Recession Hits Non-League Clubs

Non-league football clubs are taking a big hit as the economy slips into recession. Conference outfit Grays Athletic have cut their players’ wages by a 50 per cent payment deferral to avoid going into administration which is technically a breach of contract and allows players to leave. Workington managed to negotiate a voluntary 10 per cent cut. Despite riding high in the Ryman South, Folkestone Invicta are on the verge of financial meltdown.

Chelsea Aim To Reduce Reliance On Benefactor

Chelsea’s chief executive believes that the club will be less dependent on Roman Abramovich next year. The plan is to gradually let go of the lifeline provided by their Russian owner, although how these good intentions work out remains to be seen. However, no money will be made available in the January transfer window for big new signings unless there is a real emergency on the pitch. Plans to move away from the cramped ground at Stamford Bridge have also been put on hold, even though a larger stadium would generate more gate money on the Old Trafford model.

Figures Don’t Add Up At Liverpool FC

Liverpool FC fans will be celebrating today’s victory at Chelsea. The club has had its best start to its Premiership campaign for many years. The red half of Merseyside can realistically talk about securing the Premiership title. Off the pitch, things are less rosy. Of course, what with a holding company in Delaware (the state with a reputation for business friendly rules) and a Cayman Islands tax haven link, the corporate arrangements of the current owners would not win a prize for transparency.

The Hull Phenomenon

Hull City FC were tipped for an instant return to the Championship at the beginning of the season, but their victory against West Brom on Saturday made them joint first at the top of the Premiership before today’s matches. So how does one explain the Hull phenomenon? I’m not talking about what has happened on the pitch. When I saw Hull in the Championship last season I did not think they were anything special, but clearly manager Phil Brown has weaved some magic. But what interests me here is the city of Kingston upon Hull and its economic geography.

Two Tier Premiership Idea Revived

The idea of a two tier Premiership has been revived by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside. He proposes two divisions of 18 teams each, but controversially no promotion or relegation from the Football League, an arrangement that is usual in American sporting competitions. He argues that smaller leagues would solve the problem of the winter break and the England team. Given Bolton’s situation, his views may not be entirely disinterested.

Premiership’s Most Costly Bench Warmers

The Premiership’s most costly bench-warmers have been revealed in a new list published by football website Heading the league is West Ham’s injury-prone Kieron Dyer, who having played no more than two Premiership games since August 2007 has cost the Hammers an estimated £1.1m per game. He is closely followed by Manchester United’s Gary Neville, who is only now returning to long-term action following a succession of long-term injuries.

Zabeel Investments Lose Interest in Charlton

Press reports over the weekend have suggested that Dubai based Zabeel Investments have lost interest in unglamorous south-east London Charlton Athletic, available at a knockdown price, and switched their attention to Everton. One possibility that does not seem to have been considered is that, given that this is the era of the sovereign wealth fund, Dubai-based interests might buy both a Merseyside club and Charlton. Dubai Investment Corporation have been circling Liverpool for some time, but they might consider Everton a better value buy and more readily available.

BT’s Vision

BT shares have not been doing too well lately, not just because of the general state of the market, but because of concerns about topping up BT’s pension fund. The former utility, still the leading fixed-line phone company in the UK, is looking for ways to boost its slowing revenue growth. This explains the importance of its face off with BSkyB over access to the satellite TV operator’s premium content. Broadband has been BT’s main domestic motor over the past five years, but the market is maturing. About 60 per cent of homes now have broadband.

Premiership Faces Political Challenge

The Premiership faces perhaps its biggest ever political challenge from what is in effect a combined front of the new culture secretary, Andy Burnham and FA chairman Lord Triesman. Everton supporter Burnham has been tipped as a possible future Labour leader and responding to the concerns expressed by some football fans should do him no political harm.

Hammers Take Their Case To Court

West Ham will step up their fight against paying Sheffield United compensation by lodging an appeal in the High Court this week. West Ham have also asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport to hear the dispute. The grounds on which West Ham can appeal to the High Court are actually quite limited. They have to show that the arbitration panel that decided in favour of the Blades’ claim over the Tevez affair made an error of law or came to incorrect findings of facts.

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