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July 2021

The clubs whose owners want to bail out, but simply can’t find buyers

So who can this refer to?

by ‘Insideright’

Amongst the many interesting things that Ivan Gazidis said to the gathering of supporter tribes last week there was the issue of the ownership situation at some other (unnamed) clubs.

In a general discourse about the dire financial situation that many clubs find themselves in he said that there were current owners of clubs who were anxious to ‘bail out’ but who were unable, in current or foreseeable circumstances, to find anyone willing to buy at an acceptable price.

This means that, even if FFP comes in at full force (and Ivan seemed more confident than ever that it would), these owners still see their clubs as being too far behind others in terms of revenue to be able to compete and unable to see a future where that is going to change.

Unfortunately potential buyers see the same thing and the club(s) in question have, on and off the field, nowhere to go – or at least little chance of moving forward. The implication is that, even if they can produce diamonds from their academies, such clubs will face the prospect of never being able to hold on to them long enough to make a real difference for long enough to create an upward curve of success in all its manifestations.

Higher revenue generating clubs (even under strict FFP guidelines) will always win out. If you currently own one of those and can protect that position sufficiently to stay ahead in the future then you don’t need or want to sell. If you don’t then no one in their right mind wants to buy (at the aforesaid acceptable price) knowing that they won’t be able to use their financial muscle as Chelsea and Man City have.

What’s more they won’t be in a position to be able to tempt anyone to lend them the money to build a new stadium from which they can generate additional ticket income and, of course, significant stadium sponsorship fees.

The only solution is to buy a club and to completely finance the new stadium yourself. Which only makes sense if you pay little or nothing for the club in the first place, don’t have to spend to improve the team, and have a ‘guarantee’ that the new stadium will produce the revenues to warrant the effort.

For that to happen you need a current owner willing to take a very public bath on their existing investment (very ego/bank balance damaging) plus an existing manager and squad with real potential to deliver lucrative performances long into the future.

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Plus, of course, a site for the new stadium that is economic to develop. Economic, that is, in very difficult to predict financial future.

So, given that Arsenal are a million miles away from having any of that uncertainty surrounding them, who might Ivan be referring to?


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39 comments to The clubs whose owners want to bail out, but simply can’t find buyers

  • Shard

    Everton for one.

  • Wow – I could write a list and a half.

    Everton is the club we all know that is for sale and can’t find a buyer. And if they ever were going to find a buyer surely it would have been this season finishing above Liverpool by 4 points.

    But the fact that even new owners and lots of money (as per Liverpool) can’t actually get one into the top 4 suggests why people are reluctant to buy.

    Indeed I would argue, that as a Billionaire series showed, the move now is to buy into other countries, where there is less opposition.

    But in England, who else wants to get rid of their club?

    Tottenham’s owner in the Virgin Isle (Joe Lewis) has looked like he was just waiting for a regularity of top 4 finishes to make his killing and move on

    Blackburn (oh how they must be regretting ever getting involved)

    Aston Villa – surely he never expected it to be this hard!

    So that’s four without actually thinking. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Liverpool’s owners are slightly bemused by how it has all gone – given that they seemingly moved their manager without having a replacement in mind.

  • Shard, I was busy writing my little bit, and you jumped in first! Yup, agree with you. Everton is so obvious that anyone who wants to buy a famous club knows that they are available.

    And that suggests no one wants to buy.

  • Shard


    True enough. Though Kenwright did say he hasn’t found a buyer he’s convinced will be good for the club. Depending on what you are cynical about you can interpret that as either someone not willing to pay Kenwright enough (and hence not being suitable owners) or someone willing to pay but not the sort of people you would want as owners (maybe like Venky’s for Blackburn -and I’m Indian) Possibly both.

  • Sisyphus

    Don’t forget Manchester United.

    Overpriced and over-leveraged when the Glazers bought them. Diminishing in value daily. Couldn’t reinvest the £80 million they received for Ronaldo. The two pearls of the franchise that they identified in their prospectus, SAF and Rooney, are both approaching their ‘best before dates’. There doesn’t appear to be a new ‘golden generation’ forthcoming from their academy.

    It’s enough to break your bleeding heart.

  • Birmingham City: currently under a transfer embargo after failing to publish their accounts in April.

    Carson Yeung, chairman of Birmingham International Holdings, the parent company, has had his assets frozen in Hong Kong. Now facing charges of money laundering.

    Yang Yuezhou, the second major shareholder, has resigned as a director. Players are up for sale.

    Anyone want the club?

  • WalterBroeckx

    Can we buy Birmingham City for one pound and then destroy them?

  • Shard


    Strange as it appears,in terms of value, ManU have gone up since the Glazers took over. That is no small part due to the debt piled on to the club by them. That debt is part of the value of the club. Forbes included it in their rich club calculations, and if anyone wants to buy them, they will have to pay the debts as well as the Glazers’ asking price. That’s why the much heralded ‘Red Knights’ failed in their bid.

    As for enough to break your heart, ManU have been at risk of being left behind by the competition for years in my view. It was when Chelsea came on the scene that they lost their financial dominance in England, and with Arsenal moving to a new stadium at the same time, I think ManU feared being left in the wilderness and then had to rely on the goodwill of the referees to bail them out so to speak. They have been past it for a good while now, and are struggling to hold on.

  • Shard


    You wouldn’t pass the FA’s fit and proper persons test.. After all..You haven’t been involved in creating secret bank accounts, any money laundering, nor in any state level corruption. These are pre requisites. Good idea though.

  • Sisyphus


    It is true that Man U have increased in value – predominantly as a result of their marketing income. However, I understand that the benefits of this increased income accrued to the Glazer’s and not to the club. There is a barrier between the holding company and the operating company. But, methinks they are a trifle optimistic to place a value of £1.6 billion on a club with a very shallow talent pool. (Giggs and Scholes resurrected, Berbatov a £32 million bench warmer.)

    Who has the money to meet the Glazer’s needs, stock the club, continue to purchase the ‘goodwill’, and still meet the FFP rules?

  • bob

    Sisyphus, Shard,
    Do you have a take/sources on ManUre’s marketing scope and what those revenues amount to, and how they factor in keeping the side afloat? It’s a missing factor in a full view of their sustainability. It’ll take me some time to ferret them out, but I’ve read a few analyses in the business press last year that convincingly put their “official” partnerships and co-sponsors (at multiple levels – local, national, regional, global) at the top of all of sport; and that rate their brand value alone in the top 3 at least in all sport; and that paint a consensus picture that sponsors continue to come forth from all corners of the globe, giving MU the pick of the queue. As I say, I don’t have the stats at hand in this sitting; but surely this needs to be factored in before they are so easy slain by our keyboards.

  • Alansmithisgod

    Heh heh, a bit of fun on a slow news day!

    The most obvious one, Toffees apart, is surely Newcastle.

    If I were a multi billionaire (apart from getting Charleze Theron to type this email), the first thing I would do is buy Leeds. Potentially the 4th biggest club in the country. And a club everyone hates – oh how I used to love it when Arsenal was the team everyone hated!!

    Oh and plese let us not get Giroud. I have seen Montpellier live 8 times this year and hes a decent player. A good back up for RVP, but nowhere near good enough to replace him!!

  • Sisyphus


    I am merely suggesting that while Manchester United is at the pinnacle of the show business pyramid the Glazers have spent so much time and money managing their personal business that they have neglected the ‘show’. The team has built it’s fan base upon trophies. If the trophies aren’t there will their world wide fan base remain loyal? If the fans migrate, will the sponsorships follow? Is the Pope Catholic?

    The subject is “clubs whose owners want to bail out, but simply can’t find buyers.” I think that the Glazer’s withdrawn attempted public offering qualifies them for inclusion in its own right.

    As far as trying to attempt a detailed analysis of their operations and financial health – why bother? How can you trust any numbers that are published? It is, after all, a privately held corporation and part of a group of associated companies. The proof, or lack thereof, will appear on the pitch first.

    ACCOUNTING 101: Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.

  • bob

    Imo, you’re right to be skeptical (actually, you mean distrust) any figures that have been made available; you’re also advocating a position that cannot be met with any financial evidence that comes to the fore here or anywhere, because you claim that none of it is valid. We’ll soon see if the Rednose XX is secured this season, by hook or by crook. I sincerely hope you are right.

  • Swikrath

    The last part of the excruciatingly long article should answer some of the issues you mentioned.

  • Swikrath

    However, i am pretty well chuffed to know that the Manu pub in Bangalore is closing down, as they haven’t been able to break even 🙂

  • Swikrath

    Also this article on Ander’s red surmises it pretty well.

  • Notoverthehill

    In brief, read the andersredblog.

    From the copies I downloaded from that v.g. site, the Glazers’ have used the profits to increase their equity. The Glazers are the real commercial target for Mr Ivan Gazidis must aim to emulate, starting in 2013. Can Mr Tom Fox talk the talk and walk the walk. For those of us who are still around, 2014 is a crunch year. Will the Financial Report for 2014-2015 have Commercial Income of circa £100 millions?

  • ATAF

    is mike ashley still trying to sell newcastle?

  • deejay

    I think the Manu pub in jakarta closed down? (if so i think it was due to thweir fan base returning to Plymouth

  • SouthernGunner

    Don’t think that they’re for sale, but just wondering how Fulham FC fares in comparison to other clubs. It’s strange, even though they’re owned by a billionaire, people don’t tend to think of them along those lines.

  • nicky

    As an off-topic (‘cos we’re all getting too serious) I was reminded the other day of the occasion many years ago, at the age of 3 or 4, seated at the dinner table, when I suddenly blurted out “ASTON VILLA”. My Dad, an Arsenal supporter since about 1916, nearly choked on his meal and half accused my Mother (who came from the Midlands and who was always regarded with some suspicion)) of subverting his son behind his back.
    What had actually happened was a nasty chippy working next door had taught me to say the words which so upset my Dad.

    OK all, back to the blog….

  • WalterBroeckx

    lucky they didn’t have DNA tests in those days otherwise I think your dad would have ordered one that same day. 😉 I can imagine him having some doubt about you being his son at that day 🙂

    Great memory, thanks for sharing

  • Rhyle

    Sorry for going OT and all that…but has anyone else come across the whispers regarding Alan Pardew and our former rivals down the road? Seen a couple of things floating about and heard someone on Radio 5 saying that it’s all gone a bit quiet at WHL and St James’s Park…came across a bit nudge, nudge, wink, wink…

  • Rhyle

    …by the way, just curious as I can’t find anything else at all implying it…

  • elkieno

    Hello all, it is rainy, cold (for us anyway) and miserable down under so not a bad thing being at work.

    Anyway, I woke up to the news that Rangers have folded pretty much and are just waiting on the vote from 11 clubs to see if the Newco Rangers are allowed back into top flight of Scotland. Hopefully they wont be allowed and have to start from the bottom in 3rd division like everyone else would have to and play their way up.
    So some mates of mine are from Glasgow and are really pissed off at this outcome – its only fair I say, you were caught red handed. But one of them has said that it happened to Arsenal and that ‘we owed £300 million but got away with paying £10 million instead’.

    Can you lovely boys at Untold explain this or even see what my mates are on about, if anyone can UNTOLD ARSENAL can!

  • Rhyle

    elkieno – I work for a Scottish company and there’s been a lot of chat about this from the Rangers fans! Couple of interesting reads on it…very little available online with reference to our settlement and I have no idea where Rangers fans get the £300m from, especially in light of the fact that we won a huge courtcase about 10 years ago on this very matter:

    Outside of these two, there’s nothing of material value…

    So Arsenal fans aren’t the only ones who can concoct a conspiracy theory 😉

  • ARSENAL 13

    @ elkieno…..please check Tonys article in “the history of Arsenal” blog.
    may 16 2012. “the aniversary files- how rangers owned a part of Arsenal – and then sold it”

  • Rhyle

    Arsenal 13 – I’ve got a couple of links that are stuck in moderation that you might enjoy. They’re to do with Arsenal’s use of EBT’s and image rights payments to avoid tax. Nothing illegal in it…but Rangers fans seem to be plucking figures from their backsides as I can’t find hide nor hair of any £300m…

  • elkieno

    Arsenal 13 – Thanks mate I read that article when Tony put it up, very interesting. But I couldn’t remember anything about £300m, so when the Gers fans here brought it up (friend of a friend stuff) I couldn’t really respond cos I didn’t know about this fantasy £300m…
    Anyway, if it can happen to Rangers and they get punished, then surely it could happen to chelsea, City or UTD if they get found out for any kind of dodgy stuff….

  • Rhyle

    Chelsea have settled up – £6.4m…imagine City and Utd are in the process of negotiating their settlements, too…

  • ARSENAL 13

    @ Rhyle…I read both of your links. m confused.

    My understanding is that, Clubs have exploited the loop hole in the law. And now the admins want their losses recouped.

    IF so, then how deep into the past are they looking??…

  • @Arsenal 13 – Six years: everything else will have a date with Madame Shredder!

  • Shard

    As a childhood Turtles fan, I never knew Oroku Saki was married. To a Frenchwoman at that. Was their organisation subsequently called Jour de Foot?

  • Rhyle

    Thing is..we’re not even there yet, or anywhere near. The issue is, currently, how much is it acceptable to pay as a % of wages in terms of image rights? This is far from over but, due to settlements, is more in terms of looking forward rather than back.

    One of the main implications, for me, will be the ability of PL clubs to attract players from the continent in this tax environment – high income tax+ ltd potential to “mitigate liability”…lol…

  • instderight

    Thanks for all the response chaps – very interesting.
    The situation at Toenham is certainly an interesting one. Rumours of them trying to sell the club have been atound for many years – they wanted too much when Abramovich came calling!
    Now they either have to continue to throw more money at the problem in order to make the club look buyable at a high figure or they have to cut their costs (including maybe getting a cheaper manager?) in order to make the club look better value at a cheaper rate. The latter route, of course, doesn’t make the future look that Rosie (see what I did there?) and that just reduces the long term value even more.
    The new American owners were said to have been attracted to the EPL by FFP because it made doing business more ‘predictable’. However, the fact that we will never accept the removal of the biggest unpredictability (a future after relegation) they may well be having second thoughts.
    I cannot see the current owners at Villa or Sunderland wanting to be around for much longer and, of course, the more that are for sale the lower the price will be!

  • Rhyle

    Insideright. Spurs are an interesting case – seem to be following our model to a large degree but don’t have the foundations of our recent-ish success / CL brand to build any sort of value in the business. A lot rests on their ability to deliver that new ground…

    Your last point is not quite right…The value of Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Spurs will probably not be affected by Sunderland coming on to the market!

    The owners want a brand – in Man City’s case, they bought the Manchester brand and the Blue Camp…compare that to buying (forgive me, Mackems…I love the NE but you know as well as I do that it’s) grim old Sunderland’s club…

  • Sisyphus


    Sorry. My participation was interrupted by life. Don’t know if you are likely to read this – or perhaps you may think the subject has been done to death.

    When I implied that I had no faith in the numbers I meant that in addition to ownership of Man U and Tampa Bay the Glazers have extensive interests, through First Allied Corporation, in food processing, marine supplies, health care, real estate, energy exploration and broadcasting. (Wikipedia).

    If memory serves the Glazers had severe cash flow problems in the operation of their shopping centre holdings, during the 2008 Recession, and alleviated the problem by treating Man U as a cash cow to bail themselves out. It is to this extent that I suggest the numbers that Man U publish are untrustworthy. Not that the published numbers are not accurate, but that they may not accurately reflect the operations of the club alone. The Glazers’ needs will always be paramount to the needs of the club.

    If the club falls into decline, is in decline (?), will the value remain? Will United maintain its powerful revenue generating ability if its on field performance matches that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the last ten years?

    We live in interesting times.

  • Sisyphus

    Never, ever, give up.

    Manchester United is now attempting to float a $1 billion share offering in the U.S., where ‘Soccer’ ranks 14th on a listing of popular sports. The offering imputes a value for the club of $3.6 billion – currently some £2.325 billion, (up from Deloitte’s £1.86 billion valuation).

    Performance down. Price up. Is it any wonder they call it ‘The Theatre of Dreams’.