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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Posts Tagged ‘Football Finance

SOS for the Harriers

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Football finance is always a hot topic, be it from the wages which top players are earning or to the transfer window slamming shut on a record spending spree.

It’s become a little bit more local to me however with Kidderminster Harriers now looking at the threat of administration and the potential black hole this could bring for the club and its supporters.

Kidderminster Harriers are a great thing for the local area. Throughout my years at school we came into contact with coaches from the club who used to run half term footballing camps, giving away tickets to their home matches. My younger brother was and still is a fairly talented footballer and Harriers nurtured him at a young age and really gave him encouragement (shame he couldn’t keep his eye on the ball, otherwise he’d be keeping me in the lap of luxury right now!). The little things count to the younger football fans, and the reward of playing on the pitch for a good performance at the summer camp was a great incentive, and I spent many Saturday afternoons in the past watching my brother go on the pitch at half time, and usually watching the Harriers lose (I’m a curse when I go there).

Perhaps however, the growth of other local teams in the Premier League are killing this friendly community club.

With Blues, Villa, WBA and Wolves all representing the West Midlands in the top division, Harriers are fighting the big Premier names to get bums on seats at Aggborough, and they are seemingly struggling, as is evident with their supporters group press release this week http://www.khist.org.uk/?p=1677

I’ve had a look on the Harriers main website, in particular casting my eye over the match day ticket prices. If I’m not mistaken, they appear to be around £14 – £17 a game for an adult.

This is comparison to a recent match at Albion which was £12 for adults, whilst Blues offered a two for £20 scheme for Premier League matches.

I’m not criticising Harriers pricing at all – they have to charge those prices to keep the club afloat. It seems like everything is against them however when local clubs can open the doors to show off Premier League stars for less than what the Blue Square Premier has to offer. With Sky television money and massive advertising revenue, Premier League clubs simply have the financial support that Harriers could only ever dream of.

I really hope the local area gets behind Kidderminster Harriers. They have enriched the childhoods of many lads in the area over the years and they have devoted and loyal fans as is evident from the press release. As much as it is fantastic to raise the profile of the Midlands football through the Premier League,  I just don’t want the rise of the Midlands teams to spell the end of another.

Written by Nicole Carroll

February 5, 2011 at 12:21 am

Football and financial regulation: Will there ever be answers?

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I was quite keen to watch the Panorama programme about Manchester United, as I’ve written a few times about the Red Knight group and a possible fan led takeover to get the Glazer’s out of power.

It was a good documentary. Quite obviously programmes like this have to take a slant of some sort, and they did present the roles against the Glazer’s ownership at United succinctly, and did do enough to get the cogs turning in my mind about Manchester United’s problems, as well as the bigger financial issues in football.

Season tickets at United for next season appear to be slow, with an uptake that is so far 12,000 down on the same point last season. The clubs renewal cut off point is only 5 days ago, and renewal numbers are down by a third. Although it would be quite easy to blame the whole downturn in season tickets on the Glazer’s ownership, you do need to consider the people who are letting go of their season tickets for other reasons such as financial or social issues. There will always be a certain amount of “wastage” in terms of season ticket holders at any club, but for a club of Manchester United’s stature, this should send some sort of warning signal to the Glazers.

They should be already worried, with the green and gold campaign picking up the PR pace in the media, the Glazer’s should no longer dismiss these angry fans as a vocal minority. With a club as big as Manchester United, even if 5% of the fans are angry, that is no small amount of people.

At Manchester United, the financial problems appear to be there due to the massive amount of debt placed upon the Glazer’s during their ownership, rather than ruthlessly pumping money into the club in the pursuit of trophies and titles. Clubs who have spent masses of money, whilst accumulating vast amounts of debt, should probably worry at a time when football finances are being scrutinised on a daily basis, as it appears that there could be a time in the future where measures are put in place to prevent clubs being bankrolled to success.

If a salary cap was to be imposed just in England, then players would simply play abroad where they could be higher earners. If a cap was issued across football as a whole then I don’t think a massive amount would change. Players, I would assume, would be inclined to go to those clubs who already have some sort of history and a decent financial backing for other things, such as training facilities and new stadiums. There is always the argument as well that salary caps can be worked around, with financial packages including image rights and bonuses according to how the team perform.

In European competition however, some measures are being taken. From 2012 onwards, teams who wish to compete in the Champions League cannot spend more than they earn in a season. It would be silly to say that it is as cut as dried as I’ve just written, but there is further information in The Guardian which explains the finer points on how this system is intended to work.
This seems to present itself as a massive problem to those top teams who have owners who can keep pumping money into clubs without any need for a substantial return. Without meaning to sound like a broken record, on first glance it appears that there are ways around this, for example, what if an “advertiser” (someone associated with the owners of the club) wants to pay an excessive amount for “advertising” which will then boost the clubs income, allowing them to spend further on there own squad?

An issue I picked up on within the article was the issue of clubs not being immediately removed from European competition, and rather facing sanctions. Without any idea of what these sanctions could be, and whether they are going to be harsh sanctions, then surely clubs could risk qualifying for European with debts knowing they won’t be too harshly punished for being in this debt.

Although some sorts of guidelines seem to be slowly coming into play in European competition at least, its lack of clear guidelines which seem to undermine the whole process. We need to know as fans how clubs will be punished for being in debt in the Champions League and whether clubs will be thrown out of these competitions for outliving their means. How can you stop measures being flaunted somewhat to get around the rules? European football seems to be murky in terms of the bigger teams being funded. The ownership of Real Madrid and Barcelona have to present problems to these new ideas due to being fan owned and running at huge losses, and countries which have clubs with state bought stadiums, such as France, surely have already received a financial advantage over everyone else.

Bringing it back to our own league, there is an absolute tonne of work to do. I’m not talking about bringing things completely even so everyone has the same chance to win the league – simply because that isn’t going to happen. Premier League clubs simply have to live within their own means, Portsmouth are just the first example of what crazy spending can do to one club. Anyone on the outside could see there was no way that Portsmouth could really fund the squad that won the FA cup, but nobody official questioned what was going on. The way forward in some form, I envisage will include a notion similar to the European ruling that clubs need to spend within their means. Clubs would not be able to continue working on a loss, or bargaining on money for qualifying for competitions which simply do not happen. Clubs could be free to pursue other revenue streams, but would need some sort of proof that it was a legitimate revenue stream, and not some fiddling of the books to allow further mass investment in transfers for the club. However, that’s just my theory.
Would clubs be scared of being given the same amounts to spend each season? Is the notion of an mid table club having the same financial muscle to spend on transfers as for example Chelsea, such a bad thing? If money was capped as to how much each club could spend on players and wages, then perhaps those who are sitting on scary amounts of debt such as Manchester United and Liverpool, could focus any profits of success on paying back these debts and getting to a stage where the club can sustain itself. Clubs could even focus on investing money on the training grounds and the stadiums to create further revenue, allowing for money to be spent in the future, and to entice a better standard of player by having the best facilities available to you.

I don’t have the answers because if I did, I’d be at FA headquarters implementing the measures needed. If 34 clubs have disappeared in recent years, then it becomes a fairly conceivable notion that a high profile Premier League club could disappear from existence without proper financial regulation which can guarantee the future of many debt ridden football clubs. Although a lack of answers probably makes this blog post irrelevant in some peoples eyes, I think we need to continue answering the questions until we get some solid answers telling us how the game as we know it is going to continue in our current financial climate.

What next for West Brom?

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On the day where Portsmouth were mathematically relegated to the Championship, local boys West Brom were promoted to join Newcastle back in the Premier League.

Baggies are a yo-yo team in recent history, and have only managed back to back seasons in the Premier League before being demoted again. To secure their place in the Premier League, many would argue that the Baggies are going to need to spend on quality players to give themselves a fighting chance.

Their finances are good, and a look over at football economy shows the healthy profit the club have been turning over during the past few seasons, a good sign in todays financial troubles. Do West Brom risk financial security for the glory of being able to crack the Premier League for a season, and manage to stay up without too much worry?

Looking at the Championship stats, West Brom’s Chris Brunt is the only striker to feature on the top goalscorers table, with a tally of 12. It’s difficult to predict whether a strikers form in one league will translate to a harder league. West Brom fans will naturally be hoping he can make the transition next season to Premier League football. Although The Baggies have the third best shots tally in the Championship with 316 on target, West Brom will probably be looking to be adding attacking fire power and can either spend big and buy someone already in the league, or take a punt on a relative unknown.

The risk to West Brom could potentially be massive. Spending big and being relegated anyway could knock West Brom’s finances askew, and have repurcussions for subsequent seasons. However, if Di Matteo can pick up some shrewd buys and mix it in with the winning formula he’s used this season, they might just be alright.

Written by Nicole Carroll

April 10, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Fan ownership at the next level

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With football finance being the buzz word among the sporting media, with stories surrounding MUST’s campaign to get the Glazers out, and the pressure on Liverpools owners to leave, the flip side of this is people proactively trying to own their own football club.

MyFootballclub.co.uk featured fairly heavily in the press in the lead up to, and the completion of a deal to take over Ebbsfleet United. 20,000 fans worldwide paid a contribution to take over the club. It hasn’t been without its problems, with membership numbers dropping off, and remaining fans having to brain storm new ways to fund the fledgling project.

The Bundesliga model is held up to be a fantastic model for this notion of fan ownership, and there is a fantastic article at Pitchinvasion explaining how the system works.

As an avid Twitter user, I stumbled upon a new project, known as the Five Pound Football Club project. Quite simply, the notion is you register your interest in paying £5 a season to own a part of a football club. Initially, the site are gauging interest on Facebook, Twitter and its own website, and are conducting their research into football clubs which could be purchased. Initially they are looking at choosing from four countries: Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

At the moment, it is only a gauge of interest and maybe nothing will come of it. The prospect of seeing how this story could unravel is just too tempting for my curious mind, and I’ve registered my interest. Nicole Carroll; Football club owner? Watch this space.

Written by Nicole Carroll

March 28, 2010 at 10:33 pm

Reality star to become white knight at Portsmouth?

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To ease some of Portsmouth’s financial problems, I think they should be on commission for the amount of column inches their stories are generating. The latest to emerge from this saga is the story of the reality TV star who is meant to be preparing a bid for the stricken club.

Rob Lloyd - the face behind the bid

Rob Lloyd, a who has previously appeared on Channel 4’s The Secret Millionaire, has according to the Guardian, attended a meeting with the Portsmouth supporters group, rougly outlining the bids details. The property developer is going to be in attendance at Anfield tonight, and is looking to start negotations with Portsmouth’s administrator, Andrew Andronikou.

According to Lloyd, the bid includes support from a wealthy single investor, as well as a New York hedge fund. The Times is claiming that Andronikou is not so impressed by the approach to the supporters first. It also seems that this is possibly not the wonder consortium that Portsmouth were hoping for, with Lloyd’s own company hitting financial problems last year.

Any takeover is subject to the creditors agreeing to a ‘Company Voluntary Arrangement’. The numbers involved are massive, with former owner Sacha Gaydamak being owed £30.5, current owner Balram Chainrai owed £13.5 million, and every person in this country, under the guise of HMRC, being owed £15 million.

With the complexity of this whole case, it seems far to early to suggest whether this bid could have any chance of succeeding. The idea of people wanting to take the club on and push them forward, through what is going to be a difficult few seasons, can only buoy Portsmouth’s supporters and give them some hope of a steady future for the club.

Written by Nicole Carroll

March 15, 2010 at 10:21 am

Season ticket holders mass exodus

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Figures this week were printed, regarding the numbers of fans of Premier League clubs who are considering giving up their season tickets for the 2010/2011 season. The figures are as follows (as shown on Guardian.co.uk originally)

  • Manchester United 59%
  • Wolves 54%
  • Burnley 31%
  • Fulham 29%
  • Everton 28%
  • Blackburn 28%
  • Portsmouth 28%
  • West Ham 27%
  • Aston Villa 24%
  • Sunderland 23%
  • Wigan 21%
  • Tottenham 19%
  • Manchester City 18%
  • Birmingham 17%
  • Chelsea 17%
  • Hull 17%
  • Arsenal 14%
  • Bolton 13%
  • Liverpool 9%
  • Stoke City 9%

In a time of economic downtime, leisure activities such as watching the football regularly, is something that many people are going to have to cut back on, as it is simply a luxury, rather than a necessity. However, there are possibly many footballing reasons as to why these fans are marching out of the door and voting with their feet.

With the uprising of the MUST group and tensions between fans and owners, it is almost not suprising that there is such a high percentage of Manchester United fans considering giving up their season tickets. A club of Uniteds stature however can be less worried about people giving up their season ticket, as they always have a waiting list of those desperate to take the places of those who have left.

Burnley and Wolves are both looking at a season back in the Championship, and when the glory teams stop visiting the grounds every week, the fans will leave. 54% is a massive number for Wolves to lose, and without the guaranteed season ticket money, they may not be able to fully finance a campaign to get back in the Premier League, should the drop happen.

Although Liverpool also have problems with their owners, only 9% of their fans are considering giving up their season tickets next season, the same figure as Stoke City fans. Does this suggest they are less likely to feel the pinch, are more satisfied with what they are seeing match day, or they just don’t want to have to give up their weekend hobby?

Written by Nicole Carroll

March 13, 2010 at 9:30 am

M.U.S.T rumbles of discontent

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A story thats been developing over a week or so is the ever growing discontent over at Manchester United, with fans calls for the Glazer family to leave the club becoming louder.

With debts growing to around £700 million under the Glazers ownership, United fans are justifiably concerned and want to see the club in new hands. The Manchester United Supporters Trust aka MUST are leading an ever visible campaign against the owners. The gold and green scarves have become present at United matches, representing the colours of the clubs original name, Newton Heath.

There have been speculations of a takeover bid from a group known as Red Knights, but this speculation has been dismissed by those in the club. Indeed, even Alex Ferguson was linked with the takeover bid, but this has been dismissed. Further developments to this story have emerged in the Telegraph, with investment bank Nomura being appointed to advise the Red Knights group on a proposal which can be presented to the Glazer family.

Following United’s win last night over AC Milan, David Beckham was shown wearing a green and gold scarf, with some speculating that he himself supported the MUST ideology about the Manchester United owners, but he was later quoted as saying, “It’s the old colours of United but, to be honest, it’s not my business. I’m a United fan and I support the club. I always will, but it’s got nothing to do with me how it’s run”.

I’m not sure Mr. Beckham. As a fan of any football club, it is important to be aware of what is happening, and to be the keepers of the club, in terms of you watch over the club and make sure that the club that you love is being looked after properly. If anything, high profile fans should be making even more people aware of problems of finance in football, as their added celebrity weight will add credibility to any campaign, and will get people to stop and think about what they can do to ensure the safeguarding of the club for the future.

Supporters groups such as MUST are vital in safeguarding our countries football. We can no longer stand by and be bedazzled by these mega rich owners who are sweeping in and buying clubs, while amassing huge debts and putting the club in jeopardy in the future. Manchester United are a huge club, and are a jewel in the crown of this country in terms of sport. They have cultivated some fantastic English players, and in general the talent they bring through their academy is of a very high standard, and these players have gone on to play in every stage of this countries league system.

With Chester being wound up by the HMRC yesterday, finance is once again the big issue of the day. Although it is hard to believe that Manchester United would ever get to that stage, surely examples of these smaller clubs going out of business should send shockwaves into every league, and force people to wake up to the reality that football, in this country at least, will not be able to sustain mass debt.

Written by Nicole Carroll

March 11, 2010 at 10:04 am