For as much as football in England may be dripping with wealth nowadays, these riches don’t exactly trickle down the pyramid from the Premier League as much as you may expect, or as much as they probably should.
It is little wonder, then, that these ‘solidarity payments’
are under review – currently, £675,000 is given from England’s top tier to
League One clubs, (a fall from £690,000), and £450,000 to League Two clubs, (previously
English Football League (EFL) clubs are receiving two per
cent less each year because the Premier League’s domestic TV rights fell by 7.5
per cent for the 2019-2022 period from £5.4 billion to £5 billion. As a result,
among a whole host of other factors, many of them are facing serious financial worries.
Here are six of the deepest in the mire:
The most obvious club to start with, although of course, technically
not a member of the EFL anymore.
Bury were expelled from the EFL in August 2019 after owner
Steve Dale failed to meet an extended deadline to provide evidence of financial
solvency for the 2019-20 season. Dale had bought the club for a mere £1 in December
2018 and admitted he was neither a fan football nor previously aware there was
even a club in Bury. Not only that, but 43 of the 51 companies he had previously
owned had been liquidated.
The Shakers had won promotion back to League One at the
first attempt the previous May, but by the time they were expelled, players had
reportedly gone months without being paid and their first six games of the new
campaign were suspended by the EFL.
Outstanding creditors were not paid off and financial order
was not restored in time, and after a late bid from analytics company C&N
Sporting Risk fell through, Bury were removed from the EFL on August 27, 2019.
Following their expulsion, a working group led by Bury North
MP suggested that Bury apply for a place in the National League for 2020–21,
providing ownership issues were resolved, of course. A winding-up petition was then brought by HMRC
on 16 October 2019, but was adjourned for two weeks to allow the club more time
to settle with small business creditors.
Another club with similarly well-documented financial
problems, Bolton’s is at least a tale with a slightly happier ending.
The Trotters had faced off-the-field turmoil for the best
part of four years; in December 2017, they were more than £170 million debt,
and received a winding-up order for HMRC over unpaid taxes. Relegation to
League One followed later that season, just four years after Bolton had been a
Premier League club.
The financial state of affairs initially improved after a
takeover from Dean Holdsworth’s Sports Shield company in March 2016, by which
time the club were heading for administration. Initially chief executive, Holdsworth
become director of football at the start of 2016-17, but left the role less
than a month later. Then, in January 2017, a public argument with chairman Ken
Anderson over the sale of striker Zac Clough to Nottingham Forest saw him sell his
share of the club to Anderson two months later.
Under Anderson, despite returning to the Championship,
Bolton’s money issues resurfaced, with unpaid loans, winding-up orders and
threats of administration or points deduction becoming commonplace in late
2018. Administrators eventually took over in May 2019 following an unpaid £1.2
million tax bill.
After relegation back to League One, Bolton were issued with
a 12-point deduction, and a mass exodus of players saw their threadbare squad
of youth players repeatedly hammered in the early weeks. Though, thanks to a
late takeover from Football Ventures Ltd, they avoided going the same way as Bury
in August 2019.
But an exclusive from The
Athletic in early October 2019 revealed that some of the club’s outstanding
creditors had still yet to be paid, so their financial problems may not be
entirely solved yet. Either way, the drop to League Two looks a certainty.
On the final day of the 2018-19 season, Macclesfield completed
the great escape. Having looked doomed at the foot of League Two when Sol
Campbell was appointed manager in November 2018, seven points adrift, a 1-1
draw with Cambridge secured their status.
But it was also the day when a number of their players had
threatened to boycott the game, having not been paid for three months. Six of
them issued a winding-up order against the club, which was taken over by HMRC,
while an outstanding tax bill was not settled until June 2019.
In October 2019, the Silkmen playing staff again went
unpaid, appealing for help from the EFL and saying they find themselves in a similar
predicament to that which beset Bolton and Bury.
Since Moroccan football agent Abdallah Lemsagam took over at
Oldham Athletic in January 2018, the club has suffered one relegation and the
threat of another, seen six different managers, and has damaged relations with
its fan base even further.
Even before his arrival, the club had encountered recent
issues. In the two years prior, Oldham received numerous winding-up orders due
to unpaid tax bills, and saw their ground raided by HMRC in November 2017.
Then, in the summer of 2018, Lemsagam spent about £500,000
and doubled the wage bill. Since then, reports of late wage payments, as well
as mistreatment of staff have been constant, as has a lack of transparency from
Little wonder, then, that Paul Scholes walked away from the
hot seat in March 2019 after 31 days, and little wonder that the fans have
called from Lemsagam to sell the club.
With battles against ownership and against being forced to
move house, Coventry City have been embroiled in off-the-field turmoil for the
best part of the last decade-and-a-half.
First, London hedge fund company SISU Capital Ltd, who saved
the club from administration in 2007, have been the subject of mass fan
protests due to their perceived cost-cutting approach. Fans have gathered
outside their stadium, the Ricoh Arena, chanting ‘Sisu Out’ since 2011, while
in October 2016, supporters threw plastic toy pigs on to the pitch at The
Valley during a game at Charlton Athletic.
Though Mark Robins has revitalised Coventry on the pitch,
earning an instant promotion back to League One in 2018, troubles off the field
have continued. SISU remain at the helm, and then there is the ongoing issue of
them being unable to play at the Ricoh Arena.
In 2013, they were forced to play home games some 70 miles
away at Northampton Town’s Sixfields Stadium, which lasted until November 2014.
Then, for the 2019-20 season, their home will be Birmingham’s St Andrews
Stadium, 38 miles away, having failed to reach an agreement with ground sharers
and owners, rugby club Wasps.
The club’s parent company, Sky Blue Sports and Leisure
Limited, also recorded a loss of more than £1.5 million in the year up to May
31, 2018, while the club were in League Two.
In the last decade, Southend have been issued with more than
ten winding-up orders, including two in 2019 alone.
The club have suffered such problems since 2010, when
chairman Ron Martin re-mortgaged his home to save them, clearing a tax debt of in
excess of £300,000 in the process.
Shrimpers fans had hoped these dark days were gone after Ron Martin settled the last outstanding tax bill in May 2016, but they have majorly resurfaced in 2019, and in April, it was reported that players and staff were not paid their wages on time.
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AMAZING COUNTING FOOTBALL: Introducing the latest innovation in football, Smart Ball Kick up Counting Football with lights and sounds This amazing counting football allows you to challenge yourself and your friends to see who can achieve more tricks Use your feet, legs, knees, chest and shoulders to keep the Smart Ball from hitting the ground and it will count each time it makes contact with you.
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