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What should you do if you don’t like the way your club is run?

What should you do if you don’t like the way your club is run?

This is a story of two clubs at the opposite end of the spectrum.  One with millions of fans worldwide, one hardly known outside its locality.  One with the biggest debt ever seen in football, determined to carry on as always, one starting out afresh with the fans at the helm.

You might ask what the hell this has got to do with Arsenal – and if could if you don’t want to read about the wider issues of football and finance, you can look away now.   But on a day when there is widespread rumour that there is a secret FA report on club debt which reflects on a horror situation, it is worth thinking about, in my opinion.

After all, Portsmouth have gone, Hull look to be about to go, and there are several others in the EPL utterly on the edge.  The old notion of a patriarch pumping money into a club year after year to keep it afloat is being challenged by Uefa, and it is possible that within a year or so a number of clubs will have to re-think their approach to finance, although by the time they do I suspect we will have a number more that like Liverpool, start to sink under their own debts.

So first, Chester City, a club that was raped by its owners whose only interest was in getting hold of the ground and making money out of it.  Civil war broke out and the club stopped playing earlier this year as the fans stepped up their protest, and it was removed from the Conference.

Chester Council have now approved a rebirth of the club through a fans group, City Fans United and offered them a five year lease on the council owned stadium.

What happened is curious: aside from the fans group there was another group trying to get hold of the club: a Danish Consortium, Fodbold Selskabet.   The council chose between the two and effectively offered the franchise to play football at their ground to the fans’ group.

The Danish group are interesting.  Why, one might ask, would they want to buy the right to a football club in Cheshire? Apparently they have “some very innovative ideas and financial support, both immediate and potential,” according to the council.  But whether they are now on the prowl, looking for other clubs they might buy, we don’t know.

“CFU have promised a club ‘run by the community for the community’ with
a multi-sport approach designed to reach all sections of our society
from the young to the disadvantaged,” the council said.

According to the website www.twohundredpercent.net the key point in the favour of the fans’ club was that if the council gave a lease to the Danes then the fans would move out and found another club leaving what they call a group of “imposters” in their place at The Deva Stadium.

It hasn’t been easy for those who wanted to throw out the corrupt old regime.  The fans were driven to invading the pitch during a game against Eastbourne to make their protest heard, and the courts fined those people £150 each, and gave them each a three year banning order.  However the banning order only applies to the Conference and upwards, so the fans should be able to watch Chester in the future.  (There is talk of them applying to go into the Welsh League, even though they are in England).

So in the end what we have is a local council plus local community project, to rebuild a club that used to be in the Football League – which is exactly what should be going on.  It takes us back to the early days of football – local club owned and run by local people, with recognition and support from the local council.

Compare and contrast, if you will, with Manchester United.   They have a new club, FC United of Manchester, and the local council there is building them a new ground too.

But of course the old club lingers, and apparently yesterday another “secretive Middle East consortium” bid £1.5bn for the club, but the Glazer’s rejected the bid.  And the word is (but of course as with all these things, all I can do is pass on what people tell me, so I can’t verify anything) that there have been other bids approaching this level as well.  It seems the Glazers reckon they can get their management salaries out of the club for another ten years, and then flog it.

It also doesn’t auger well for the Red Knights group which is offering only about half of the amount being spoken of today, and it suggests that the only way of getting the Glazers out, would be with supporter activity of the type that Chester City fans engaged in – interrupting games, refusing to take up tickets and the like.  (Not that I am suggesting that anyone should do anything illegal).

Another story is that the owners at Man IOU are now planning another refinancing of their debts in 2017.   What is making them particularly positive is that the bond issue was, in the end, very over-subscribed (even though this only seemed to happen after the interest rate was raised).  On this basis, it seems that the money will keep rolling in.

They are also talking up the notion of having a transfer budget – with the plan being that whatever he spends will be added to the debts – which should keep Sir Alex F Word happy.   But he, like Chelsea, has woken up to the requirements of the 25 player rule next year, and is looking around for young and “home grown” talent.

So there it is: the owners of Man U digging in for the long term, the fans of Chester City having thrown out the old regime and now looking towards a brave new future.

Two opposite ends of the scale – but I would argue that what links them together is the power of the fans.   If Chester fans had just sat and moaned, or waved different coloured scarves around, nothing would have happened.

I am particularly grateful to Dany Levy at Supporters Direct his excellent reporting on Chester story on the SD news service.

Tony Attwood

Would you like to write for Untold Arsenal, or for the companion “Making the Arsenal” web site?  If not, its simple, don’t do anything.  If yes, send a copy of your article, or an outline of the idea, to Tony@hamilton-house.com  Please write the article as a word file – don’t write it within the email.  Obviously, we only carry articles that fit with the philosophy of the site – see the banner at the top of the page.

27 comments to What should you do if you don’t like the way your club is run?

  • critic

    off topic…the one signing that wenger is going to announce before june 11 is of chamakh…that’s my guess and it will not be a surprise.

  • critic

    did wenger foresee the home grown rule???….it’s bloody genius….

  • TheSKAGooner

    I find all the financial machinations quite intriguing, Tony. Even when it’s not directly about The Arsenal, it’s interesting to get a picture of the financial health of other clubs and how they deal with the issues compared to what our club have done. This is such a large part of football now, and I’m really happy that you take the time to cover it as well as you do.

    Many, many thanks. 🙂

  • Sam

    Good article Tony and good to see that when oush comes to shove the fans are the ones that can make a change! With regards to Man Uts, shorely they are taking massive gambles with only idology to keep them afloat. UEFA won’t let that go on forever…

  • joe71

    Yeah right so the moral of the story is telling us to stop demanding for experienced quality players otherwise we will go in debt like the clubs you mentioned, and that Lord Wenger is a genious for foreseeing all the financial turmoil that will embroil these clubs in years to come.

    I have always said this a pro-Wenger-pro board site, but now you are even trying to pull the wool over our eyes as yo did to the other respondents above. But lets look at this more objectively. 1)Where has the English talent gone in Wenger’s team since his tenure 2) ManU is a rich cluib because they are successful on the pitch, we are a rich club because we do not spend money – utd’s problems began when they were raped by the Glazers – and they did see this coming – Fans are not always as stupid as football managers and some blogs think they are 3)the same will happen to Arsenal if we are bought by people who are only in it for the investments, which is the same thing this board is doing only that they have refused to spend on players because they know they will drop the cost of this on the club, and not from their bank accounts.

    I will never suggest that AW go out there and spend silly money, what I suggest is that Arsenal Football Club do more for the playing side than just satisfying the investments of its shareholders.

    We know that the big publicity stunt from

  • redjim

    Dear Tony,

    I visit this once weekly and read and and rarely contribute beacuse on thing frustrates me. This unrelenting obsession with the way that other clubs choose to run themselves does you no credit. It meely glosses over a form of myopia. I have been an Arsenal supporter since I saw an Alan Clarke goal defeat them in an awful Cup Final in ’72. I’ve watched the club I love struggle to avoid the drop in the mid-seventies and I’ve witnessed some of the
    direst football imaginable on the Highbury turf.
    The arrival of Arsenal Wenger and the huge revolution he made to all aspects of our club and our football remain unparalleled. But what the more intelligent of us doom and gloomers (the ones who can actually communicate outside text speak and refrain from referring ot our own
    as mere expletives) sometimes get upset by the relentless bullshitting that pokes fun at our loyalty each summer. Typically each will
    statement along the lines of there’s money to spend – we will look at this, look at that – which is then followed by three months of cock tasing culminating in precious little.
    I understand the concept of fiscal prudence…..believe me, I do. So as an adult I can come to terms with a statement like ‘there’s no money guys, we’re bloody skint. I can deal with that. What I find a little emotionally cruel is when I’m told in April ‘we not have all the money needed to compete for the best’ followed by weeks of gradual backtracking and the realisation that through dogma and stubbornness and self delusion it will be considered okay to face the entirety of the following season with possibly the worst top flight goalkeeper I’ve witnessed since
    Paddy Roche in the 70’s between our sticks, NO definitive cover – yet again – for the holding midfielder role – and defining the loss of
    several centre backs with the subsequent arrival of maybe one as ‘strengthening’. If losing our place in the top five to the Tiny Totts
    and Man City – as anyone not possessed of the the most stringent ostrich demeanour might confess is a possibilty – is okay…then please let us know.
    Arsene used to efficiently freeze out and sell underperforemers (whether gutless or just unfotunately bereft of a required standard). Now he merely humours them. Why is this? I don’t think constructive criticism is disloyalty. Quite the opposite, in fact. My concerns of the last three or so yearsare pretty much the same as loyal servants from Dixon and Keown to dear old Bob Wilson. They’re not rocket science they’re staring anyone
    – that is, at least, anyone who will take their head out of the sand and look – in the face. They’ve nothing to do with injuries or bad refereeing of the revolving dorr of post match adjectives. If the financial – as opposed to the mental ones – can’t be addressed, please someone at the
    club have the common courtesy to say so instead of summer cock-teasing. Because we’re on the verge of being special and if the things that stop as being so can be asily addressed – and are not………what else is let but negligence?

  • redjim

    Apologies for the abysmal spelling and line breaks etc. in that post – did not check, must try harder!

  • Gregor

    Joe… Where in the world did you get that Tony is talking about transfers or English players or anything like that??? I guess you think you are pretty smart as well for deducing that this is a pro-Wenger site??? Go back to Le Grove Joe, where your whining is appreciated.

  • Dino Gunners

    You missed Joe’s valid point Gregor, Man United was a club with largers commercial interests than Arsenal and with virtually no debt before the Glazers performed a leveraged buy-out. That means that the Glazers borrowed to purchase the club but put that debt on the club. In effect, prior to the previous owner being greedy, the United model has been even more effective than Arsenal’s as they won trophies and they had no debt while also expanding their stadium by 30 thousand under Fergueson’s reign.

    If Usmanov (prob wrong spelling) were to buy the club in a hostile takeover, wouldnt it put the club in a similar situation as United or Chelsea? Even if they continue the “youth project”.

  • Hey Toni.

    I have a new thought. I reckon Wengers days will be up not because of lack of trophies although that will be the driver.

    But his refusal to tour the states and the far east.

    Anew owner who brings a bundle of debt will reqiure the big pre season tours as default. To produce extra income streams.

    The old delusional guy will refuse and be shown the door.

    Money talks. The club will be saddled with approx 3 to 5 hudred million of debt and that will be all she wrote.

  • scythe

    Sunday could prove the last day in the sunshine for many in an Arsenal shirt, they should treasure it as no other big club would give them the time of day for so long to get it right. Almunia and Fabianski should be saying their farewells, Silvestre and Gallas will leave, Traore will move on as he’s positionally terrible, worse so than Clichy and thats hard to do from this seasons performances. Diaby and Denilson should be moved on because they just aren’t up to the rigours of the PL. Diaby wants an eternity on the ball which doesn’t exist in English football now, Denilson isn’t strong enough in the tackle and is pathetic at tracking back. As sad as it is Eduardo should be sold, I’m gutted for him and what’s happened but there is no room for sentiment at this level. If we want to be the best, we have to be ruthless. This is what should happen, but it would mean bringing in at least 4-5 players to replace them and Wenger said he’s looking at 2-3 Max. This isnot the time to be prudent, the PL was so open this year and will be again next year, with the Spuds, City, Villa, Everton ever improving. The time is now Arsene. dont get me wrong I do respect Wenger for what he has done and I would like for it to be him to bring us back to glory as well, much like Fergie did when Utd hadn’t won the league over a four year period. But his pig-headedness has lost him many a fan, if the youth project was forced upon him so be it, but with finances proving we have the money to invest now, there really is no excuse. The likes of Rosicky would pose a problem if trying to move him on, as he’s on a lucrative wage and why would he give that up, but is he not out of contract this summer or very soon? Im not sure. Huge clear-outs would cause a transition phase but it’s not like he didnt do it before when he first joined when the likes of Merson et al were given the chop. If after this season he hasn’t done what is necessary, changes need to be made. Read the stupid comments from Walcot today. It really sickens me when someone like him comes out saying it’s not good enough and we can’t use the lack of experience card anymore for our failings. No sh!t Sherlock!! Maybe if you spent less time running into defenders or generally looking totally lost on a football field then you might be of use to the team and we could improve. As it is your content picking up a ridiculous salary which is totally unjustifed and unmerited and think you have the right for us to even entertain anything you say in the press. When you put in a season like Cesc or Song or Vermaelen then I might consider what you say, until then get your act togethe

  • This unrelenting obsession with the way that other clubs choose to run themselves

    I find that a funny statement. The finances of football are a major part of what this site is about – and it has been since it was set up.

    It is a bit like running a magazine about trains and then someone says,

    This unrelenting obsession with the way trains run does you no credit.

    It is so bizarre I can’t begin to comprehend it.

  • redjim

    Sorry Tony, I wasn’t wishing to offend. You’re a nice guy. It’s just a thought that a blog called untold ‘Arsenal’ might fool a person
    into thinking at least fifty percent of column inches would concentrate on the realities of Arsenal – as an entity – rather than being a revolving broasdside against Manure. Portsmoth, Citeh, Liverpool, Chelki or the Tiny Totts. Week after week. Obviously I’m a complete idiot and I’ve missed the
    point. Ho Hum.

  • joe71

    PLEASE TONY AND GREGOR WRITE SOMETHING OBJECTIVE OR STOP IRRITATING US. EVEN BOB WILSON HAS QUESTIONED OUR GOALKEEPING SITUATION IN AS DIPLOMATIC A MANNER AS POSSIBLE. HE WORKS FOR ARSENAL TV, OUR MOST LOYAL EX GOALIE, AND HAS NEVER BEFORE QUESTIONED ARSENAL. THIS AMONG OTHERS SHOW THERE MUST BE A NASTY STENCH COMING FROM SOMEWHERE IN THE EMIRATES. WE KNOW ABOUT FINANCES, AND I HAVE BEEN MANAGING THEM FOR A MAJOR ORGANISATION FOR 10 YEARS, WITHOUT GOING OVER BUDGET, SO YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY CLEVER ONE REGARDING THIS SUBJECT. IN FACT BY NOT BEING OBJECTIVE YOU TWIST THE FACTS AND DONT PAINT THE TRUE PICTURE OF ARSENAL’ FINANCIAL POSITION. AND DONT FOR A MOMENT THINK THAT YOUR OBSESSION FOR THE FINANCES OF OTHER CLUBS, HAS NOT BEEN REALISED AS AN INDIRECT ATTEMPT TO SAY WE ARE MANAGING OUR’S FINE.

    AS A MANAGER YOU GET DAMNED FOR OVERSPENDING. YOU ALSO GET DAMNED FOR NOT USING THE MONEY YOU SHOULD TO GET THE RESOURCES YOU NEED. AND DONT TELL ME ABOUT OUR DEBTS EITHER, I KNOW HOW THAT WORKS TOO. IF WE REALLY DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY (HILL WOOD’S WORDS IS THAT “WE HAVE MORE MONEY THAN WHAT WE HAVE HAD IN A VERY VERY LONG TIME”) WENGER SHOULD NOT BE SAYING WE WILL WIN THIS AND WIN THAT, ONLY FOR US TO GET HUMILIATED AGAIN.

  • joe71

    “They are also talking up the notion of having a transfer budget – with the plan being that whatever he spends will be added to the debts – which should keep Sir Alex F Word happy. But he, like Chelsea, has woken up to the requirements of the 25 player rule next year, and is looking around for young and “home grown” talent.” – Tony Atwood

    Gregor – read Tony’s article properly, then you will see where references are made to English (or if you prefer home grown) talents, thanks.

  • joe71

    Gregor – if you take time to read past articles on this site you will notice how it lacks objectivity and slates any one that has a different view to what Wenger is doing.

  • walter

    Well Joe71, over here you can express even your opinion. Even if we dont agree.
    I know other sites who change peoples comments to have a go at them and to ban them after that. So please let Tony run his blog like he wants to run it. It is for all to see what he does and he doesn’t hide from it if you want to see it.
    And you can not hope for objectivity over here nor on any other blog I think. The writers write from their own perspective and you can agree or disagree with it.

    The only place you should demand objectivity is in the media. And even there you can not find objectivity. Rememeber every time the words of Wenger are twisted to cause trouble?

  • walter

    Home grown and mostly English talent or project youth.
    Isn’t that the bunch of kids that are going to play the final of the -18 Youth league for the second year in a row?
    In fact it is a brand new bunch of kids as most of the one that won it last year played in the reserves most of the time or went on loan this season.
    If you long for English and home grown, don’t worry. Our club, our manager has it all sorted out.

    I think I am using my rose tinted glasses once again. 😉

    BTW : WELL DONE BOYS! Hope you win it like last season!

  • Jonny

    Stubby224: “The club will be saddled with approx 3 to 5 hudred million of debt and that will be all she wrote.”

    That’s hilarious. By far the dumbest thing I have heard all day.

    Joe – STOP SHOUTING.

  • joe71

    Walter – 1) Wenger has always had a good youth set up but most of the players never made it big at senior level.Please talk about our wonderful youth system when they actually win something at senior level. Believe me I will be among those to celebrate like you and hands up that I was wrong, but right now we deal with facts.

    2)Objectivity is a lot more important a word than you think – it enables people reading to make an informed and reasoned judgement. I know a lot of fans read this site, and I feel people should not be misled, but understand the true situation of things so that the club can progress instead of the brainwashing fans keep getting (and that is my opinion).

    3) I do not make my judgements on what Wenger and Hill-Wood say from other sources apart from Arsenal tv, Arsenal.com or hear them myself on TV or at the emirates during questions and answers sessions.

    4) I take your point about other sites and the media. Tony has done well in allowing my views to be heard, but that does not mean I should be insulted for giving opinions different to Wenger’s, the same way you and Tony has a right to your opinions.

    And jonny,

    You say STOP SHOUTING – but what point are you making ? you say other statements are dumb and do not say why? look in the mirror for the real dumb person.

  • walter

    Why should we saddle the club with extra debts that have to be paid back?
    If the money is in the bank it can be used wisely and without bringing the balance of the team in danger. And I mean every balance: financial, jealousy between players, cause an inflation of wages, and also on the field, etc..

  • RedGun

    I would like to see a story from Tony on what the team requires over the summer period to win a trophy next season.
    Who do you think needs to go ? Where do you feel we need to strengthen and how do you feel it should be done ?

    I dont care if you think we have the kids to come through and achieve this or if you think our squad is fine its just your opinion I would like to hear.

    I dont think it will happen though sadly as it probably couldnt be done without some sort of negativity towards some of the current squad and their performances this season been brought into question.

  • TheSKAGooner

    Well, Liverpool’s books have just been opened for the FY ending July ’09. Too sad for the Scousers as they suffered another massive loss of 54.5m pounds for the year. Total debt now up to 472m pounds. Hate to think what that’s going to look like this coming July, especially given that they’ve got a 100m pound bank payment due at that time as well. Plus, no Champions League money for them next season. The inevitable collapse of Liverpool that Tony has been talking about could well be just over the horizon.

  • well-endowed gooner

    Tony
    May 7th, 2010 at 3:27 pm
    This unrelenting obsession with the way that other clubs choose to run themselves
    I find that a funny statement. The finances of football are a major part of what this site is about – and it has been since it was set up.
    It is a bit like running a magazine about trains and then someone says,
    This unrelenting obsession with the way trains run does you no credit.
    It is so bizarre I can’t begin to comprehend it.
    ——-

    Actually, it’s like setting up a magazine for train enthusiasts, and then spending the bulk of each edition talking about the profit margins of the various train routes. Most train enthusiasts would be more interested in train specs, train models, train routes, etc,.

  • Alan B'Stard M P

    Sue the bastards, or if necessaey, send the fraud squad into these clubs

  • Arsenal Legend

    3 League titles in 15 years for a BIG club and we still think he’s God? Com’on guys…seriously? Let’s take a step back and be a little bit objective here. Mourinho – 2.5 years; 2 league tittles, 7 cups in total. Ancelotti – 1 year on the job and he’s 2 tittles from tying Wenger.

    Look, this is not rocket science here. We know there are the A.K.B faithfuls but he can’t continue to be blindly stubborn. These AKBs are whats killing us. Even after this season, Arsene says two, maybe three “top quality” signings. Chamakah is our first “top quality” signing so maybe one more defender and he’ll tell us that he believes in the squad. I lost faith in that guy

  • Team Spirit

    so is he in competition with ancoletti now over how soon he catches up?