Sunday, May 28, 2017

English clubs need better checks on prospective new owners

Leyton Orient owner Francesco Becchetti has led the O’s to ruin

English football seems to be full of very shady characters and I am not just talking about the ones that run around on the pitch.

The English game seems to have attracted the sort of club owners that just want to take from clubs and not give anything back.

Blackburn Rovers and Leyton Orient are fine examples of how these supposedly rich owners have come into clubs and ruined them.

Venkys have led Rovers to the third tier

Right from the very second the Venkys were involved with Blackburn Rovers the group seemed to be bad news. Rovers have gone from the Premier League to playing their football in League One under the current regime in seven years.

The Rovers owners seemed to care little for football. They give the impression that they just want to use the club to promote their chicken business. The fact that Blackburn have fallen so far in such a short time tells its own story.

The club have had little investment from the group. The whole club seems to have fallen apart under the Venkys management. Poor decisions from the top have led to Rovers becoming the first ever Premier League champions to be relegated to the third tier.

This was after they became the first ever to be relegated to the Championship. Its bad times for Blackburn, but they have it good compared to some other clubs.

Leyton Orient in an even worse state

Leyton Orient are a crisis club and make Blackburn’s situation look rosy. Not only have the club dropped out of the football league they are also in financial crisis.

According to Sky Sports, the club could be facing a winding up order debts of £18,600 after stewarding company Centre Circle Event Management Ltd applied for the order.

Owner Francesco Becchetti was recently hit with a tax bill of around £250,000, which he is believed to have paid. As I understand it the Orient owner has promised to settle all the clubs debts with a cash injection of £1million.

Reportedly the money has yet to materialise. The Italian made his money from waste disposal, but it seems it is Orient who are now in the mire. Becchetti bought the club in 2014 from Barry Hearn and has gone through 11 bosses during his tenure.

At one point the owner had disappeared and had not paid the players and staff for two months. He has created a major mess at a historic club. At least the Italian is now attempting to do the decent thing. He is in the process of selling the club to hopefully somebody that actually gives a damn about it.

Becchetti is the poster boy of bad owners. He does not seem to have overextended himself financially but seems to not give a hoot about the club he owns. This has a massive effect on everybody connected with the club.

A football club can be a major part of a community and supply jobs to a whole host of people. Even the players are not high earners at that level and still have to pay their bills.

FA need better checks on new owners

In short, these sorts of owners need to be eradicated from our game. As far as I know the FA do have a ‘fit and proper’ owner test. There is obviously something going wrong with that test, as English football is littered with awful owners.

Orient and Blackburn are just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to owners who have bought clubs and have run them terribly. Fans of likes of the Nottingham Forest, Charlton, Blackpool and Leeds would all have legitimate questions of their owners too.

At least Leeds now seem to be going in the right direction. However, much of the credit for their improvement needs to go to boss Garry Monk.

Until the FA do more thorough checks on prospective owners English clubs will continue to be vulnerable to insidious owners, who believe that they can somehow benefit from fleecing the club they buy into and ruined lives.

Would more thorough checks on owners prevent more clubs heading into meltdown?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The 33-year-old has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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