Filed: Tuesday, 7th September 2004
By: Frank Lee
With the departure of Michael Carrick the final nail has been Hammered into the coffin of Harry Redknapp’s potentially great side of the late 1990's. What might have been is now a redundant question: it’s all over.
So – what next? It has become fashionable in some quarters to argue that we have to ‘get over it’, stop whingeing; put bitterness and rancour aside; such negative, backward looking sentiments are unhelpful and self-indulgent. We should now accommodate ourselves to the new reality, get behind Pardew and the team in the push for promotion.
There is at first sight a gritty realism about this view: it is, after all, necessary to start from where we are and not where we would like to be; and that means we have to make the best of the assets which we presently possess … et cetera, et cetera. Unfortunately, however, what looks like realism is more like wishful thinking.
The problem that I have with this is that it pays no regard as to how we got into our present predicament. And this is important because if we don’t learn the lessons of the past we will be condemned to repeat them in the future.
The fact is that the present impasse in which the club finds itself was wholly avoidable. Responsibility for this fiasco – both football and financial, but particularly financial – lies fair and square with the club management.
The board’s record of financial mismanagement and incompetence, has been surpassed only by their calamitous policy response to their initial gaffes. First, they get into a situation where the club is making a consistent operating loss, and then they respond by selling of the company’s assets.
The facts are by now well known: we sell a star-studded Premiership side valued at a cool £60 mill and find ourselves in the Coca-Cola division in debt to the tune of anything between £33 and £50 million (estimates vary). In fact we may be – if a realistic value is put on the Boleyn – technically bankrupt already.
Mr Brown’s response to this? ‘It was our turn to go down’. Breathtaking or what! Imagine a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a business telling the shareholders of his insolvent company ‘It was our turn to go bankrupt’. I imagine he would get very short shrift. Mr Brown’s idea of good financial management is to stay one jump of the administrator/receiver, but with the sale of Carrick his margins for manoeuvre are becoming ever more tight. Now he has sold the intangible assets (players) he could always proceed with an auction of tangible asset sales – let’s see, oh yes, there’s the Boleyn ground. What am I bid gentlemen!? I wouldn’t put it past him.
With the management with which we are presently saddled there can be no realistic chance of recovery for the club: congenitally clueless, they have, like the Bourbons learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing. They are the problem not the solution. All the talk of promotion and stabilisation in the Premiership amounts to simply spitting in the wind.
And there is a gradual recognition of this among the bulk of supporters. They are coming out of denial and beginning to vote with their feet. We are in terminal decline and nothing short of a root and branch clear-out is going to stop this. Period.
Unfortunately, however, even a post-Brown scenario would find the club faced with an uphill struggle. We will pay a high price for the financial ineptitude of the Brown regime. Recovery could I think take anything between 5 and 10 years.
I know it’s unpalatable, but collective self-delusion is not an option. There is no realistic alternative to the removal of the Brown regime.
Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.
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