Sheffield Wednesday fan column: We can have sympathy for those with winding up petitions – we’ve been there
The English Football League has made for interesting viewing over the past few weeks and I’m not talking on the pitch.
Blackpool fans have finally got their club back from the clutches of Owen Oyston who’s face should be put on the guidelines for fit and proper ownership as a what not to do cautionary tale.
On March 20 three clubs, Bolton Wanderers, Macclesfield and Ebbsfleet United were all in court defending winding up petitions and unpaid debts.
Wednesday fans will know this feeling well. In 2010 before Milan Mandaric bought us for the princely sum of £1, a sum that Derby County are allegedly up for sale for, we were in £7 million in debt and on the brink of administration.
We were lucky. It’s easier for clubs like Wednesday to attract more investment because we have the history and the potential income streams that would get us to that promise land of the Premier League, where even if you fail you are rewarded for a few years after.
It still doesn’t make it any easier to see football clubs go through this even when they’re not your own
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Take North Ferriby United, who went out of business this week due to an unpaid tax bill of just over £7000. It’s not even the hourly rate of some Premier League players and yet a club that won the FA Trophy just four years ago disappears.
Football isn’t a business model that any sensible person would use. It relies on a form of philanthropy now if you are an EFL club. You struggle to make money from it legally so it’s more like injecting cash to save an ancient monument from further ruin.
Accounts that have been released from last year show that every Championship club is operating at a loss. Our accounts haven’t been released yet but it’s a fair assumption that The Owls’ are firmly in this category.
Is fan ownership the answer? I have reservations. Ebbsfleet United dabbled in this and while they were successful for a few years the amount of supporter investment dropped significantly and they were eventually saved by a Kuwaiti businessman.
I periodically like to thank Mandaric for what he did for Sheffield Wednesday. Without him who knows where we would be.