Which club is going to be the next to go bust?

The Sheffield Wednesday manager recently said that it is “inevitable” an EPL club is going to go bust.

The man from the Wednesday’s prediction is that a club will go down to the Championship and will then go bust because they can’t afford to keep paying the players.  I would not be surprised if someone actually goes bust while still in the EPL.  Here’s the candidates…

WEST HAM UNITED have been covered here so often I hardly need start again.  Bust, broke, and owned by a bankrupt Icelandic bank, they owe money to Sheffield U for stealing their place in the EPL, and their ex-manager for sacking him.

HULL CITY were very late in submitting their accounts in 2008, but when this was pointed out their chairman, Paul Duffen, said that the Guardian, which broke the story, had lots of inaccuracies in its reports.    Trouble is, he never said what those inaccuracies were.   And for those of a much older persuasion the words, “Third Lanark”, might come to mind – although I stress we have no evidence of wrong doing anywhere – so my connection with a dead Scottish club is fanciful and mischievous and must not be taken seriously.

But now we do know this.  There are no less than four Hull City companies, and the accountants can’t say that the four companies represent a going concern.   One of them owed £22m and had to pay it back by July 2010.

Shall I say that again?    July 2010 – they have to pay it all back by.   Now it is true that their overdraft has come down considerably since then – but there are four companies involved.  I have no knowledge that money is moved from a to b to c to do, of course, and I make no allegation.   I just can report that in accountant speak the current situation represents, ” a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt over the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

In case you are interested a b c and d are

R3 Investment Group,KC Stadium management, Tiger Holdings, Fortis Property Investment.  Funny that.  Why have four companies?

Strangely, the two guys who finance Hull were interested in buying West Ham before Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson did.

Let’s look elsewhere.  NOTTS COUNTY told the Football League that   Russell King had nothing to do with the club, just as Mr King went to see Kim Yong-nam in North Korea last month on behalf of Swiss Commodity Holdings whose badge is part of the logo of Notts County.  (A picture of the event exists which includes Nathan Willet whose father is a director of Notts C).

King offered Sven-Goran Eriksson  shares in SCH as part of his deal to join Notts.  Sol C was offered shares too.

The owners of Notts are all fit and proper, and don’t include King who is being investigated concerning a £1.9m fraud case in Jersey.  (Remember Jersey?  Leeds?  all that stuff).

Nathan Willett is also a director of Qadbak, which owns Notts County through a sort of roundabout route involving the British Virgin Islands.   Apparently Sven is now referred to at Notts County as the “Dear Leader”.

Now the Guardian has revealed that “no filings have ever been made with the British Virgin Islands Companies Registry relating to shareholdings or directorships for Munto or Qadbak,” the firms who are supposed to own Notts.

All gibberish and rubbish?  Maybe, except that yesterday, with just one day to spare Notts County just managed to pay off the debt it owed to the taxman.  Most companies pay the tax man month by month – but not it seems Notts County.  They were so far behind that they just kept on going and going and not paying anyone.  Which is very odd for a company with so much money.  One more day and they were in court and being sued for one hell of a lot of dosh.

I tried to phone the President of North Korea, or failing that Dear Leader Sven to ask why, but neither would take my calls.

Who else should we add to the list?

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR have just made a record profit, and seemingly just told Arry that he can’t buy anyone without selling people first.  That seems a bit odd to me.  If you have just made a record profit, why would you suddenly change the habit of a life time.

I have always admitted I do not understand Tottenham’s accounts – at least with Hull we could find out the list of companies that interconnect with each other, and with Notts C we know that there are these companies that don’t actually exist in the Virgin Islands.  But Tottenham?   I just wish someone would explain to me what is going on.

LIVERPOOL probably remain top of the about to go bust league because they can’t pay their £60m a year back  to the bank.  PORTSMOUTH are just doomed because non of their friends from foreign parts seem to have the money they said they had.

Which one?   You tell me.   But it will be one of them.

And yes, I know Notts C are not in the EPL, but they are such a very strange odd case, that one wonders exactly what is going on – even clubs like Chester City, who do the oddest things ever, don’t behave like Notts C.

As to Arsenal – we seem to make a profit, have all our accounts in order, only owe money on the mortgage, and have rather a jolly football team.   Bit of an oddity really.  I wouldn’t be surprised if when the EPL consider putting Rangers (totally bust and about to go out of business) and Celtic into the EPL Division II, they throw out Arsenal for having too much cash in the bank.

The only thing I know that is stranger is the involvement of MI5 and Winston Churchill in Woolwich Arsenal in 1910.  To find out more, read MAKING THE ARSENAL.  It would make a lovely Xmas present.  Only £12.99

So this week’s most likely to go bust league table is

  1. West Ham
  2. Liverpool
  3. Portsmouth
  4. Hull City
  5. Notts County
  6. Rangers
  7. Chester City
  8. Bournemouth (banned from buying players)
  9. Tottenham Hotspur (can’t make out what is going on)
  10. Manchester United (can’t pay the interest on their debts)

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

21 Replies to “Which club is going to be the next to go bust?”

  1. As much as I would love to see it happen, Liverpool are safe. This is simply because there will always be some Sheik or multi-billionnaire that would see the Liverpool “name” as a good investment and bail them out. Now that might lead to more problems further down the road but I cannot see them going bust anytime in the near future. Missing out on Europe and looking like complete and utter amateurs – well, that is a different story altogether.

    On a completely different note, saw this morning that Robinho wants to go to Barca and that they are talking about opening discussions. Is it just me, or does it seem utterly and completely ridiculous for Barca to be even considering signing this arrogant, lazy malcontent? If I was Cesc watching this, I would be saying “well, if Barca sign Robinho then something mad must have happened to that clubs DNA. Perhaps I am not fated to go there after all.”

  2. Haho,
    Thanks for letting me know. I just think he could have mentionned the name of the website, Untold Arsenal or blog.emiratesstadium.info, as well.
    What is this goal.com website about ? Is it a betting side or something ? Never heard of it.

    And this quote with my name on is something I like far better then some blokes who copied whole articles from this site to copy it in the comments section from other blogs and put my name under it.
    Must say I was a bit disturbed by it.
    Now I don’t mind that people read my articles, and the more the better, but not in that way. Yes, I’m a modest guy from flanders but well every one has some kind of ego.

    Now, on topic.

    I agree with Paul C in the way that Liverpool is a name in the world of football and you will have some rich guy wanting to buy it in the end. Same with MU I fear. All the rest can do a Leeds anytime I think.
    You could imagine a rich fellows meeting somewhere in some Arab country: Sheik More-Money: Hey I just bought Liverpool yesterday, it was a bargain. Sheik Even-More-Money: Just signed the papers for MU today. Sheik Looks-Silly-Now: Well, I just bought Hull City the day before.
    The last would be the laugh of the town for some years, I could imagine.

  3. goal.com is a very big, international website. Some very, very good columns and insights, but a lot of rumours, gossip and bullshit as well. Good read every now and then, but nothing brilliant. The Arsenal specials are very good tho. You should feel honoured. I was mentioned recently, on vital arsenal, about my reaction to Phil Mcnulty’s blog (i mentioned it was unfair Rooney, Drogba en Torres where asked about on MOTD and not van Persie) and it felt good. So I get it.

  4. I think Portsmouth are effectivly gone, as are West Ham.

    Liverpool are going to have a much slower, more prolonged death. As for the comments on a new Billionaire coming to the rescue – where are they? If Hicks and Gillette are expecting to make a profit on their “investment” (it makes me laugh to even call it that!) they are mad and should be glad to just get thier money back. Liverpool face a serious threat of no CL football next season, it’s one thing having a single club pushing for a top 4 position i.e. Villa last season, but Liverpool have Man City, Villa and the Spud’s. The chances of all of them running out of steam are far more unlikely. In the event of Liverpool missing out on CL football that £60 million will effectively become £80 or £90 million. By my reckoning it would take the sale of Torres, Mascherano and maybe even Gerrard to raise the money required. The rest of their squad aren’t worth a toss.

  5. Tony Attwood. Always enjoy your articles, they`re direct, well balanced, interesting and professional. Look forward to more.

    Have to agree with former comment that Liverpool are safe as their name and reputation will be very attractive to a future investor.

    Can`t understand why some senior managers are pushing for Celtic and Rangers to be included in the EPL. So, we take on Rangers who are broke and kick out Portsmouth and Hull who are in the same situation, does this make sense?

  6. If you insist on writing about Notts County at least do some research first. The debt that was owed to HMRC accumulated prior to the current regime taking over. The club was run by a Supporters Trust who clueless and would have sent the club bust

  7. as a gunner it will be dream to see manure,Liverpool and tottenham going bust but it will never

    it look like Bournemouth first followed by portsmouth(:( sad for them because they have fantastic fan)and west ham.look like Harry”i am good at buying expensive bargain “Redknapp left every club he manage with a bad omen…….:D good i hope he keep going with the Totts

  8. Jack Staniforth

    the good news is the OF have have rejected to join the premiere league .thanks god for that.the only think they will bring it s shame on the premiership with their bigots supporter .nobody will be please to see a drunk fat Scottish rangers supporter coming in their town ,destroying half the town center.anyway they hate the English as for the overrated Celtic supporter they think they are all Irish.

    Nobody in England want them,the rest of the Scottish league don’t want them,they cant rot in hell as far i m concern.if they really want play here they can create another club who have to start from the bottom of the English league pyramid like every new club

  9. Jamie – I am not a Notts C fan, but I do undertake research, and I would have thought the unravelling of the information of the club’s growing connection through the back door with North Korea and the Virgin Islands shows that I have picked up one or two bits.

    But the point about the debt to Revenue and Customs goes beyond what you have said and maybe I did not make myself clear = for that my apologies.

    The debt was there I agree, when the new owners took over. What is bizarre to the point of being beyond understanding, is why a company so rich as the organisatiion or organisations that have taken over Notts C did not clear up that debt on day 1, or day 2.

    The point is that a long term debt to Revenue and Customs means a winding up order if it goes to court. What the hell are people associated with the club doing, if they are such big time execs, if they get to one day before a high court action, before settling.

    And that was all it was – one day before. One more day and the club would have had a winding up order.

    I have seen a number of businesses go down for all sorts of reasons – many legit and many the opposite – but the one thing I can tell you for sure is that there is no point in not paying Revenue and Customs.

    Apart from anything else, Revenue charge the highest level of interest of any organisation in the country on unpaid debt, and the penalty for not paying is to have your right to be a company director removed for between 2 and 15 years.

    I will always admit that because in these columns we try and cover many aspects of football there are things that I get wrong – but I think your suggestion that implies that no research has been done, is unreasonable.

    Why not come back to this column and explain to us all what is going on at Notts C and why these debts are being left to the last day, and why, from an outsider’s point of view, it looks like money is being switched from Switzerland to the Virgins to North Korea and back again, as needed? I don’t say that is what is happening, I say that is what it looks like.


  10. Hi Tony, I saw this on “A clutured left foot” it’s well written thought you might like to have a look.


    I think your earlier piece (from the last thread) on the takeover contradicts itself in some ways:

    One one hand you say that Kroenke is blocking a possible takeover – this I would agree with.

    But on the other hand you assert that: “Over 50% of the club is now in the control of Kroenke, Fiszman, other board members & the AST.”

    So the obvious question is why would Kroenke block Usmanov if he already had (directly and indirectly as you say) 50%?

    And to my mind – he doesn’t have this yet, but that’s not to say he could be quite close to that figure.

    The reasons why Kroenke has shelled out so much money is obvious: the club is very well run – only going into debt to increase its turnover by building a stadium, it has an amazing manager who brings in a yearly profit on transfers, the club successfully plays attractive football, and its profile is growing at an enormous rate. As an American, who has only run sports enterprises in the states, AFC represents an golden opportunity to manage a global sports brand. A brand that is becoming huge in Africa/Asian markets and a sport that is becoming very very big in the states!

    So if you were Kroenke – do you think you’d be afraid of Usmanov? Yes to some extent, but Usmanov doesn’t threaten his investment per se. If Usmanov exceeds the threshold, Kroenke will make a very tidy profit in the same way the Magnier/McManus entity reaped massive rewards selling back to the Glazers. Nor would taking dividends necessarily mean a shortfall in investment as you suggest (in fact dividends would attract further investment!!) or represent a reduction in valuation as you also assert, imo.

    What would be the one thing that would scare the sh1t out of silent Stan most? The prospect of Wenger leaving. If Wenger left, most of the players would go too. There would not be the same attraction to play for the club. Fans could become disillusioned too and all of a sudden you might find it difficult to fill the stadium. What do you think this would do to the share price that you have shelled out millions for?

    And why would Wenger leave? Well, Usmanov has already been vocal about buying expensive players, letting Ade go and of course injecting money through the rights issue. This thinking is directly contrary with AW philosophy. It would interfere with his control and vision of how the club should be run. AW would, to my mind, walk instantaneously.

    Stanley needs to appease Wenger, who wields unbelievable power both on and OFF the field. Stanley needs to directly or indirectly tie down 51%.

    I don’t think AW has spent 13 years of his life, building a club and leaving a legacy to see some egotistical Oligarch Phuck it all up over a battle for shares!

    Wenger wields so much power at this juncture without even owning a single share.

    That’s my take.

  11. I really admire your laser focus on financially disastrous clubs in football.

    It’s a very underrated topic.

    The hacks are too busy demanding that every manager and every chairman in the country, “spend some money”.

    Every club that has a bad weekend is charged to “spend some money” & “bring in some quality players”, at a time when clubs have spent more than ever before, and clubs are in more debt than the Yank Treasury.

    At least the yanks, can sell their debt to the Chinese. The likes of West Ham, Portsmouth, Man Poo, Chelski, Liverpool can’t even sell shirts to the Chinese who prefer to make and sell their own counterfeit football shirts.

    Nomiated for the knighthood. All hail Sir Tony Attwood. This time there’s no foreign nationality clause to prevent it.

  12. jazbo,

    Unless you’re the commenter known as Joe at ACLF, I’m suspicious that you’re lifting comments made on another website and pasting them here. Tony usually doesn’t like that.

    Plus, you can make your own, even incorporating Joe’s points.

    Unless you’re Joe of course.

  13. Re articles on other sites – congrats to everyone who manages to get on Goal – it has a huge readership, and I am green with envy at the coverage.

    I’ve done a guest piece today


    which you might find interesting – and there is a new article on http://www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk which has just gone up. Struggling to get today’s article up – a meeting with a visiting client is about to start – but there will be a new piece later today.


  14. Crystal Palace are rumoured to be selling Victor Moses to Arsenal for only 1-2 million pounds! They must have financial problems

  15. I think most of Spurs’s £33 Million pre tax profit, came from the sale of Berbatov to Man Utd for £23 Million…

  16. Interesting read as ever, Tony.

    A link to the Spuds’ accounts.


    On the face of it Imran would appear to be totally correct.

    They sold 15 players for £72.5m & bought 15(several of them the very same players) for £119.3m.

    The whole crux of their finances would be down to whether you consider their current squad to be appreciating or depreciating assets.

    No doubt it will be a mixture of the 2 but will Keane, Crouch, Bentley, Pavlyuchenka or even Defoe be worth more than they paid for them?

  17. Hi Ole,

    No, i’m not in the habit of lifting other peoples comments, at the top of the post I did say that i read that post on “a cultured left foot” blog spot and thought that Tony might like to have read as i thought it was well written.

    No offence was intended.


  18. Jazbo – I had read that piece as well and I agree, it is a very sensible look at the ownership “war”. It would appear that Nina Bracewell-Smith holds all the cards in this. Without her shares, Usmanov stands zero chance of a takeoever and would appear to be in a no-win situation. Even with her shares he would need virtually every single small shareholder to side with him to have a chance, and as the article says, many small shareholders (and hopefully Bracewell-Smith) would be put off Usmanov by the prospect of AW leaving possibly.

    I hope Kroenke is in this for the long-term, as his history in the US would seem to suggest. I personally would like Nina Bracewell-Smith to hold onto her shares, but pledge her voting proxy to the board. Since none of us know what happened and why she was ousted from the board that might not be a possibility without some grovelling on the part of Fizman and Hill-Wood, neither of whom do grovelling very well.

    There doesnt have to be a takeover in all this, if Bracewell-Smith, Fizman, Hill-Wood and Kroenke pooled their shares together. That would make it impossible for Usmanov to do anything, and unnecessary for Kroenke to mount a takeover.

  19. Liverpool will get very close to collapsing. They have shown this season that they don’t have enough depth off the field and considering their poor results, i doubt many big players will be attracted to Anfield during the next transfer perod, dooming Liverpool to Europa League or no European competition at all, meaning not as much income! Also, the fact that they are close to starting to construct a new stadium will hurt them even further. After Arsenal built The Emirates, they slowed down their purchases in the transfer market to help pay of stadium debts, so surely Liverpool will have to do the same.

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