Writer: Andy Leggott
Date:Tuesday May 23 2006
Is anyone else concerned about the direction the club is going after this weeks comments by chairman Wardle and his business partner, David Makin? Don’t get me wrong I applaud both of these gentleman for the part they have played in reviving the clubs fortunes, however some of the comments attributed to them this week make me feel that the supporters are being taken for a ride.
My first point of concern is the comments regarding the transfer monies received by the club over the last 12 months. I do not have all the figures to hand but an estimate in the region of £30 million should not be too wide of the mark when trying to put a figure on the transfer funds entering the club in the last 12 months. Added to that is the reduction in wages coming from the departures of Anelka, Wright-Phillips, Fowler, McManaman, Bosvelt, Macken and others, an income supposedly 17th best in world football and still the club pleads poverty and insists it must shop in the bargain basement.
Apparently, if you read the comments attributed to Wardle and Makin, project MCFC is coming along nicely. Everyone, it seems, should be happy that we are in the Premiership and should applaud the lack of ambition on the basis that we accept that we cannot compete before the season has started. If we accept that all is rosy then 15th in the Premiership can be packaged as a success and on that basis we’ll all renew our season tickets and throw more of our hard earned money watching mediocrity.
Sadly for the club, it now seems as if large numbers of supporters are beginning to see through the façade and are refusing to renew their season tickets, hence the need to go public and try and put some spin on what has been a pretty atrocious season.
Prior to the first ball of the season just finished being kicked, Mr. Wardle went on record as saying that the club had no need to sell Shaun Wright-Phillips whatsoever. The financial situation was under control and funds were not needed from the sale of any players to service any of the club’s debts. Shortly after those comments Shaun Wright-Phillips was sold to Chelsea for £21 million.
Before I comment further, let me make it quite clear that I do not blame Mr. Wardle for selling Shaun Wright-Phillips. Once the player had made clear his intention to leave, the club was duty bound to get the best possible fee for him which they did. What does concern me is that this week both Mr. Makin and Mr. Wardle are claiming that a large sum of the Wright-Phillips money was used to repay prior spending by the club. Excuse me but wasn’t that the same Mr. Wardle who claimed, not 12 months ago, that the club had no need to sell its prize asset? I’m sorry but something doesn’t quite add up, either the truth was not coming out before Wright-Phillips was sold or the club are now backtracking because they have seen the cost of failing to invest in replacing your better players.
It was also claimed this week that some £8 million of the SWP money has been used for the purchase of new players. Again I would argue that the club is using a little poetic license and not telling the whole truth about why it is failing to invest in the first team. Once more I return to Mr. Wardle’s comments after the Wright-Phillips sale, namely his comments that the purchase of Cole and Vassell was not funded by, nor relied upon, the sale of Wright-Phillips. Taking those two players out of the equation there remains January’s signing, Giorgious Samaras, as the only cash purchase to date since Wright-Phillips’ departure. Reports suggest that the final figure of £6 million is in fact dependant on a number of clauses and that closer to £4 million was City’s initial outlay. Again if this is indeed fact why are Wardle and Makin being economical with the truth, apart from the need to address falling season ticket sales.
I accept that the ‘Anyone at City can do no wrong’ branch of the supporter’s club will take me to task over my questioning of two people who owe the supporters nothing at all. However in my defence it is not that the board will not invest in players that concerns me rather the mistruths that are generated in order to make everything look rosy. The club finished the season in relegation form because of its policy of asset stripping and failing to replace those assets it removed. Although not a fan of his methodology, it is easy to understand Joey Barton’s assertions that he wishes to see the direction the club is taking before signing a new deal. Why would any player want to stay at a club that does not enter every competition with the intention of winning it? Consolidation may be the club’s goal but it is beginning to find the cost of falling ambition; falling attendances.
Date:Tuesday May 23 2006
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