What does it feel like when your club goes bust?

It is a question that must be circulating around the minds of a number of club supporters at the moment.   Clubs that are supposedly ok for money, clubs which are maybe successful.  And then suddenly it begins to unravel.

Of course what many people do is just pretend the difficulty doesn’t exist – and it does seem to me that both Manchester U and Liverpool are going through that scenario at the moment.  Somehow they believe it will all work out ok, so let’s just get on with football shall we?

All that stuff about Manchester U not being able to pay the interest on their debts.  Or the fact that Liverpool have to repay the bank £65 million this year – on the money that was supposed to have been used to build the new stadium.

And what about Hull or Portsmouth. Hull’s debts just suddenly seemed to be announced, while poor old Portsmouth have themselves sold to an Arab saviour who then turns out not to have the money who sells to an Arab saviour who turns out not to have the money…

Of course the issue is everywhere.  As far as I know Bournemouth are not allowed to sign anyone until they can pay off their debts, and Portsmouth have the same problem – which probably means Real Madrid can’t pay them for Diarra.  And I seem to recall Arsenal going to UEFA to get Real Mad to cough up the cash for Anelka.  And Southampton started the season on minus 10 points for going into liquidation.

Here’s another one: Notts County. I’ve been a bit of a moaning minnie about them ever since the Trust that owned the club GAVE IT AWAY (I put that in caps because it is so odd – they gave it away) to some company that would not reveal who its owners were.

No fit and proper test there because no one knew who was whom – and even though the League now say that they are all assured, if they are they are in a unique position.

Because guess what – Notts County, one of the richest clubs in the country apparently, have just found that their parent company will be wound up in the bankruptcy division of the High Court next week unless a mega debt to the tax man is paid.   Bit odd when you are owned by multi-billionaires in India and such like – even if the people who own you claim never to have heard of you.

Last June a company from the rather lovely British Virgin Islands (where no one reveals anything) took over Notts County but no one paid a penny for the shares for reasons that will not become clear at this time.

Notts C are now owned by Qadbak (owners unknown) who also own Munto, and no one knows about them either, and Munto own Blenheim 1862 who own Notts County. Blenheim 1862 have tax debts of approaching half a million pounds and are being would up by Revenue and Customs.

Failure to pay up means an investigation into the affairs of all the companies involved, and possibly legal action against the directors.    Ah well, pesky things these companies.

For us Arsenal fans this is all a foreign country.   Our club went bust 100 years ago.   Four times the owners of the club invited local people to buy shares in order to save the club – and each time the response was just fractionally above pathetic.  No one wanted to know.

There was also a fund raising committee that organised whist drives and social evenings, and they did come up with a fair amount of cash – but by the time they had some money to hand over they found that Henry Norris was about to take over the club – and so they refused to hand over their money!

One other odd thing – it was only during the wind down of the old club as it went into liquidation that it became apparent that the architects from ten years before had never been paid!  That architect was Archie Leitch – the man who built Ibrox – the Ibrox that then fell down (at least in part).

It looks different from today – and so it is – for one big reason.  100 years ago everyone knew who owned Woolwich Arsenal FC and who was trying to buy Woolwich Arsenal FC (Henry Norris).  All this tricky business of the British Virgin Islands wasn’t around then.  Our club went bust, Henry Norris bought it, and after that success beckoned.

You can read the full story of the collapse and rebirth of Woolwich Arsenal in the novel MAKING THE ARSENAL. Click for details – you can buy it at once from the publishers, or via Amazon (although it is nicer for us if you buy it direct).

(c) Tony Attwood

3 Replies to “What does it feel like when your club goes bust?”

  1. I luv Arsenal 2 my marrows, i luv Arsene Wenger 2 my veins. Arsenal is just a class apart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I cannot claim to know what relegation feels like. I have only ever watched clubs and their fans suffer the miseries of relegation from afar. The Arsenal has never seen, and will hopeful never see, relegation in my lifetime.

    As for pretences, lots of it going around at the moment.

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