Wednesday, 12 November 2008

No takers for Everton. Liverpool in financial danger. The Premier League promises to look very different in the future.

Keith Harris, who's sold five Premier League clubs in his time admits to having two hopes of selling Everton:

No Hope and Bob Hope.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright instructed Harris of merchant bank, Seymour Pierce, to find new investors after admitting the club couldn't keep borrowing. They've yet to finance the new stadium at Kirkby.

Harris explained it's not a rich city and Everton's cause isn't helped by sharing it with Liverpool either. Which brought him onto Liverpool and the subject of this piece: Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United really do play in the red!
Harris is concerned that the Reds' huge £350million debt with two stricken banks Wachovia and RBS, are due for repayment in January. They've an option to renew for another six months - but time is running short for Liverpool owners Messrs. Hicks and Gillett, to transfer the debt from done-for banks to other super-rich individuals.
Manchester United are £two-thirds of a billion in debt, following the Glazer takeover although United is probably the most multi-layered football business in the world, so it should be okay. They've just got to keep winning!
Chelsea's debt is owed to Roman Abramovich and is interest-free, so they're either here to stay or will fall like a house of cards.
So as the swirling winds of economic turmoil threaten to blow the tops off football's leading houses, it's time for a lofty prediction!
Football's great believers and idealogues will start winning trophies at the expense of debt-laden monsters.
Who couldn't have been immensely impressed by Wenger's kids mashing up all before them in the League Cup this season? And by the time they're 21-year-old first-teamers, Liverpool's debt will have been re-structured and some of their best players may have been sold off.
Arsenal with only £260million of debt, and that to pay for the Emirates (at 5% per annum) are so well-poised to dominate.
That's "good debt" compared with other big three. Huge matchday revenues, increased sponsorship opportunities and secondary rights sales. Looking good, Arsenal.
I take them to win the title either next season or definitely the year after! And once they do, they can dominate for a while.
Aston Villa can take advantage too. The very best chairman - supportive, committed, low-profile. A manager who's been there and done it, as both a player and a boss. Huge supporter-base. Non-controversial. Aston Villa have also done it before!
As football evolves from a debt-led orgy of win today to a more egalitarian lesser-leveraged future, football's great planners and dreamweavers will win the day.
We may never return to a period of such austerity that allowed Nottingham Forest to jump from 3rd in Division 2 to Champions of Europe in two years, but one thing is for sure, football men with football ideas will have more chance of producing winning teams without always being trumped by Big Spending Giants.

In the spirit of Brian Clough, the sport may be about to become much more competitive. As football fans, we can all raise a glass to that!


  1. An interesting vision of the future Jonny - but an unlikely one!
    Reality is:
    United - even if they don't keep on winning they'll still fill OT and earn shedloads through merchandising - their fanbase won't disappear overnight.
    Liverpool - yes they are in a bit of shtuck financially but the reality is there's a certain chap in Dubai willing to bail them out if it hits the fan and like United they've got enough fans round the world and if properly utilised could bring in plenty of cash = players = trophies.
    Arsenal - yes those kids are great but weren't we saying the same thing a few years back and look what happened. Let's face it if Wenger leaves they could slide into oblivion.
    Villa - hmmm. Know you're a big fan Jonny but let's face it - they've spent loads of money in the last few years and don't look any closer to coming fourth. And where are their kids?? Lose on Saturday and Everton win and they've crept over you and in truth are the rightful heirs to the 5th place crown - as a Liverpool fan it pains me to say it but they're more likely to break the top 4 than Villa.
    Well, know this is long but i've got nothing better to do!

  2. I disagree with "anonymous", I think we could see another Nottm. Forest rise. What price QPR or C.Palace?

  3. Thanks anonymous. While (to make a point) I may be accused of overstating the turmoil that the financial downturn may bring, I'm without doubt highlighting the real trend away from the big 4 to a more open set of competitions. While they'll have their Champions League opportunities, they'll simply not be able to compete in all the competitions like they have. Portsmouth and Spurs have their names on major trophies in 2008 and I hope it's the inspiration for the Evertons, Villas, Citys and Boros.

  4. Even more so. Villa might have a light squad but they know what they need to do, and each month they make progress. The Gunners? Wenger will be proved right. This is probably the toughest period of his Arsenal career, but in reality it's probably the biggest work in development. I still think he will win through.


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