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.
November 10, 2009
The rollercoaster ride that is supporting Notts County has taken another vicious turn, and once again we’ve got a few more hundred column inches in the press. For all the flaws that come with Munto Finance and this summer’s takeover, it is now obvious that we owe the fact we still exist to Peter Trembling and his associates.
I will admit to having a few concerns in previous weeks. Indeed, I was particularly vocal in my criticism on this very blog when the decision was taken to sack Charlie McParland. However, before they arrived there’s no doubt we were in a mess.
In a true testament to the horrendous predicament we found ourselves in pre-takeover, the Guardian yesterday announced that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs had served us with a winding-up order over ‘a six-figure sum’. Without the takeover, it is quite feasible that we would have been out of business come the new year. That very thought chills me to the core.
However, like most events at Meadow Lane since the takeover occurred, it seems the truth has been somewhat bent in the media. My understanding of the issue from official sources is the winding up order has been issued to Blenheim 1862, the parent company of the club. However, despite reports to the contrary, Munto Finance have now paid the bill. The High Court date of the 18th November is effectively a charade, where the court will acknowledge the payment and dismiss the winding-up order.
After months of looking for flaws in the takeover, this will be further disappointment to the Guardian newspaper. (I sense a tangent coming on) Generally, I’m a big fan of the Guardian. I think it’s a thoroughly decent paper that sticks to the essence of journalism, and in a time where entertainment shows are more important in the eyes of the public than war or famine, it is a vital cog in the British press. I genuinely believe that a newspapers primary role is inform the public of the major issues of the world, and prevent “the tyranny of government”, not to report the latest X Factor bust-up, and the Guardian is a major player in that area. However, it would seem they have made a beeline for Notts County Football Club, and it is a little infuriating to say the least. This has included erroneous stories regarding the actual takeover, Sven’s future at the club and now this HMRC bill.
However, enough about the paper, and back to my main point.
Without this takeover, I’m pretty certain we’d all be back on the streets, cap in one hand, bucket in another, asking for the help of the good people of Nottingham.
(I feel another tangent in the not-too-distant future)
It would seem that a certain section of the other side of the city won’t ever let us forget the £3 they once put in a bucket to help us. Thanks for that, my Red friends. We do appreciate it. However, by continually reminding us that you helped out, I get the impression some of you are the type of people who would not think twice about using the line “but I once lent you fiver in 1974. You owe me,” to even their best friends when trying to get what they want in 2009. I’ve encountered a few of those in the past. Most of whom have forgotten about 1968, a certain incident involving the Main Stand at Forest, and the help provided by Notts County FC. Your donations, as much as we appreciate them, have merely returned the favour. So thank you, for the 12,357th time, thank you. What else do you want from us in return? Our kidneys maybe?
However, thanks to the good people whose vision is to see Notts County competing on the European scene, we are free to enjoy the future and the challenges it will bring, rather than another desperate fight for survival, like the one we endured just a few short years ago.
I hope my fellow ‘pies will join me in raising a glass to that.