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Chester City gone in 30 seconds

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Gordon Farquhar | 19:12 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

In less than a minute, Chester City were no more.

The winding-up court's a bleak place. It's where dreams end, where people have to plead for understanding, but often have to admit they've failed.

Before Chester got the chop, numerous others, including a property company, an import business and a small sports car manufacturer, all went to the wall.

One director, distressed, begged for more time to pay her tax bill, apologising that having to look after a sick relative was proving too much.

The gates are closed at the Deva StadiumThe gates are closed at the Deva Stadium after the club is wound up

It's in these surroundings that football clubs are fighting for their lives. There is some sympathy, but precious little is left for ailing football clubs.

The HMRC's barrister, Matthew Smith, has heard it all before. So too Mrs Registrar Derrett, possessed of a businesslike manner, bordering on the brusque, and when merited a chiding tone. She runs a tight ship - don't mess.

Southend, said the HMRC's man, were a "habitual defaulter", "plainly insolvent" and "must be wound up today". He accused them of playing for time by previously claiming they would contest their VAT bill, but failing to put a case together.

There followed a moment of drama as Southend's brief produced a sealed letter, hot off the press, setting out sources of future funds.

There followed a pause as its contents were digested then dismissed by the HMRC.
It cut little ice with registrar Derrett either, who concluded that: "On the face of the evidence, this company is insolvent."

Southend's survival hinged on the argument that it's in the midst of a negotiation with a major retailer to redevelop the ground and its surroundings.

"It's only the retail development that makes me hesitate," said the Registrar, pondering on whether to pull the trigger, but instead opting for the stay of execution.

Southend United fans, your club has 35 days to pay up in full.

The ice that Cardiff City are skating upon is no thicker.

"Robbing Peter to pay Paul," has been their approach, according to the HMRC.
They've repaid some of the PAYE and VAT due, but those are historic debts, and new ones are racking up.

But wait... who's that riding over the hill?

A Malaysian businessman promising £6m, according to Cardiff as they fought their corner, with Datuk Chan Tien Ghee the trump card in their quest for more time to pay.

That wish is "opposed with some cynicism" by HMRC, whose riposte was to point out there was no evidence of the money promised.

This was a point taken up by Mrs Registrar Derrett who, in granting more time, described Cardiff as apparently, "a company unable to repay its debts as they fall due and now relying upon a third party investor".

It's hard to disagree. In 56 days, we'll know the truth of it all.

And if there's no substance, Cardiff and Southend will be faced with going the same way as that sports car manufacturer, the import company and the property business - leaving the bewildered fans to pick up the pieces.


  • Comment number 1.

    Dark days for football indeed. It is ludacris that single players are worth more than clubs. The sums of money that players are paid these days are ludicrous and is a major factor in clubs debts & making football less & less fair in terms of competition.

    What would happen if the catalogue of injuries that forced Dean Ashton to retire, happened to Ronaldo? All that money down the drain!

    FIFA needs to examine transfers & salary caps through out, it is a cancer that is eating away at the Beautiful game.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's a terrible shame but I expect even more clubs in the future to fall the same way. Portsmouth are teetering and still could easily be the first Premier club to go bust. I expect that some even bigger names could go into the hat following Leeds fall from grace. Sadly, its the supporters that suffer. The supporters have done nothing wrong but will suffer none the less.

    The problem is that the legislation requiring a club income percentage cap on salaries the club can pay has come in too late for some. There are many who say that it's unfair to punish the club with fines and point deductions as it punishes the fans. This may be true, but wouldn't the club and fans have benefitted from the gamble if paying higher salaries and buying more expensive players had actually led to better performances and more wins thus greater financial rewards? There'd be no complaints then and there would be rewards for the fans and the club alike. Why should the clubs who do it by the book be treated the same as those who flout common sense?

    As a Swansea City supporter, I take no real pleasure in seeing Cardiff teetering on the brink and could see it coming for years. I don't want them to go out of business the same as with Southend and Portsmouth. It's just a shame the league couldn't have moved quicker with the caps and enforced them more stringently.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think the question many fans of championship clubs will want answered is how were Cardiff able or allowed to spend so much on players over the last few seasons if they have had long term debt problems?

    Multi-million pound players like Michael Chopra are clearly beyond their reach in reality and (assuming Sunderland have actually been paid) they have been spending the money they owed in tax on players. How is this fair to other clubs who *are* paying their tax and why has it been allowed to continue for so long? As is pointed out in the article non-footballing businesses get short shrift from HMRC when taxes are not paid.

  • Comment number 4.

    This whole situation is utterly shameful and the result of Rupert Murdoch flooding the game at the top with money, the capitulation of the cowards at the FA, and no oversite.
    These clubs are the heart of their communities and should not have been allowed to get in such a financial mess, but the FA cowards refuse to bring in open, honest and balanced accounting rules for clubs, in the fear of upsetting the "Top 4" and them scuttling off to a Euro Super League, well let them is what I say.
    The following rules need to take effect as soon as possible, open, balanced and honest accounting, with clubs only been allowed to spend 60% of their actual income. A transfer fee cap, salary cap, 6 & 5 rule for the top 2 divisions and 7 & 4 for lower divisions for UK passport holders. Revenue sharing for all clubs of the same division on a ratings scale and finally the banning of any type of agents fees, if a player wants to employ an agent it's for a flat one time 10% fee only, on that contract negociation.
    It's a disgrace foootball has come to this all because of silly money flooding the game at the top, and the senile old fools at the FA who care more about their World Cup bid and the profit it will make them, rather than the hearts of communities up and down the country.
    If the FA wont act it's time for the Government to do so, either regulate your own house FA or the Government should step in, this never happened to teams in the '70's and '80's the only change is the formation of the PL and the cancer it has brought to the game !

  • Comment number 5.

    At the end of the day, situations like this are where fans come in. It's possible to argue that a football club is exactly that, a football club, not a business, and that fans should be taken into account. Yes, there is only so much a fan can do, but football clubs aren't an exception to the rules. If fans care, they should make the effort to change the fortunes. How many times has Cardiff's new stadium been full? You can call for a new stadium all you like, but if you can't fill it out, what's the point?

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

    It is dark days for many football clubs and as a Scotsman watching the, English and Scottish Premierships from Australia it is only a matter of time before we have several clubs following the same road. The A League in Oz is also heading for the same problems so it appears to be a world problem....

    Someone has to step in to halt this indifference between the "bigger clubs" and the rest otherwise the game we all love faces an agonising and painful death. The question is who?

  • Comment number 8.

    Venez Tiger (#4), there is one major flaw with your last paragraph. If the Government interfere, England get suspended from FIFA as the FA of a country must be independent from its Government. Also, if the Government were to intervene with Cardiff, it may result in both the FA and the FAW being suspended as they are affiliated to both.

  • Comment number 9.

    "This whole situation is utterly shameful and the result of Rupert Murdoch flooding the game at the top with money"

    Or it may be the result of poorly run clubs paying fees and wages far higher than they can afford and trying to stiff the taxman out of his share.

    If these clubs had been run better then they wouldn't be in the mess that they are. That is nobody's fault but the clubs themselves, and the fans that clamour for more and bigger signings need to take a long hard look at themselves too.

  • Comment number 10.

    Cardiff city are in trouble but you can't fault our supporters. "How often do they fill their stadium" Enough times to be called a football club. At least football can't go any lower then buying another club and moving it half way across the country!

  • Comment number 11.

    The winding up of any business be it a football club or otherwise is ultimately testimony of mismanagement and in the case of some of the clubs rumours of irregularities abound.
    Sure, any business can be crippled unexpectedly, the financial crisis has shown us that but football clubs can't necessarily claim that as an excuse because they have been mishandling their affairs and ignoring their financial priorites for years.
    Questions need to be asked of both the clubs in house accountants and their external financial advisers. If they allow directors to play fast and loose with the clubs finances they have ignored their duty and should also face consequences. Trouble is, too many of these people have vested interests and their nose in the trough.
    The EPL, Football League and the FA need to put the game's house in order. Not so difficult to do. They can issue an edict that all clubs will undergo a compliance audit over the next couple of years. Those with nothing to hide can volunteer immediately so saving the authorities time and receive leniency for any failings. Those that don't have the luxury of a bit more time before there is a knock at the door, with no mercy should they be seriously flawed.
    My own business has just undergone a full German Tax audit. Was very worrying and even though my firm of accountants had done a first rate job of preparation! Outside auditors should be doing this for the clubs and if they were being done properly and more regulations existed about acceptable levels of debt (i.e. The Leagues should set some!) these businesses would be forced to exist within their means and accept the level of football they can aspire to based on their income. Just like any other business.
    I'm a Hammers fan and so my club isn't out of the woods yet. The greed of one set of management was only matched by the stupidity of the next lot. Now we have Gold and Sullivan. Even they admit it was an 'emotional' investment on the basis that from a business point of view it doesn't stack up. Difficult times ahead, so as fan I, and I hope others, won't expect too much. Survival is all just now, and we should be grateful for just that. Chester, Southend, Portsmouth and Palace fans fans would go for it just now I reckon.

  • Comment number 12.

    Do you think the security guard realised he locked himself inside?

  • Comment number 13.

    Gordon, interesting comments about Cardiff City and Leeds United's fall from grace. You have to ask is there a common link here and what do you come up with? The genius that is Peter Ridsdale. Having taken a mighty club like Leeds to the brink of oblivion, he passes the "fit and proper" ownership test, like the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse that have "owned" Pompey this season. Now he's overseen a monster spending blitz at Cardiff leaving them skint again. Surprise, surprise. The message is clear - don't spend way more than you have. He'll be ousted, take over another club, pass the FA's farcical test and drive them into the ground too. Sorry Cardiff fans, but you must have seen what was coming when Pistol Pete rode into town.

  • Comment number 14.

    All began in the 80's.

    Thatcher's decade of "Greed is good".

    And no-one, so far, has done anything to correct that horrible philosophy!

  • Comment number 15.

    I'd like to through in some controversy- a club in dire financial straights, no ground, dwindling attendances, debts and more debts. Wimbledon. Now MK Dons. I was a Wimbledon fan long before I knew where Milton Keynes is. The move to MK was controversial and created huge waves all across the League. But it worked (14000 for a League One game last Saturday tells its own tale). I wouldn't be surprised if someone somewhere trys to transplant another club- Maybe Southend, maybe Chester could still try it, maybe even Cardiff though I doubt it.

    It's not popular with the hometown fans but I know many Wimbledon fans (including me) who have learned to tolerate or even love it. I come in the latter category. It may be a way, an unpopular way, for a club to survive in the direst financial conditions.

    I now await the inevitable barrage of abuse and criticism but I mean everything that I have said very seriously.

  • Comment number 16.

    It is such a shame that this is the state of the off the field game. The British game has become one of the most exciting leagues to watch and this is in no small part down to the money and foreign players. But all things have a shelf life, for clubs to survive this financially difficult time they need to be sensible, develop youth players, stick to budgets that they can actually survive on.
    The FA will never add salary caps or transfer caps, and they should not need to, if you cant afford something you dont buy it! its simple.

    As for Chester, Portsmouth, Southend, Palace and Cardiff........... i hope there is a way back for you all.

  • Comment number 17.

    As football clubs are part of the community in general every effort should be made to ensure that they don't go under. After all, why should the football fan suffer?

  • Comment number 18.

    football has been a financial basket case for many years. huge numbers of clubs are perpetually loss making, and only survive because of wealthey benefactors (which is legitimate so long as they eventually pay up) or questionable 'administration' arrangements where they rip off as manyof their creditors as possible.

    things have changed recently because hmrc have had the balls to stand up for themselves and stop treating football clubs as 'special'. good for them!

    what we need is for everyone else to stop pretending that football clubs are special. they are not. a business which trades insolvently and the tries to rip creditors off is a disgrace. the directors need to be called to task by the authorities (football and legal) and clubs who do not pay their debts need to be thrown out of the league. when that threat is serious then maybe the fans will start to ask more questions and stop demanding that their clubs continues to sign big money players that it cannot afford.

    next time a club goes into administration they should be told, in no uncertain terms, that continues league membership is conditional on them agreeing a 'bond' with their creditors that will result in ALL unpaid debts being settled in priority to buying and paying players. the league should withold media payments, and require a percentage of other income be used to pay down the bond. let clubs who have failed struggle on lower budgets for as long as it takes to pay what they owe.. not do what leeds did and wipe the slate clean meaning that they get to start again as a, effectively, very wealthy concern.

    yes.. it will be tough on the fans.. but surely the fans of other clubs need to be considered?

    when leicester went into administration several years ago they used it as a tool to hold onto their squad and win promotion to the premiership. shortly afterwards they were able to raid my club for a top player because they could pay him more than we could. we were also in financial trouble at the time, but we covered our debt by selling our best players, slashing the wage bill, and getting our owner to write a cheque to cover the overspending that he'd sanctioned. is that fair? is it fair on the rest of league 2 that notts county can field a team with lee hughes and kasper schmeichel even though they can't afford to render up the tax on their wages?

    but no... football clubs are special... they are part of 'the community' and we have to look after the fans. well there's nothing stopping the fans supporting their club in whatever league will have them if the professional league does the right thing and boots them out.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just as Peter Ridsdale has dirty hands with Leeds and Cardiff, Peter Storrie has worked at Portsmouth, Southend, West Ham and Notts County (the first two cases are well documented, the latter two are hardly shining beacons of good management either!).

  • Comment number 20.

    I cannot believe that any chairman of any business would allow his company to fall foul of the tax office or any other government department

    Cardiff City's current situation is a disgrace - Risdale has indeed achieved another Lerds Utd in Cardiff - why do the club suffer him for so long. The man should not be allowed anywhere near a football club again. Cardiff City have been mis managed for several years now and despite always being so close to the play offs and promotion always falter - I would like to see an outside auditor have a look at their accounts over the past 6 years and let the Cardiff public know what is going on

    It is annoying (being a football fan) that so many other football league clubs are in the same situation too - when you look at the debt that Liverpool and Manchester United are in- and they are successful sides, what chance the lesser clubs?

  • Comment number 21.

    This isnt a new problem its just recieving more publicity now then ever. A football blub is like any other business, if it isnt run properly or within its means then it is going to fail. The only differance with a football club going down the drain though is that its the fans who tend to suffer the most. One final point to Venez Tiger who said this would never have happened in the 70s and 80s, Chelsea went bust and were bought for £1 in the 80s and Bristol City had to have several players agree to turminate their contracts to save the club also in the 80s. So this isnt because the game has suddenly become flooded with money and it isnt a new problem

  • Comment number 22.

    "As football clubs are part of the community in general every effort should be made to ensure that they don't go under. After all, why should the football fan suffer?"

    On the flip-side; why should non-fans of the club/football in general have to help pick up the pieces (presuming that when you say "every effort should be made" you mean "local authorities should help" since the FA/FL can't) when the board behave in such an irresponsible way? There are businesses far more important to local communities that go bust without anyone stepping in; why should football clubs be any different?

    (And this is being said as a Luton fan; we know a thing or two about admin and dodgy boards...)

  • Comment number 23.

    Seriously, it is time that the lower leagues implmented a salary and transfer cap to bring some financial sense to the operations of their constituent clubs. OK, we can't expect the likes of the EPL and Championship clubs to agree to this as they have to compete in a marketplace of other leagues around the world for players but I see no reason why League 1 down and the Scottish League clubs can't agree to something which would be in their own best interests.

  • Comment number 24.

    This is a very sad day for football generally as well as followers, players and employees of this grand old football club. Chester City produced some fine players during its history and I'm sorry to see that they have gone to the wall. We live in changing times and there seems to be nobody prepared to take a lead or give the smaller clubs a break. That's heartbreaking when you look at the vast amounts of money at the top of the game. I hope that some fans, players etc with an affinity for the grand old club to get together and start them up again like they did at Wimbledon. My heart really does go out to everyone associated with the club.

  • Comment number 25.

    Did Wolves not have problems late 70s/80s? Aldershot went bust late 80s/early 90s? Who are Accrington Stanley? Third Lanark?

    There are lots of examples from decades past. Unfortunately sport is going the same way as the rest of the world - a few big names dominate and survive while the rest go under. Hence Starbucks. But there will be an Enron soon and that will be necessary to shake up the world. But salary caps? never going to happen in EU.

    My fear - not unrelated to the whole thing - is that internationals will be one of the casualties; as clubs face stricter regulations they will be less inclined to allow players to play for someone else. That will be a sad day.

  • Comment number 26.

    When a business has not enough financial resources to meet its obligations, the outlook is bleak. Football clubs need either a billionaire sugar-daddy or a large number of paying fans.

    I'm sorry, but the "football is different" tack is not good enough. What about Cricket clubs?

    In both cases there are more "suppliers" in the market than the "demand" can support without "rationalisation". Remember how many small coal mines there were in the 1970s?

    Yes, it's very sad for some (I'm a Leeds fan).

    But some clubs really have brought in on themselves by mismanagement and "questionable" practices.

    It still doesn't seem that long ago to me when I was reading about managers and agents meeting at motorway service-stations carrying "doctors-bags" full of cash to "commumate" a shady piece of business.

  • Comment number 27.

    Farsley Celtic are gone now.

  • Comment number 28.

    Oops, a couple of spelling mistakes in my first post.

    There is another option for "municipal" clubs, namely this:

    Force local people to pay for a club through taxes.
    It helps if you have a local bilionaire who no one wants to offend. This happened when I lived in Seattle. Paul Allen (Bill Gates partner at Microsoft) came riding to the "rescue" when the previous owner made some more direct threats to move the Seattle Seahawks if his demands weren't met.

    Have a look at the Wikipedia pages on the "Kingdome" and it's replacement "Quest Field", and ask who really benefited.
    Local politics writ large. London Olympics, anyone?

  • Comment number 29.

    The Revenue wound up a football club for the sake of 26 grand?

    Shame on them.

  • Comment number 30.

    First things first - why did Cardiff not simply cash in on a few players in january ? Ledley, Chopra and Matthews alone could probably fetch somewhere between seven and ten million. This leads nicely into my next question, if the club does fold, what happens to the spanking new stadium and the squad ? In thirty two days we may see just about every premier league club circling around any young talent at Cardiff, in particular the highly rated Matthews. This being the case there seems to be one solution - players cannot be transfered currently however future deals can be arranged and loans can come with fees and future clauses. Surely Cardiff should be looking to save the club at the expense of some of the better players ? The only reason I can see not to do this would be if the club were to be promoted to the financial goldmine that is the EPL but this looks unlikely and would be one heck of a gamble ! Orrrr, final point I promise, can they not sell their stadium or a percentage of it or the naming rights etc etc ?

  • Comment number 31.

    Trying to claim that financial problems are new, and only came after the formation of the Premier League is ridiculous. What about Newport County, Gateshead, Aldershot, Maidstone etc etc. Clubs have been going to the wall for decades and decades. Nothing new there.

    Introducing things like 60% of turnover on wages is also grossly unfair. This means only clubs with large stadia can compete. Man Utd can generate hundreds of millions every year, whereas Wigan can't. Man Utd probably get 7x what Wigan get in attendances, let alone all the spin offs like catering, programmes, merchandise etc etc. Its accepting that ONLY Man Utd, Arsenal etc can buy the best players. If a club like Chelsea - who couldnt compete with Man Utds turnover due to small capacity and comparative lack of History and thus Worldwide support - have a sugar daddy, then that actually adds competition to the league. They can financially compete.

    Any business has risks. Ultimately some businesses risk too much and go broke - thats life. Football is no different.

  • Comment number 32.

    As a pompey fan, I can only empathise with the fans of cardiff and southend. For Chester I weep.

    i am not sure what it will take for FIFA to act but I fear it will take a massive club to be up against the wall before it has the balls to take action. They need to take some responsibility, they need a reality check, its just football. We are not talking about doctors, soldiers or cancer curing scientists, its just football.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think that some people need to detach themselves from the idea that football and business aren't the same, when they really are. Football is a business, the stadium, the non-playing staff, the players, etc. are all assets that can be bought and sold, and therefore all of these must be well-budgeted for, due to the huge risks you take in stretching a business beyond its means. Working within your means is the simplest concept of accounting in the world, so why aren't the boards of football clubs paying attention to it?

    At the top level, it's good to see that UEFA are looking to enforce regulations that stipulate that clubs are self-sustainable, else there is a chance they won't be entered into competitions like the Champions League and the Europa League. Although it sounds harsh, and it may dilute the quality of the competitions somewhat, it could potentially give teams like Man Utd and Liverpool a reality check, and would mean that owners in the Premier League, and indeed, the whole of Europe, will be making sure that they keep on top of the finances of their respective clubs.

    It's also something that's being brought to light elsewhere - for example, the Argentine Premier League season was suspended until the Argentine FA were happy that the clubs in the league were financially stable. It upset a lot of fans, which meant that they pushed their owners to start sorting themselves out and budgeting, which now means that their league is now financially stable, if only slightly. If associations started doing this elsewhere, then more people would really stand up and take notice, and it would also protect the clubs from more incidents such as this, whereby the HMRC has decided that they're sick and tired of getting ripped off by football clubs (perfectly understandable, considering that if we did that to the HMRC, we would be in jail) and have simply asked for what is rightfully theirs according to British Tax Law. It's exactly the same thing that would happen to any other business.

    I don't mean to sound overtly insincere here, because I think it's an absolute travesty that clubs with such long histories such as Notts County, Portsmouth, Southend, Chester City, etc. However, I just think it's also a travesty that people who lack genuine business acumen (i.e. people who clearly don't know the simple concepts of accounting) still manage to get put in charge of football clubs, which, in reality, are one of the hardest things to financially keep afloat. It's a real shame, and I feel sorry for all the fans who have been affected by the plights of their respective clubs. It just shouldn't happen.

  • Comment number 34.

    "As football clubs are part of the community in general every effort should be made to ensure that they don't go under. After all, why should the football fan suffer?"
    "Force local people to pay for a club through taxes. "

    Why should the rate payer support greedy, grossly overpaid football 'stars'? Clubs used to be local players who deserved the support of the local community!

    If fans boycotted the clubs that squandered their income on horrendous transfer fees an overpaid players maybe the whole league scene might change for the better....

    After all - It may be the beautiful game - but it IS only a game!

  • Comment number 35.

    It's the management of the clubs that is to blame for the mess, but you will always attract owners / CEO's that loose their grip on reality and spend too much. Therefore the Premier League, FA and Football League need to get together and apply some simple measures that put the breaks on a lot earlier. I suggest:

    1. All transfer fees should be paid in full when a player is purchased.
    2. Any club that is clearly behind on any paymnets to HMRC or any suppliers is placed under an immediate transfer embargo.
    3. Clubs are forced to sell players if it's deemed necessary to get them back on track.
    4. If bank loans are taken out they should be secured against the owner and not against the football club. That would make a lot of owners tread more carefully!

    The media love reporting the finiancial meltdown in teh game, but I see very few proposals aimed at stopping problems from happening in the future.

  • Comment number 36.

    Maybe every club should be run as though it is in administration.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a Manchester City fan, I've experienced some lean times in the dark days of the 1990's and sympathise with these clubs. As a football fan, with my team's new found wealth thanks to a very generous owner, I feel a slight pang of guilt about all this. I don't want any club to go out of business (well, except for maybe one down the road in Salford!) and it's the fans I feel sorry for. All the wealth sloshing around at the top of the Premiership is obscene when there's clubs battling to stay afloat because they owe amounts that top clubs pay their star players every week. Obviously I want my club to do well, like all fans, but maybe with a more even playing field financially, more clubs would have a chance at trophies, and winning a cup or league would seem even more of an achievement.
    The only answer really is a fairer distribution of Sky money etc. mayeb teh FA should negotiate the TV deals and equally distribute the cash, so clubs like Southend get the same % each year from TV money as Chelsea. The top clubs would still get more than enough from sponsorship, European football, higher gates/ merchandise etc, but at least the lower ones would get a decent pay out each year to help them stay afloat.

  • Comment number 38.

    @23 - Ed Hunter

    The lower leagues DO have a salary cap!

  • Comment number 39.

    Two comments:

    Firstly, I can't believe that people owners/board can allow their clubs to get into this state. I know little about the cases of Chester and Southend, but in the cases of Cardiff and Portsmouth you've been able to see this coming for years. I remember when Portsmouth signed James, Campbell, Defoe, Crouch for a small fortune and on top wages and wondered how they could affor it on 25,000 crowds. Ditto when Cardiff got Chopra, Haisselbaink, Fowler on massive wages in the Championship. With hindsight it's clear that in both cases the owners gambled that these purchases would result in increased incomw via European football/Promotion respectively which would enable them to pay off these debts. In both cases that gamble failed. The people who own the clubs are entitled to gamble. If the club goes to the wall, they lose out too. Should FIFA bring in restrictions to reduce overspending? Possibly, and some of the suggestions above such as monitoring the REAL accounts (i.e. how much is in the bank, not how much some Arab businessman has pledged to geive the club is we wait another couple of weeks) to ensure that bills can be paid and imposing an (undisclosed) wage cap/transfer cap on such clubs could work. However, assuming these have to be applied on a season-by-season basis how would the likes of ManUtd or Liverpool cope. their depbt is huge but servicable as they have massive income from the Champs League. Should FIFA slap a wage limit or tansfer embargo on these clubs it will be more likely to push them towards financial difficulty in the short term, not save them.
    Ultimately the clubs are owned by their owners and the shareholders, not the fans and if they want to gamble with the future of the club that is their right. They all gamble hoping to win. Some will lose. That's the price you pay for turning football clubs into companies.

  • Comment number 40.

    As a Leeds fan I remember the joy when we faced financial oblivion, from fans of Portsmouth, Cardiff, Southend and many others I am sure they loved every minute, not talking majority. You reap what you sow be careful what you wish for and all other cliches.

    I save my tears for the people who pay their taxes in life, just like I have to and still struggle through life with little money. In the end greed has caused this and the clubs have no one to blame but themselves.

    Not the fans fault?
    Maybe not but I remember the good Champions League nights at Leeds.

    Did I question where the money was coming from?
    No I enjoyed it like everyone else.

    Maybe its time for fans of tradionally "not rich" clubs to query sudden wealth.

    As for Mr Ridsdale, what can I say, maybe some blame should lie at the door of the people who found him "fit and proper" step forward a certain Northern Irishman and his merry band of yes men. YOU MUST shoulder some blame for Cardiff City!!

  • Comment number 41.

    #10 blueforever123

    "At least football can't go any lower then buying another club and moving it half way across the country!"

    Its already been done MK Dons bought & moved (and as such forever to be known as Franchise FC.

  • Comment number 42.

    Don't blame HMRC. If you are in business and do not pay the taxman you are a fool. Secondly, if you owe taxes etc, there is a very good chance you owe many other people. Football in general needs a harsh dose of reality.

  • Comment number 43.

    What would happen if the catalogue of injuries that forced Dean Ashton to retire, happened to Ronaldo? All that money down the drain!

    Actually that is one of the easier things to deal with as players are indured for that very reason. Wages, treatment and depending on time servedsometimes large portions of a transfer fee can all be recouped on a retirement forced by injury. It is one of the reasons why players like Ashton are given as much time as possible to overcome injuries.

    Sadly, its the supporters that suffer. The supporters have done nothing wrong but will suffer none the less.
    Rubbish. Leeds, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bradford; they all have one thing in common, a failed attempt to move the club on to a higher level, an attempt driven by and fully supported by the fans in each case. The fans are just as sulpable for their unrealistic demands for clubs to "show more ambition" as most people in the clubs themselves. Cardiff were more unlucky, their planned stadium was a sound move pre-cash crisis, it was only the timing that was unfortunate. Even them though they should have cut their losses, sold Ledley and McCormack, passed over Chopra and aimed for mid-table stability until some of it was paid off.

    It is not for the FA to police clubs either, no association polices your local supermarket's finances, if they fail they fail on their own back, football clubs are no different. This is NOT a new problem, clubs have been going to the wall since the inception of football. Ken Bates bought Chelsea for a pound; AFC Newport, Aldershot, Accrington, Swansea City, Maidstone, they all went to the wall pretty much, some were bought for peanuts the others started again. Spreadimg TV money more evently wont help, it will just inflate wages at lower levels as the problem is poor running of clubs, not the money.

    Stop thinking football is different, it isn't, that means there should be no special dispensations yes, but it also means understanding that some businesses fail, they fold, they dissapear, sad though that is for a football club it will happen and SHOULD be allowed to if the club is in that bad a state.

    I'm a Swansea fan, I don't want to see Cardiff fold as I have an affection for them as a rival, them dissapearing will make us all poorer in terms of the experience of being a fan. But they have options that they should take. They can still loan players out for up to 3 months and recieve loan payments. Lend us Ledley and Bothroyd, we'll chuck £250,000 at you in fees, loan out Matthews, Chopra, McCormack, Marshall and co in similar deals, that could bring in close to £1m in fees as well as knock $300k or so off the wage budget between now and May 5th. Play the kids in the remaining games, you'll probably miss the playoffs but it should be enough to pay off the majority of your HMRC bill until the summer when you can sell players properly and it will ensure that the club survives.

  • Comment number 44.

    A football club with more than a century of history is wound up for less than a week's wages of a mid table premiership player?

    something's not right.

  • Comment number 45.

    sad business, indeed.

    what strikes me, though, is that chester is in cheshire. the 'stockbroker belt'. awash with money. the highest concentration of (multi) millionaire's in the country, and nobody stepped in with what would be, to them, some loose change to save the club.. could've been a nice hobby for a rich syndicate...

  • Comment number 46.

    Before HMRC went after these clubs there would have been a prolonged period of correspondence. We don't know how many clubs are going through that now.

    A first step would be to pay TV money to a kitty and only pay it over to clubs who can meet a set of criteria such as showing that they're up to date with taxes and wages. Instead of giving priority to football debts, they should meet the obligations any other business has. If they can't show this, the League would pay those bills using the TV money rather than let the clubs do anything else with it.

    There may be plenty of other things needed after that, but the first step has to be to prevent clubs getting deeper in the mess than they already are.

    In one of the fields I work in, we employ external accountants to audit our accounts but we also have to co-operate with a firm picked by the government who compare the businesses and grade our financial standing. There is no reason why the Football League couldn't commission a brief audit from accountants of their choosing and compel clubs to co-operate as a condition of being in the League.

  • Comment number 47.


    It is not for the FA to police clubs either, no association polices your local supermarket's finances, if they fail they fail on their own back, football clubs are no different.

    I would have to disagree with you there. I think it is down to the FA to police clubs now. The only debt a club has to pay in full even if it goes into administration is a footballing debt. Portsmouth will still have to pay all transfers to other clubs in full even when they come out of administration. That is why there is so much pressure on clubs having a CVA agreement as the FA can withhold or take away a football clubs "Golden Ticket" to play in the league as well as not receiving more penalty points.

    Surely the FA should make the penalty a lot harsher if a club goes into administration. I would suggest an automatic drop out of either the league they are in or completely out and down into the non league divisions. This would then focus the minds of the clubs into running the club as a business and doesn't stop some clubs spending more in one year and also cutting back to repay expenditures.

    The FA's "Fit and Proper" should also look at previous businesses they have had and see if any have gone into administration. Then the likes of Storrie and Ridsdale would and should not be allowed to take an active roll within any clubs boardroom.

    Clubs have been going bust for decades and it's not down to Sky and the money they put in for the TV rights. Just look at the ridicule that Alan Sugar got from Spurs fans when he tried to make it into a club that was run as a business.

    to #29. If you think it's a disgrace that the HMRC wound up Chester for such a small amount then please pay it. That is money that is owed to US the people of the UK.

    It is down to fans to hold their own clubs accountable in some ways. As a Leeds fan has put in here.

    "Not the fans fault?
    Maybe not but I remember the good Champions League nights at Leeds.

    Did I question where the money was coming from?
    No I enjoyed it like everyone else."

    If too much pressure is coming from the fans then the board looks at too many short term goals that undermine long term benefits.

    Clubs should stop paying stupid amounts in transfer fees and also in wages to the players, manager and the members of the board. Why don't they have incentives instead. Performance related maybe. Also when they redo players contracts why isn't there ever any clauses to have their salaries reduced if a club gets relegated.

    I find it extremely difficult to comprehend how the Portsmouth administrator has made 85 people redundant and non apart from one of the are from the board, and he wasn't getting paid for his role anyway!! Surely getting rid of Storrie on a reported £10k a week would have saved a lot more than getting rid of these hard working people.

    Luckily I support a team who have run the club as a business and not got the club into trouble. In Arsenal the board members treat themselves as custodians of the club and even though they are shareholders they do not take any dividends out in money and everything is reinvested back into the club.

    I know a lot of fans, supposed football pundits and ex players have over the past few years moaned and groaned about not buying "big name players" but it might be because we can't afford it or the wage structure of the club would have to be broken which the club refuses to do so we as fans have to deal with it.

    Fans need to remember that there are only a few trophies a team can win. The league they are in, FA Cup, League Cup, for the lower divisions Johnstone Paint trophy and for some a European trophy. This means a lot of the time you will be disappointed but you don't stop supporting them.

  • Comment number 48.

    It´s always regretful if a company or a football club is failing and going to the wall. Not always a case of mismangement, but mostly it`s.

    In the Football League (and sometime below) financial problems have become a regular feature, especially since the collapse of ITV digital. One would be naive and think after a period of turmoil clubs would get to grips with the financial reality and learn from mistakes they of others have made. The shocking truth is, most haben`t and business as usual continues. Leaving beyond their means year in and year out.

    As lessions have not been learned from only recent events, some clubs will definately go out of business in the future. Very sad, but they`ve to face up to the harsh consequences like we all have if our spending get`s out of control.

    Just looking up some figures from other European Leagues. The second division in Germany (Zweite Liga) is receiving 21,56% of the total TV revenue for this season which amounts to around € 84m Euros for the 18 Clubs, so € 4,7m per Club. That figure will drop to 20,5% for the 2012/13 season. As the total TV income will rise each year the second Division will receive € 90,2m in 2012/13 (just over € 5m for each club).

    As licensing is tough, the risk of any club going out of business is not impossible, but relatively low.

    The get clubs to agree on a sound financial footing within the Football League seems impossible to me, as long as the clubs can vote on these matters and consequently only protecting their own interests and shortcomings.

    As usual, the "consumer" or in this case the supporters are having to pay to price for all these failures.

    People critisise and complain about foreign ownership of clubs and how bad they`re sometimes run. No question about it, some are. But when looking at all these problems and failures at Football and Non-League level, nearly (if not all) of these clubs in question are run by british owners and directors.

  • Comment number 49.

    "At least football can't go any lower then buying another club and moving it half way across the country!"

    Its already been done MK Dons bought & moved (and as such forever to be known as Franchise FC."

    Been done in Scotland with Airdrie going bust then basically buying Clydebanks place in the league and reforming as Airdrie United.

  • Comment number 50.

    Anyone who thinks this is a product of modern football has a very short memory; My club, Bristol City, were minutes away from being wound up in the early 80's, several clubs in the 70's and 80's were bought and sold for nominal amounts to ensure their survival and clubs have gone out of business before (Newport County? Accrington Stanley). Wimbledon had to move 80-odd miles to ensure their survival. Football clubs have always been difficult to manage and success has always come at a price

    In this respect i have mixed feelings about the problems of Cardiff, Portsmouth and Southend. Lessons of the past have not been learnt and the same mistakes have been made. This time the stakes are higher and i think its inevitable that one of these clubs will not exist by this time next year. Southend are a small club in a perenially difficult situation and so my heart goes out to them. Cardiff and Portsmouth are Icarus teams; they've reached for the sun and inevitably been burnt, Cardiff especially have taken reckless, unsustainable risks and if it weren't for the fact that its the essentially inocent fans who will suffer, i would be tempted to say let them fold. Even now, Risdale is staking the future of Cardiff City FC on one final, all-or-nothing roll of the dice and eventually, as he did with Leeds and Barnsley, he will lose.

    Cardiff and Portsmouth have, as Bristol City did in the late 70's, to all intents an purposes, cheated their way to the successful positions they found themselves in not too long ago and the one positive that can be taken from all this is that at least cheaters never prosper. English football HAS to lose a division of professional clubs in the next decade, for the sake of the game as a whole and i just hope thats through clubs turning amateur rather than clubs disappearing

  • Comment number 51.

    I would like to point out in Southend's case this situation has not been brought about by the club spending fortunes on expensive players. In the last four to five years I believe transfer fees we have received have exceeded the transfers we have paid. In the last 2 seasons the club has been trying to keep it's head above water by relying on the loan market.

    The key problem for me is the Bosman ruling - In three of the last four seasons our player of the year has walked away on a free transfer. The club has not been able to cash in on arguably their best player when he has left. This is not the fault of the club, players (especially those doing well) are refusing to sign contract extentions as they know a move to a bigger club is almost guaranteed if no transfer fee needs paying. I could name 5 or 6 players from the last few years that could maybe have commanded a fee in excess of £150-200k, yet all walked away for nothing. A million pounds is pocket change in the Prem but unfortunately in League 1 it may well be fatal for clubs.

    It is time football puts in place some sort of rules specific to the sport to combat this i.e. rules that clubs sign up to to be allowed to compete in the Football League/Prem (that cannot be disregarded due to the freedom of trade rules) that ensure fees are paid to lower league clubs? Currently transfer fees have to be paid for young players or products of youth academies, can this not be extended to all "free" transfers whereby a panel decrees what fee should be paid?

    Until smaller clubs are protected from losing their most expensive assets for nothing then many more will go to the wall.

  • Comment number 52.

    A few points:

    1. I'm not sure how, but Cardiff recently had a brand new stadium - how was this funded and who owns it? And why did they get a new stadium if these 'historic' debts were so severe??

    2. You talk of Cardiff and Southend as being at risk of folding, I maybe wrong but do both of those clubs own their own grounds? However, another two clubs I can think of that maybe in more trouble are Crystal Palace and Stockport County - as far as I'm aware neither of these clubs own their grounds.

    3. All this talk of 'football clubs are vital to the local community', well is that necessarily true? Take for example Portsmouth - they don't just owe other football clubs and HMRC money, they owe lots of money to local businesses including builders etc, and whilst the money owed to them is small by comparison it's essential to those builders. I'm not sure they would be seeing the club through the same eyes.

    4. Talk of how points deductions is unfair as its 'punishing the fans', well how else can those clubs be punished? You can't give them a financial penalty can you as they can't pay their debts anyway, so therefore a points deduction is the only option. And whilst it maybe unfair of that club's fans, it's unfair on the fan's of other clubs who have played by the rules if there is no punishment.

    5. As someone said, there is a salary cap in division 2. However, it's kind of pointless as there doesn't seem to be a punishment for exceeding it - Notts County are reportedly paying championship wages on several of their players and have signed players from other clubs on bosmans based on wages that no other club in the division could afford - thus putting them over the wage cap. This means they've had quality players, beyond the rest of the clubs in division 2 and have gotten into the promotion picture. Their punishment for this 'cheating', a transfer embargo stopping them from bringing in further players - wow, that's going to hurt them isn't it bearing in mind they've already got the players they need.

  • Comment number 53.

    Sad about Chester, as with other clubs disappearing. However, football is like any other business and subject to the same laws of economics. For too long, football clubs have been run as a hobby and additional money has only increased the greed of clubs and players alike. Any sensible club with a half decent accountant should be able to spot the warning signs e.g. paying your players more than the club revenue for example - exactly how long do they think this could continue without falling in to financial problems? They gambled and lost and now it's time to pay up. Sad but a fact of life.

  • Comment number 54.


    Franchise FC fan talking here. We don't care. We survived. That's the important thing for most fans- survival of their club. Chester fans are going to do everything they can to keep their club going in some form, Portsmouth fans are already showing how much they care. Wimbldeon survive, same club, different name, a bit of money in the bank.

  • Comment number 55.

    I simply don't understand why such clubs are not forced to cut players' wages in half until such a time as the money recouped has paid off the HMRC. It is transparently ridiculous, as we see at Portsmouth FC that ridiculous wages of players leads to the cleaners being sacked. And Storrie still on £400k a year - farcical.

    I really hope Gordon Taylor places a phone call to some of those sacked workers in Portsmouth, defending his unionised members' salaries......

    It's called defending the indefensible. And the whole football world knows it.........

  • Comment number 56.

    As a Cardiff City fan, the position that we are in at the moment is hard to comprehend. I, along with thousands of others, bought a season ticket early to help to bolster the squad in January with the promise that if we went up then our money would be re-imbersed. The money back option was not the main selling point for me, that was the filling of the squad. Every man and his dog could see that we did not have the depth to sustain a push for promotion with the squad we started the season with. The same problem we have had for the past few seasons! The Riddler lied to us. He never intended to put money back into the squad. He hasn’t even used it to pay the tax-bill!!

    At the end of the day we have made one of the largest profits in terms of Championship transfer fees and yet we are still in this position. Risdale always harped on about learning his lessons from previous exploits but it would appear that once again he has gambled too much money. He clearly lavished OTT wages on players with the expectancy to recoup by getting to the Premiership. This is idiocy. We should have taken a leaf out of the Swansea City model when it came to stadia. The council own their stadium, we should have followed this route until we establish ourselves in the Premiership and then purchase it out right. What has happened to the so called naming rights too??

    The problem is, it is the fans that lose out in this instance and it is hard for me to accept. I would be heart broken if Cardiff City went into liquidation.

    My gut feeling is that this will go on until the very last day and the outside investment will arrive, with them having to pay only a small amount of cash, compared to what they would have to pay now.

  • Comment number 57.

    I was reading an article about the financial problems of the Israeli club owned by Arkadi Gaydamak, the father of Alexander Gaydamak, the former owner of Portsmouth.
    According to it, there is no problem of the players not being paid because Israeli FA rules say that the entire season's salaries must be lodged with them before the season starts for them to be allowed to participate.

  • Comment number 58.

    Football is morally bankrupt - ran like a business when it suits then cry fould when the piper wants paying. Ordinary people who offer a value for money service to a club whether its cleaning the bogs or in the clud shop get dumped on the scrap head because the players 'cannot be made redundant' as told on Sky yesterday. Players who are so over paid its their salaries that are the problem

    Why can't the players of Posrtmouth forfeit a weeks wages in exchange for the clud shop workers etc keeping ther jod for a year - one pays for the other and the players can certainly afford it they might just have to sacrifice some jewellery,a tattoo or fancy (i mean ridiculous) haircut or 2

    Simple (partial) solution - clubs must have accounts signed off - the EPL/FA/UEFA should only pay tv and prize money when accounts have been signed and submitted - if they are broke the money pays the debts (and pays them in the same order that every other regular business has to clear the creditors)

  • Comment number 59.

    Post 56:

    "The money back option was not the main selling point for me, that was the filling of the squad"

    The fact that so many Cardiff fans flocked to buy next years season tickets in full expectation that the money would be used to buy players in this one is a telling one, and a prime example of why the fans themselves need to take a good long look at their actions over the last ten years or so.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    The fact that so many Cardiff fans flocked to buy next years season tickets in full expectation that the money would be used to buy players in this one is a telling one, and a prime example of why the fans themselves need to take a good long look at their actions over the last ten years or so.


    I had this discussion with some Cardiff fans I know who paid up early. The club was asking for effectively a loan from it's fans in order to invest more money in the squad, even if that was what they had used it for does it not ring alarm bells that the club was already using effectively next seasons funds in some audacious gamble.

    They saw nothing wrong with that, blinded by the chance of promotion to the promised land just like Leeds, Bradford and Portsmouth fans were to promised success.

    Southend have lost players for nothing, big deal, most of them arrived for nothing too. If they were young players brought through the ranks they received compensation.

  • Comment number 62.

    Change needs to happen at the top before anyone with influence will take it seriously. Perhaps the FA stopping parachute payments to relegated teams and then bringing in a %wage cap for the club. ie. pay a player what you want but you can't go over 60% of your turnover. This would apply to ALL clubs. It might annoy some teams, but this goes beyond challenging for Europe in SEVENTH place!

    As a L2 club supporter who have been in dire straits, the Premiership is a different planet. I simply don't recognise it as football anymore and until this greed driven cancer is removed from the game then clubs will continue to go to the wall and the only people who benefit will be players and agents.

    With Wright-Phillips moaning that he's worth £80k a week and Chester disappearing for less than a third of that it doesn't take much intelligence to see that nobody at the top cares.

  • Comment number 63.

    "Been done in Scotland with Airdrie going bust then basically buying Clydebanks place in the league and reforming as Airdrie United."

    Or equally, if not more, disgraceful, the earlier franchising of a solvent Meadowbank Thistle (whose chairman reneged on a promise to sell the club to the fans after they raised more than his shares were worth) and the renaming and moving of the club to Livingston. The first and genuine Franchise FC - beware all imposters...!

  • Comment number 64.

    I have read all these comments and I see a little hypocrisy in a lot of the comments. I also admit to a little. Every fan wants to see their clubs do well. Otherwise we are calling for the Gaffer's head or the board to resign. No Gaffer or board want to admit failure so they just buy more players and pay higher wages to these players. It is a vicious circle. I really feel that fans have to be more realistic as well.

    Look at Pompy. Harry Redknapp bought a very expensive squad. Obviously well above what the club could afford. But in return they won the FA Cup and had a shot at Europe. All the Pompy fans were elated. But look what it has cost the club. Rising debts and no real way of paying them back. No big sugar daddy to pay them either. Now all them players have been sold to pay debts and the team looks like being relegated. Were the fans saying that they couldn't afford it when they were at Wembly...NO!, there is my argument.

    Not that I think that the boards and Gaffers aren't responsible, they are. But have a think about your attitude to it all.

  • Comment number 65.

    The US with 300million people supports 32 professiona; football (American football) teams. With the level of salaries and the game so skewed toward the top Premier teams England and Wales cannot support over 80 teams. I doubt many First and Second Division teams are making any money. Teams when they drop out of the Premier immediately lose their top players because they can;t afford them The only way to save the lower leagues is to spread the TV revenue much lower down, but of course that will never happen when the Glaziers have Man U so leveraged financially.

  • Comment number 66.

    I agree with britboy #65. 92 clubs is unsustainable in this econommic age. As an exiled Grimsby Town fan I fear for the future of my club. Obviously our footballing position is perilous but our financial situation looks worrying too. If Town do survive our relegation battle, what will happen next year? We have no wealthy benefactor, a poor squad, crumbling stadium and the majority of footballing fans in the town look elsewhere to support a successful football team. Grimsby based football fans travel in large numbers every week to see United, Liverpool, Chelsea et al compete for the only real honours that seem to matter anymore - the big boys clubs of the EPL and the Champions League. A similar situation must exist in the majority of football league towns. Mediocrity isn't tolerated. Why follow Grimsby or Chester or Southend when you can go to the splendour of the Emirates and watch Arsenal? Clubs like Grimsby and Chester are NOT so interconnected to their local communities as they once were. Times have changed and supporting sport is more global and accessible than ever before. And success is everything. So what can be done?

    In Australia, when rugby league was heading into [another] crisis, the authorities decided that the only way forward was a rationalisation of resources. All of the clubs wanting to take part in the league had to put forward a sustainable business plan. Some major names were casualties in this process with traditional clubs like South Sydney, North Sydney, Western Suburbs and Balmain Tigers facing expulsion from the competition. Mergers occurred and clubs lost their league status (regardless of fan sentimentality). But the league is stronger and some of the newly merged clubs have done well (West Tigers - a merger of Balmain and Western Suburbs winning the competition in 2005). Is this what is needed in English football?

    I don't like the idea of Grimsby Town being merged with anyone. But if the alternative is the financial collapse of the club leading to its disappearance - then I wouldn't want that either. Is it time for English football to move towards a system of franchise clubs? Souless perhaps, but competitive and sustainable and potentially the fans' clubs of the future....

    Grimsby Town have never recovered - in my opinion anyway - from the collapse of itv digital and our modest success in the 80s leading to immediate compliance with the Taylor Report's all-seater requirements. Would we survive another jolt to our revenue stream (such as relegation to the BSP)? I don't know. But there are a lot of clubs in Grimsby's perilous financial situation. Maybe it is time to consider some radical alternatives. Or, we can sit back, do nothing and watch - from the cushioned seats of Old Trafford - the painful death of our lower leagues.

  • Comment number 67.

    It doesn't help smaller clubs when people from all over the country support teams they have no affiliation with. I support Cardiff because they are my local team, I love the city and feel it would be ignorant of me to support a club on the basis of their success and that they are always on tv. For example, I only have 5 football-loving friends at home around the same age as me, ALL of them support Man Utd. They are all welsh, have no affiliation with Manchester, yet all tell me they aren't glory hunters. It's denile that's probably visible from space.
    I'm not calling these people the problem, but a club like Cardiff, if they had 'proper' local support, could have made something of themselves. The capital of Wales may as well be Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 68.

    #54: "Wimbldeon survive, same club, different name, a bit of money in the bank."
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't MK hand Wimbledon FC's history back to the Borough of Merton and sever all ties pre-2004? In which case, it's not the same club, by the club's own admission.

    Related to the article, I'm glad that Brentford has been prudent in recent years and not overspent a'la the Noades era to win div 4 and that we have a proper plan to go forward. It's just a shame the Portsmouth debacle didn't happen to a bigger name, as Portsmouth going under doesn't really hurt Brand Premier League one bit.

  • Comment number 69.

    Having pondered for a moment and read (most of) the other postings, I think football fans do need to look at themselves. Some things are pretty clear, if more and more people stay at home and watch footie on the TV or go to a "big" EPL game/club rather than watch the local club, the local clubs WILL die. They have in the past and will do in the future.

    Bearing this in mind as the situation worsens, a 92 professional club league is completely pie in the sky. It has to shrink or cut its costs (or both).

    Mis-management is clearly only part of the issue. Most fans are fickle and want the best players now, regardless of cost or where the money comes from and moan when the club "they love" only acquire loanees, small fee or free transfer players (we all want the success and kudos a big signing brings - me included sadly!). It is this frenzid short term approach that results in the huge debts racked up over time.

    I'm sure at least 75% of all the clubs in the league have had a brush with non-existance in the last 40 years. I support Reading and remember the dark days of the 1980's when Maxwell loomed (in more ways than one) and tried to merge us with Oxford, play at Didcot and be named Thames Valley Royals.

    Oh, and it's no different in the non-leagues, it just the sums involved are smaller! (Newbury Town have been through numerous guises in the last 20 years).

    Reality has to kick in soon, or the whole league will be in complete chaos!

  • Comment number 70.

    Clubs should be paying more attention to what they are paying players. Are they really worth the money?

    If you take £120,000 as the weekly average wage of most top-flight football players, and then compare it with the national average weekly wage (£531 in 2009).

    I could work for 20 years and still not have been paid anything like a footballers average for 1 week!

    Multiply that by the number of players in a football team and you will see that the savings you could have made, by paying a more than generous £120,000 per year, you could have amassed a fortune - certainly enough to save the majority of clubs in financial trouble!!!

  • Comment number 71.

    This is the reality of business and sometimes business can be cruel. The hard economics of football are income in spend out. I hope to see Chester FC back soon. Dave, [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 72.

    If my small Company didn't pay it's HMRC bill on time we would get fined and asked to pay up front - how do all these clubs get away with it for so long. And, in business generally, we all know that paying taxes is important - what makes them so different?

  • Comment number 73.

    It can't be long before the HMRC and everyone else gets wise to the football creditors rule. When the St Johns aren't getting paid their £2000 expenses whilst the players and transfer fees gets paid in full, something is badly wrong (happened at Pompey). Football needs to get a grip on itself :(


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