The fall from grace of the beautiful game

Fratton Park

Fratton Park

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Reporter

IT has been another sobering week for fans of ‘the beautiful game’.

Two British clubs with proud traditions, Portsmouth and Glasgow Rangers, are praying for their answer to Saints saviour Markus Liebherr as they face the possibility of financial bankruptcy.

But British football’s decline extends beyond the balance sheets of two of its most well-known clubs.

It could also be said to be morally bankrupt. As the judge in Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric’s recent tax evasion trial remarked: “Football may be thought by some to have rather lost its way”.

Sordid revelations of players’ private lives are commonplace these days, while racism has reared its ugly head again this season.

John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy but could still represent his country at this summer’s European Champion-ships, a few weeks before standing trial for the alleged racial abuse of QPR’s Anton Ferdinand earlier this season.

And Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, having served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, courted more unwanted attention when he refused to shake hands with the player before last week’s game between the clubs. Then there is Carlos Tevez, who swanned back to Manchester City this week after a self-imposed three-month exile.

Sickening It is getting increasingly hard to say no player is bigger than their club.

Sir Alex Ferguson has witnessed the increase of player power more than anyone.

“When I first started out in management 37 years ago there were no agents – imagine that!” said the Manchest-er United boss this week. “There was no freedom of contract either, so players were totally tied to their clubs. A change in that sense was inevitable, though I think that now the scales have tipped completely in the other direction and I’m not sure it’s good for the game.”

Away from the pitch, players’ wealth is often flaunted to a sickening degree. Now football is in danger of eating itself. Spiralling wage packets have been the most significant reason for the financial meltdown experienced by many clubs.

Sheer avarice is the problem and there are only so many sugar daddies able and willing to bale out the financially-stricken clubs. Three years after Liebherr rescued Saints, Pompey have become the fifth club to enter administration a second time, joining Halifax, Bradford, Rother-ham and chief recidivists Darlington, who are there for the THIRD time in nine years. Alarm bells rang at Fratton Park again in November, when the club’s parent company, Convers Sports Initiatives, went into administration.

For fans of Saints’ arch-rivals yesterday’s confirmation from the High Court must have felt like Groundhog Day, coming almost two years to the day since Pompey became the first Premier League club to pass the handling of their finances to outsiders.

No Premier League club has been there since but it is surely only a matter of time.

Reports this week have suggested that as many as eight English clubs, including current members of the Premier League, are dangerously close to following Pompey into administration due to unpaid tax.

That is the reason Rangers have hit such a financial nadir. Probably Britain’s biggest club to reach such a low – certainly the most high-profile since Leeds United five years ago – Rangers’ demise provides a warning of how far footballing giants can fall.

With around £72m owed to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, the ten-point deduction that leaves Rangers 14 points behind arch-rivals Celtic is the least of their problems.

Comments (13)

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8:37am Sat 18 Feb 12

Chipster says...

They got off lightly, it should have been at least -25! No doubt they're bleat and whine that they have been hard done by, and "why always us?"

Like to think they've learned their lesson in not living beyond your means, but I wont hold my breath as this is the second time round!......... COYR's! FOP!
They got off lightly, it should have been at least -25! No doubt they're bleat and whine that they have been hard done by, and "why always us?" Like to think they've learned their lesson in not living beyond your means, but I wont hold my breath as this is the second time round!......... COYR's! FOP! Chipster
  • Score: 0

9:02am Sat 18 Feb 12

Brite Spark says...

Disappointed, where's the lady on the disability scooter?
Disappointed, where's the lady on the disability scooter? Brite Spark
  • Score: 0

9:07am Sat 18 Feb 12

chapellady says...

The fact that they didn't learn from their last time in Administration shows they will continue to punch above their weight. The punishment hasn't fit the crime and I expect they will avoid relegation thanks to players they can't afford to pay. Income from their shed will never support their deluded dream that they are a 'premier league club' when league 2 clubs have better facilities and live within their means. Sad day for football and people struggling in this climate that are losing their homes as they can't afford to pay their mortgage etc. Unlike most of their supporters Fratton Park couldn't qualify for Housing benefit!
The fact that they didn't learn from their last time in Administration shows they will continue to punch above their weight. The punishment hasn't fit the crime and I expect they will avoid relegation thanks to players they can't afford to pay. Income from their shed will never support their deluded dream that they are a 'premier league club' when league 2 clubs have better facilities and live within their means. Sad day for football and people struggling in this climate that are losing their homes as they can't afford to pay their mortgage etc. Unlike most of their supporters Fratton Park couldn't qualify for Housing benefit! chapellady
  • Score: 0

9:07am Sat 18 Feb 12

richard55 says...

harry will save them,yeah right
harry will save them,yeah right richard55
  • Score: 0

10:21am Sat 18 Feb 12

Linesman says...

Chipster wrote:
They got off lightly, it should have been at least -25! No doubt they're bleat and whine that they have been hard done by, and "why always us?"

Like to think they've learned their lesson in not living beyond your means, but I wont hold my breath as this is the second time round!......... COYR's! FOP!
I wonder how things would have worked out if the Football League had said that Michael Fialca and his Pinnacle group were 'Fit and Proper' people to take Saints out of administration.

My guess is that they would be back in administration before the ink was dry.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of Pompey's situation, the Football League do not come out of this 'whiter than white.' The FSA had already refused permission for the bank, owned by Pompey's owner, to open in the UK because it was judged to be 'suspect.' What sort of investigation did the Football League do, if they did not take that into account?

With incompetence that that, what is the point of having a 'Fit and Proper' test?

On TV this morning, a business expert stated that there were seven Championship clubs that were paying more in players' wages than they received in income, and he considered that any of them could well be in administration before long.

He did not name any club.
[quote][p][bold]Chipster[/bold] wrote: They got off lightly, it should have been at least -25! No doubt they're bleat and whine that they have been hard done by, and "why always us?" Like to think they've learned their lesson in not living beyond your means, but I wont hold my breath as this is the second time round!......... COYR's! FOP![/p][/quote]I wonder how things would have worked out if the Football League had said that Michael Fialca and his Pinnacle group were 'Fit and Proper' people to take Saints out of administration. My guess is that they would be back in administration before the ink was dry. Whatever the rights or wrongs of Pompey's situation, the Football League do not come out of this 'whiter than white.' The FSA had already refused permission for the bank, owned by Pompey's owner, to open in the UK because it was judged to be 'suspect.' What sort of investigation did the Football League do, if they did not take that into account? With incompetence that that, what is the point of having a 'Fit and Proper' test? On TV this morning, a business expert stated that there were seven Championship clubs that were paying more in players' wages than they received in income, and he considered that any of them could well be in administration before long. He did not name any club. Linesman
  • Score: 0

10:21am Sat 18 Feb 12

Linesman says...

Chipster wrote:
They got off lightly, it should have been at least -25! No doubt they're bleat and whine that they have been hard done by, and "why always us?"

Like to think they've learned their lesson in not living beyond your means, but I wont hold my breath as this is the second time round!......... COYR's! FOP!
I wonder how things would have worked out if the Football League had said that Michael Fialca and his Pinnacle group were 'Fit and Proper' people to take Saints out of administration.

My guess is that they would be back in administration before the ink was dry.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of Pompey's situation, the Football League do not come out of this 'whiter than white.' The FSA had already refused permission for the bank, owned by Pompey's owner, to open in the UK because it was judged to be 'suspect.' What sort of investigation did the Football League do, if they did not take that into account?

With incompetence that that, what is the point of having a 'Fit and Proper' test?

On TV this morning, a business expert stated that there were seven Championship clubs that were paying more in players' wages than they received in income, and he considered that any of them could well be in administration before long.

He did not name any club.
[quote][p][bold]Chipster[/bold] wrote: They got off lightly, it should have been at least -25! No doubt they're bleat and whine that they have been hard done by, and "why always us?" Like to think they've learned their lesson in not living beyond your means, but I wont hold my breath as this is the second time round!......... COYR's! FOP![/p][/quote]I wonder how things would have worked out if the Football League had said that Michael Fialca and his Pinnacle group were 'Fit and Proper' people to take Saints out of administration. My guess is that they would be back in administration before the ink was dry. Whatever the rights or wrongs of Pompey's situation, the Football League do not come out of this 'whiter than white.' The FSA had already refused permission for the bank, owned by Pompey's owner, to open in the UK because it was judged to be 'suspect.' What sort of investigation did the Football League do, if they did not take that into account? With incompetence that that, what is the point of having a 'Fit and Proper' test? On TV this morning, a business expert stated that there were seven Championship clubs that were paying more in players' wages than they received in income, and he considered that any of them could well be in administration before long. He did not name any club. Linesman
  • Score: 0

10:26am Sat 18 Feb 12

Ozmosis says...

As a taxpayer I am extremely disappointed that certain clubs (but also other companies) seem to think they don't need to pay tax. If I chose not to pay I'd be hauled over the coal and made to repay or bankrupted. So it should be in the case of Rangers, Pompey and Vodafone (to name just a few). Sadly I fear it won't happen, and the average Joe will carry on having to pay for these businesses, and the businesses will continue this practice.
As a taxpayer I am extremely disappointed that certain clubs (but also other companies) seem to think they don't need to pay tax. If I chose not to pay I'd be hauled over the coal and made to repay or bankrupted. So it should be in the case of Rangers, Pompey and Vodafone (to name just a few). Sadly I fear it won't happen, and the average Joe will carry on having to pay for these businesses, and the businesses will continue this practice. Ozmosis
  • Score: 0

10:34am Sat 18 Feb 12

lewis99 says...

The FA cup win and their appearance in another final should be erased from the record books, the 4-1 win over us in the same competition should also be wiped out, they played players who should not have been there and bought players they could not afford ..... basically they cheated their way to success ..... how could this be allowed to happen?
The FA cup win and their appearance in another final should be erased from the record books, the 4-1 win over us in the same competition should also be wiped out, they played players who should not have been there and bought players they could not afford ..... basically they cheated their way to success ..... how could this be allowed to happen? lewis99
  • Score: 0

12:02pm Sat 18 Feb 12

Over the Edge says...

The fall from grace of the beautiful game?

Not a chance, just because one great club and another sh1t one have been mismanaged and a couple of players have been fools, it does mean the beautiful game has fallen from grace.

At 3pm this afternoon there will a great example of the beautiful game on display at St Mary's, both teams play free flowing football, both teams will battle for three points, hopefully there will only one winner.

The game has not fallen from, Pompey never had any grace in the first place, Rangers will bounce back, the Skates on the other hand can go rot, they deserved everything they got and in my opinon got off lightly.
The fall from grace of the beautiful game? Not a chance, just because one great club and another sh1t one have been mismanaged and a couple of players have been fools, it does mean the beautiful game has fallen from grace. At 3pm this afternoon there will a great example of the beautiful game on display at St Mary's, both teams play free flowing football, both teams will battle for three points, hopefully there will only one winner. The game has not fallen from, Pompey never had any grace in the first place, Rangers will bounce back, the Skates on the other hand can go rot, they deserved everything they got and in my opinon got off lightly. Over the Edge
  • Score: 0

1:01pm Sat 18 Feb 12

Stillness says...

Corruption, yobs, drunks, fights, criminal damage, ridiculous wages for doing nothing important, professional fouls, Peter Crouch. Now what's that about beauty?
Corruption, yobs, drunks, fights, criminal damage, ridiculous wages for doing nothing important, professional fouls, Peter Crouch. Now what's that about beauty? Stillness
  • Score: 0

1:24pm Sat 18 Feb 12

SPIKEISLANDTRADER says...

Over the Edge wrote:
The fall from grace of the beautiful game?

Not a chance, just because one great club and another sh1t one have been mismanaged and a couple of players have been fools, it does mean the beautiful game has fallen from grace.

At 3pm this afternoon there will a great example of the beautiful game on display at St Mary's, both teams play free flowing football, both teams will battle for three points, hopefully there will only one winner.

The game has not fallen from, Pompey never had any grace in the first place, Rangers will bounce back, the Skates on the other hand can go rot, they deserved everything they got and in my opinon got off lightly.
Totally agree , I bet Leeds / Leicester and Bournemouth would also back a FAIR point deduction , not a slap on the wrist . The F. A. bottled it big time . JOB **** e IS A IDEAL SPONSOR FOR THEM .
[quote][p][bold]Over the Edge[/bold] wrote: The fall from grace of the beautiful game? Not a chance, just because one great club and another sh1t one have been mismanaged and a couple of players have been fools, it does mean the beautiful game has fallen from grace. At 3pm this afternoon there will a great example of the beautiful game on display at St Mary's, both teams play free flowing football, both teams will battle for three points, hopefully there will only one winner. The game has not fallen from, Pompey never had any grace in the first place, Rangers will bounce back, the Skates on the other hand can go rot, they deserved everything they got and in my opinon got off lightly.[/p][/quote]Totally agree , I bet Leeds / Leicester and Bournemouth would also back a FAIR point deduction , not a slap on the wrist . The F. A. bottled it big time . JOB **** e IS A IDEAL SPONSOR FOR THEM . SPIKEISLANDTRADER
  • Score: 0

2:57pm Sun 19 Feb 12

Scrutinizer says...

Of course the game has fallen from grace. That's pretty obvious to anyone who's been following it for more than 45 odd years! Racial abuse, tax evasion, all manner of dodgy wheelin' and dealin'. Managers defending the indefensible and yes, that includes YOU Dalglish!!! Then there's the on-pitch cheetin' and divin' nonsense we increasingly see week in and week out... There are times when I wish I'd been brought up a rugby fan...
Of course the game has fallen from grace. That's pretty obvious to anyone who's been following it for more than 45 odd years! Racial abuse, tax evasion, all manner of dodgy wheelin' and dealin'. Managers defending the indefensible and yes, that includes YOU Dalglish!!! Then there's the on-pitch cheetin' and divin' nonsense we increasingly see week in and week out... There are times when I wish I'd been brought up a rugby fan... Scrutinizer
  • Score: 0

6:36am Mon 20 Feb 12

rocketone says...

All you need to read is the comments of the manager of Portsmouth's opponents who did not mince his words and said that they had cheated and he was glad his team won on Saturday.
All you need to read is the comments of the manager of Portsmouth's opponents who did not mince his words and said that they had cheated and he was glad his team won on Saturday. rocketone
  • Score: 0

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