TTU Go Predicting: Trouble Ahead
Financially speaking — and the majority of us did interpret ‘trouble ahead’ through a fiscal lens when discussing potential candidates — this could be a tough year for Football League clubs. With a stifling economic outlook, more pressure will be on income streams and it may very well be that a greater number of clubs risk the wrath of the tax man and the authorities still in 2013-14. Indeed, a BBC Football League survey earlier this year reported that more than two thirds of the 41 Football League clubs who responded were worried about the financial health of teams in the world’s oldest domestic league.
That perhaps comes as no surprise when one starts to run through the various clubs that could have it tough this year. Heading the list, Southend recently experienced their ninth winding up order in 3 years and the Shrimpers’ problems look to be going absolutely nowhere with the club’s new stadium at Fossetts Farm seeming as unlikely to happen as it perhaps ever has done. Moreover, as covered in our divisional previews last week, to make things worse Phil Brown’s team is in line to do just terribly this season so one suspects that 2013-14 might well be a really grim year in Essex.
As we’ve already highlighted elsewhere in our Go Predicting series of posts, life is no better at Coventry. Enough’s been said already, but the Sky Blues have undoubtedly taken over from Portsmouth as the season’s crisis club.
Are there any advances on that SISU-inspired shambles of a club?
We doubt anybody will match them but Birmingham‘s a ticking time bomb and — likewise — QPR will suffer greatly at some point, but probably not this season. By the time those demanding cockerels return to perch, a former cock of a different sort will have long flown the nest for the Sandbanks while the League itself is only happy to welcome a team with big name stars and lots of money, or at least what looks like money on paper anyway.
Going back to where it all started for said cock, when a club who had a successful season such as AFC Bournemouth record a £3.4m loss with the gap plugged by a Russian businessman co-owner, it makes you wonder what might have happened if promotion hadn’t been achieved. A £5m increase in TV money and a fourth stand being built at Dean Court will help going forward, but have the lessons been learned at a club who have had their fingers burnt before?
A little further down the chain, Bury are still on shaky ground shaky after their recent financial troubles. They may have survived April’s mini-crisis, but having finished last season with only a handful of professional players, this summer has been an exercise of drastic rebuilding and it remains to be seen how successful this — and their new ownership — will prove. As with a couple of the teams above, we don’t expect the Shakers to have immediate trouble as such, but it could be a long 2 or 3 years for the club as they attempt to re-establish themselves and cobble together a sustainable future.
Finally, divisional rivals Plymouth recently posted the kind of yearly accounts that would suggest that their struggles may be set to continue for some time yet and Morecambe’s playing budget seems to have been decimated which suggests they might well be on course for a return to non league. Blackburn have surely got further to fall under Venky’s, as well.
On more of a purely football-oriented basis, if Wolves start badly things could get a little sticky at Molineux but surely the Old Gold’ll breeze to a top-two finish with that squad? Otherwise, Yeovil‘s achievements last season were extraordinary and they won’t go spending money irresponsibly, but the Championship will almost certainly be a step much too far. Brighton without Poyet will be interesting to watch — it’s been a bizarre soap opera this summer at a club whose rise had seemed unstoppable — and we wouldn’t be surprised to see them fall back a little. And In League 1, Swindon have hit the skids and Tranmere won’t reach anything like the heights of last autumn judging by the calibre of their new signings.
But to finish on a more positive note, surely the only way is up now for Portsmouth?