Thursday, January 28, 2010

Harry's Game

Last week everyone’s favourite cheeky chappy, happy Harry Redknapp, admitted that Tottenham Hotspur were keen on bringing Real Madrid forward Ruud van Nistelrooy back to England, but warned that meeting the Dutchman’s wage demands could “kill the club.” It was no surprise to see Redknapp wake up during the transfer window, the time of year when his revolving door transfer policy comes into its own, nor was his interest in an over-priced player well past his best particularly unexpected, but it was simply astonishing to hear of his new-found financial prudence. After all, this is the manager who normally spends money like it isn’t his own (actually, it isn’t). In the 2009 window, he splashed £45m on five players, an amount which was only exceeded by “more money than Croesus” Manchester City.

In the past, Redknapp has argued that he should not be blamed for this “hey, big spender” approach to football management, as it was financed by the (stupid) owners. It was not his fault if they wanted to “live the dream” and funded his acquisitions accordingly. Tough luck if those dreams ended up being of the shattered variety. The money side of the game was “nuffink” to do with him. So, logically, you cannot expect Redknapp to be sympathetic about what has happened to the clubs he left behind. It’s probably just a coincidence.

"Shiny Happy People"

Whatever the reason, it’s a veritable trail of destruction for Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton and Portsmouth, but Redknapp has stated that he does not feel responsible for the financial problems that have troubled these clubs after his departure. Bournemouth were forced into administration, suffering points deductions two seasons in a row. West Ham have undergone two changes of ownership with the recent deal with the porn barons narrowly avoiding a fire sale. Southampton suffered a similar fate, entering administration and struggling to make the payroll before being sold to a Swiss consortium. Portsmouth are perhaps in the most serious economic difficulties with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs presenting the club with a winding-up order and they have become a laughing stock as they seek investment from anyone that sounds like a wealthy Arab: Sheikh Your-Money-Maker, Sheikh It-All-About, Sheikh Rattle-And-Roll and even Sheikh n-Vac.

And what do these clubs have in common? They’ve all been saddled with a crippling wage bill for the footballing equivalent of prima donnas, lame ducks and assorted waifs and strays. If ever anybody had done his utmost to provide an unbeatable argument for a salary cap or at least a rule to limit wages as a proportion of turnover, that man would be Harry Redknapp.

Financial disaster has yet to hit Spurs, but with Jonah as their manager, it’s surely only a matter of time given his perfect record in ruining a club’s balance sheet - unless chairman Daniel Levy can keep him on a tighter leash than usual. Tottenham are already trading at a loss if you exclude player sales and I think that the days of persuading bigger clubs to spunk their money on the likes of Berbatov and Keane are long gone.

"Shirty Harry"

Droopy’s modus operandi has become horribly familiar over the years. First, you crank up the transfer merry-go-round, moving out large numbers of the existing squad, only to replace them with your own tried-and-trusted bunch of mercenaries (Pascal Chimbonda anyone?). Next, and this is crucial, you highlight how astute your transfer dealing is, for example hailing West Ham’s purchase of Liverpool’s misfiring forward Titi Camara as a coup: “I’ve got a £10m striker for £1.5m”, while conveniently forgetting to mention the ridiculously inflated salaries that are used to tempt the players into joining a second-rate team.

At a later date, you also overlook how these bargain buys actually perform on the pitch, so Camara’s record of no goals in eleven appearances for West Ham will never be discussed. The team might do well for a while, but sooner or later they will suffer from the gigantic increase in running costs and the associated rise in debt levels, and then the walls come tumbling down.

Redknapp started as he meant to go on in his first managerial role at Bournemouth, when he traded players like a South Coast version of Arthur Daley, increasing the debt from £150k in 1987 to £2.6m in 1992 (enormous for a club at this level in the early 90s). Although he made a small profit on the transfers, he drove up the salaries to a level that was to prove unsustainable. A financial advisor commented, “There was a degree of irresponsibility in his actions. It has developed into the mess we are now trying desperately to resolve.”


Given their precarious position, Redknapp’s activities at Portsmouth are also worth reviewing, as he effectively gambled the club’s future by gathering together a large squad of over-paid players. As an example, he wasted £13m on the totally unproductive forward line of John Utaka, the club’s record signing at £7m, and David Nugent, a snip at just £6m. When they were signed, Redknapp boasted, “I’m delighted with the pair of them. They will give us an awful lot up front.” At least, he was right about the awful bit, as Nugent has been loaned to Burnley after scoring a pathetic three goals, while Utaka is still a long way from reaching double figures after over fifty appearances.

Utaka is a perfect example of how Redknapp’s “strategy” damages a club, as he is paid a quite unbelievable £80,000 a week, which means that his total cost over his four-year contract is a staggering £23.6m. At his current rate of scoring, that will work out to something like £2.5m for every goal. Signings like these took Portsmouth’s annual wage bill to nearly £55m, which is around 90% of the club’s turnover (according to an investigation by the News of the World).

"Happy Harry"

As the respected former Tottenham manager David Pleat commented, “Some of the have-nots have been absolutely stupid, like Portsmouth, and have just paid for what they consider assets in the pursuit of short-term glory. A lot of clubs are loaded with players on high salaries who they would have massive problems manoeuvring to other clubs.” These costs are often funded by the club taking out loans, borrowing money against future income, sometimes with the stadium as collateral, which can be highly risky if the projected revenue stream (normally from television) does not materialise, e.g. if the club is relegated.

While Redknapp should be given credit for developing the likes of Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Joe Cole at West Ham, his policy is normally to buy a new player or twenty, rather than coax the best of his existing team. He has denied this, “Sometimes you get unfairly labeled in this game. I’m supposed to be a wheeler dealer, but I understand the game and maybe I don’t always get credit for that.”

It is hard not consider him a bit of a barrow boy, when he launches into his standard transfer spiel, “We’re down to the bare bones and desperately need new players.” This is usually accompanied by numerous public shows of admiration for the target with plenty of “nudge, nudge, wink, wink”, but obviously no, absolutely no tapping up. His reputation for being able to spot a player is also far from perfect, as West Ham fans would surely agree, when considering expensive flops like Marco Boogers, Ilie Dumitrescu and Florin Raducioiu, whose displays Redknapp himself described as “worth about two bob.”

"Big Mouth Strikes Again"

Possibly those who consider Redknapp a cheque-book manager are thinking of the 44 players he brought in during his first 30-month spell at Portsmouth or maybe they remember the 134 transfers he was involved in at West Ham, prompting Chairman Terry Brown to ask, “What’s Harry up to?” Fair question, given that Redknapp had thundered, “The day I would want to leave West Ham is the day we start wanting to sell the Ferdinands, the Lampards and all them”, a few short months before accepting Ferdinand’s transfer to Leeds, possibly comforted by the £300,000 bonus he himself received for the deal. This was apparently on the condition that he did not use the Ferdinand funds on transfers, which he subsequently ignored, buying just the ten players.

Imagine what managers like Harry Redknapp would have to do without the transfer window. If they weren’t able to reach into the owner’s wallet so easily, then they would have to stand or fall on their ability to coach, the quality of their preparation and the ingenuity of their tactics. At least that would give Redknapp the opportunity to make use of his enormous back-room staff. I confess to having lost track of how many coaches Spurs have now, but I believe that the lengthy list includes Kevin Bond (more of him later), Joe Jordan, Tim Sherwood, Clive Allen and Les Ferdinand. Maybe that’s why journalists are always talking about their strong bench, as they would certainly need one for that lot – especially if Tom Huddlestone is among the subs.

"All by myself"

If ever a film were made about Redknapp, it would probably focus on another aspect of his colourful career, namely the many accusations of corruption. They could call it “When Harry Met Money” or possibly “Dirty Harry”. Of course, our crafty Cockney has never been found guilty of anything and he is innocent until proven otherwise, but some malicious folk will still mutter, “no smoke without fire”. For the record, three allegations have been widely reported.

Back in September 2006, the BBC’s “Panorama” investigated football corruption, including a video of “Readies” appearing to express an interest in approaching a player illegally, though our hero told the BBC that he had never taken a bung and considered himself to be “one million percent innocent.” His assistant manager at Portsmouth, Kevin Bond, was accused in the same programme of receiving payments, which provoked him into taking legal action against the BBC. However, the corporation stood its ground, only for Bond to mysteriously drop the case just before the hearing was about to start. Nobody knows the reason for this volte-face, which seems particularly strange after all the legal costs he had incurred, but those interested in an answer could always contact Mr. Bond at Tottenham Hotspur, where he has once again been re-united with his old mucker, Harry Redknapp.

"Happy days are here again"

Along with four others, including Portsmouth Managing Director, Peter Storrie, and former Chairman, Milan Mandaric, Redknapp was actually arrested in November 2007 on allegations of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting, though he was later released without charge. With his customary chutzpah, Redknapp bizarrely claimed that being arrested somehow proved his innocence, “I’ve been answering questions to help the police. I am not directly concerned with their enquiries. They have to arrest you to talk to you, for you to be in the police station. I think that’s the end of it.”

So, imagine Redknapp’s astonishment this month, when he was informed that he would be charged with two counts of cheating the public revenue following a lengthy investigation by HMRC. This focused on allegations of unpaid tax relating to an offshore payment made to Redknapp by Mandaric. Liverpool fans greeted this announcement with their legendary Scouse wit, “You’re being taxed in the morning”, though it is not known whether the Anfield DJ played the Beatles’ classic “Taxman” during the half-time break. Whether or not Redknapp is guilty as charged, there is a moral issue about this payment, as it was apparently linked to a bonus scheme where Redknapp was given 5-10% of any profits from transfers, but it surely cannot be right to incentivise your manager to sell your best players (assets).

"Hurry Up, Harry"

There’s also a nasty smell about the strange betting patterns on Betfair prior to Redknapp’s appointment at Portsmouth, following his short-lived tenure at Southampton. An incredible £16.5m was traded on the exchange before Redknapp’s surprising return to his “spiritual home” was announced. This was obviously nothing to do with Redknapp, but eyebrows were raised.

This was just one of the many moves that Redknapp has made that have caused accusations of disloyalty. Of course, people change jobs all the time, but they don’t always profess undying loyalty before exiting stage left shortly afterwards. When he first walked out on Portsmouth, claiming that he needed a break from football, he told a reporter that he would not join their arch rivals Southampton, “I will not go down the road, no chance”, but was appointed their manager two weeks later. Similarly, when he was asked about rumours that he might quit Southampton, following the hiring of Sir Clive Woodward, England’s Rugby World Cup winning coach, as Technical Director, he boomed, “If I wanted to walk out, I would have gone in the summer”, only to resign a few weeks later. Most revoltingly, he never stopped telling people that he would stay at Portsmouth:

“Any unfulfilled dreams I have left in football can be achieved here. I turned down two exceptional offers in the last twelve months and that was a clear indication of where my heart and mind was.”

"It wouldn’t make an ounce of difference who came in for me now. This is where I belong and this is where I want to finish.”

“It would have been easy to walk away in the past year and I don’t think anyone would have had any real complaints. But, as tempting as the offers were, I couldn’t have lived with myself. There would have been a massive sense of betrayal.”

"Fans' Favourite"

Well that’s cleared that up – except that five months later, Redknapp jumped ship and headed off to Tottenham, leaving Portsmouth’s number one fan (and annoying bell ringer) John Westwood to sum up the fans’ feelings, “Every fan feels let down. When he came back from Southampton he said how much he loved the club and this would be his last job. Yet again he’s stabbed us all in the back and left us in the lurch.”

People should not be too surprised; after all, this is the man who has no compunction about rubbishing his managerial colleagues. After he returned to Portsmouth, he complained that his predecessor had left him with a useless squad, “Look what I have to work with. Some of the guys don’t even speak English. It’s ridiculous.”

Never mind his own chequered history with foreign imports, “Samassi Abou don’t speak the English too good”. When he arrived at Tottenham, he lost little time in whipping out the traditional self-serving script, “This is a football club that has been put together by I don’t know who and I don’t know how. It is a mish-mash of players. It’s scary.” And he might just have mentioned on a couple of occasions that when he took over Spurs only had two points from their first eight games …

"Blow football"

Forget other managers, what about his celebrated man management? The proverbial “arm around the shoulder” was by all accounts the main inspiration for the Spurs revival, as Harry explained, “I have just got to know them, talked to them and encouraged them.” However, not everyone at Spurs has been singing “Kumbaya” around the camp fire with Roman Pavlyuchenko complaining that Redknapp was “mocking him”, while Sunderland’s Darren Bent was understandably miffed when his manager joked that his “missus could have scored” after he had squandered an easy chance, “Even last year when I was the club’s top scorer, I never actually felt wanted.”

Nor does Redknapp appear to be in full control of his team. Apart from David Bentley’s drink driving and Ledley King’s alleged assault, his decision to not allow his team to hold a Christmas party was ignored, as the majority of his first team squad simply flew to Dublin where they went clubbing late into the night. Of course, it must be fairly difficult to take a moral line when you’re frequently in the headlines for corruption charges. That sort of undermines your authority.

One thing that football managers demand is consistency, whether it be from their players or referees, but this is a concept that has frequently challenged Redknapp. Having previously claimed that he was a “big Arsenal fan as a kid”, he altered his stance when he moved to White Hart Lane, “I followed Tottenham”. He tends to sway with the wind, so when John Hartson kicked team-mate Eyal Berkovic in the head during training, he initially dismissed the incident, “it was nothing”, before bowing to public opinion, “what he did was totally out of order, absolutely terrible.” This is one man who can “handle the truth”.

"Taxing times"

Given the tests posed by his Del Boy character, you would have thought that his lengthy career as a football manager must be justified by many great accomplishments, but in fact he has been no more successful than Peckham’s finest market trader, winning just one trophy of significance (the FA Cup) in nearly thirty years – and he virtually bankrupted Portsmouth in doing so.

He was described as Harry Houdini when he “miraculously” steered Portsmouth away from relegation, but this reputation does not really stand up to close scrutiny, as he was unable to keep Southampton in the Premier League, ending their 27-year spell in the top flight. Moreover, Portsmouth were in 16th place when Redknapp arrived and actually finished one place lower. The immediate response to Redknapp’s appointment was nine defeats in ten games, before a fine run saved them, largely thanks to significant investment from the new owner, Sasha Gaydamak, and a favourable fixture list (with two teams fielding reserve sides in advance of important FA Cup matches). In reality, Redknapp’s record was only marginally better than his much-maligned predecessor, Alain Perrin.

Of course, Redknapp is a darling of the media with his down-to-earth, “apples and pairs”, lovable rogue persona, so he invariably gets a good press, even if his managerial style is extremely predictable, as summarised in this glorious flowchart:

The newspapers also don’t appear overly concerned about the way he manipulates them, such as when he returned to Fratton Park with Spurs. Before the game, his concerns about his likely reception were quoted every day: “If people are stupid enough to shout abuse when I go back, they need their heads looking at”; “I know some idiots will try to have a go”; “The phone calls hurt. They were from sickos. People said ‘I hope you get cancer’. They are not human beings.” After the game, without a trace of irony, he stated, “The fans were as good as gold. Absolutely lovely. It all just got hyped up out of nothing.”

This is clearly a man without shame, as anyone who has had the misfortune to witness the Redknapp family’s Wii advert will attest, though this is nowhere near as bad as the hideously tacky Thomas Cook ad featuring Jamie and Louise, which has set a new low that will surely never be beaten (“We dream about it” – oh, just do one, you tight-trousered buffoon and take your has-been wife with you).

"The apple doesn't fall far from the tree"

Harry Redknapp has achieved relatively little in football, yet receives far more credit than he deserves. He is a sneaky, disloyal, feeble excuse for a manager, who appears to be motivated more by money than results. As he infamously said, possibly when taking in the ocean view from his palatial property in Sandbanks, “At the end of the day, no one gives a monkey’s about you once your career’s over, so in my view you should make the bucks while you can.” This is one manager for whom money is never too tight to mention.


  1. Superb article, moosh, and well researched. Why aren't the press dogs screaming all of this from the rooftops. Just what hold has he got over them all?

  2. very informative and entertaining read, especially liked the flow diagram. So much so I've bookmarked your blogs, look forward to more of the same in the future.

  3. Do you even have a job?

    I like to think I'm pretty well informed and can churn out stuff with just enough substance to make the rhetoric stick... but your targets are precise, your research impressive in both extent and accuracy and the analysis unfailingly cogent and well balanced. The prose is concise, natural and readable. Other blogs seem hopelessly amateurish. I'd say the same for the journalistic professionals but I suppose we have to allow for the inherent editorial constraints and politics they must negotiate.

    BTW, did you catch Harry's latest grotesque soundbite?

    'Football fans don’t care. The players don’t care. Saddam Hussein could own your football club and, if he’s putting millions into it, they’ll be quite happy. They’ll be singing: “There’s only one Saddam”.

    'I’ve seen it all before. They don’t care if you’re putting the money in.’

    I can't decide if this amounts to a reflection of a profoundly cynical character, or a breathtaking display of hypocrisy. Not that the two need be mutually exclusive in Harry's case.

  4. @wizzballs,

    Thanks. I'm "between jobs" at the moment, so just keeping my mind sharp with the blog. As you imply, each article requires a lot of research, as that's the way I work.

    Thanks for that Harry quote - perfectly sums up his attitude.

  5. er, can you show me a source for the Harry quote? I'm near certain you've made that up. In fact I'm certain of it. Destroys the credibility of an otherwise decent blog.

  6. @Anonymous (11:42),

    Let me know which quote you mean and I'll provide the reference. I don't make quotes up.

    If it's the one about "making bucks while you can" in the final paragraph, that's from Tom Bower's "Broken Dreams", a book about the "vanity, greed and the souring of British football", which dedicates an entire chapter to Harry Redknapp.

  7. SR I enjoyed you contribution to the Guardian podcast (I think this was you anyway) the other day and I found your article on Celtic's finances informative. I like the writing on your blog and now that I've found it I will keep checking in. But...

    I'm a bit disappointed by this article. You clearly don't like the guy - and I don't fault you for that. However just as any profile that omits 'Arry's very obvious flaws is very obviously flawed, one that says he is a 'feeble excuse' as a manager and gives him little or no credit whatsoever is over the top. Even if it was written in January!

    I'm a Spurs fan so open to accusations of bias, but as it happens I disliked Redknapp when appointed and I still think he's a "bit" of a questionable character, to put it mildly.

    When he arrived though, I thought it was a good appointment from a footballing perspective. CL qualification hasn't changed my mind.

    I also think that one of the things to Redknapp's credit is his willingness to 'call out' fan behaviour. You put a disapproving slant on his comments about fans (or his media spin afterwards, anyway) but I think that his attitude on this topic is to be commended. As a Tottenham fan who would like his fellow fans to just chill out a bit more about Sol Campbell (perhaps we finally are), I actually think it's good that Redknapp will speak out about behaviour that wouldn’t be tolerated in any other walk of life.

    Like I say, I'm under no illusions about him - which is perhaps why I'm a bit disappointed with this article. I'd like to see the warts n all article about the man that this so nearly is. Unfortunately, I think you focus on the warts exclusively. There is a bit more to him than that.

  8. @oooog,

    Thanks. Yes, that was me on the Football Weekly podcast.

    I do take your point, but felt that this article was more of a counter-argument to the very positive press that Redknapp normally receives, so did not think it necessary to present the pluses.

    There's no doubt that he has had some success, not least the Champions League qualification that you mentioned, but I don't think he's anywhere near as good as some of the true managerial greats.

    Anyway, I've now decided to focus on writing about football finances, as that subject is a lot less contentious ;-)

  9. Fair enough. I certainly don't put him in the true managerial great category either! I do wonder about his 'positive press' though. Maybe it's because I avoid the tabloids, but I think his press is distinctly mixed!

    Anyway - I'm looking forward to reading about Tottenham's finances, if you haven't already - still catching up.

  10. This is my favorite piece here so far, brilliant research and great humor. My hat goes off to you sir!

  11. Considering Harry doesn't control finances it's an awful writeup. It's the chairman/boards decision to sort the financial side of things out.

    West Ham made huge amounts of money on Lampard, Rio Ferdinand after Harry left, then got themselves into debt several years later. They had the fourth highest wage bill for 4 years straight, without nothing to show for it. Redknapp had left them many years before that.

    Portsmouth sold over 130m in players towards the end, more than they paid for them. So again this is pretty inaccurate

    Again I forget to see where a manager controls finances at a club.

  12. @Anonymous (7:41),

    You might want to check your facts. Rio Ferdinand was sold to Leeds in November 2000, six months before Redknapp was sacked in May 2001, as I outlined above, and only a short while after Redknapp promised hew wouldn't be sold.

    You can find all the details about Redknapp's time at West Ham in Tom Bower's excellent, but ultimately depressing book, "Broken Dreams", sub-titled "vanity, greed and the souring of British football."

    Your point about money made on transfers is incredibly naive. As I tried to explain, the wage bill is also critically important to a club's finances and this is what damaged Portsmouth so much.

    Of course, you are right to say that the various chairmen should have been stronger with their clubs' money, but to absolve Redknapp of any blame by saying that he doesn't control finances is absurd.

  13. Of course, Redknapp deserves blame, and there is a lot of bung-scented smoke around him. The Bower book makes that clear, though I think that Terrence Brown comes out of it very badly given his obvious failure to take responsibilty.

    But I think that it's unrealistic to see managers as not seeing it in their interest to get the wage bill up, given the correlation with league place, and the correlation between the best managers and big wage bills.

  14. This article smacks of biased. As does your views on Arsene Wenger and everything Arsenal.

    Would you blame Mancini or Mark Hughes if the arabs at City stopped funding their club and they went into financial meltdown? I wouldn't. They are/were tasked with achieiving success quickly and not are blessed with a twenty year plan like your love child Wenger.

    Gaydamak blueprint at Pompey was similar but obviously a smaller scale. They couldn't even afford Harry let alone the players he signed with the owner funding it. It's only thanks to his signings which you laughably label as "footballing equivalent of prima donnas, lame ducks and assorted waifs and strays" that pompey paid off some debts. The likes of Muntari, Defoe, Diarra and Jonhnson all left for far more than what Pompey paid. It wasn't reckless spending for the sake of it. They all served a purpose in what was a very successful side. They suffered financially when the owner couldn't afford to sustain it anymore.

    Also you mention Bournemouth but Harry left that club 20 years ago and having been their most successful manager of all time. He lives in the area and they adore him there. Their financial difficulty is down to them, like most lower leagues, being in the lower leagues. You don't know anything about football in the lower leagues.

    You also mention west ham who Harry led to their joint highest ever premier league finish of 5th and europe. They also were never relegated under him and he ushered through a succession of talented youngsters (err a bit like your god wenger). Their financial issues started with the man they called the Egg who stadled the club with sky high wages and thanks to bad football management, rubbish players with no sell on value. They even paid off a lot of them to stop playing for them. In addition thanks to the collapse of the icelandic banks, their owners suffered and they went into trouble. Again nothing to do with Harry.

    You also mention Southampton which is just stupid as he was appointed too late to save them from relegation and their finanical situation was down to them being relegated. You know a bit like all the other big clubs in the championship that used to be the PL. You would have seen that if you weren't so blatantly biased for Arsenal.

    Yes you research to great detail but you've allowed your Arsene Wenger/Arsenal favourtism to cloud your judgement. Thus leaving a thoroughly disappointed read.

  15. @Anonymous (8:17),

    You're obviously entitled to your opinion (as indeed I am), but the pedant in me can't resist pointing out that your first sentence is grammatically incorrect, while your second is factually inaccurate. That said, your level of superficial knowledge is quite impressive.

  16. Whilst your level of self-acclaimed facts are poor.

    Glad to see you tried to cover up your biased towards Arsenal with a positive article on Tottenham. Instead of focussing on Harry's game or indeed my grammar (pathetic slur), why don't you focus on watching an actual game.

  17. @Anonymous (4:34),

    This piece was written nearly a year ago, so I would suggest that you're the one focusing on it rather than me, but I fear that the logic would elude you. However, in the spirit of reconciliation, please allow me to inform you that the noun you're looking for is "bias", not "biased", which is an adjective.

  18. A great article that spells out clearly the potential benefits of reaching the latter stages of the Champions League. I would be interested to know where the 30 million euro that would result from winning the competition comes from – is this indirectly via Ford, Continental and all those other sponsors (as well as television revenues)?

    “Profits from operations excluding player trading”. Whatever next? A publishing company to declare profits from operations excluding paper, print, binding and wages. Ludicrous! Plus, the fact that they are even allowed to quote the figures before tax shows how warped the world of business is, as are the predictably high returns for Levy and Collecott.

    Your listing the net transfer spend of £27 million is most appropriately placed next to a photo to Mr. Harry Redknapp: Portsmouth fans will be familiar with this “transfer fees don’t count” attitude as well as his generosity with the wage bill (someone I know knew someone who knew him and confirms that he’s a very gregarious man and genuinely popular). The fact that they have spent less on salaries than the traditional Big 4 + Man City is nothing to shout about.

    £300 million a year for naming rights to the new stadium? Anyone fancy it?

    That a loss of £7 million can be viewed as good performance is stark when all Plymouth Argyle need to ward off HMRC is to cough up a tenth of that.

  19. Only just found this and a good article that just says what many have known for years. However I do have some sympathy with the line that chairmen and directors also bear responsibility. As an example look at West Brom. One of the very few clubs with sound finances, run by an accountant and, I suspect, Harry Redknapp would be run out of the ground if he tried to get into the visitors changing room never mind onto the staff. If West Brom can buy the likes of Odemwingie for £1-2m and get him within their salary structure you have got to wonder how much more there is to some of the Redknapp deals.


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