Buying a football club is exactly like starting a game of ‘Football Manager’ on your computer. The proof:

Posted by on Sep 2, 2009 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

We’ve all been there. You’ve had Football Manager installed on your PC for about a year, you’ve won everything there is to win with Man U/Arsenal/Liverpool/Chelsea, and now you’re thinking about starting a new game with a lower league club. With the amount of takeover talk there is surrounding smaller clubs at the moment, it seems as if the bored millionaires of the world have reached that stage too.

I’d like to have a quick run through some takeovers from the championship and lower divisions, to try to expose what Football Manager logic is behind the interest of the wealthy chap involved.

Plymouth Argyle: In a clearly Football Manager inspired move, former Man Utd chairman Sir Roy Gardner took over the Argyle in July of this year, backed by local businessman Keith Todd and Japanese conglomerate the Kagami Group. Their reasons for doing so were quoted as being: “to establish a global and local partnership with links to both Japan and the United States and to place the e-commerce operations of Plymouth Argyle Football Club on an international platform”, which is obviously bollocks. Bored by years of finishing either 1st or second in the league, and doing OK in the Champions League with Man Utd, Roy got frustrated by the fact that all the players he knew in his first years at the club had now retired or become rubbish (Roy Keane; Schmeichel; Giggsy) and was left with a squad of randomly generated super-stars (Nani; Rafael; Wellbeck).

Newcastle: Not yet taken over, but it looks like they will be by “Tyneside businessman” Barry Moat. Barry has made his money in selling “novelty goods” and also with a telecoms company (he ran both companies into the ground incidentally), but has not yet had any serious involvement with sport. It looks like his interest in club ownership has been spurred by his friendship with Alan Shearer, marking Moat as a clear ‘Football Manager host’. Barry is one of those guys who’s house you go to to play Football Manager at because he has his own computer, and while you’re out there all afternoon your Mum thinks you’re playing actual football, or studying, or some other less heinous activity. Being unfamiliar with the sport, Barry has plumped for Newcastle because he’s from near there, and remembers hearing about them in the news a while back, so they must be good. Also, he’s only really interested in hanging out with Alan, who is one of the cool kids, and is afraid that Alan will go and play at that fat Mike Ashley kid’s house if he doesn’t pick a club.

Brentford: Earlier this month, it was announced that Matthew Benham, a professional gambler, will be investing £1 million a year into the league 1 club until he officially becomes a majority shareholder in 2014. Benham is a textbook case of the ‘Football Manager martyr’. He will not take over any other club at any stage in his career, and will continue to play the single game with the single club until the game reaches year 2030, at which point the game’s software will automatically connect to the internet and ring social services to have him removed from his laptop and reintroduced to the wild. He will not win anything with the club, apart from maybe yoyo-ing back and forth into the Championship for a while, and this is despite him turning his computer off to restart it after he loses big games.

Notts County: Munto Finance bought the club in July, and soon installed Peter Trembling as chairman to make the company’s name sound less funny. Their 5 year aim is to “get…into the Championship”. This, frankly, quite realistic aim suggests that they’re running another club simultaneously. Who would bother taking over an alright league 2 team and then tip away at getting them promoted over the course of a few years? That would be really boring. A statement they released in June said: “Munro Finance are the special purpose acquisition company of a Middle East backed investment fund based in Switzerland” in other words, nobody knows who they are. I could probably find out more about them online, but I feel ready to jump to a conclusion here, so I won’t. I reckon the men behind Munro already own a European football club or two, and have set up a convoluted corporate structure to throw Fifa off the scent. Expect a high number of loanees to arrive from a small number of foreign clubs, and possibly a few over-priced Notts County players being sold at massive profit. I did that once between Barcelona and Cambridge United, and it worked a treat.

Columbine Harvester


  1. Ben
    September 5, 2009

    Ah, yes – taking over Man Utd and getting them to buy Jimmy Crawford from Newcastle for £20m plus Ryan Giggs. Happy days…

  2. Lanterne Rouge
    September 8, 2009

    Jimmy Crawford? My goodness – even by Tommy Burns' standards, a poor signing for Reading – although apparently Andy McLaren led him astray

  3. gerschenkron
    September 8, 2009

    Unless what's actually happening is a Championship Manager cheat – i.e. continuing to run one of the big clubs but “adding a new player” as manager of another club with the sole aim of purchasing all the crud / past it players previously acquired by said “big club”.

    Thus, if Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves and Paul Scholes are turning out for Notts County in the next year then it's proof positive that we're all obsessed with some greater being's Championship Manager career.

  4. Columbine Harvester
    September 18, 2009

    The BBC website's Paul Fletcher ran a story addressing the same topic as this (kind of) a couple of days ago.

    There are some interesting quotes in here, and to my mind, it supports rather than disproves my analogy.


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