We’ve got off to a decent start this season and there is reason to hope we’ll get promotion and now we have an interest from Dell computers. All very well: Mr Dell has enough money to shop at Waitrose twice a week! But seriously, the investor must become part of the club and respect it, its history and the fans. Nothing else will do. Methven and Donald haven’t been with the club for long and they have, so far, brought a welcome degree of stability, but that could now be shaken.
Consider the number of grand old clubs who were once significant in the pre-Premiership era who are now out of the league altogether. Notts County, once a very considerable club; Grimsby Town, who had internationals playing, even in my young days such as Jackie Bestall and George Tweedy; then there’s Yeovil Town, who famously sent us packing from the FA Cup many years ago, Aldershot, Gateshead, Wrexham, Barrow, Halifax Town to name but a few. Bolton Wanderers are living proof that no club is too big to fail. Bury, even with its loyal support, is teetering on the brink of extinction, Certainly, in the cases of some of these teams, bad financial management and incompetent ownership was the main cause of the trouble. In the case of Notts County, hundreds of supporters gathered every week to demand that the owner sold up and cleared off. He didn’t and now the club is playing non - league football.
Bolton and Bury are only the latest high-profile cases. Both of these teams, especially Bolton Wanderers were powers in the land. The fans of both of these clubs have been screaming at the owners for a long time with nil result. I don’t wish this kind of ill on any club and it would be in nobody’s interest if our noisy neighbours up the road went bust. They’ve just lost a highly competent manager, but are stuck with an owner who, let’s say, does not enjoy the best of reputations in the business world and whose care for and knowledge of football is less than Theresa May’s. I find it very poor taste when an owner such as Fat Freddie up the road renames the ground and stadium after his company, which is not well regarded for its employment policies.
There’s a very good article about the travails of Bury in Saturday’s Guardian by Josh Halliday - a graduate of Sunderland University, no less, analysing Bury’s predicament and the effect it will have on the town. In short, a community already suffering from government neglect (still part of the Northern Powerhouse, though!) will very possibly lose one of the few remaining organisations which binds the community together. Sounds a bit like Sunderland’s recent past and, in my view, Sunderland aren’t out of the woods yet. The club needs long term financial stability and to make sure that it has the right players: the present crop seem pretty good. We don’t want to go back to the days when a hapless manager on a very short financial lead, has to manage overpaid, useless and arrogant players.
One grimly amusing picture accompanying Josh Halliday’s article is of a loyal old Bury supporter bearing a flag stating "Bury Till I Die." Surely it should have read "Bury When I Die?"
I suppose, all things considered, it’s a good thing that the club appears to be attracting some investment. What I find a little unpalatable is that when billionaires invest their money in a business it’s said that they should expect a good reward for their money. It’s very heartening to think that the poor really want the rich to be looked after. Okay, so far, but I have a bank account which gives me, yes, wait for it, 0% interest on my capital. Of course, they do look after me and pay my standing orders and card transactions, which takes a lot of doing. Elsewhere, I invest in a Building Society who pay me a whopping 2% interest. I don’t think Messrs. Methven and Donald and potentially Mr Dell would be attracted to such profits. In fact, with the sort of money they have, a slight loss could be simply be seen as daily expenditure on an interesting venture.
But here’s to Jack Ross, so far, a very good appointment, taking us up a peg this season.