What an utterly sad state of affairs British football has suffered in the past decade.
- Severe decline of British national teams in international football since 1990s (an age away from 1958 World Cup where England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all qualified)
- The enactment of the Bosman ruling creating an era of player power (allowing the likes of Sol Campbell to move from Tottenham to Arsenal)
- The failure of the ‘Proper Persons’ test enforced by the English FA (why was Thaksin Shinawatra allowed ownership of Man City with his human rights record?)
- The lack of impact the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations have had (barring excluding Malaga from European competition for five years)
It is clear football will hit a nasty dead-end in possibly five years within Britain. There is no logic in the rapid rise players get, which have lead corresponding ticket prices to balloon into insanity.
Not so long, I read an article about a club in Germany (Borussia Dortmund I think it was) had suffered a boycott from their fans over ticket prices. Ticket prices are remarkably low in Germany in comparison to Britain, but the slight rise in ticket prices was enough to force Borussia Dortmund fans to organise a boycott of their club’s home games until prices were lowered. Sadly, British fans could almost be described as having a sheep mentality due to fanatical loyalty being encouraged- Radio 5Live commentator Alan Green has been known to criticise fans who ring in to speak about a game involving their favourite club that they have not watched live in the stadium.
No surprise then owners can get away with disgraceful mismanagement of significant clubs such as Ken Bates at Leeds United. Many police and crime experts speak about how crime rates drop when an important football match kicks off in their local area.
I cannot help but feel the socialist style of ownership which is enacted at Barcelona would help clubs survive in Britain.
“Yet that is a harsh view. Barcelona make money and are obsessively ambitious but they still take the field in Paris tonight embodying a more inspirational identity for a football club than being a private company owned by businessmen or an oligarch’s toy.
“The fans truly own this club,” Ferran Seriano, one of the club’s vicepresidents, says. “They control its destiny and can decide how it will be managed. This is totally different from Arsenal [two-thirds owned by ITV, businessmen Danny Fiszman and David Dein, and Lady Nina and Sir Charles Bracewell-Smith] or Chelsea, owned by one guy who could one day withdraw his investment.” ”
What is also amazing is that only costs
£69 Cheapest adult season ticket at the Camp Nou (Barcelona)
£885 Cheapest at the Emirates Stadium (Arsenal)
Sadly this sheep mentality has been brought in from mainstream British society, where turnout for General Elections and other elections such as Police Commissioner Elections (but personally I don’t agree with the idea of that election due to fears of politicising) have been very, very low. This is sad outbreak of real apathy where people not only refuse to care about their local communities, but also their football clubs.
When your local football club nearly disappears
Back in 2006, there was real fear among Derby County fans their club would be placed not just into administration, but into liquidation.
————————————-“Two former directors of Derby County and the club’s ex-director of football were sent to prison today for fraudulently sharing £440,625 in secret commissions after they took over the club in 2003. A Monaco-based lawyer, David Lowe, was also jailed, for two years, after being convicted of money-laundering.
The jury at Northampton crown court had been told that following the takeover of Derby, when the heavily-indebted club was bought for just £3, Andrew Mackenzie, 55, the club’s finance director, Jeremy Keith, 41, who became the new chief executive and Murdo Mackay, 53, then the director of football, had each been paid £125,000 plus VAT by the club, which was not approved by the board.
Mackenzie and Mackay were both sentenced to three years in prison, after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the club. Keith was sentenced to 18 months having been convicted of false accounting.
The court heard that Lowe, the legal adviser during the takeover, had received £81,895 for part of Mackenzie’s share of the commissions, and channelled it to Mackenzie via one of Lowe’s companies registered in the Isle of Man.
Keith was also disqualified from being a company director for three years, while Mackenzie and Mackay were both disqualified for five years.
The judge, Ian Alexander QC, described the fraud as “in some ways more reprehensible” than usual because the four men were “to some extent public figures” and previously successful professionals.
“You, like so many people who commit business and professional crime, somehow give the impression that you do not believe the rules apply to you,” the judge said, “and that what you do in your business life is perfectly acceptable.
“The spectre of prominent members of society behaving in such a dishonest way on this scale, and without any apparent hesitation, conscience or remorse, is very unedifying.”
Derby County have applied to have the £375,000 returned to them from the men. HM Revenue and Customs is understood to be also claiming for return of the £65,625 VAT.
The convictions and prison sentences followed a three year investigation by Derbyshire Police’s economic crime unit, working in association with the Fraud Prosecution Service, who brought the case to its conclusion in court.
The period in which Keith, Mackenzie and Mackay ran Derby County was controversial from the beginning partly because the finance Keith and two of his partners, John Sleightholme and Steve Harding, brought with them was a £15m loan from a company, ABC Corporation, registered in Panama, whose source has never been confirmed. It was, however, strongly believed to have come from Michael Hunt, the former managing director of Nissan UK who in 1993 was sentenced to eight years in prison for his role in the largest tax fraud ever perpetrated in the UK.
Sleightholme and Harding have since resigned from the club; neither was implicated at all in the fraud or charged with any offence.
The Derby County Supporters Trust, Ramstrust, consistently expressed dissatisfaction with the regime and two board members, Elaine Dean and Jim Wheeler, said today that they felt the campaign has been vindicated by the convictions and sentences.
“The trust battled to bring the truth to light over the financial dealings at the club and we welcome the sentences today,” they said. “We hope this will make other opportunists think twice before trying to rip off football clubs – and encourage supporters at all clubs to ask questions before welcoming into the boardroom ‘businessmen’ who have no previous association with their clubs.”
I will be writing in more detail about this case, and the turbulent events at Derby County during the period in which the fraud was perpetrated, in my column and on this blog on Wednesday.”—————————————–
Here is the background to their affairs at Derby:
——————–“In October 2003 Mackay became involved in a takeover over of financially troubled Football League First Division club Derby County. A group of investors who wished to remain anonymous had purchased the club following it being placed into temporary receivership by the Co-operative Bank, and had installed barrister John Sleightholme as chairman. Sleightholme was a friend of Mackay’s, the two being the only directors of a company called Finance for Football, which had been launched in 2002. Mackay’s role at Derby was initially unspecified, although it was thought that he helped with attracting investment. He was subsequently appointed to the director of football role, and with his contacts in international football was instrumental in recruiting players such as Grzegorz Rasiak and Iñigo Idiakez for the club.
Mackay, however, reportedly had a poor relationship with George Burley, the manager who led Derby to a play-off place in 2004–05, with rumours of disagreements and meddling in team affairs by Mackay. Burley subsequently resigned from his post in June 2005 stating his position had become “untenable”. Mackay offered his resignation from the board in the wake of Burley’s departure but was persuaded to stay after talks. The following season, Mackay had a public dispute with Derby County’s chief executive, Jeremy Keith, over the sale of Rasiak to Tottenham Hotspur, for which he was reprimanded by Sleightholme.
Following further disagreements with Keith and other board members, Mackay tendered his verbal resignation in December 2005. In a subsequent vote, the Derby directors voted four to one in favour of Mackay leaving, with his only supporter being friend and club chairman Sleightholme. However, Mackay made a u-turn and clung on to his post by claiming no written resignation was ever given to the board. Mackay eventually left his post at Derby County on 22 March 2006, claiming he could leave with his head held high.”——————————————————
- Khalilou Fadiga’s loan signing considered suspicious by football authorities