TTU Go Predicting: Likely Crimes Against Football
Wholly unsurprisingly, events at one Midlands club dominated the thinking of our band of correspondents when assessing those most likely to have a pernicious impact on the Football League throughout 2013-14.
As regular TTU contributor and Coventry fan, Tom Furnival-Adams points out that there is unfortunately one clear winner here – Tim Fisher, Joy Seppala, and everyone else involved in Sisu/Otium’s mission to move the club away from its home city.
It is looking increasingly likely that the Sky Blues’ first ‘home’ game of the season on August 11th will take place at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium, 35 miles away. Nor is there is any clear plan to bring the club back any time soon (initial estimates of a 3-year tenancy were quickly re-calculated to 3-5 years or more once the proposed move received League approval), and there is growing concern that this could develop into another Wimbledon situation.
Special mention too, to The Football League, who so far have been nothing short of spineless in their muted endorsement of Sisu’s actions. The fact that the authorities are shamelessly complicit in the move should surprise us, but their failure to intervene, or act in the interest of the fans is no longer a surprise.
The fact that the FA actively encouraged a WSL team to transfer from Lincoln to Nottingham and relegated Doncaster Belles a handful of games into the season may be dismissed by some as unworthy of interest. But let’s not forget, these decisions are made and vindicated by the guardians of our game. Who is to say that such moves will not be seen in the men’s professional game before too long, where unscrupulous owners are more prevalent and the financial pressures to compete are intensified?
Indeed, it’s a lack of regulation and transparency that lies at the root of many of the game’s problems. When a player switches for a mighty £12 million from one club to another in the January, only to return after a failed mission six months later for a roughly similar amount, I think we are entitled to ask what the tax implications are and that the accounts underlying the bill don’t resemble those of a US company you may remember called Enron.
That Queen’s Park Rangers’ finances are about as translucent as a brick wall is not their fault – it’s more the climate of laissez-faire bordering on negligence that persists despite the vicissitudes of the credit crunch and its aftermath – see also Watford, the ethics of whose mission divides our correspondents, but where the public is perhaps entitled to know how much money changed hands in the deals that have seen nine players arrive from clubs also owned by the Pozzos.
Indeed, QPR loom large in this category – there is so much potential there: Harry Redknapp; an owner who can’t stop writing cheques; Joey Barton. It’s a massive challenge to the Championship’s resident farcemeisters Blackburn, and Venky’s may have to up their game to compete.
Elsewhere, it seems that Leeds United supporters should be concerned with the way GFH are running the club and the reported dalliance with Red Bull must be viewed with caution, although many fans seem to be delighted (and blinded) by the prospect of money flooding in to ‘elevate them to where they rightfully belong.’
With the owners seemingly lacking the funds to develop the football club long term, could potential shirt and stadium sponsorship be a precursor to a loss of identity for the sake of big money investment? Red Bull Leeds anyone? Yes, this move has been instigated by GFH rather than a strategic move into football that Red Bull has made elsewhere in the World, but who is to say that the involvement will not develop further…………
Finally, Milan Mandaric speaking with a Chinese group should be viewed with caution by Sheffield Wednesday fans. We all know what has happened at his other clubs post-exit…. while The Football League deserves an additional mention for dealing with its sponsorship so ham-fistedly and having in the end to go all out with Sky, furthering the divisions’ dependency on the broadcaster’s investment – we worry for the knock on impact on attendances when the increased number of games broadcast live kicks in from 2015-16.