Money, Moany, Money, Guest Blog by Duncan Edwards

We’re obsessed with money.
Us. The fans. Whenever we consider the club’s future, it is the first consideration; not so much a stumbling block but a bloody great monolith deliberately trying to kick our legs away.
Or so folk would have you believe.
Let’s not do ten step-overs when we could just get the ball in; Delia and Michael are among the least wealthy owners in the top two flights of English Football. It isn’t a secret, it’s well publicised and a hefty percentage of our fan base see it as the primary reason we aren’t an established top flight club.
How true is that though?
I hear that they can’t compete with the influx of overseas finance, that our team is being left behind by bankrolled behemoths and that a lifetime languishing in lower league football is the best we can hope for unless we encourage our well meaning paupers out the door. New owners, new investment, new impetus.
Except, surely that’s bollocks, isn’t it?
The obsession with money is ugly, not just around the Carra but everywhere. The scenes at the London Stadium for instance; shiny new stadium, loaded owners, Premier League Football…what’s not to like? Well, I guess the fact that the loaded owners ripped the heart out of the club by moving it from its spiritual home to a soulless athletics stadium. They were West Ham, Upton Park, no-go pubs for away fans around the ground, working class, ICF, eastenders and Essex boys. They definitely weren’t Stratford Olympic Rovers with some jolly nice shopping next door.
Of course, the motivation for the move? Money.
To the owners, a move of a mile or so to a bigger stadium, decent transport links while having the opportunity to develop the old ground all made sense. To the fans it has been like trying to swallow a hedgehog; it sticks in the throat.
They’re just one club though. For every club I list that’s had the “investment” and is in a state, it’s easy enough to just say Man City or Chelsea. This season Wolves would be a useful one for the financially focused to cite as they appear to be fast-tracking to the Premier League.
Yet, if you look at the Championship on its own, Delia is still poor.
Sunderland’s Mr Short is apparently worth £1bn. What good is that doing them? Birmingham have had the takeover and have owners worth £500m; and? Forest, Barnsley, Sheffield Utd, Sheffield Wednesday…bloody Ipswich….all with the megabucks that are apparently a pre-requisite to success and all are a rural 8 furlongs from achieving anything like we have in the last decade.
And that’s what doesn’t make sense to me.
People are telling me that we’re underperforming, the same people are telling me that we need “fresh” investment to compete, the same people are telling me that they won’t buy a bond because the board “pissed money up the wall”.
Well, hang you on a minute buh.
We’re sat comfortably mid-table in the Championship having made wholesale changes throughout the club. We win some, we draw some, we lose some. Now, it might not match our expectation levels but it IS, by definition, competitive. Having done this without the new owners and new money while plenty that have had it are below us in the table surely indicates that we (club, board and team) are performing at a level way above what we should rightfully expect?
If it really is all about money then we are like Prince William; seriously punching above our weight.
If money really is the most important factor; surely the obvious conclusion is that we are breaking the model and outperforming what should be expected; that the board is performing remarkably well.
If cash really is king, if investment provides the “difference”, why are some of our own fans so against the idea? The same fans that claim we need additional investment?
Here we have the club seeking external investment as has been a regular request for seasons. That request is coming from a club, board and team outperforming their place in the hierarchy that these fans set their standards by; wealth. The request also gives folk an opportunity to make a few quid (or lose it, admittedly).
But no, still the bleats continue:
“I pay for my season ticket, that should be enough.”
“Promotion bonus? We’ll never go up under this board”
“They said themselves they pissed money up the wall, why should the fans bail them out?”
“8th most expensive ticket in the country for dull football and now the begging bowl is out.”
Maybe it’s just a lack of understanding but somehow I doubt that it is.
The point of the bond, the point of seeking this external investment is to raise the finance to maintain a Cat1 academy. The nucleus of development, integral to the vision set out by Webber. With the finance raised like this, the cash to maintain the academy won’t have to come off the playing budget. That must be another positive, right?
I think so but there are plenty that remain unconvinced. Plenty that feel this money should come straight from the board (and presumably the other shareholders?) as some sort of penance for spending the entire Football budget in previous seasons. I’m not sure how that becomes a consideration? Are we suggesting that the money for Colney should have been held back or are we just being wise after the event and claiming the money should have been spent better?
Either way it seems that the stumbling block is the speech Webber made at the AGM. A speech that was critical of the previous regime. Our answer? Punish Webber and his plans for mistakes made by his predecessors. Brilliant. Presumably these folk also hold Cameron responsible for Blair going into Iraq? Of course not, that would be ridiculous. Quite.
See, the reality is that the same people against this bond are largely the same people that are against the board, and Delia Smith in particular, normally.
The same people that want new investment. The same people that “thank” her but claim she’s taken us as far as she can. The same people that claim she’s a “well meaning amateur” despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Here we have the club actively seeking outside investment just like these fans have been crying out for us to do for years. Their response? It’s a sign of financial mismanagement and ineptitude.
You couldn’t make it up.
It seems that outside investment is welcome and will be welcomed….as long as it’s somebody else’s money…