... at all."
Is the title of a small article in this weekends I Paper, written by Jonathan Lieu. The article also appears online under a slightly different title.
To me it’s a good read as it reminds me of where we’ve come from and makes me realise that we really are in quite a good place at the moment, whether we feel that way or not at present.
It’s easy to forget the list of Chairmen who have been at the helm at Darlo since Reynolds took over, and how we (as fans) have been powerless to stop their crazy ideas and dodgy schemes - but now we are where we are in the league on merit only. We have a degree of control over how we are run and we haven’t sold our soul to the devil on the back of a wobbly promise of a quick leg up.
In his article Jonathan mentions a club called Dulwich Hamlett. They are based in South London and get crowds of up to 2500 - they are at present being held to ransom by a property developer that wants to build on their site. He mentions other clubs too, but the most eye catching one here is Blackpool FC, where Owen and Karl Oyston have just been ordered by a high court to pay £31million back to another shareholder after “illegitimately stripping” the club for years.
Other clubs are mentioned too, Leyton Orient, Sheffield UTD, and a few more ….. obviously some clubs (M’bro for instance) are lucky with their owners but our experiences don’t fall into the category of lucky through my eyes.
The point made throughout the article is — the sort of person who wants to own a football club is quite often the sort of person you do not want owning a football club. They don’t care about the fans, they care about their image and they care about their profit, while at the same time the ‘fit and proper person’ test is inadequate.
After we started again in The Northern League I (at the time) thought that the fan owned entity was a good idea to get us back on the road as a temporary measure only, but the more we’ve achieved and the way in which we’ve achieved it has changed my mind, and to me it’s a good thing that we are not the play thing of some iffy millionaire or some iffy wannabe millionaire - bearing in mind we are only one league away from where we were before the plug got pulled.
Another article on the same theme. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/36266364
The article about Wycombe is that which most resonates with me. My personal take is that the fan owned model works best but the model should be flexible enough to allow corporate contributions to support capital investment. There is a need to apply due scrutiny of the investors and their plans. The biggest problem of private ownership for me is that private individuals invariably distort the identity of the club, even the more genuine ones. They spend too much money on player wages over and above the spectator revenue to make them popular with the fans and when they get bored the club end up in a worse state. Pretty much happened with every private CEO we have had. You would expect them at least to bring some commercial discipline but they fail dismally even there. I mean forest green what is that about? the only one I had any time for was Stuart Sterling of the Sterling consortium. He was pretty level headed from my recollections.