BBC BLOGS - Simon Austin
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
« Previous | Main | Next »

Notts County's broken dream

Post categories:

Simon Austin | 16:46 UK time, Friday, 12 February 2010

Notts County's mysterious owners promised to bring magic to Meadow Lane.

Their dream of Championship football within five years seemed fanciful, but the recruitment of Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football gave it some credence.

It's only six months since those heady July days and owners Munto Finance, their previous frontman Peter Trembling and Eriksson have all departed.

The League Two club are challenging for promotion, it's true, but they are also £3.9m in debt and have a High Court date with Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs pending.

Sven Goran Eriksson and Peter TremblingEriksson and Trembling had big plans but wre unable to bring them to fruition

New owner Ray Trew, who bought County for £1 on Thursday, is confident he can settle the club's tax bill and HMRC's winding-up order, but he admits they could still go into administration if more debts are uncovered.

When you consider that debts increased by £1m during the four weeks Trew was negotiating to buy the club alone, this is a worrying prospect.

How did the heady optimism of July turn so quickly into the devastation of today?

No-one's better placed to answer that than Trembling, the former executive chairman of the club who was once the frontman and defender of Munto Finance.

He claims he was hoodwinked by father and son Nathan and Peter Willett and Russell King, the men who made up Munto, the "acquisition vehicle" formed to buy County.

Trembling says he has ploughed half a million of his own money into the club and feels "bitter" about the last six months.

The trio claimed they had links to the Bahrain royal family and gave a guarantee they would invest a minimum of £5m in the club but instead put in just £50,000, he insists.

"I plan to sue them for leaving the club in the lurch," he told me. "It's about the things they haven't honoured, contracts they haven't honoured. I had a big contract and Sven has even more reason to be unhappy."

The former England manager has kept a dignified silence in recent weeks but is due to release a statement about his time at County, according to his agent Athol Still.

Trembling says he has tried to phone and email the Willetts and King, but "they seem to have disappeared".

He still believes "the project and plan" for County were "perfect", adding "if only they had had the money to do it", which does seem a rather large caveat.

And Trembling wasn't the only person who bought into the improbable dream.

The Supporters Trust, which owned 60% of the club after helping it out of administration with a £170,000 loan in 2003, voted overwhelmingly to give its shareholding to Munto Finance for nothing.

Their willingness to believe in the promises of a white knight might seem misguided now, but with the club £1m in debt at the time and Munto providing a guarantee of funds, it was perhaps understandable at the time.

As it is, the aims of County's new owners are now rather more modest than those of their predecessors.

"The Premier League, that's not really part of our plans," new chief executive Jim Rodwell told BBC Sport.

"We are talking more about sustainability and taking the club forward. What came before, that was a pipedream."

Comments

or register to comment.

  • 1. At 5:59pm on 12 Feb 2010, Friendlycard wrote:

    Although Notts County is a special case, it's clear that football finances are unravelling before our eyes!

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 6:37pm on 12 Feb 2010, bugabugas999 wrote:

    There should be tighter rules. The new owner tests are obviously not good enough to refine those who think they can run a club and those who actually can.

    Its agonising to see so many clubs going down because of financial mismanagement. Crystal Palace, who have done so well this season, were fighting for promotion a couple of weeks ago, and because of bad management, its a relegation dogfight for them. Appalling.

    Id really like to see more rules being in place, salary/wage caps, transfer caps, etc. Sports who have implemented these are not expierienceing any problems.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 7:25pm on 12 Feb 2010, Roberto_Mexicano wrote:

    My God,

    The obvious question has to be, how was this allowed to happed?!!!

    It sounds like people got so excited about what these people were going to bring to Notts County they just didn't bother to check to see if they actually could!

    What other business but football is run like this? If someone wanted to buy your business from you, you'd ask for the money before you handed it over surely?!

    It's hard to ever feel sorry for Sven about anything, but he's wasted 8 months of his career at that club, & Sol Campbell wasn't able to play 'til January because he got dragged there! Unbelievable!

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 7:25pm on 12 Feb 2010, michael wrote:

    Come to Bradford City!
    A proper team with proper fans! ;D

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 7:33pm on 12 Feb 2010, boomshakalak wrote:

    I've said it before and will say it again, it is embarrassing and pathetic that people like this are able to "buy" football clubs. So often the clubs are bought by people who have no money.... Come on... "they claimed to know the king of Dubai" "they have middle Eastern backing", "their friends mum once met someone who may have once been in he same building as some Arab fellow"... Surely the idiots who run the clubs should have a bit more sense than to sell to people on promises and business plans alone- they should have the money shown to them in a bank or something... If I walked in to my local tesco and said that I'd take something off the shelf and pay them later as I know someone from the UAE they would tell me to do one- but if I rock up at any football club in the land and say I'm a billionaire or
    my mate is a Saudi then some brain dead person says "oh thanks, we've been waiting for you, let me sign the club over immediately....."

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 7:45pm on 12 Feb 2010, bradfordbob wrote:

    ive got 50p in my pocket ,can i buy 50%,other than that ,as michael above says buy bradfords sleeping giant ,with the honest and loyal fans

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 7:52pm on 12 Feb 2010, MalcolmMarshallFlayedMyHamster wrote:

    Sounds pretty much identical to Bournemouth. The fans' trust there had 2 x Golden Shares giving them 51% voting rights and their shareholders handed over their shareholding for nothing too.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 7:58pm on 12 Feb 2010, collie21 wrote:

    You get the government you deserve, so if you believe in Good fairies and they turn out to be evil monsters you only have yourselves to blame... Looks like Sol Campbell might be the smart one.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 8:16pm on 12 Feb 2010, goldenbales wrote:

    These people deserve what they get. How the can stake so much on just hearsay serves them right.

    Ultimately its greed, in Sven & Tremblings case thinking they could get a massive return and huge reputation from taking a down and out club to the top of the sport.

    If someone came to me looking for me to get involved in a project with my own money, promising fanciful dreamy returns backed by royalty I think I would want to see some proof and guarantees from those proposing it. Not just a bunch of hearsay from people Ive never even met.

    Just goes to show how naive people can become when you wine dine and spoil them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 8:18pm on 12 Feb 2010, Andy wrote:

    I feel sorry for the real Notts County fans. It did seem to be the chance to move onwards and upwards. The problem is now, is how they pay for the likes of Schmeical, Rodgers and Hughes. I am sure that their salaries will cripple the clubs finances and I cannot see how they can be sustained going forward. Ok they may get promoted, hopefully not at not at Bournemouth's expense, but can they hold on to the players who will get them there. The financial debts will only get worse and it is only a matter of time before HRMC close down a club. I hope for Notts County it isn't them.

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 8:28pm on 12 Feb 2010, U11846789 wrote:

    The law, the media, the government take dole cheats to court. For stealing a few pounds.

    When are the thieves mentioned here - who steal millions of pounds, not just a few hundred - going to be hounded in a similar manner?

    It's such hypocrisy and double standards which infuriate the general public!




    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 9:42pm on 12 Feb 2010, vibedoctor wrote:

    What interests me is that 'Munto' put 50 000 quid into the club. Why did they do that? They must have got more than 50 000 back or there would have been no point in doing it.

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 9:43pm on 12 Feb 2010, Hooplar wrote:

    "It sounds like people got so excited about what these people were going to bring to Notts County they just didn't bother to check to see if they actually could!

    What other business but football is run like this?"

    Agreed, and financial services.

    Investors come along with great plans, which they maybe even believe themselves, but it's all based on greed not reality.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 10:18pm on 12 Feb 2010, Quick_Single wrote:

    I too feel sorry for Notts County fans on this one, but to be honest, it's hard to have too much sympathy for those running the club who allowed this to happen.

    It's the footballing equivalent of those spam emails from Prince Uboju Mikelboje of Nigeria who has got $200,000,000 in an off shore account that sadly he can't quite get at. But all is not lost - you, noble recipient of email, can come to the rescue. All it takes is £20k of your own hard cash, and you stand to receive a $1m payout.

    If it sounds too good to be true, it normally is.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 10:38pm on 12 Feb 2010, Daggers wrote:

    It would be a real tragedy if Notts Co went bust. It's the oldest league club for goodness sake. Surely someone with a bit of football nous can come in and turn things around.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 10:53pm on 12 Feb 2010, dominic wrote:

    How about some of the potential bidders who didn't get their hands on west ham ? i know notts county and the hammers are a little like apples and oranges but it's the oldest club in existance and surely worth a few million of anyones money ?

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 10:58pm on 12 Feb 2010, charlie beckett wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 18. At 11:13pm on 12 Feb 2010, yoponz wrote:

    Number 12 -- They could have just run off with the gate receipts, ie. when they took over the club it may have been agreed that a certain %age of gate receipts would go directly to the owners, of course at the time it may have been thought of as a small price to pay for the supporters and share holders in return for the £5m the owners were due to put in. I can't see how else they would have got the money, and does seem to make sense

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 11:23pm on 12 Feb 2010, siulagrande wrote:

    @Boomshakalak - quality posting mate :). lmao!

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 11:34pm on 12 Feb 2010, NFFCSporty wrote:

    Looks like the buckets are coming back to the City Ground!

    I'll tell you what I'll put in...
















    A mint humbug. You can't go wrong with them!

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 00:14am on 13 Feb 2010, Tom wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 22. At 00:19am on 13 Feb 2010, PAUL49 wrote:

    Interesting that Peter Trembling and AFCB's last regime tall story merchant, Alisdair Saviermuto both had Everton FC Commercial Department on their CV's. I wonder if they worked together?

    Whilst it's a shame County have been taken for a ride, our last regime nearly took us to the brink of oblivion. As a result AFCB has been subject to a hard line transfer embargo this season which has meant that we haven't brought in any new players since Jan 2009 and since when we've had two emergency outfield loanees. With injuries we've sometimes only had 14 players, some of those playing when not 100% fit and risking their careers. We haven't been allowed to add one player to the squad to bring it up to 20 players even though that player has said he will play for nothing.

    We have adhered to the 60% salary cap whilst County have driven a coach and horses through this requirement on the pretext that all this money was coming in from outside sources and haven't played fair. Surely there should be a points deduction now for abusing this rule!

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 01:24am on 13 Feb 2010, Stephen wrote:

    It's easy to criticize Notts County for being gullible, but remember that the biggest football club in the world was once similarly duped by a bloke called Michael Knighton.......all football fans are waiting for the big investor to turn their dreams into reality. Name me one club which wouldn't have fallen for this rubbish....exactly, we all would. Stop comparing football to supermarkets and shoe shops - football is about much more than pounds and pence, it's where we dream to be more than the sum of our bank accounts. I'm glad to be a dreamer today, and glad to be a dreamer tomorrow, and the day I stop dreaming is the day I stop watching football and just buy shoes in Tesco instead.

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 01:42am on 13 Feb 2010, boddz1 wrote:

    The entire Notts county story over the past 6 or 7 months hs been nothing short of unbelieveable. That, along with what has gone on at QPR seriously concern me as a football (Sheffield Wednesday) supporter.

    It is clear that the people who run football clubs these days, in many cases are totally detatched from the reality of running them.

    The authorities are in real danger of totally alianating the football supporters (some would argue many already have.)

    I would really like to see much tighter rules on these kind of people taking over football clubs in the future. Or else the entire sport in the country risk being seriously damaged.

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 01:49am on 13 Feb 2010, DerekRiordinho wrote:

    in my honest opinion after the past year in football Scottish and even more so English football needs a radical rehaul because the game is becoming a joke. Fair enough football players need to live on a decent amount but so do we general public, surely no one (unless fighting for country or are a doctor) can justify earning 100k+ per week for kicking a ball around a field for 90 minutes a week? On the subject of Notts County, you kind of knew something wasn't quite right the day Sven walked in the door

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 02:07am on 13 Feb 2010, seventeenth wrote:

    This is such a sad story, especially coming on the tails of so many other sad stories, made even worse by the current world economic condition. It will be a terrible blow if Notts County is sent to the wall; it is the oldest league club and has some moments to treasure in its history. Many wonderful and storied players have worn the various colors, all the way from Albert Ironmonger to Tommy Lawton and the likes of Scotish international Masson displayed great skill in its most recent venture in the top division.

    The equally sad truth though is that the likes of Notts County can never again be a 'top' club. That is without the backing of a billion pound bankroll. The City of Nottingham and its wonderful population is simply too small to support and finance two teams in the upper sphere of soccer competition. This is not a slight against a fabulous city, a similar case can be made for such as Bristol and probably even Sheffield.

    The difference in the size of attendence figures, even for clubs with substantial financial backing, is too formidable to overlook. Manchester United take an advantage of 30,000 over even the likes of Liverpool. Even at ten pounds a throw that's 300,000 pounds for one home game. Kick in the real value of seats, beer and food, etc and harsh reality sets in.

    A salary cap cannot be applied as it is in the States with the NFL; NHL & NBA because of the international nature of soccer. It is therefore very probable that only the richest teams can afford the best players. If the management and coaching staff of these clubs perform in a competent manner, they will remain in the upper echelon.

    Thus it may seem a plausible thought that a super league be formed by FIFA or the EUFA which say comprises two or three teams from England, Germany, Italy & Spain with the odd, well supported, team like Benfica, Ajax, Rangers & Celtic.

    It is not a thought to be relished by the vast majorit of soccer fans, but one that the finacial spiral may eventually dictate.

    Thus, let us see one team comprising the wonderful traditions of both Nottingham clubs, borne from the uniting of each with all their splendors, rather than seeing the demise of at least one and picking from the ashes.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 02:30am on 13 Feb 2010, Stev wrote:

    English football has become a laughing stock, dubious investors purchasing clubs for quick cash ins then abandoning them to their fate, sky high wages, higher ticket prices, clubs spending more than they can afford. Its all a big flash circus act and its starting to come crashing down, a bit like the banking industry in many respects, we are not so easily fooled and we can see these charlatans for what they really are. And as for SGE mate your name is now officially mud sort it out or do you intend to just free lance fleece as many clubs or teams as you possibly can before you retire? He certainly doesnt have the midas touch thats for sure.

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 02:52am on 13 Feb 2010, Aarfy_Aardvark - bring back 606 wrote:

    Possibly in the boom years when the likes of Al-Fayed and Whelan were taking on lower league clubs with the aim of getting to the giddy heights of the Premier League the story of Notts County could have been a successful one. I think under the current economic climate and with even mad investors looking at the whopping great financial oversight in the game right now, the advantages of pumping money into a League 2 club just looks like one empty cavernous lair of woe than what it was ten years ago when we riding high under the bull economy.

    I think we should be moving towards a Bundesliga style system for professional clubs but tbh that has no real basis when you consider the ultra-capitalist attitude of the English game right now. Overspending into debt, courting rich Arabs, offering fans extended trips to Wembley at exorbitant prices and forcing us to shell out money to watch the games at ridiculous kickoff times.

    The sad fact is, unless you manage to find hold of a boyhood fan who is willing to stabilise the club (I thank the Lord everyday that Steve Gibson is in charge of our club) then the sad irony is that teams who are in perilous financial situation practically need these investors who don't care for the heart of the club just so they can at least survive. Notts County were in trouble before Sven and Trembling showed up and they still are, albeit with the added bonus of a few extra high earners clogging up the first team and a lot of broken dreams.

    I am just staggered that the Football league is doing absolutely nothing as this charade goes on and on. But then again, I'm not altogether surprised seeing as they were the ones who gave the green light to them running the club.

    Really hope you guys survive and come through this, always had some fun days out at Meadow Lane.

    PS: @22 - what an amazing job Eddie Howe is doing at Bournemouth.

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 05:15am on 13 Feb 2010, TheTomTyke wrote:

    It's quite clearly time for football to be reformed. The banking system had to undergo a complete overhaul and that's the only way to fix the problems that are plaguing the game. While the American sports system differs greatly from out own there is no doubt in my mind that the game needs a salary cap. It takes one bold move to implement and would totally shake football to the core. Real Madrid wouldn't pay Ronaldo £120000 a week when they knew nobody else could pay over £30000.

    Get a salary cap, and implement a hard figure. No "certain percentage of the club's income", just a flat figure for all clubs according to their division.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 06:46am on 13 Feb 2010, tallshort wrote:

    After what they did to the rugby club when they thought this Munto gang where going to invest millions, I say tough! Couldnt have happened to a nicer club.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 07:32am on 13 Feb 2010, boomshakalak wrote:

    I think the answer is relatively simple - the fa only allow a new "buyer" to take over a club if he acts as a personal guarantor to any funding he takes. The debt at the time if takeover should be noted and if the club is in more debt when he leaves then he should be made to pay the difference back - this should also include any wages/transfer fees/advances of tv money etc... This is the only way to ensure these people care as their personal wealth is at risk if they mess it up- so they will be far more prudent and run the club in a more stable way. The people who would proceed to buy clubs under such regulations would be the genuine ones.

    I have limited sympathy with the notts county shareholding fans - the article says their shares were worth £170k... Why give these to the investors??? Theycould have retained these shares but signed over all running powers of the club to the new regime.... And would it not ring major alarm bells anyway to be asked to give them over for free.... Imagine the scene "hi I know the king of Dubai and he is going to plough all his billions into notts county as he lives the club and even has a notts county tattoo"... "sounds great"... "yeah well he is so rich he just needs you poor people to give u his shares for free, and in my name..." "of course it all makes sense"... Did no one say "£170k is nothing- u can buy cars worth more than that and u wouldn't get a box flat in London for that.... And the sultan of Brunei or whoever this guy is should be making that in interest per second - so why is he trying to get this on the cheap and immediately costing our supporters money in the process- if he isn't going to pay £170k to supporters for their shares then surely he is cheap and why would a billionaire benevolent investor act in such a way"..... Sadly the genuine football fans around the country are being let down buy the people running the clubs and the fa as a whole...

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 07:40am on 13 Feb 2010, Simon Austin wrote:

    Thanks for your comments everyone - all very thoughtful and interesting.

    This was an incredible episode. I'm fact Trembling now says he might write a book about it.

    He says he is a victim in this affair, like Eriksson, and I'm not sure how to judge them. Both defended Munto right up to December last year and were dismissive when journalists questionned what was going on at Meadow Lane.

    I think #23 srminton sums this up best though. We might accuse County fans of having been gullible, but how many of us wouldn't have been tempted to 'live the dream' and believe in the promises of a white knight, no matter how fanciful they might have seemed?

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 08:42am on 13 Feb 2010, Ian Dack wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 34. At 08:53am on 13 Feb 2010, buymespresso wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 35. At 09:02am on 13 Feb 2010, Dragon wrote:

    I'm a Weymouth FC supporter and some of the characters who have slowly destroyed this club over the past few years shouldn't be allowed to walk the streets, let alone 'buy' a football club.

    Those governing at the top of the sport allow it to because they have Sky pumping millions into the game at the highest levels and whilst that continues so will the desperate nosedive that English football is currently in.

    But this is the tip of the iceberg, if people don't act now (and maybe its already too late) the sport is going to go into meltdown within two years, quite simply, its unsustainable.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 09:36am on 13 Feb 2010, andy helgesen wrote:

    They never paid the bills apart from the players wages thats why the debt has increased so much .It was all smoke and mirrors and the County fans have now gone back into their shells after months of bigging themselves up how foolish do you look now.

    05 Feb 2010 County Court Judgement £1,112 BASINGSTOKE 0JJ10299
    27 Jan 2010 County Court Judgement £162 BASINGSTOKE 9JJ15477
    27 Jan 2010 County Court Judgement £786 LINCOLN 0LN00081
    21 Jan 2010 County Court Judgement £3,343 PLYMOUTH 9PL04633
    07 Jan 2010 County Court Judgement £1,156 NORTHAMPTON CCBC 9QZ66660

    No wonder he accepted the offer the whole place was falling in.

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 09:43am on 13 Feb 2010, hudjer wrote:

    At the time I thought "this will end in Premiership or administration, has to be one or the other".

    Looks very much like being the second. Perhaps Sol knew as well it would be the second.

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 09:53am on 13 Feb 2010, vibedoctor wrote:

    Number 18 - Thanks for that. It makes sense. Notts aren't my club, by the way, I'm from the red side of Nottingham.

    Number 20 - There really is no need for that attitude, surely? Admittedly, the Notts message boards were full of people gloating about their situation last summer and some of the comments about Forest were appalling (especially in the light that Forest supporters and players did their best to bail them out last time this happened) but people who write to those boards are generally wind up merchants. The vast majority of Notts fans are real supporters.

    I have total respect for Notts. My friend, who was a Notts fan, died a couple of years ago and Notts allowed us to have a charity match at Meadow Lane in honour of him. They laid everything on for us and we all had one of the greatest days out of our lives. All the Notts staff gave up their time for no pay. If the buckets come out again at the City Ground I, for one, will be digging deep. Now, if it was Derby....... ;-)

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 10:10am on 13 Feb 2010, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    No sympathy for Trembling or Eriksson whatsoever; they could rectify the situation with their own fortunes if they had the best interests of Notts County at heart. But it's clear all they care about is their contracts. To do what?

    The fans, local staff and, to a lesser extent, the playing staff are the victims, Eriksson and Trembling almost as guilty as the phantom ownership as they lent a veneer of respectability to the enterprise. Now Trembling wants to sue. And who does he think will suffer when he does? The club of course.

    This is being repeated throught the country, one club after another. Way past high time the authorities started to feel some collars.

    Meanwhile, in Portsmouth, Peter Storrie gets wealthier and more portly every day as his club's debt spirals upwards.

    The BBC could help, Matt Slater and Simon Austin repeatedly failing to call out the real villains.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 10:34am on 13 Feb 2010, SaNdRo4EuRoPeDaWsOn4EvA wrote:

    Steps to owning a football club

    1) find a club with bigs debts.

    2) say you know some rich arabs

    3)?

    4) money.

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 10:35am on 13 Feb 2010, Tom wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 42. At 10:35am on 13 Feb 2010, JMcK wrote:

    English football is in a right mess at the moment. Clubs have sold their souls to dodgy owners, and overspent trying to achieve impossible dreams. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Clubs from the top of the tier through to the bottom are appearing in court, trying to save themselves from being wound up.

    For the sake of the fans of Notts County, Pompey, etc. I hope your clubs survive. Sadly, I think it's going to take a few high profile casualties before some sense comes back into the game.

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 10:45am on 13 Feb 2010, Steelman wrote:

    I work with large, financially distressed companies. Spurious investors are continuously appearing (and disappearing). Simple rule, "show me the money". If you can't prove available funds up front then no deal. Simple as that.

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 10:52am on 13 Feb 2010, laughingdevil wrote:

    Have just seen the article that Sven has foregone what should have been his sverance package. Top bloke. Can't blame him for sticking up for M finance when he was being paid by them (Fergie doesn't rip on the glaziers after all - much to some fans annoyance) It is a big contrast to 1 game player Campbell who is sueing Portsmouth when they are about to be wound up, not only pointless as they blatently can't afford it, but is the financial equivalent of peeing on somebody having a fit in the street!

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 11:09am on 13 Feb 2010, joe dormer wrote:

    I feel bad about County as much as I feel bad about all the other clubs being run for what the so-called investors can get out of them but the real villain here is the Customs & Excise. We are in a recession so money is tight unless you are a bank in which case the government will give you loads of cash with generous repayment arrangements. Surely now is the time HMCS which is run by the government should relax the stranglehold it has on clubs and give them a serious chance to correct their problems as they have done the banks.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 11:51am on 13 Feb 2010, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 47. At 11:55am on 13 Feb 2010, Ron Taylor wrote:

    What happened to 'due dilligence'? ie make a few phone calls.

    If someone came to my business with 'links to the Bahrain royal family'
    the next call I would make would be to the Middle East and check it out.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 12:00pm on 13 Feb 2010, MuteAssassin wrote:

    I can't believe I'm defending HMRC, but what makes it the villain? Money's owed to HMRC because profits have been made or salaries have been paid.

    These clubs have created their own problems, they've had the income (or promises of it), they've incurred the liabilities, and it's due to their bad financial management if they can't afford to pay the tax.

    The only villains here are the bogus investors.

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 12:24pm on 13 Feb 2010, kwiniaskagolfer wrote:

    Ref: #39, #46.
    Falling foul of the moderators here, but why exactly is this "Eriksson's Broken Dream" (as the Sports page, not your article) says?

    He could dig into his pocket and resolve the whole issue if he really beieved in Notts County. Which clearly he doesn't. Trembling seems cut from the same Eriksson cloth.

    No further comments about Messrs Austin and Slater except: Could do better.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 12:46pm on 13 Feb 2010, Dragon wrote:

    The whole Notts County debacle is exactly the same as what started all the drama at Weymouth FC. Albeit on a grander scale.

    Like them, suddenly we had a new owner, big plans, big wallet, big ambitions. Just when we had the squad, the results (ironically we held the other Notts club, Forest, to a 1-1 draw at their place in the FA Cup as well), we were near the top of the Blue Square Premier and looking forward to life in League 2, * BANG!! *, he pulls out and we have bounced from one drama to the next ever since. To be fair to Martyn Harrison, the guy with the wild dream, he actually comes out smelling of roses compared to the most of the characters involved since him. To his enormous credit he paid over £1M out of his own pocket (which he didn't have to) to leave the club debt free and on a firm footing for the future.

    When the book comes out about Weymouth FC and events there over the past 6 years I will urge everyone to read it. Ian Ridleys 'Floodlit Dreams' book about the club and the boardroom politics was like a CBeebies show compared to what was about to follow!

    We may be a comparitively small club but the incredible and ridiculous goings on wouldn't make it into even the most over-the-top soap opera for fear of ridicule. The phase 'you couldn't make it up' has probably now being used over 10,000 times for 100 different far-fetched events.

    We hit the national headlines last year with the youth team being forced to play and the betting frenzy that preceeded it. I won't bore you with the rest but every week is a new scandal and after a while I admit to becoming completely desentized to it all and just want somebody to pull out a gun and put the club I love out of its misery.

    And why all of the above? Land. Money.

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 1:56pm on 13 Feb 2010, Andy Elliott wrote:

    The situation is exactly the same in non-league football,although you dont see many arab princes! Normally a builder or supermarket chain will approach a struggling club and offer to help them live the dream in return for the rights of their ground.The end result is the league in which my team heybridge swifts played in for many years the ryman premier has over half the participating teams groundsharing.This madness cannot be allowed to continue!

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 2:37pm on 13 Feb 2010, Chris Davies wrote:

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 2:49pm on 13 Feb 2010, Chris Davies wrote:

    Why does the Premier League, Football League not require a bond from the prospective buyers of these clubs which should equate to a years turnover of the clubs. They should also be forced to have quarterly accounts made up and ratified independently.If clubs cannot afford these hugh salaries then dont pay them and let all the foreign superstars run off to Spain and Italy.Maybe then we can have British kids playing for British clubs. If an average salary in the Premier League was £5k per week that would equate to £260,000 per year.FOR a PART TIME JOB with no responsibility. Bring it on.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 2:57pm on 13 Feb 2010, tarangoes wrote:

    Sounds like a scene from the "Hustle." What a crazy financial system we have (football, banking ...)

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 3:10pm on 13 Feb 2010, howard ballsy junior wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 56. At 3:20pm on 13 Feb 2010, howard ballsy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 57. At 3:27pm on 13 Feb 2010, howard ballsy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 58. At 3:51pm on 13 Feb 2010, howard ballsy wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 59. At 4:09pm on 13 Feb 2010, darren73 wrote:

    It's not the first and it won't be the last. Clubs will go to the wall like Notts county until the F.A and the people at the top in football finally bring in solid rules of club takeovers and ownership.

    No bussiness could run on promises of money without proof or faceless owners with almost no financial checks, but if those in charge of the rules don't really tighten the rules and maybe restrict overseas onwnership of English clubs this will continue and more will go broke.

    Complain about this comment

  • 60. At 4:10pm on 13 Feb 2010, MediaOverreaction wrote:

    This is happening far too often up and down the professional leagues. Realistically the nature of football as a business is that you need constant success to keep financially stable. I believe more clubs should follow Arsenal's example and work to evens or a profit wherever possible.

    Complain about this comment

  • 61. At 5:03pm on 13 Feb 2010, Red Yuli wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 62. At 6:24pm on 13 Feb 2010, xAndyCx wrote:

    According to the Burton Mail last week, Notts County were given 2,000 tickets to sell to their fans for the game at Burton over Christmas. They sold the tickets but then just kept the money rather than passing the cash back to Burton. It is only because of things like this that Notts C can afford the wages of people like Casper Schmeichel and Lee Hughes. Whether or not they go into administration, it would be a travesty if Notts C are allowed into the play-offs or to gain promotion at the expense of other, well-run clubs.

    Complain about this comment

  • 63. At 6:27pm on 13 Feb 2010, MUFC 1902 - This Is The One wrote:

    Serves them right for handing over the club to a bunch of faceless people with empty promises. Did the club bother to do some background checks on them?

    Complain about this comment

  • 64. At 7:12pm on 13 Feb 2010, boomshakalak wrote:

    Post 23 and Simon @ 32.

    So long as people think like u, then the financial crisis in football is going to be with us forever and we as football fans deserve our clubs to go bust... It's all very romantic to talk about "dreams" but what about dreams such as - I want my club to survive, I want my children and their children to watch the club I grew up with, or play for the side I used to play for etc...

    I find it patronising to talk about "football is about more than pounds and pence"... Of course it is, we all know that, which is why we are reading blogs on football and not the stock exchange.... That's why at the age of 33 I walk with a limp, why I have travelled all over Europe to watch football, why I turned down more money to play for a different team than I was playing for, why I used to play for THREE teams at the weekend as a kid....I could go on all day!!!

    However - the love of the game is not enough and if people are just happy to continue to get conned then they deserve it.... Wake up ... Football to players and fans is more than money - but we need to have the people that run the clubs atleast using their brains and not acting like romantic, naive, pathetic individuals - as at the end of the day if the finances aren't right then all your dreams about your local club being the champions of Europe or whatever won't even be dreams-as you won't have a club!

    Complain about this comment

  • 65. At 7:26pm on 13 Feb 2010, Riggadon wrote:

    @ 45 - HMRC are not the real villains in this story. Football has been taking the pee out of the taxman for years, and HMRC is a villain for doing what it was set up to do??!!!?

    The REAL villains here were the people of Munto, lets get that straight. I'm no fan of the taxman, and would not normally jump to HMRC's defence, but calling them the villain of this story is not only misguided, it's downright wrong. Their job is to collect tax. That's money that is owed. They are trying to collect it. How does that make them a villain? Finance is a game and everybody knows the rules, you can hardly complain about it when you flaunt the rules.

    Pay your taxes and then HMRC does'nt even come into the equation. I suggest you become familiar with how the world works before making such misguided comments.

    Complain about this comment

  • 66. At 8:11pm on 13 Feb 2010, No1_Sports_Pundit wrote:

    I've not read the other posts about this article but I assume they will be of a similar opinion to this. If what Peter Trembling says is true then it is completely disgusting way to treat a football club. There must be some way to stop this happening again. Just bad luck for Notts fans that it was them chosen for this.

    Complain about this comment

  • 67. At 8:12pm on 13 Feb 2010, paul wrote:

    As a lifelong forest fan with many many friends who are county fans I feel nothing but sympathy for them.
    Its sad that the situation has got to this point, I suppose the writing has been on the wall for a while. The hugely ambitious plans needed some serious money backing them, which evidently was not there.
    When the buckets come around again I will be putting my money in we can't let a club like county go to the wall.
    Sad day for football not all Forest fans feel like 20! good luck hope you get out of the mess guys.

    Complain about this comment

  • 68. At 8:50pm on 13 Feb 2010, goodbet wrote:

    How many clubs (not only football) have had their grownds transfered away from the club?

    There have been a number of difficult situations where it appears that more money could be made if the awkward individuals running around kicking a football were no longer there.

    The authorities do not seem to care or get involved.
    There aught to be rules and sanctions when/if the there is any moves by a club to modify the arrangement it has with the ground it plays on.

    Changes may have to happen from time to time to the ground freehold/lease arrangements but having to go through a third party may stop some very difficult issues arrising in the future.

    Complain about this comment

  • 69. At 9:26pm on 13 Feb 2010, BridgfordPie wrote:

    Ha, its not all finance, there is still the football. NCFC, only League 1 or 2 side in the FA Cup Fifth Round, Keep the dream alive.

    Complain about this comment

  • 70. At 9:45pm on 13 Feb 2010, PhilSandifer wrote:

    With two clubs this year that have basically collapsed under scam ownerships - Portsmouth and Notts County - am I alone in wondering if there are more of these out there? Other clubs that have been bought by owners promising more than they could possibly give?

    Complain about this comment

  • 71. At 10:05pm on 13 Feb 2010, vibedoctor wrote:

    @ number 63
    As you are obviously a Man U fan your comment has got to be satire of the highest order. It is brilliant. Possibly the best comment I've read for ages.....it was meant to be satire, wasn't it.....?

    Complain about this comment

  • 72. At 01:34am on 14 Feb 2010, Muhamed Ali wrote:

    MONEY DOES NT BUY YOU SUCCESS. WHEN YOU LEARN THAT ONLY HARD WORK ON THE PITCH MAKES SUCCESS THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND THIS. PERIOD. DREAM ON COUNTY AND YOUR PREMIERSHIP DREAMS, YOU WERE IDIOTS TO GET SUCKED INTO THAT PIPE DREAM.. I THOUGHT LAST SUMMER "THIS IS RIDICULOUS".. "THEY WILL NEVER GET INTO THE PREM WITHIN 5 YEARS!".. "THERE IS SOMETHING CALLED THE 'CHAMPIONSHIP' WHICH IS LIKE EVEREST FOR ANY CLUB WITH PREMIER LEAGUE PIPE DREAMS"...MAN CITY WILL NEVER WIN THE PREMIER LEAGUE WHOEVER THEY BUY!! UNTIL THEY START TO USE THE SQUAD THEY'VE GOT TO THEIR ADVANTAGE (SOMETHING CHELSKI ARE BEGINING TO LEARN) THEN THEY'LL KEEP GOING 1 STEP FORWARD AND 2 STEPS BACKWARDS (BY SACKING MANAGERS AND SELLING GOOD PLAYERS LIKE ROBINHO). I HATE CITY.. BYE BYE..

    Complain about this comment

  • 73. At 01:36am on 14 Feb 2010, Muhamed Ali wrote:

    I HOPE MY COMMENT GETS POSTED.. I HATE MAN CITY!

    Complain about this comment

  • 74. At 01:48am on 14 Feb 2010, Muhamed Ali wrote:

    @ number 71! ..and you Sir, must obviously be a MAN-U hater! Well we love the HATERS, they envy our hard work and success from that hard work, and development of players, and ignorance of the press, and the haters of the club!

    Thanks :)

    Complain about this comment

  • 75. At 03:51am on 14 Feb 2010, Spursamerica wrote:

    I am sorry, but what exactly does the FA do other than cash checks? What is it mean to be "fit and proper" other than having a pulse? The biggest problem in football right now is the English FA. They have absolutely no interest in the game other than preserving revenue streams and the responsibility for the game's demise lies directly on their shoulders.

    Complain about this comment

  • 76. At 10:36am on 14 Feb 2010, JayPee wrote:

    2. bugabugas999 wrote:

    "...salary/wage caps, transfer caps, etc. Sports who have implemented these are not expierienceing any problems."

    Except half the clubs in Rugby League have been disciplined for non-compliance, and we won't mention the deportation of half the new Welsh club's players for failing to comply with immigration laws, or don;t those rules count? And have a look at what's happening in Irish football for a good example of why salary caps are just nonsensical. There, Derry City gave every solitary player two contracts: one that complied with the caps and was disclosed to the league, and then a secret one. The kinds of limits you talk about have never worked, in any sport, in any country. You can't legislate for financial incompetence.

    Complain about this comment

  • 77. At 11:02am on 14 Feb 2010, Nigel Dean wrote:

    As a supporter of Accrington Stanley, I have a lot of sympathy with Notts County fans. We too have had our fair share of problems this season, maybe not on the same scale, but at least we have come through them and can continue to enjoy the Football League. Proper football fans will rally behind the club to allow them to continue, and I hope you do. After all, if we are in the same league next season, then we want the 6 points you will donate to us lol. Seriously though, good luck with getting a satisfactory resolution to your problems, even if it means administration and a 10 point deduction, Bournemouth have managed it throughout this season and look where they are.

    Complain about this comment

  • 78. At 2:23pm on 14 Feb 2010, rinseyman wrote:

    Anyone who is saying that the 'powers that be' should do something to stop these people taking over clubs should remember that most football clubs are plc businesses that are floated on the stock market.

    Football is not subject to any diferent rules than any other business takeover, so the FA fit and proper person test only checks that someone is not bankrupt, banned from directorship or convicted of specific theft or fraud offences. There is no check that they have finance in place, or that they're nice guys with the club's best interests at heart. The law would have to be radically changed to put these types of checks in place.

    Due diligence applies to the purchasing party AFAIK, so it is down to the owners of the club to satisfy themselves that the purchasing party has the funds they say they do, in the case of County it seems Trembling and Sven were happy to accept the lies at face value.

    It seems the only way forward would be for the fans to purchase the clubs themselves.

    I've got £50 for a share, just need another 10 million or so Liverpool fans to join me and we're away!

    Complain about this comment

  • 79. At 2:29pm on 14 Feb 2010, Markblogger wrote:

    The Munto Finance team unveiled


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/hustle/characters_actors.shtml

    Complain about this comment

  • 80. At 2:36pm on 14 Feb 2010, rinseyman wrote:

    Here's the exact details of the FAPP -

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/eng_prem/6923831.stm

    Complain about this comment

  • 81. At 5:30pm on 14 Feb 2010, thisbhoylikespie wrote:

    The whole game needs a rethink. The era of football capitalism is surely nearing an end, and if that means that the quality of English sides deteriorate while clubs recover, so be it.

    The state of finances in the game now are absolutely shocking. I wrote a piece earlier (http://mjmckenna.wordpress.com/) but I'm beginning to agree with Platini. If Platini becomes consistent (and by that I mean also criticises finances in Italy, Spain etc) then he'll certainly get my backing.

    But we have our work cut out. Hopefully, that work will begin sooner rather than later.

    Complain about this comment

  • 82. At 9:38pm on 14 Feb 2010, Swiftjeff wrote:

    I'm a Notts Fan and was there at the meeting where the previous chairman and directors convinced the suppoters to vote for Munto. You would not believe the hype that was laid down from the chairman and you couldn't really blame the fans for believing the promised land hand arrived.

    The old regime were poor amateurs at running a football club and then Munto AND Trembling were more than economical with the truth.

    The FA has to act now!

    Complain about this comment

  • 83. At 1:29pm on 17 Feb 2010, MrT wrote:

    Notts C currently lie 7th in the division 2 table, 8 points from the automatic promotion places with 4 games in hand.

    However, Notts have got quality players on massive massive wages for a division 2 club - Schmeichel, Hughes, Davies etc - wages that they can't afford. Other clubs in division 2 have achieved what they have by sticking to realistic wage structures for the most part.

    While the fans may have been conned, they're still in affect so high up the table through cheating in affect. Unless they get a substantial points deduction for this, how is it fair on all of the other clubs in this league? Bournemouth being a case in point who have been banned from even signing players on loan all season!

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.