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Here’s something you might have missed

Sometimes our great friends at GoonerNews – a venerable and exciting institution that I hold in the highest regard – don’t run every single word of wisdom that comes from the mighty Untold Arsenal.   I’ve asked them why not, and they tell me the feeds are not that reliable, so I suggested adding more sugar.

But anyway, I thought I might occasionally repost the odd story (emphasis on “odd”) in case you didn’t see it first time round, and are thinking, “bugger it, why don’t I get to see all the stories on Untold Arsenal”.

OK, you are not thinking that, but here is a re-run because I like it so much….. It goes thus….

Old timers will remember Leeds United when they were our great rivals.  They were a strong and violently dirty team, with fans to match, and matches between the clubs had the animosity that we used to feel for Manchester before they went bankrupt.

Since then the club has collapsed into nothingness.  My last memories were of a 4-0 thrashing of a terrible Leeds team at their “ground”, and a similar 5-0 stroll past them at Highbury.   Then they dropped.   And dropped.

Anyway I was reminded of this as the story has just broken that a certain Mr Ridsdale, once of Leeds, has paid himself a salary and bonus of £1 million for the last year as part of Cardiff City FC. During that year Cardiff lost £5 million.

OK, this is an Arsenal blog, but Mr Ridsdale is, for me, a fascinating example of football in the UK at this time. If you don’t want to know, navigate away now. But I promise you, this story is illuminating.

If we travel back to 2001, Mr Ridsdale was in charge of Leeds when it managed to lose £13.8m in six months. Deciding it was not his fault, he sacked ex-Arsenal David O’Leary. The financial situation is resolved by selling Rio Ferdinand to Manchester Bankrupt for £30m. But with the situation then getting worse and worse he resigns as chairman (31 March 2003, Leeds collapse and they start their decline back to their spiritual home of the third division.

When Ridsdale took over at Cardiff he said, most interestingly, that the demise of Leeds was nowt to do with him.

Before Mr Ridsdale there was Sam Hamman at Cardiff. Sam, having previously taking little Wimbledon to the old first division and a cup win, had taken Cardiff from the backwaters to the top of the championship, and aiming for a place in the EPL.

Now quite why anyone would want to get Sam out, while he was taking Cardiff up, is odd. It seems some people didn’t like the fact that the origin of some of the money Sam had put into Cardiff was unclear. That is only Sam knew who he had borrowed the money from. But the fact was that it was Sam who borrowed the £30 million and Sam who was going to have to repay it if things went wrong.

So Mr Ridsdale and co persuaded Cardiff council that Sam was not quite the sort of guy you want running a club, and that he, Mr Ridsdale, ex of Leeds, should be put in charge. Everyone agreed.

At this point you would expect Mr Ridsdale to do what us business types call “due diligence” which basically means going through the books line by line to look for anything odd. I am sure this was done, but it was curious when just a year later suddenly the company that loaned Sam the £30 million pops up and says “we want our money back”. Mr Ridsdale says, “I don’t know nothing about no money guv” and the legal case starts.

It is still going on, and if Cardiff City lose the case they will go bust. Totally. Just like Leeds before them.

Such things happen in football. It is a shame (although undoubtedly just a coincidence) that they seem to have happened twice to Mr Ridsdale.

Of course Cardiff did get to the Cup Final, which will have helped a bit, and they did sell us young Ramsey. And they are building a new stadium. So let’s hope it is all ok.

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