Monday, 25 January 2010

Politicians watch no.2

"Gordon, I've got these bonds I need to shift...."
"Funny you should say that Alex...."

So there you are, waiting for a major politician to step in and apply themselves to the debt crisis in English football when suddenly the Prime Minister himself gets involved.

At his No. 10 press conference the PM, when questioned by lifelong red, Newsnight Political Editor and mercilessly effective biographer Michael Crick (himself nudged into it by a certain Red Issue Sanctuary agitator) had this to say:

"There is an issue here for football supporters, that over the last few years a number of football clubs have become highly leveraged and therefore they have far higher levels of debt than the income they are able to generate from the footballing activities and the television activities,"

Now for some clubs that is no doubt true, but for United (and Liverpool), the real issue is debt piled on by leveraged buyouts and the subsequent asset stripping.  Gordon Brown went on:

"Of course, in many cases there are very simple ways that they can deal with these problems. In other cases, football clubs don't have the income that is necessary to deal with the leverage that they have.

The Prime Minister didn't expand on these "very simple ways" to "deal with these problems".  Perhaps this is where the asset stripping comes in.  Don't worry about those horrible PIKs, the Glazers will have pillaged enough from the club to pay them off in a few years.  Problem solved.  Anyway, there was more:

"But this is an issue and it's an issue football clubs are facing and it's a worry to supporters and I think the management of football clubs have got to look very seriously at their responsibilities to their supporters, that they have high levels of income from the supporters but the debt levels have been at a leverage level that is too high."

Quite.  Sentiments we can all agree with, but if the management of the club you support doesn't just not "look seriously at their responsibilities to their supporters" but puts in place a mechanism to cream off 50% of the profits that the "high levels of income from supporters" generate, what happens then?  Could someone in charge do something?

"It's an issue for the clubs themselves, they have got to deal with this issue."

Oh dear.  Well it was all going so well wasn't it?  Haven't we learned that letting industries prone to excessive debt and greed and that impact the lives of millions, regulate themselves isn't always the best idea?
Now I know the problems of professional football clubs doesn't compare to the banking crisis in either impact or importance.  What I do know however, is that the mindset that allows rich men to dazzle politicians into leaving well alone is just the same and just as wrong.