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Problems at Leeds; has the Lord Wenger “lost it?”

One of my big interests in football is the way clubs are run as businesses – a natural interest since I run a business myself.

 

I’ve written many times about the problems afflicting clubs as varied as Manchester Bankrupt and West Iceland Utd, but in the past not mentioned Leeds United.  (You can tell I haven’t mentioned them because I don’t have a silly nickname for them.)

 

Anyway, I think that is about to change because when Leeds went bust there was an issue about one related company called “Forward Sports Fund”.  When Leeds fell over Forward acted in a way (I won’t bore you with the details) which made it 99.999% certain that Mr K Bates would be able to buy the club back for under 10% of the cost of the debts the club had.   (One should remember this when Leeds fans say “we’re making a profit”.  Over 90% of their debts were removed when they last went bust.)

 

KPMG handled the administration, and they said that they had they are fully examined the relationship between Forward and Leeds.   Now as a result of an obscure court case in Jersey it is becoming clear that all KPMG did was rely on a statutory declaration by Mr Bates rather than carry out an investigation as they claimed.  

 

The court in Jersey has demanded that Leeds answer detailed questions about ownership of Forward Sports Fund who are registered in the Caymans, and who own Leeds.  So far it seems Leeds’ owners have failed to do this, despite a court deadline passing.

 

The Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis has now called on the government and the football authorities to investigate the ownership of Leeds and the conduct of the club’s 2007 administration by KPMG. 

 

The FA, League and indeed the government are notoriously awful at looking into company ownership issues, so nothing much might emerge, except that it looks like Leeds will lose their court case, and so quite a lot of money (the Jersey courts ask people to put in money up front to cover the situation in case they lose, and Leeds have done this).

 

Meanwhile the well-being of Arsenal on the pitch (although not off the pitch) is being called into question almost daily by the press.   On the other hand more blogs than normal are suggesting that maybe “some commentators” were a bit too quick to dismiss a big Danish centre forward as being only worthy of playing for the Tiny Totts.

 

One point often missed it seems to me is that Bendtner is only just 21 – which is quite young for a big striker.  If the Lord Wenger is right and most players are at their best aged 27, he’s got a long way to go.

 

Which raises the central question – should we be doing the developing?   We’ve talked about a solution to this by having a reserve team playing in the lower leagues or the Spanish Second Division, (where such things are common). 

 

Although neither look like happening, I’m very happy with where we are, but it does seem to me that issues about the leadership of the Lord Wenger are often miscast.   The question is not “has he lost it?” but rather “would you sooner have Arsenal gamble all its money on success this year, rather than be economically sound, and wait for success in a year or two’s time when the new group of players come through.”

 

Certainly when Rosicky, Eduardo, Fabregas, Adebayor, Walcott, are all fit, the team will look really solid as far as I can tell.  Waiting is fine by me.

(c) Tony Attwood sometime in the 21st century

8 comments to Problems at Leeds; has the Lord Wenger “lost it?”

  • ggs

    Yep, waiting is fine by me as well.
    The saddest thing is that the anti-Arsenal media agenda prevails at the moment (or if it was always the case even before AW took charge at Arsenal, then it’s getting worse) and a lot of so-called ‘fans’ buy into those fictional scenario of Arsenal-in-Crisis and AW is taking the club down.
    I know life isn’t always fair, but I hope the Arsenal does get its reward big time for its sound business practices and, most of all, the way they play the football.
    Thanks for the good post Tony, as always…

  • Colonel Mustard

    I agree, hopefully we can come out the sunny side but i am shitting the summer when the spanish sailors come to steal our lovely stars. keeping this team together is more important then cups at this stage for me.

  • steve ryder

    I think, as the season draws into the final curve and leads to the home stretch, we Gooners should look back on Sunday afternoon at Stoke’s last-minute equaliser as the catalyst towards lifting our heads up and finally realising that it is simply up to us and us alone to get that fourth spot. As much as I have enjoyed Villa this season and loved the idea of them being in the top four, the lack of squad depth will catch up with them and as the games are played out, the fatigue factor will break in as well. Plus, with all of our players due back within a month, not only do I believe we will get into the top 4, but that we will challenge for both the FA cup and the CL.

    Also, I look very much forward to what may follow the next season. Villa will spend another 40-50 million, Everton another 10-15 million plus all the big payers back from injuries, Chelsea a complete overhaul (hopefully one geared towards the long term), Liverpool bringing in the one or two European-class players that they so desperately need and The Professor taking with grace the warning this season offered, keeping all the big names at the club and reinforcing them with a first-choice European-class DM and one more central defender (Gallas, Toure, Djourou and…). All of this could lead to a genuine title race involving potentially five teams (and a possible 6th if Everton stay injury free).

    So, whilst this season slides into the normal pattern, the joy for next season is already there.

    Arshavin, we love you. Benny, not far off it.

  • mason

    Wenger keeps me at Arsenal – Cesc

    Below article is quite interesting for the wenger haters!

    Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas has admitted he would consider his future at the Emirates Stadium if Arsene Wenger ever left the club.

    Wenger’s position has come under scrutiny after another disappointing season for the north Londoners, with their only remaining hopes of silverware lying in the FA Cup and Champions League.

    Reports on Thursday morning suggest the Frenchman could become a target of big-spending Manchester City during the summer, but Spain midfielder Fabregas insists his departure would be a huge blow for the Gunners.

    “I have heard the rumours about Wenger leaving for the past three years,” Fabregas told the Daily Mirror.

    “If he left the club then of course I would consider my own future and whether I would leave the club.

    “I am happy at Arsenal and believe that we and Barcelona play the best football in Europe.

    “But Wenger is a main part of that.”

  • andy

    1) Wenger doesn’t set his own targets because targets change over the course of a season. That’s absolute tosh. A club like Arsenal targets shouldn’t be as influenced by injuries as you are. Enough money has been made available to Wenger to build a stronger squad, he’s just chosen not too. Which brings me to my next point…

    2) …’We live within our means.’ Why are your means being set by Wenger himself and not by the board who are responsible for the club’s finances? Arsenal board members have frequently said that he’s got money to spend, he is simply choosing not to. Surely if your board have said you have £30m available to spend, then spending £30m will not get you into financial trouble? He’s the manager, not the Financial Director of the club. His only role in the stability of the club’s finances is to not exceed the budget provided, not to dictate what that budget should be. He’s effectively saying that the board don’t know what they’re doing.

    3) Ask any Borussia Dortmund fan about Rosicky’s injury record, or any Feyenoord fan about Robin Van Persie’s and I think you’ll find that you bought a couple of very fragile players there. I do agree though that you have been unlucky with some of your signings in that regard, but Wenger should have more than Emmanuel Eboue to come on and replace them.

    4) Wenger is relying too much on players that are too young no matter how precocious (Vela, Wilshere), and players that are too average (Eboue, Denilson, Song). That’s a fact and one that could have been avoided by spending a little more significantly on a couple more players for the squad. Man United have a fair few ‘average’ of them themselves, e.g. Park, O’Shea, Fletcher but United’s ‘matchwinners’ are less susceptible to injury than Arsenal’s, and that can’t just be a fluke. Perhaps Wenger’s transfer policy should focus a bit more on buying a few more players that are built of sterner stuff as well as being hugely talented (but then maybe you’ll have to pay a bit more of a premium for them).

    5) It’s all fine and well giving young players a chance, but they have to be ready to take it. I don’t see that many of the Arsenal youngsters being ready to step into the breach on a regular basis and win matches for you. What Ferguson has done well is that he has assembled a squad (yes at great expense) that provides young players with opportunities to step up because squad players can be usurped in the pecking order (e.g. Rafael generally being preferred to O’Shea and Brown) without the team having to depend on them for long periods. Arsenal don’t have a squad like that, Wenger is just plugging holes with players that aren’t ready or aren’t good enough. Arsenal also lack role models and leadership for the youngsters to look up to.

    Arsenal would be entirely stupid to sack Wenger now, because as you point out, this is just one season. But if this form continues throughout next season, then he should walk away or risk tarnishing his legacy at the club.

    I don’t know that Wenger is unambitious, he has always struck me as determined to succeed, but at the moment he can’t match the ambition of O’Neill, Hiddink, Benitez or Ferguson and that is why Arsenal may well, deservedly finish fifth in the end. And that will be entirely down to Wenger.

  • cital

    Anyone still think that Villa will pip us to fourth spot. They have been a great advert for the premiership this season but their squad is thin and their four best players have had to play non stop all season (Barry, Milner, Young & Agbonlahor). You could see last night that they looked jaded. Just as they start to tire, we will only get stronger over the next few weeks with all of our best players coming back. I know we have a difficult last 3 games, but Man U could already have wrapped up the title by the time we play them and we havent done particularly badly at OT in the league recently. Villa’s next three games are Spurs at home and Liverpool and Man Utd away. They could quite easily lose all three of those with Spurs starting to look like a proper team again. And lets not forget that they also have to play Everton at home as well. Liverpool themselves have started to look tired in the last couple of games as well and our trip to Anfield might not be as tricky as it looks. All in all I am now a lot more optimistic about the run in. Lets not forget that with 87 minutes gone at Villa park on Sunday we were falling 8 points behind. In the space of 3 days its down to 3 points. As for all the negative posts about Song and Denilson. Yes they probably arent first team selections when everyone is fit (Although Denilson has improved beyond measure this year) but tell me another team in the league (bar united) who could have replaced the loss of four first choice midfield players with real quality. Ideally only one of Denilson or Song will be on the pitch at anyone time but its just not been possible withour injuries. Their experience this year will make our squad next year so much stronger and we can then start to push for the title again. They cant be that bad or we wouldnt be unbeaten in the league since November. Cutting edge is what we have lacked

  • pig

    what is the story behind the ‘obscure court case in jersey’? and how does it fit into the whole leeds saga?