Why ownership wishes don’t always come true

Troubled times:  Fratton Park is in search of new owners
Troubled times: Fratton Park is in search of new owners
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SOMETIMES you should be careful what you wish for.

There isn’t a football supporter in the country, barring those at Stamford Bridge, who hasn’t spent a moment wondering how Saturday afternoons might be transformed if some oligarch from eastern Europe promised to pump a few billion quid through the coffers of their club.

Plenty will talk in pious terms about soul, tradition and an influx of so-called ‘plastic’ fans.

Few, I’m prepared to wager, would be prepared to turn their backs on a pile of dosh the size of Dagestan if it was offered.

But, as Jeffrey Dampier and Michael ‘King of Chavs’ Carroll will testify, winning the Lottery isn’t a guarantee of happiness or success.

Nor does the money being mooted always materialise.

And, if it does, there are often a whole host of strings and potential pitfalls attached.

With Sheffield United recently releasing their latest set of financial figures and its plc board preparing to host its AGM, the search for investment is once again a popular topic of conversation in the pubs surrounding Bramall Lane.

Inevitably, given United’s slide into the third tier of English football, their owner and chairman, Kevin McCabe, has spent much of the past few weeks fielding flak and dodging barbs from those who question why, after several years of searching, he has yet to identify a suitable source of new revenue.

‘How difficult can it be?’ is one of the questions most often asked. Along with ‘Why have other teams managed to come up with the goods and we haven’t?’

Offers of funding are, as chief executive Julian Winter and his predecessor, Trevor Birch, have often explained, ten a penny. The difficult bit is separating stuff and nonsense from real substance.

Events elsewhere demonstrate why United are right to think carefully about with whom they jump into bed.

Six months ago at Portsmouth, when Convers Sports Initiatives – a group boasting interests in ice hockey, motorsport and golf – purchased the club from Balram Chainrai, David Lampitt, Winter’s counterpart at Fratton Park, spoke of putting “plans in place for the future”.

Chainrai, director of Sports Holdings (Asia) Ltd, insisted Pompey were “being handed over to a strong, willing and very able group.”

CSI are now, of course, in administration meaning manager Michael Appleton and his players spend pre-match press conferences talking about pounds, shillings and pence rather than passing systems and point targets.

McCabe isn’t infallible. He’s done things right and he’s dropped a few clangers during his time in charge.

But, as anyone who has heard him speak privately will reveal, when mistakes have been made at least it’s usually for the right reasons.

And surely it’s much better to have someone at the helm of a football club who possess genuine affection for it rather than simply has an eye, as CSI’s website unashamedly admits, for maximising “an immediate and significant opportunity”.