Money, money, money
During Nigel Clough’s post-match interview on Radio Derby, he was pressed by Colin Gibson about Derby’s transfer kitty. Like a dog with a bone, Gibbo refused to accept Clough’s diplomatic answers and kept pressing on, comparing our spending to how much Forest and Leicester were spending. It’s a common complaint amongst some fans and Radio Derby seem to beat the drum on this one; pre-Millwall they also discussed “should a club like Derby be able to afford a £2m player?”.
Gibson is a massive Rams fan and a knowledgeable bloke, so I was surprised with his line of attack. It’s been well documented that Forest have been subsidised to the tune of £5m a year for the last decade (£12m last year), whilst Leicester’s budget has seen them employ one of the world’s most famous managers and pay a rumoured £35k a week for Yakubu. Derby’s current owners have never promised to do that.
Another line is always “we get the biggest crowds in the league”. Okay, lets look at the top 3 crowd-pullers in the division: Leeds; us; then Norwich. Leeds have recently signed George McCartney on loan from Sunderland, saying that the FA Cup money has allowed them to do this. Norwich’s last signing was a 31 year-old from MK Dons (although the chairman is talking of a calculated gamble on promotion – just in case they spend a load soon!) Having a few thousand extra fans doesn’t mean you can spend millions on players. The only thing that does is someone simply giving you cash, as with Forest, Leicester and Hull.
Stories of Bristol City, Watford and Sheffield United all posting losses of over £10m shows that you don’t have to go crazy to rack up huge debts. The concept of “investment” in football is a bit of a myth as it’s difficult to ever take the money back. You may be lucky and sell the club on (e.g. Madaric or Shinawatra) or you might just have to write off all or part of your investment (Liverpool, West Ham, Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Newcastle…very long list).
What you need is someone to actually give you money a la Lionel Pickering. The crazy thing is that fans (of all clubs, not just Derby) actually expect someone to routinely come along and do this. The penny is starting to drop for many clubs and we’ve had several emails at ramspace from people saying that the Rams are two years ahead of most clubs on this. The problem is, just like the economy, its more fun when you’re throwing money around (not a sign of political approval by the way, I’m being shafted by the Con-Dem-Nation).
If the board left tomorrow, they would probably be the first owners in my living memory not to have left a financial car-crash behind them. The GSE ownership is slightly different as we are not any one individuals plaything or vanity project. We are being run like a business with all the constraints of a business not wanting to lose money. It probably sounds like I’m preaching on behalf of the board here – I’m not. It would be great if they decided to boost the transfer kitty and it hurts to see Forest throwing cash around. We’re metaphorically having to stay in on a Saturday night, whilst the Red Dog’s are maxing-out someone else’s credit card. It’s not fair but that’s life. Maybe you have a few million spare Gibson? Thought not.