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Funny football finances: Uli Hoeness, QPR, Gheorghe Popescu, the Romanian League.

By Tony Attwood

I’m not sure how much reporting there would have been concerning Uli Hoeness, president of Bayern Munich, and his admission of tax fraud had we not been playing in Munich.

But even with that spotlight, it just got a mention in most of the media and was then passed over as some sort of minor indiscretion.  The fact that he had stolen more than most of us would earn not just in one lifetime but in half a dozen life times seems to have passed the British media by.

It is always the way when the media in the UK handle football finance.   Take Queens Park Rangers, who lost £64.5m last season – which is more than any of us is likely to earn in over 30 life times.   It gets a mention, and then is old news.  But it is worth a second look because QPR are currently engaged in a fight with the Football League and are threatening legal action against the League over the FFP regulations that the League is imposing and which the vast majority of clubs voted for.

Of course most of us could see it coming once Harry Redknapp was given the managerial job – but even so, to spend £17m more on salaries than the club’s entire income is careless to say the least.  The League’s FFP limit for a loss this season is £8m.

What’s more, the QPR chairman’s introductory commentary on the accounts (which of course must be published by law) did not make any mention of the figures (bizarre when you think about it) but just said it had been a difficult year.  QPR has a net debt of £177m.
If QPR don’t go up this season they will get a long transfer embargo.   But I suppose that doesn’t matter since they signed Andrew Johnson, Julio Cesar, Samba Diakite, Robert Green, Stephane Mbia, Park Ji-Sung, Estaban Granero, Junior Hoilett, Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Nelsen, Christopher Samba, Loic Remy, Yun Suk-Young, Jermaine Jenas and Tal Ben Haim last season.  If QPR do go up they will be fined £47m by the Football League for breaches of regulations.  The money goes to charity – not the league (the Premier League didn’t want smaller clubs benefiting from the insanity of the larger league clubs).
Even allowing for the behind the scenes property activities which will see QPR move out of the ground and sell it for development, it still doesn’t make much sense to bring in Arry and spend all the loot..So that’s two sides of footballing financial insanity.  Uli Hoeness, who had everything, risking 10 years inside to have yet more, QPR risking massive fines and transfer embargoes in the vague hope that Arry will bring promotion.  That’s as bad as it gets..Well no, not quite..Not quite because you wait for years for any story to come out of Romanian football (well, maybe you don’t) and then two come out at once.  And they are both, sort of, odd.

Eight football officials and players including the former Tottenham  defender Gheorghe Popescu for are going to prison for tax evasion and money laundering.  Pop got 3 years and one month with no appeal.

He played for his country 115 times, was Romanian player of the year six times, and was lined up to be the President of the Romanian FA.

OK, that’s one story from eastern Europe.   It’s a story but not a major story for the west (except perhaps in Tottenham).  But now add in this:

The Romanian league has said it is negotiating a new TV deal for its Liga 1 which it says is in the region of €100 million for three seasons.  years.   Honest, £100m.

Now that to me seems a lot of cash for a league that is currently broadcast by local TV stations.  There are 18 clubs in Liga 1, and 24 Liga 2 and both leagues are included in the deal.

The only problem is that just as that deal is going through Steaua Bucharest’s general manager Mihai Stoica, the former Rapid Bucharest owner George Copos, and the former Dinamo Bucharest owner Cristian Borcea all got non-appealable jail sentences along with their ex-Tottenham colleague.

Three separate cases.   Two where officials fall foul of the financial laws of the land, one where a club (just one among many) is coming unstuck over FFP regulations.  Plus one where the media feed the monster by pumping more money that it doesn’t actually have into football.

It will all end in tears, you mark my words.

13 comments to Funny football finances: Uli Hoeness, QPR, Gheorghe Popescu, the Romanian League.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Insanity, madness… the trail that Redknapp is leaving behind him of clubs going bankrupt is amazing…
    How on earth can some club owner still give him a job? Insane might be the right word…
    And to think some wanted Wenger out and have him replaced by Redknapp… what had they been smoking when wanting that?

  • ARSENAL 13

    wohhooo.. 34 million a year deal for Romanian league. Which company is taking that gamble????

  • Alex QPR 81

    At least get your facts right about QPR. We didn’t spend a fortune in the ‘vague hope that Arry will win promotion’, it was to try and keep us in the Prem! Bosingwa, Samba and Ben Haim are no longer on the books.

    I’m no fan of Harry, but of all those players you listed, he was responsible for a total one 3. Chris Samba, Jermain Jenas and Tal Ben Haim – the latter was on a short term contract and cost very little, where as Samba was sold for what he cost us after only 6 months. A certain Mark Hughes convinced Tony to sign the others, so how about slapping some blame his way eh?

    The insanity was not giving any of our promotion players a chance. After all, that group didn’t start the season too badly under Warnock when we did go up, and the worst case would have been relegation with that same bunch and a nice parachute payment, which is what Reading effectively did.

    So, as much as I DO want a new manager, it’s not Harry’s fault the financial situation we’re in – although I think it was a silly idea signing him in the first place considering what he will be earning.

    But yes, a bit more research before you start spouting off about a club you know nothing about please.

  • Sammy The Snake

    Bribery & fraud are a way of life in some countries, openly! In a place like UK, it may not be open to public, but it still exists all over.

    I like/love your sentence a lot: “Hoeness, who had everything, risking 10 years inside to have yet more”. Brilliant!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Incredible, is Hoeness is found guilty, they have no excuse but to bang him up.
    All this , and Barca too. But, rest assured, there is huge corruption here too, but Untold readers know that. Still wonder how Arry got off.
    Just a shame the curry piton goes right to the top, so it is left to outside agencies rather than the games authorities to police the game. And that delays things. Still, bet a lot of people are looking over their shoulder.
    Still , let’s make QPRs problems our gain, here they have a striker going on the cheap who has been tearing things up in the North East but want CL football. And we need a striker…
    A year ago I would not have wanted Remy at Arsenal but his performances this year have changed my opinion at least.

  • bjtgooner

    ‘Arry can never run a cheap menagerie – ask Rosie 🙂

    I share the disbelief that he has avoided free lodgings for so long.

  • Mandy Dodd

    As well as Arry, QPR are a classic situation of a club hijacked by agents, with recently a very naive owner.
    Some of their buys in the last two or three seasons have been unbelievably stupid

  • WalterBroeckx

    Uli Hoennes his total debt to the German tax man has been accepted by himself on his trial to being £ 22,738,732.
    The first estimations was around £ 2,507,930. So ten times as much.

    Now as we all know that you usually don’t have to pay all what you earn to the tax man and let us assume that even he should pay some 50% of his earnings to the tax man then you see that this is rather staggering.

    come to think of it… Hoennes probably earned as much as QPR made a loss over one year to get to such a debt to the German tax man.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Reflect upon the wants and needs ….from
    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/want

    “Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want.”
    ― Voltaire,

    “what you need and what you want aren’t the same things,”
    ― Cherise Sinclair.

    “If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”
    ― Dan Millman

    “Are these things really better than the things I already have? Or am I just trained to be dissatisfied with what I have now?”
    ― Chuck Palahniuk.

    “A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.”
    ― Lionel Shriver.

    “As soon as you stop wanting something, you get it.”
    ― Andy Warhol

    Goodnight, guys !

  • Florian

    You get me started, you get what you’re asking for:) Here’s a brief description of the Romanian events, which became known as “The Transfers’ Files”:

    The Romanian inquiry started 8 years ago, with the unveilings of a newspaper, the Romanian equivalent of “La Gazzetta dello sport” – the name is similar in translation. The journalist Catalin Tolontan started writing about the deals that were going under the table as part of the transfers, until a prosecutor from the Romanian National Anti-Corruption Agency (DNA) activated himself and started collecting evidence. Basically what he did was to compare the files recorded at the football federations involved. Unsurprisingly, he found mismatches in the amounts paid – the sums declared at the foreign federations were larger than those recorded at the Romanian federation. 12 transfers were cited, from the clubs Dinamo Bucharest, Rapid Bucharest, Gloria Bistrita si Otelul Galati towards foreign clubs, between 1999 and 2005. It took all this time to stitch all the evidence together into a solid set which could make the case for a prosecution. The first sentence was pronounced in November 12th, 2012, with punishments between 3 and 8 years. The lawyers appealed, and obtained acquittal in April 3rd 2013. The prosecutors however stayed with it and appealed themselves, eventually getting a final sentence recently, on March 4th, with the following jail times:

    – George Copos, former owner of Rapid Bucharest – 3 years and 8 months
    – Mihai Stoica president of Steaua Bucharest, formerly with Otelul Galati – 3 years and 6 months
    – Cristi Borcea, president of Dinamo Bucharest – 6 years and 4 months
    – Ioan Becali, agent – 6 years and 4 months
    – Victor Becali, agent – 4 years and 8 months
    – Jean Padureanu, president of Glorian Bistrita – 2 years and 4 months
    – Gheorghe Popescu – 3 years, 1 monthand 10 days
    – Gheorghe Netoiu, formerly with Dinamo Bucharest and Universitatea Craiova – 3 years and 4 months

    Ioan Becali, George Copos and Jean Padureanu will serve reduced sentences because they are over 60 years old.

    It is worth mentioning the jail time for the Becali brothers, who were known to manipulate the transfer dealings for a long while, to the point of effectively controlling the transfer market from Romania to the foreign markets, East or West alike.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    Uli Hoeness has been jailed for three and a half years for tax evasion.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Florian,
    that is rather impressive. Thanks for giving that extra bit of information

    I must say that whoever started or the investigation deserves a statue for bringing this kind of corruption above water.