Football Crisis ? It is getting worse for one club

Last updated : 09 January 2003 By Tony Scholes

The problems of course arose because of the collapse of ITV Digital and the subsequent non-payment of the monies expected. It hit all clubs, and 1st Division clubs the hardest, and the only thing Burnley were guilty of was naivety. They must surely have seen it coming for months although nobody could have ever expected Carlton and Granada to behave in the way that they did.

So it has been belt tightening time at Turf Moor. There is no David Johnson, we could no longer make an offer for him, and there have been no other new faces other than Marlon on nothing more than a month to month deal.

Even Dean West had to struggle on with such short term deals for a while but he was better off than the likes of Kevin Ball, Mitchell Thomas and Lenny Johnrose who had to be released. Lenny is currently at Bury but for the other two it was a premature retirement.

It wasn’t plain sailing for the supporters either who were having to read a diary of the crisis via a national newspaper and with the Turf Moor PR machine grinding to a halt there was nothing else to believe. Did I say naivety was the only thing they were guilty of? You can add their lack of communication.

The talk in town was that the club were set to go into administration, at times we were being told that it was only days away. As it happens clubs who do go into administration do seem to come out of it, although Leicester, Port Vale and York are currently in that situation.

We didn’t go into administration and it doesn’t look as though we are going to. We have to tighten our belts for a few years having taken loans to cover the next two years. But with player wages coming down we must at least hold our ground which we seem to be doing.

It is the first season for a while that we haven’t made progress on the pitch and although Stan quite rightly talks about the play offs I don’t think many supporters really believe we will be close to them. Mind you Stan does have a habit of proving us all wrong.

But as I see it now despite the less than encouraging position we are no worse off than most clubs in our division and better than some. Needless to say we cannot count Portsmouth in that and, despite the rantings of Cockney Spiv Redknapp who claims they are not spending much, they are in a much better position than every other club in the division.

We all thought Preston would be challenging. Having sold Macken and Gregan and also got compensation for Moyes they looked to be in a healthy position. But would you swap places with them? Apart from manager Moyes they have lost Chairman Bryan Gray and Chief Executive Tony Scholes (The Imposter) and it would seem one of them has taken their direction with them.

But for one club it is nightmare number two – Bradford City. In the summer they went into administration following revelations from Mr. Pompous of massive debts. He blamed himself of course but then dared to imagine he could carry on.

It really was a nightmare for the fans who wondered just whether they would have a club or not at the beginning of this season. Players were made redundant and it really did look as though the ‘Closed for Business’ sign could go up at the Bradford & Bingley No Pulse Valley Parade Stadium.

But they were spared when a buyer was found and they were taken over by Flamingo Land. They admitted that things would be tight for some time and there would be no big signings and suddenly they were able to do just what we couldn’t, bring new players in.

Their fans must have been relieved even though they did expect to be relegated. But it was better than that and they started the season reasonably well, they even scored and took a point off the showboating Clarets with only nine players on the pitch.

But sadly for them it didn’t last and the first sign that things were not quite right was a couple of months ago when the players weren’t paid. That was brushed off as something and nothing but the seeds had been sown. Were they in crisis again?

The answer is yes and last week assistant manager Ian Banks was relieved of his duties for no reason other than to save a wage. One wage saved will not help though and it has now been revealed that their problem is non-payment of a mortgage payment to Lombard taken out on the ground.

They failed to pay an instalment of £350,000 and are now asking for talks with Lombard to find a way to solve what even the club are calling a crisis.

Pretty Flamingo himself, Chairman Gordon Gibb has now admitted that the annual payment to Lombard of £1.4 million is unachievable, and it has another five and a half years to run. Lombard’s next step could be to claim the ground and Gibb has said they will consider selling the ground to them and leasing it back.

But worryingly for Bradford City fans their Chief Executive Julian Rhodes had this to say,

"We would consider any deal if it meant the Football Club staying in business, but we would prefer to own the stadium ourselves and pay it back over a longer period. But up until now Lombard have taken a very hard line.

"If a deal is not done, we will carry on paying the money to them as long as we can but at the end of the day it would mean the end of the Football Club."

So basically Gibb and Rhodes are saying that the future of Bradford City Football Club is now in the hands of Lombard, not comforting words for the supporters.

Suddenly it makes you feel so much better when you look at the situation at Burnley, yes we are having a difficult time of it but I think it really is time that we sit back and be thankful that we still have a club doing reasonably well in Division One and a club that is not on the brink.

We thought Bradford City wouldn’t start this season but what chance them starting 2003/04 season?