Troubled football clubs face closure in the coming year, according to football insolvency expert Brendan Guilfoyle, from the Sheffield-based P&A Group.
Mr Guilfoyle, who has dealt with insolvencies at Crystal Palace, Leeds United, Luton Town and, recently, Plymouth Argyle, says that it may no longer be financially viable to save some clubs.
“The market has changed and is getting worse; we can no longer assume we can find buyers for football clubs,” said Mr Guilfoyle.
“We also need everyone to understand what could scupper a potential purchaser. At Plymouth Argyle two potential buyers withdrew because of campaigns run by fans.”
Mr Guilfolyle says that to avoid that happening in future P&A will aim for greater transparency and to involve fans and other stakeholders from the start. On the down side it will set a time limit of a month for prospective purchasers to come up with the cash.
Although it is normal for insolvency specialists to sign confidentiality agreements with potential buyers of troubled businesses, Mr Guilfoyle believes that makes it more difficult when trying to save a football club.
“Plymouth Argyle fans were passionate about saving their club,” says Mr Guilfoyle
“As a football fanatic myself I could understand their concerns and comments, but parts of the insolvency process and confidentiality clauses made it impossible to communicate as openly with fans and others as I would have liked.
”As a result fans took to forums, blogs and other social media to complain about the process and get their messages out. In any future administrations we won’t sign any confidentiality or exclusivity clauses – that way we can keep fans, staff and other stakeholders involved and have open discussions.
“It is not financially viable to have protracted negotiations so we will have a short deadline for bids from potential purchasers – probably a month.
“We either get the money in full for the deal – as with other business administrations – or the club will be shut down.”