With the credit crunch and the ever increasing debt in football, this summer looks set to be filled with a lot of high profile club buyouts. West Ham have recently been taken over by CB Holdings and Portsmouth and Newcastle look set to be the next clubs to be taken over in the English game. However, could these potential club changing decisions actually end up being worse in the long run than good?
Portsmouth’s expected takeover by Dr Sulaiman Al Fahim is one of the summer takeovers that could all end up in disaster. Al Fahim helped in the purchase of Manchester City last year and is the figure head again in the bid to buy Portmouth from Alexander Gaydamak. The deal will releave Portsmouth of their reported dire financial position and allow them to progress once again into Europe.
However, the timing of this purchase seems to be against Portsmouth with several key players out of contract at the end of last season. These players including Sol Campbell, Hermann Hreidarsson, Kanu and Sean Davis. All of whom were vital in their attempt to fight off relegation, but with the club unwilling to offer new contracts to players until the takeover has been completed how long will these players wait before they accept a deal at another club?
To add to Pompey’s problems Glen Johnson is expected to move to Liverpool, along with a cut price Sylvain Distan and Peter Crouch not wanting to commit himself to Portsmouth next season until the situation at the minute has been resolved and he gets answers.
If these players were to leave and look to play football elsewhere Portsmouth would be very short on numbers and would need to start desperately looking for players to balance the outgoings. You could argue that the older players wouldn’t be that hard to replace, but that’s fine if you’re letting only a couple go but Portsmouth are letting almost a whole squad go. With a total 18 players from the youth to the first team out of contract, no pernament manager and a new stadium to pay for, Portsmouth could be in for a whole lot of trouble next season and could halt their progress as a club.
The takeover is expected to go through before the start of the Transfer Window on July 1st (although Fahim’s people say that it could go into July as well), which gives Portsmouth time to replace the player, but a manager would want to bring in his own signings to the club and if the new owners decide to look to someone else and not Paul Hart, and don’t already have someone lined up, then they could miss the opening couple of weeks of the transfer window.
Then you have to consider the type of players they’d need to look at to bring in, players like Matthew Upson would be unlikely to want to take a sideways step and Miguel also unlikely to choose Portsmouth over a team in Europe in Aston Villa. In the end Pompey may have to look to Championship players and unknown foreign players who would take time to settle and to perform in the Premiership.
Stability at West Ham
Another club with a question mark over their head still is West Ham. Their recent buyout by CB Holdings is supposed to be the end of their financial trouble and no longer need to look to sell players in order to buy. However, when you look at the deal more closely you see a lot still hasn’t changed. CB Holdings is just another branch of Straumer, the previous owners of West Ham.
The difference being that CB Holdings is now completely owned by the Icelandic Government after being nationalized. Previous owner Björgólfur Guðmundsson was the owner of Straumer and by the end of his tenure as West Ham chairman, was supposed to be upto £300 million in debt. CB Holdings may not be as much in debt as Guðmundsson was but they still have debt associated with their name, but it gives the Hammers some breathing room.
With the signing of Jiminez expected to be completed later this week West Ham at least have a leg to stand on when coping with the debt, with valuable players, an almost packed staidum and a youth system always producing good players. They may not have to sell players this summer but next summer is a different story.
Newcastle United in disarray
Third on the list of high profile takeovers is Newcastle United. It’s no secret Mike Ashley wants to sell and he’s given the fans every reason for why he should sell. Singapore-based Profitable Group has confirmed its interest in launching a takeover bid for Newcastle in an expected £100 million purchase. By all acounts this is good news for Newcastle fans and the club in general, they can finally look for some stability in the club which could’ve helped them last season.
However, again the timings seem to be against Newcastle and the team. Mike Ashley will be looking to make as much money out of the club as he can after accepting a £34.4 million loss on what he paid for the club, and with the entire Newcastle team up for sale he is sure to look to this in order to fund the loss he made.
This could end up being another bad decision though, Mike Ashley doesn’t want to appoint a new manager until a deal is sorted so they can bring in their own manager, and without a manager there’s no one out there looking to replace players that Mike Ashley is selling and by the time a deal is sorted and a manager is put in place it could be too close to the start of the season to bring in anyone in the hope of boucning straight back up. Newcastle could end up in the position Leeds are in in a few years time if they don’t sort of areas of the squad quickly.
No one knows what to expect from a club after a takeover deal has been put in place. It could end up being the best thing for the club, as in Aston Villa and Randy Lerner, or the worst thing the club could do, as in Newcastle and Mike Ashley. The recession is biting into clubs hard, with many League 1 clubs and below supposed to be dangerously close to administration. Darlington being the first club to show signs of the recession at the end of last season.
Takeovers will come thick and fast over the next couple of years as owners look to cut their loses and run, and clubs as a result may end up going backwards rather than forwards as a result.