February 13, 2010
So that’s it then. Sven Goran Eriksson has left Notts County following Ray Trew’s acquisition of the club on Friday, waiving his right to £2.4m in the process. What has been the most controversial period in our club’s history has come to an end, and with it our Premiership dream, just a little over 6 months after it began.
In the cold light of day, the whole sorry scenario was little short of an elaborate scam. The ‘billions of pounds’ that the so-called group were to invest were not there, and in all reality, never were going to be there. It seems that the players were lied to, Sven was lied to, and most importantly of all, the fans were lied to.
There are all kinds of issues here to asses, and one of the most important ones must be the ‘fit and proper persons’ test that the Football League require all club owners to pass. Now we all know it was difficult for the owners to get the takeover ratified, but I’d suggest the Football League need to cut red tape, and representatives need to be involved at the beginning of takeover deals. This way, new owners would be forced to show their hand right at the beginning of the takeover process, but at the same time would hopefully ensure that no more clubs are thrown to the wolves. The current system seems to allow too much to go the way of chance, and even if the Football League is suspicious, the time window ratification requires can leave many clubs in limbo.
Now Sven has left the club, his first instinct has been to talk to the journalist who has been most keen to unravel the mess at Meadow Lane, a man who had previously irked him, The Guardian’s Matt Scott. In this interview, Scott has suggested that Eriksson leaves Notts County with his reputation damaged. Personally, I disagree. Sven’s reputation took a battering after his time with England, but at Notts he has been a gentleman. He could have walked away several times, but chose not to. He had the right to a multi-million pound pay-off, which he waived. And most importantly of all, he genuinely cared about the football club. His only fault was being too trusting, but on the face of it, who wouldn’t want the chance to transform a small club into European contenders. Indeed, as fans how many of us dream of a Euro Millions win and the opportunity to do just that?
Peter Trembling has also come under fire, and his acumen as a businessman is being questioned. I’d suggest he was simply duped by a friend he had known for ’10 years’ (Nathan Willet) and because of his past relationship, he naïvely believed a friend’s word. I’d like to believe there was no malicious undercurrent in his intentions, something which is backed up by his reported £500,000 loss from his venture.
According to Trembling, Munto invested just £50,000 in their time at the club. However, they had promised to pay the players wages (which were ‘vastly over’ the 60% of the club’s turn-over wage cap installed by the Football League). It seems the only way the club could pay these wages were to stop paying bills, and by using the club’s assets. It is little wonder then that we find ourselves with £4m worth of debt.
But in this ultra-capitalist era of English football, Notts are not alone in the financial wilderness. Indeed, I’ll go into finances in more detail in one of my next entries. However, we should be thankful for the investment we have received this week.
I’m lucky enough to have a contact close to the new owner Ray Trew, and feel vastly reassured by his influence. Indeed, he is an ambitious man, who has his sights set on the Championship in three years, and part of that plan involves promotion this year. I’m also of the understanding that providing his accountants don’t discover too much more debt (ie the debt is under £5m) the club will avoid administration, something which should be music to our ears.
Indeed, even the involvement of Jim Rodwell, a man previously connected with Boston United, does not concern me. The man is involved solely as a mouth-piece for Trew, who is notoriously camera shy. Rodwell has no real power, and as such, his previous experiences are irrelevent.
All-in-all, I’m optimistic that come May we’ll still be celebrating promotion. However, we’ll also have a club built on stable ground, away from the quick sand base Munto left behind. Hopefully, the boys will welcome the new owners to the club with a performance against Fulham tomorrow.
A fitting way to end Sven’s time with us, and who knows, the possibility of a place in the sixth round of the Cup.
January 27, 2010
Well, I will concede I feared the worst. Many of you will have noticed my deafening silence over the last few weeks of this blog, mainly because the only interest I had was about the future of Notts County. Now it would appear that future has been secured following Peter Trembling’s announcement yesterday.
Now I’m not going to get carried away here. I’ve done that before, when I bought into the Munto Finance fairytale, the dream of the Premier League and (whisper this quietly as it now seems so ridiculous, the Champions League) and I’m not prepared to allow the same thing to happen again.
However, I’m optimistic by what I hear. If HMRC are happy, that’s a massive step as it keeps out of Court. Despite the breaking news of us having 28 days to pay £324,000, it would appear that this new deal truly has saved us. I’m also pleased to see that the anonyimity of the investors is only dependent on the ‘due dilligence’ period being completed. Once this is over, it would seem the investors will reveal themselves. However, as we don’t know exactly how much this group are investing, the future of Sven Goran-Eriksson will still be questioned.
Now lets be honest here. The desire I have to see us climb the leagues is a long way behind my desire for the club to exist, so if the investment is only enough to keep us on an even keel which leads to Sven walking, so be it. However, with only a few days left before the close of the transfer window, I’m hopeful we can keep our squad together at the very least.
Lee Hughes is almost unstoppable at the moment, and his fitness is paramount to our success. If we can win our three games in hand on most sides around us, we should find ourselves back in that top 3.
And with news on a new manager to follow ‘in days’, with that manager likely to be Peter Taylor, things at last seem to be looking up for Notts. Now, we have our FA CUp replay to look forward to, and a few more quid to bring in, especially if the game is picked up by the TV cameras, we really are pushing in the right direction.
Now lets all hope Sven has a few more tricks up his sleeve, and we have a smoother 2010 than 2009, which culminates in a promotion party come May. If we can keep playing like we did at Dagenham, we’ll go a long way towards doing that.
Hope to see you on the Kop.
Afternoon all, hope you had a good Christmas and New Year. Mine was relatively quiet and stress-free. A pity the same can’t be said about Notts County, as in the fifth day of this new decade, the club has been issued with yet another winding up order.
Normally, I try to be positive about this kind of news. The club are making the right kind of noises about the bill being paid ‘with plenty of time’ to spare, and Mr Trembling assures us there is nothing to worry about. We’ve also discovered today that the Football League have hit us with a transfer embargo while the finances are resolved, which again I’d not have worried about previously due to the depth of the squad. But right now, my mood is changing.
This petition has been served to the club’s parent company, Blenheim 1862 Limited, and is once again over unpaid taxes. But this does make me think that the club is being run by a bunch of amateurs. How can we possibly have two winding up orders in three months? And why, when the mega-rich backers came in, did they not pay these bills off straight away? If money ‘was no object’ as was claimed, was the club’s first objective not to wipe all debts? Surely viewing the books should be in the mind of any investor?
Trembling at least tells us he was aware of the petition. However, I’m getting sick of hearing from him. I’m now genuinely worried that beyond this season, my beloved Notts County will have gone out of business, all because the faceless board were not prepared to show us true transparency. With that transparency, the Football League and the media would not have been all over us like a fat kid in a cake shop, and we’d have been able to get along with the important stuff…earning promotion.
As it is, we still sit here without a manager, and as one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. I was looking forward to January, adding a couple more faces to the squad to boost our promotion push. However, this latest news may put off potential managers, who may be worried about what may happen in the future.
Hans Backe left the club over ‘broken promises’. I think there is a segment of our support who feel promises to us have been broken as well. Now, we need to see this bill paid quickly, and we need assurances from the board that any debts are covered. We also need to see a manager come in who can lift the squad and earn us that promotion we so desperately desire.
The next few weeks will tell us everything about Notts County. I just hope that come March, we still have a club to support.
October 30, 2009
So another week at Meadow Lane is over, and we’re all looking forward to the game against Shrewsbury tomorrow. But like most weeks following Munto Finance’s takeover, we’ve barely been out of the news.
Firstly, we had the confirmation of new manager Hans Backe, who will watch tomorrow’s game from the stands. Secondly, Sol Campbell brings the PFA into his fight with the club over a ‘gagging order’ (I’m sure this isn’t the first time Sol Campbell’s name has featured with the word ‘gag’ in the same sentence, but I digress…) and Peter Trembling has continued to outline his future plans for the club. I’ve described following this club as a rollercoaster in the past, and we seem to be picking up pace.
Sol Campbell’s refusal to sign the confidentiality agreement between him and the club threatens the remainder of his very career. After walking out on a five-year contract after a month, part of me can’t believe the cheek of the man. However, I have a bit of an ethical dilemma. I’m a firm believer in ‘freedom of speech’, so despite my outrage at the disdain he treated us Notts fans with, I have a great deal of sympathy with his argument, and believe he should be allowed to have his say.
I appreciate that in some businesses a confidentiality agreement is commonplace. However, football isn’t just any old business, and I have to admit to being intrigued as to his official reason for leaving. Whatever it is, I can only imagine it is about the club’s owners and the finances within the club. However, I would hope that the FA’s recent ratification of the takeover should dissolve any fears the club have of Campbell’s knowledge.
The other issue I have here is more long-term. What is to say these issues with Campbell won’t happen again with another top player further down the line? Will Campbell’s experience stop other players from signing for us? It isn’t quite a precedent, as there was a similar issue with Bobo Balde at Celtic, only he refused to leave, but it definitely isn’t commonplace. Obviously, we’ll only get the answers to my questions when we come to them, but it leaves a little doubt in my mind.
However, after reading the NEP’s interview with Peter Trembling, the doubt turns back into excitement. Trembling clearly believes that the club’s ambitions are attainable, and although we can’t see massive investment in the playing squad whilst we are in League 2, he does acknowledge the eventual target is to be challenging for the top 4 in the Premier League. I can’t help but pinch myself at that statement, considering we have almost lost our football league status in the last couple of seasons. Hell, I was at Meadow Lane against Bury in 2006, when we were minutes away from relegation! Now, the club are genuinely talking about competing for Champions League positions!
However, some of us fans (myself included) do need bringing back to Earth a little. We need to get to the big time first, which is where the new gaffer comes in.
Sven believes that Hans Backe is the man to get us there, and that’s good enough for me. Backe has already said he loves to play attractive, attacking football, which is music to my ears. Hopefully, that’ll start tomorrow with a good win against Shrewsbury and a place in the top 3 again come Final Score.
I hope we can welcome him with the loudest rendition of the ‘Wheelbarrow Song’ for many a year, and if just a few of you have the same level of excitement that I do, the atmosphere will be electric. And I can’t wait.
See you on the Kop.
October 16, 2009
So it finally happened. The most predictable sacking in English football finally came about on Monday, when Ian “Charlie” McParland was relieved of his duties by the Notts County board. Despite the board’s previous support, Charlie was a dead man walking from the moment Sven Goran-Eriksson entered Meadow Lane.
However, when you look at the performance of the team it is extremely difficult to comprehend. With an almost entirely new squad, Notts find themselves sat in fifth position in the league, top scorers in the whole of England and only a meagre 4 points of the summit of League 2. You just have to ask then what exactly could Charlie have done to save his job? The answer is simple: nothing.
Mr Trembling argued that the club had to look forwards, particularly with our grand ambition of playing in the Premier League. Last month, he announced to the entire world that the club were assessing Charlie’s suitability for the Meadow Lane hotseat.
“Of course we’ve got to review all the time whether he’s the right man for the long-term job. He’s under pressure, we spent a lot of money so it goes with the territory.”
Trembling added: “We are under the spotlight. We haven’t started in the best possible way but sometimes it takes a while for things to gel.”
Haven’t started in the best possible way? We’re fifth in the league! Considering the past few years we’ve been staring relegation in the face, it’s a massive improvement! I’ve said before this is reminiscent of Ranieri’s treatment by Chelsea, and I think most Notts fans are very disappointed by the club’s actions.
However, unlike Chelsea who had ‘The Special One’ waiting in the wings, who do we have? Well, the bookies favourite is David Platt. Kind of says it all. I would hope the club would be intelligent enough to research into the effect Platt’s appointment would have on the fans (ie mutiny) and nip this in the bud straight away. For me, an appointment like Peter Taylor would make sense, a man who knows the lower reaches of English football, and an experienced head at that.
But after some of the recent stories coming out of meadow Lane, such as who actually owns the club (and subsequent denials), the high profile entry and exit of Communications Chief Matthew Lorenzo, and the current mystery surrounding Sven’s future, who knows what the future will bring?
What we all want to see is good attacking football, which lets be honest, Charlie had delivered. His side was short of one commanding centre half (a Mr S Campbell was lined up for that job, let’s not go there shall we?) and yet I’d say under Charlie a promotion spot beckoned. Now, the club has no stability at all, the good name of Notts County is being dragged through the mud and the board are simply exaccerbating the media’s case. We truly are a circus, and who know’s what’s next? All we do know is it won’t be dull!
As for Charlie, I’d just like to say ‘thanks’ for what you did with our club, and wish the best of luck for the future. I’m sure our paths will cross again soon.