Sharp end

wsc301 The crises faced by Portsmouth and Darlington call into question the way in which of some our clubs are run, argues Tom Davies

Past failures of regulation are rebounding on perhaps the two most persistently crisis-plagued English clubs of the past decade, Portsmouth and Darlington. The legacies of years of debt, unsuitable ownership and mismanagement have pushed both closer to the brink than ever.

Tom Davies describes the financial predicaments of Dundee, Mansfield Town and Kidderminster Harriers

A glimmer of light is flickering at the end of a dark tunnel at Dundee, whose supporters' trust, Dee4Life, has co-ordinated a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) to pull the Scottish First Division club out of administration – though a 25-point penalty still threatens their footballing status.

Tom Davies takes a look at the ever-growing issue of separating ground and club ownership

The pitfalls of separating ground and club ownership have been well documented in recent months, at Crystal Palace and Southend among others, and it’s causing anxiety at Yeovil Town too. The League One club agreed in June to hive off Huish Park and its surrounding land to a separate company, Yeovil Town Holdings Ltd, in order to “realise the development potential of the site”, according to the club.

Tom Davies reacts to Crystal Palace going into administration and looks at other teams threatened by HM Revenue & Customs

In a season of such widespread financial dysfunction, it’s perhaps surprising that it has taken until January for any professional club to go into administration, the fate that befell Crystal Palace at the end of last month. The administrator was called in by the London-based investment fund Agilo, a “specialist in distressed companies”, to whom chairman Simon Jordan had mortgaged much of the club’s asset base, including player wages, sale income and the basic fixtures and fittings.

Tom Davies examines the financial crises at Chester City and Southend United

It’s already been a season of high-profile financial crises and ownership murkiness, as recent developments at Portsmouth, Notts County and Leeds demonstrate. It’s no brighter further down the scale either. Chester City continue to dangle tortuously over the precipice, a threat of expulsion from the Conference delayed until November 16.

Tom Davies looks at clubs experiencing difficult times

Beware rich men bearing loans might well be the cautionary mantra of this decade, and the latest to discover the perils of debt are Wycombe Wanderers. Fans’ joy at promotion from League Two has been tempered by a rancorous summer in which managing director Steve Hayes has been accused of bullying the supporters trust into giving up its shareholding to grant him outright control. Hayes, who also owns the rugby union club Wasps, with whom Wycombe share Adams Park, wants to shift both to a 20,000-seat new stadium, to be operated by a separate stadium management company.

Tom Davies looks at three more clubs in crisis

One of the genuinely encouraging success stories of recent seasons has been Stockport County, rescued by a fans’ takeover three years ago, promoted via the League Two play-offs last year and well placed in League One until a recent slump. However, the realities of running a club to budget could yet overwhelm County, with lingering debts threatening to push the club into administration before the end of the season and a familiar search for investment becoming the priority.

Tom Davies looks at the fortunes of three clubs struggling with finances

Suddenly, football ownership is all about selling, with predatory would-be owners outnumbered by chairmen seemingly desperate to offload – and not being able to. Portsmouth and West Ham’s travails have had the highest recent profile, while at Newcastle Mike Ashley’s decision to withdraw the club from sale has rekindled some of the fan anger of earlier in the season, sparking long-awaited stirrings of organised supporter activity.

Clubs struggling in the current financial crisis by Tom Davies

The financial crisis has inevitably brought with it a swirl of speculation about how football clubs will cope with the first recession since the Premier League breakaway, but given the messes so many got into during the boom years it’s tempting to wonder whether we’ll notice much difference. But there’s no doubt many will find life more precarious.

There seems little sign of any good news for the clubs struggling financially, writes Tom Davies

When Bristol Rovers announced ambitious plans to redevelop the Memorial Ground in conjunction with a student flat development, it was hailed in many quarters as a model for similar sized clubs, but the £35 million project has hit the skids after the property company due to fund most of it pulled out.

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