Friday, March 19, 2010


NB - clicking the image will also show page 15 - NSFW

Source: Daily Sport (no online content - page 14. 18th March 2010, printed edition)

By James Crips

DAVID Beckham proved that football’s finances is the biggest story of this year’s season.

The ex-England captain donned a green and gold scarf as he walked off the Old Trafford pitch following last week’s Champions League tie between AC Milan and Manchester United.

The green and gold campaign sees supporters wear the colours of Newton Heath, the football club that later became Man U. It’s a protest against their club’s US owner Malcolm Glazer, who’s saddled the Red Devils with £750m of debt.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth are in administration and were yesterday deducted nine points. Cardiff City and Bournemouth face being wound up within a fortnight.

West Ham would be in the same position had David Sullivan and David Gold not rode to the rescue. Liverpool are also saddled with massive debt by their unpopular American owners Gillett and Hicks.

There’s even talk the Manc and Scouse fans will join forces to protest against the way their clubs are run at Sunday’s match.

Chester City, a club that has existed longer than Liverpool and Manchester City, has been put out of business.

It’s no wonder that for the first time ever, football fans are taking a direct interest in the finances of their football clubs. On Saturday I took in a Unibond Premier match between FC United and Durham City at Gigg Lane in Bury. FC is the rebel club set up by United fans after the Glazer take-over in 2005. Back then they warned anyone who would listen about the dangers of debt — five years before the green and gold campaign took off. FC was set up and is run by the fans through a membership scheme — they set the ticket prices (£7.50), shirt design and vote in the board every two years. They’ve had huge crowds — more than 2,000 in a league where 250 is a good turn out — and massive success (three promotions in four seasons). FC are now just three tiers away from the Football League and are not in any danger of going into administration.

The Rebels aren’t totally alone — AFC Wimbledon led the way after their club was moved to Milton Keynes by the owner.

AFC Telford are another “Phoenix Club” and it looks like Chester fans will resurrect their side in the lower leagues too.

And while the football may not hit the heights of the Premier League — there’s still plenty of drama at this level.

Before the match, Durham City, who have lost their main sponsor and all their players, had minus six points, a goal difference of minus 127 and a side made up of kids from local colleges.

They beat FC 2-1, despite losing their previous 28 games.

And they did it in front of a crowd of more than 2,100 singing, standing FC fans — who applauded them off the pitch.

So I can honestly say that I witnessed the shock result of the season. The screwed-up finances of so many football clubs and an afternoon at FC will show anyone that fans can run a club.

Just because he’s in charge doesn’t mean your football chairman has a clue about what he is doing.