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The FA is near insolvency; Sir F Word has a laugh, media don’t get it.

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By Billy “the Dog” McGraw, gratefully released back into the community.

For our old pals at UEFA Arsenal is seen as the ultimate football club in terms of financial probity.  We are the Gods.  The people what gets it right.   The moral high ground.

What UEFA tend to say a little less often is that the Football Association who oversee football in England and who pride themselves as being the founding fathers of the organised game (what with the FA Cup as the oldest competition, and England v Scotland as the oldest international) have finances that are so bad that you might actually believe that the managers of the Royal Bank of Scotland know what they are doing.  (Try the link to their own report of their current horrendous losses – they’ve either taken it down or the Anonymous group has taken over their site once again).

Anyway, enough of our state owned bank.  Back to the FA.  They are teetering on the very edge with finances that are even worse than their own worst forecasts.

The problem for the FA is that they are in charge of three disaster areas.  First there is England – the “team” (I use the word lightly) – an outfit that is so disorganised that it has more captains than the woman who lives at number 94 in my street has lovers which is going it a bit.  They also don’t win things.  Nor does their under 21 side.

Second there is the FA Cup, which is losing its gloss, its appeal and basically anything else it had.  Over exposure, and declining interest, combined with insane TV coverage that suggests it is not  what used to be.  And what it used to be was a huge money spinner for the FA.

Third there is Wembley.  There was no need to build the place – they could have sold it for social housing and cleared their debts.   Many other countries don’t have national stadia, but use the biggest and best of the club grounds.  But no, this is the FA.  Money no object – we have to have Wembley.  Prestige of the national game.  Nation’s honour.  We’ll let the banker johnnies sort out the finances what?

So awful is the situation in the FA that for six months the FA had no sponsor.  Nationwide finally had enough and got out after Rooney attacked England fans in South Africa.  No one but no one would pay a cent to have their name associated with such a grotesque group of failures and incompetents and so there we were, the greatest football nation in the world (TM), the home of football (TM) and no sponsor.

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Worse still, people are not going to the new Wembley.  Where they do fill the ground (and doesn’t TV make a lot of fuss at the “sold out” signs) it is generally because they do £5 tickets for school kids and locals.  That’s good – I like discounts for school kids and local people.  But it doesn’t actually cover the fact that Wembley is bringing in far less money per game than predicted.

There is now a real chance that the FA will fail to pay the money it owes on its debts as they fall due.  That will mean that they will stop their main function – giving money to the lower levels of the amateur and professional games in England – which surely all of us want.  We might support Arsenal, but everyone must recognise that we need a whole hierarchy of football in this country so that everyone who wants to play can, and people who choose to can still support their local team.  Torquay United will always be a lower level team – but I want them to be there and not disappear, even if only a couple of thousand people turn up for each match.

I am told that Barclays are being approached over an extension of the credit it gives to the FA.  But Barclays don’t do unsecured credit.  So if they do have their arm twisted (and they are such jolly nice chaps), they are going to pile on the agony with interest charges that will just about sink the FA.

So what are the old duffers that run the show doing?

Simple – they are going to play the FA Cup semis at Wembley, to get more money in.  I don’t mind this too much – I was there when we played the Tinies in the cup semi (and lost), so there is lots of precedent.  But it is getting to look very much like a last throw of the dice.

However it is always good to have a joker in the pack and this time it is Sir Alex F-Word, who is no friend to the FA (or anyone else come to that).  Sir F Word said that this decision to play the semis at Wembley will lead to “absolute chaos” as supporters of four north-west clubs “converge” on London.  The F Word wanted matches in Liverpool and Birmingham rather than have Man U Man C Notlob and Stoke Cloggers come to our great capital city.

What was so funny of course was the notion that Manchester United fans will travel from Manchester.  Cornwall yes, Kent, maybe.  Some live in London anyway.  So actually the amount of travel for a lot of Man U supporters for the game at Wembley will be far less than for a normal Man U home match, thus saving vast amounts of fuel, saving the nation’s environment but wrecking the nation’s economy due to the decline in petrol tax that weekend.

The papers didn’t get this joke – but then most people don’t get Sir F Word jokes.   Only the jokes about Sir F Word.   Like this old timer: Arsene Wenger speaks six languages, which is six more than Alex Ferguson.

Ah, the old ones are the best.

OK, please yourself.

Beyond the shame; Calciopoli hits as Arsenal’s next home match is fixed.

10 comments to The FA is near insolvency; Sir F Word has a laugh, media don’t get it.

  • walter

    Maybe the FA can host an FA-Aid concert in Wembley to get some money in?

    Dowdence, Deanwater Webbival should attract a few fans from some parts of the country.

  • kiwigooner

    Am I to infer that AF is unhappy that the FA has sweet FA?

    Shame

  • A Casual Observer

    I reckon, as a fund raiser, they should put the ref’s in stocks and let us fans queue up to chuck rotten tomatoes at them – £8 a go seems about in line with their food pricing policy…

    …Mind you Phil Dowd would probably mug off the arsenal fans by just catching them in his mouth and saying “Please sir may I have another?”.

  • Phoenix Gunner

    well played kiwigooner

  • Gord

    I wouldn’t say the English men’s and U-21 teams are hopeless. Canada is worse, and we have a bunch of doorknobs running our national association as well. Our women’s team does well, and it looks like they’ll host a Women’s World Cup soon.

  • wembley79

    Hmm, funny how we never heard these noises from Sir A F when OT was raking the money in for an Arsenal Spurs semi in 2001 though isn’t ti?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    So you’re saying that 2010 was a disastrous year for the FA, eh?

    The 2009 accounts, which presumably are a legally binding document signed off by Directors, show that the net cash flow for 2008 and 2009 combined was PLUS eight million.

    That’s after paying off the bank interest etc etc.

    NET cash flow. POSTIVE.

    Wembley Stadium cost the FA £2m net in 2009 in operating costs. That’s not including the huge media income the FA gets. Which was > £100m in 2009. Not to mention £50m of commercial. Call the two £100m after costs to be cautious. So I’m sure they covered covered the operating costs just about. And used some more of it to pay the mortgage.

    Just like Arsenal in fact. The cost of paying a squad plus matchday costs is probably covered by matchday income plus commercial revenues. £150m odd in costs for Arsenal (£111m in wages, say £39m in operating costs?). £100m in matchday revenues, say the commercial income is £50m. Break even isn’t it?

    Net assets for the FA in 2009 went up by £3.5m to £194m. Sounds like a going concern, doesn’t it?

    The bank loan is £325m over 15 years, with instalments rising through the period. A bit more than Arsenal’s over a slightly shorter time period. But the FA’s media income is far higher than Arsenal’s. So it looks like it can be covered based on 2009 figures, doesn’t it?

    So your whole article is predicated on 2010 and the first half of 2011 being much worse for the FA than 2009 and 2008.

    You may be right, but I’d like to see the figures…….

  • todd

    Rhys
    Net Cash flow does not tell the whole story. And combining the two years certainly does not. 2008 shows a net cash flow of +15M, 2009 shows a net cash flow of -7.8M. Thats a 22.8M swing, and if you look at the differences between the two years there is plenty to be concerned about.

    In this case the 2009 FA accounts also show an increase in net debt of 42M. A large part of this is a net decrease in liquid assets (cash in bank) of close to 68M.

    I wouldn’t bet the bank based on just the two years data, and I don’t have the time/energy to look deeper, but I also would have a fair amount of concern about the state of the FA if I lived in England.

  • The U.S. doesn’t have a national stadium, although I did see the NT play Argentina to a gripping 1-1 draw last Saturday night at a frigid Meadowlands (outside New York). Live Aid for the FA? You could’ve told the 79,000 at the Meadowlands, “Well, tonight, thank God it’s them — instead of you!”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Tony ,are you sure this drab and sanitised article was written Billy ?Its not his style.And where was he released from?From a mental institution ?Did they perform
    a prefrontal lobotomy on him ?Does he sit around smiling to himself and generally seem contented ?
    If its yes ,send him back and ask them to reboot him or get a brain transplant(a recently expired desport,or tyrant,or even a megalomaniac will do -apparently there are many available in the Middle East!).If we don’t get back our zany ,loutish and often overbearing Billy ,then there will blood on the streets .
    Watch your back Tony !You’ve been warned !
    @ Walter , what will they be singing -” Who’ll stop the drain ” ?
    @ A Casual Observer- I’d pay more to chase him around with a spiked club along with other like minded fans to the accompaniment of the music from the closing credits of the Benny Hill Show.