By Tony Attwood
This is a site which considers football from the point of view of supporters who support Arsenal – the club, the manager, the board, the team, the history, the style.
So why do we bother with stories concerning the likes of Portsmouth, Birmingham, Aston Villa, Leeds United, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rangers?
Because these are clubs that have been big time clubs, and have fallen on harder times, for all sorts of different reasons. If we ignore them, then we don’t understand football, and so we don’t understand why Arsenal is different. We can’t be vigilant in helping keep Arsenal apart from such clubs. We can’t gain the knowledge that will allow us to say no, not down that route. Don’t go there.
To give an example, consider the activities of Peter Ridsale the man who was in charge of Leeds as it rose up to challenge in Europe and then trotted back down to division three.
Remember Ridsale? His “sports consultancy” outfit WH Sports Group Limited provided “advice” to football clubs. In 2009 it went bust with debts of getting on for half a million pounds. A court decided Ridsale had moved money given by football clubs to his business (amounting to over a third of a million quid) into his own bank account. An easy mistake to make. Could happen to anyone. In October 2012, he was sent to prison for two years and disqualified as a company director. So was Sophie Ridsdale (disqualified that is). He is now chairman of “Proud Preston” (Preston North End).
Yes, I keep writing about this because I fear that there are some who would take Arsenal into the same sort of risky arenas as we have seen other clubs venture into. Areas such as personal gain, money laundering, drugs trafficking, child trafficking, you name it, football has it. Areas where people are said to have a “winning mentality”, that gloriously undefined concept which bloggers seem to have but certain managers and owners seem to lack.
Of course I accuse no one, just record a few facts and try and spread the word about how dodgy football is.
So today, a little bit about Rangers a club whose fans are standing up against the board, and demanding change, no matter how much it hurts the club in the short term. I applaud them for that.
Rangers are, quite simply, bust. They ran out of money this season and had to borrow more at a rate of interest that is so eye watering as to be unbelievable. The money they borrowed was secured against their property, so that the lenders were in a win-win-win-win etc etc situation. Now, they have to pay that money back out of their season ticket sales for NEXT season. To make that happen the club brought forward the date of season ticket sales from next season in the Championship. Many of the fans have told them where to stick it.
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Given that Rangers are not in the top division next year, the benefit of having a season ticket is limited, since one can always just pay on the turnstyle. So people are not buying, because the club is bust.
As a result there is a chance Rangers will go into administration again. That would mean a 25-point deduction next season if it happens after this saturday. Now Rangers might take that, since they won the third division this year with 40 points to spare.
But this lack of money is nevertheless annoying because the Championship could be tougher than the third division. How do you buy players as you move up the league, if you ain’t got no cash and you are in total turmoil? Who wants to come and play for you when you are bust and regularly asking your players to take a pay cut?
The problem is that the supporters are running a season-ticket boycott while the money is needed to pay back those insane loans made at an insane interest rate. Ex director Dave King and former captain Richard Gough have asked fans not to renew in order to get the old board out. Now we have heard that the company processing season tickets can’t accept credit cards (!!! honest). Cash only for your season ticket squire. Rangers finances are so bad that their bank won’t let them run a credit card machine.
Oh and there is more – like allegations that directors lied at the AGM, and a demand that the police act (that seems unlikely). But trading as a limited company without funds to meet your debts is illegal, and directors who allow that to happen are committing a crime, so things are teetering.
The trouble is that while those outside the board say that the problem is that the board is refusing to secure fresh equity, no one is willing to lend Rangers money without a) security and b) an interest rate of around 25% minimum.
And the problem for the fans is that (as with all of us) if we pay season ticket money to a club that goes bust, we have lost our money. When we pay Arsenal our money each year we trust Arsenal to survive the year. Paying Rangers looks rather risky.
In essence the club is virtually saying that financially it is not a viable business, but continues to beg supporters for money without any way out of the mess. The season ticket money pays this past season’s debt. And then? That is not a survival plan.
Wherever you look in football there are stories like this, which explains why Untold supports solid finances and careful planning. Spending a fortune might buy you the league, but it doesn’t mean you will be there next year.