money like Portsmouth will fail. There is no doubt that within the next 12 months Pompey will be followed by 3 or 4 others - at present you'd bet on West Ham and Liverpool but there are plenty of other candidates.

    But the gin-addled old duffers at the PL fiddle whilst Rome burns.

    If the Football League had any sense they would be creating a new Prem League made up of the majority of existing PL clubs (leaving three or four rich ones to play in a Euro league) together with the top few from the Championship.

    New TV deals. And bye bye Premier League - the cocktail cabinet's empty.

  • Comment number 15.

    Will Premier League learn its lesson?
    No it won't.

  • Comment number 16.

    "Off the pitch, the 2009/10 season will be remembered as the one that the mountain of debt on which the Premier League sits finally claimed its first major victim, triggering a degree of recrimination and scrutiny not seen before in English football's top flight."

    "Utter twaddle. Leeds went down with £80m+ debt, fell into the 3rd tier after Bates did his usual and placed them into Administration."

    And before them it was Sheffield Wednesday; before them Forest; before them Man City; before them Bradford; ad infinitum. They may not all have actually entered administration but the difference is technical; they all foundered under the mountain of debt they took on when they tried to stay at the top.

  • Comment number 17.

    I really fear for my club, Hull City, in the next 8 months.
    Hopefully Adam Pearson can stave off administration or we will drop like a stone and out of business, no matter what anyone thinks.
    We will get the "parachute payments", but what we really needed was a team that could play well enough to actually keep us in the premier league.

  • Comment number 18.

    Doubling the parachute payments just moves the problem further down the leagues.

    The sane response would be to set up a fiscal responsibility ruling for EPL membership and give newly promoted clubs a seasons grace from relegation to adapt.

    It's that or the EPL needs to admit its rapidly becoming a closed shop and just get on with making it into a franchised league - I'd personally hate to see that, but it's pretty obvious that's the direction it is moving in.

  • Comment number 19.

    The PL is not the be-all and end-all of football. Many of the lower league clubs offer as muxch excitement and certainly better value for money than the PL.

    Of course the playing standard is not as high but you get more of a sense of involvement, a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, and your kick-off time is not dictated by TV. Also at many grounds you can still stand behind the goal, if that's what you like.

  • Comment number 20.

    Dan Roan wrote: "The game in this country may never be the same again."

    Excellent blog Dan..as regards to your statement above - maybe that's not such a bad thing is it - it certainly isn't the game we used to know and love anyway.

    Soccer 'feels the need..the need for greed', it commonly accepted most clubs live well beyond their means - believing Joe Public will continue to fork out for exorbitant season tickets as well as stumping up for mega TV subscriptions. Recession...what recession? Not in footballs' la-la land - a fantasy world that's long since abandoned it's core roots or social values. It's evolved into being the play thing of American/Russian/Arab egomaniacs sitting like Caesers up in the rafters. Sure, many love the glamour and O.K. Mag lifestyles of modern footy players and their wives but I would have preferred that sort of thing to remain fiction in the likes of Dallas or Dynasty. Football needs it's reality check and fast or soon we'll only be seeing it on games consoles.

  • Comment number 21.

    and before Leeds, Wednesday, Forest, Bradford etc, it was...Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    Wolves moderately overspent in 1978 by borrowing to fund ground redevelopment & spent a record 1.5M transfer fee for Andy Gray. They won the cup, & finished 6th but were hit with massive inflation that sent them into bancrupcy & administration. The administrator sold Andy Gray to Everton for a mere 250K, who led them to glory. Wolves dropped to almost the bottom of the 4th division in successive seasons, and now 30 years later they've fully recovered.

    The killer blow was back then interest rates jumped from 5% in 1977, to 17% by 1979. For Wolves it was just unlucky timing, not gross finacial mismangement.

    If now clubs are barely surviving with record low interest rates of 0.5%, whats likely to happen when rates inevitably rise?

    Wolves learned their lesson & now have the most frugal spending policy in the Premier League, and are one of very few clubs still in the black.

    So what will happen when the interest rates do go up by 1000%...Wolves will win the league by default as the only club still standing.

  • Comment number 22.

    how possibly can the pl claim to be the best league in the world.almost every club is engulfed in debt,the actual quality of football this season has been shocking and with all due respect the pl was not set up to have fixtures including hull burnley wigan.as a wba fan it is so annoying to see clubs buy players they so obviosly cant afford,then put no provision in their contract for it to reduce if they are relegated.wba as a club take promotion and relegation in its stride without a sighning frenzy or financial meltdown.sadly for the penny to finally drop with football in this country a club has got to go to the wall this would then be the required bombshell to wake up footballs administrators.138 million in debt ridiculous and yet no points deduction.

  • Comment number 23.

    #8 - mambo:

    Portsmouth gambled their future on Redknapp sticking around, building and progressing steadily with the squad that he put them in so much debt to buy, of course, he got the call from Levi and was gone before the open top bus had got back into its garage.

    =================================

    I must admit, as a Portsmouth fan, it's rather frustrating having fans of other clubs coming along and pretending they know where it all went wrong.

    The club did not get in this position BECAUSE Harry left. Rather, Harry left BECAUSE the club got in this position.

    Portsmouth were not gambling on Harry sticking around. Portsmouth were gambling on the MONEY sticking around - i.e. Sacha Gaydamak deciding that he wanted to sell up and get out was the beginning of the end, because Gaydamak had been investing his own money in paying the wages from month to month. Subsequently, it's the ridiculous merry go round of owners that exacerbated the problem - by this point, the damage had been done and the debts were already mounting. The only way to stop it was to find another rich owner to bankroll the club, and PFC could only find 2 pretenders and a guy who didn't even want the club in the first place.

    So to reiterate, the problems are not a result of Harry leaving, and the club were not relying on Harry staying. Nor is it Harry's fault, per se, that the club ran out of money.

  • Comment number 24.

    Hey Dan,

    Enjoyable blog. Nice and enjoyable read.

    I know 9 of 10 news articles these days focus on the negative, but.. I'd still like to ask you about the possibility of writing a blog in contrast to this one? Instead focusing on the clubs which are structuring themselves in a responsible manner.

    I know there are many clubs out there who are keeping the purse-strings under close guard, but the only example I have vast knowledge on is West Brom, as that's my club. I'd love to be informed of more shining examples of Football Clubs out there - instead of reading about Portsmouth / Man United for the umpteenth time.

    Would you? Please?! :D

  • Comment number 25.

    Interesting column, think the significant point in all of this was the £100 million wage bill at Liverpool. Player wages are the one thing that's crippling the game now. a wage cap has been toyed with without anyone actually coming up with a decent plan.

    The argument people have is that if the Premier League did this all the top players would go elsewhere, but where? They all can't play for Real Madrid or Barcelona, there's only a handful of teams around Europe who can afford wages of £100k a week.

    At 50 grand a week players would still be millionaires and they'd still have endorsements, so why not. Would have stopped Pompey paying John Utaka £85000 a week.

  • Comment number 26.

    Good read Dan.

    The season have been, without no doubt, hampered by financial crisis and I fear if something is not done about it soon then we would face something worse. However, even with these financial crises to clubs, I still think the PL is the best of all. Yes English teams have failed in the Champions League this season but it doesn't necessarily mean it has weakened. What I think has happened is that our expectations were high and the teams did not perform up to it.

    However, having said that, even if I’m not an expert what I think should have to happen if we are to see a strong and stable league is teams adapting Barca's system. Supporters love their teams and they should own them. After all business men are a business men. If they needs extra money, then they are going to borrow money using the clubs. Clubs will be just properties of rich people who do not respect the supporters. The good example for that is Man U. The owners don't have any respect to the supporters who wants them out. If they ever had any, then they would have accepted the offer on the table and left the club.

    What worries me most at the moment, as a Gooner, is the situation at Arsenal. The club is up for sale and I fear the same thing will happen to us that happened to us to Liverpool and Man U. I don't really care if it is the Russian or the American who takes control. Both are business men and if their fortune changes then so would the clubs. They will use the club to borrow money. I just wish the club stays the way it is or the official Supporters Club acts fast and do what the Red Knights are trying to do before it is too late. Why, however, I do not think The Supporters Club will not act now is because there is no danger looming around. Thanks to Wenger, he had kept us fighting year after year with a limited resource. If it wasn’t for him I think we would have stopped playing Champions league football long ago.

    I don't think the future of the Premier League is that dark but it sure is worrying unless something is done real soon. Our clubs need to stay strong and competitive.

  • Comment number 27.

    Time for a wage cap, amongst other measures. As seen in other leagues, it makes for a more competitive league, but one in which it is harder to establish "dynasties"; the more successful a team is, the higher the players' salary demands go up, the harder it is to hold onto a large number of highly-paid players.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    #23 is proof some people can be fooled all the time. English managers know their clubs' finances because they control transfers. Just because the owner was throwing money around doesn't Harry can forget it. To this day he doesn't want to admit that the transfers were the problem. Apparently, his fans can be convinced of the same, all evidence to the contrary.

  • Comment number 30.

    I think its time football became more responsible financially.

    Time for each of the leagues to create a salary cap that cannot be exceeded, you can still pay your top players £150,000 upwards but as long as your squad does not exceed a certain amount overall.

    American teams all seem to be able to operate with a very large salary cap both from an individual players earnings and teams resources. Perhaps operating under a salary clubs can then become financially stable and not have to worry about an administration issue.

  • Comment number 31.

    Tottenham Hotspur's achievement in finishing in fourth place in the Premier League is even more remarkable given the fact that it is one of the very few clubs who actually make a profit year-in, year-out and that it doesn't have a mountain of debt to service, like many of the other top English clubs.
    It is arguably the best-run club in English football and with two major projects now well underway (the new training facilities and the stadium re-development) its financial future looks very bright indeed.
    Here's a closer look at the Premier League club's finances:
    http://www.myfootballfacts.com/PremierLeagueFinances.html

  • Comment number 32.

    #26 you are wrong. The club is not up for sale. Just Lady Nina's shares are up for sale. If one of a few shareholders buy it then they would have to launch a takeover bid which the other shareholders would not have to accept.

    For the official supporters club to buy the shares seems to be unlikely as it would cost anywhere between £80-£100 million. So yes maybe a few small multi millionaires that are life long supporters may be able to buy them but I think Lady Nina wants to sell the shares as a job lot instead of splitting them up.

  • Comment number 33.

    Fit and proper persons tests will never work. All it takes is one challenge in court to prove the restraint of trade.

    And Spurs only made a profit through selling Berbatov.

    The best run club is actually Arsenal (they have less than half the 2008 debt left) when you consider the amount of saleable real assets they now have with their only debt now being on their stadium.

  • Comment number 34.

    Time for each of the leagues to create a salary cap that cannot be exceeded,
    ---------

    ***YAWN***

    Ever heared of restraint of trade? It's up to the clubs to manage themselves, not the leaue, let the irresponsible clubs go bust. The league should keep all TV/prize money until the season is over as an assurance for clubs going bust while owing to otehr clubs.

  • Comment number 35.

    #25 - At 50 grand a week players would still be millionaires and they'd still have endorsements, so why not. Would have stopped Pompey paying John Utaka £85000 a week.

    =======================================

    Utaka is not on £85,000 a week (in fact, it was only ever reported to be £80,000 a week, so you've even added a further £5k on!)

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/p/portsmouth/8519800.stm

  • Comment number 36.

    Football has a lot to learn from American sports. Revenue sharing, salary caps and floors have ensured that franchises are not just teams but also businesses.

    The current football ladder is outmoded, television has placed such an emphasis on the PL to the exclusion of the lower leagues that PL teams earn vast amounts more than a championship side let alone a team lower down. The solution is for the PL to cut loose from the football ladder with a selection of the biggest clubs in England and perhaps including some Scottish clubs in order to maximise their profitability by eliminating their domestic competition.

    The next step would be to introduce playoffs for the title to try to increase variance (Three different clubs have won the PL in the last ten years. Yawn. Compare that to North American sports and you see how awful that is.) and boost t.v money further.

  • Comment number 37.

    29. At 9:35pm on 10 May 2010, 49 and thats a wrap wrote:

    #23 is proof some people can be fooled all the time. English managers know their clubs' finances because they control transfers. Just because the owner was throwing money around doesn't Harry can forget it. To this day he doesn't want to admit that the transfers were the problem. Apparently, his fans can be convinced of the same, all evidence to the contrary.

    ===================================

    I'm not sure what it is about my post you're disagreeing with here, because nothing you've said really relates to the point of my post (#23).

    You seem to be arguing that Harry should have been more aware about the amount of money he was spending - something I don't necessarily disagree with and didn't mention at all in my post. I did, at the very end, say that "it's not Harry's fault, per se, that the club ran out of money" because, ultimately, PFC had 3 new owners between Harry leaving and the club going into administration. There should have been time to fix the damage done.

    Regardless, the rest of my post is in response to a comment made that PFC were gambling on Harry staying, and are in this situation because that gamble didn't pay off. You could scroll up and read it again, but I'll summarise:

    The club is not in trouble because Harry left. Harry left because the club was in trouble.

  • Comment number 38.

    Portsmouth and West Ham, both on your list Dan. Go a bit further down the leagues and you can add Southampton and Bournemouth to the list of clubs that have had serious debts and near meltdown. Now, is there a pattern here?


    Bournemouth, Southampton, West Ham, Portsmouth, ? ? ?,

    I think the answer is Spurs!

  • Comment number 39.

    I was looking at a book, York City, a complete record which shows all the matches York have played, and it is quite interesting. We are in the non league now and have been for 6 years, and I would never claim that York are one of ther biggest 44 clubs. However if you look at who we have played and when, you will find that we have played 15 of this years premiership in league football. In 1998/1999, only 11 years ago when we were in League 1 we played amongst others Manchester City, Fulham, Wigan, Stoke City and Burnley, and Hull City actually were in the division below us. It just goes to show how quickly things change, which is why the proposals are so unfair. They are designed solely to protect the interests of a limited number of clubs who just happen to be doing well at the moment, such as Bolton and Wigan.
    There are plenty of bigger clubs who are now below the first two divisions such as Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday. Indeed in the conference you have both Luton and Oxford who have within the last 20 years being in the top division. Why should they be cut off just because at the moment they just happen to be doing badly. Their time will come again.

  • Comment number 40.

    Can someone please tell me what's so bad about this situation exactly?

    Half the time I hear how unfair it is that big clubs, with ManU often cited top of the list in this country, dominate their leagues with their greater finances ruining the competitiveness. Then I have to hear what a crying shame it is their robust finances have been punctured due to huge leaveraged debts. Well if ManU can't spend thats good for the rest of us no? Maybe they won't win the league in 10 of the next 15 seasons like they managed in the last 15 years or so, great news for the rest of us! So pompey win the FA cup go into administration reaching another final before prbably dropping down the leagues for a bit. How is this the end of the world? Are there fans disapointed, probably, but that much more than Hull or Burnely fans who'll also be going down? Don't see why they should be they got 7 years and a cup to show for their troubles burnely got nothing in comparison.

    People need to stop going on as if clubs going into administration etc. is the end of the world, Leeds are making their way back from it now, going up and down is part of football and should be accepted whatever the cause, not constantly worried over. Wimbledon had literally everything taken from them and even there making their way back, thats what it's all about so why can't we stop whingeing that every journo isn't on first name terms with all the chairmen and that some of the owners might wish to run their clubs as a business rather then as the advertiseing branch for some oil state or an excuse to live in London but still divorce your wife back in Russia for a fraction of the amount. Personallh i think it's fun that some of the old bully boys are now burdened with debt but I also applaud the fans protest, all just more entertainment as far as i'm concerned.

  • Comment number 41.

    Everybody is talking about thess huge debts and the future of the PL. But what would happen, in a social point of view, if the Premier League couldn't solve all these debts? Which social class would be the most affected by this crisis?

 

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