Latest Posts by Spielmacher 10
Decent piece from Chris Dunlavy in today's Football league Paper (albeit with a few inaccuracies):
As Oyston exits,EFL need to show mercy
"Owen Oyston's demise at Blackpool was swift, brutal and ruthlessly executed. No victory has ever tasted sweeter to England's most long-suffering supporters.
Ten years of neglect. Ten years of contempt. Ten years of petty litigation, puerile insults and shameless profiteering. All over in the time it takes to say 'You're fired'.
If only those supporters could have seen the 85-year-old's face when Blackpool's receivers kicked him out.
For the last decade, Oyston and his family ran the club as a cash cow and fiefdom, suing anybody who dared to criticise.
Even fans weren't immune. Just ask Frank Knight, the hard-up pensioner who was ordered to pay £20,000 over comments posted on Facebook. Thankfully a crowd-funding appeal covered the damage.
On the pitch, a succession of managers were handed budgets barely sufficient to fund a Sunday League side.
At one stage, former manager Gary Bowyer grew so dismayed at the state of Blackpool's training ground that he personally paid to hire a site in Preston.
Despite the protests, the relegations, the dwindling sponsorship, Oyston clung on, protected by the body-guards he hired to repel irate supporters and the impotence of EFL ownership regulations to remove him from post. He seemed untouchable.
But in November 2017, the shield evaporated. Sued for unfair prejudice by minority shareholder Valeri Belokon, a High Court judge publicly accused Oyston of 'illegitimately stripping' the club following promotion to the Premier League in 2009.
Some £26.7m was paid into businesses affiliated with the Oyston family - payments described by the judge as 'disguised dividends'.
Oyston was ordered to buy Belokon out for £31m. When he didn't, the courts appointed receivers to sell the club. Now, 31 years after he first seized control, the pimp-a-like tyrant is gone.
It is hard to overstate just what a joyous moment this is for Blackpool. With Oyston at the helm, the club was an abandoned ship, doomed to a bleak and ruinous drift before eventually crumbling to driftwood.
Whatever happens, the prevailing feeling amongst supporters is that any new owner cannot be worse - a case of anyone but the devil you know.
They are probably right, but a little circumspection wouldn't hurt.For a start, Receivers David Rubin & Partners have already hinted that the largest offer will be the most successful. Their goal, after all, is to get Belokon's money back.
Nevertheless, they have a moral and ethical duty to act in the interests of the club and their supporters.
The EFL, too, must use what limited discretion they have under the owners and directors' test to steer the club towards a suitable custodian. Finally, it is incumbent on Shaun Harvey and his board to waive the 12-point penalty normally imposed on clubs who enter receivership.
A points penalty is designed to mitigate against any competitive advantage a club gains by writing off debts - think Plymouth paying creditors less than 1p in the pound.
Yet it is Oyston himself who owes money to Belokon, not the football club. Other than ridding themselves of a parasitical owner, Blackpool aren't gaining any advantage, nor welching on any debts.
Receivership was a means to an end - an end that both the EFL and the wider football fraternity desired.
To dock points now would be tantamount to giving Oyston one last spiteful victory - and nobody should grant him that."
The EFL's fit-and-proper person test is failing in its purpose to save clubs from mismanagement, writes Katie Whyatt in today's Telegraph Sport:
"Bradford City fans have had precious little to celebrate this season, but the news that joint chairman Edin Rahic is expected to leave the club has at least provided a ray of light amid the gloom.
Rahic and his fellow German investor Stefan Rupp paid £5million for a 100 per cent buyout in 2015. Three years and five head coaches later, Bradford are bottom of League One, with the worst record of any club in the four professional divisions over the calendar year, and a return to League Two looking increasingly likely after their escape from the basement division six years earlier.
This remember, is a club who reached the 2013 League Cup final as a League Two team and were in the top flight as recently as 2001. Their rapid descent followed soon after, speeded by having maxed out every credit card going during their lads' holiday in the Premier League. There were two administrations during that time and they woke up in the bottom tier as all of us do after headier days: hung- over and terrified of checking their bank balance.
Bradford's annus horribilis in 2018 has played out like a grim tragicomedy, but they are far from the only former Premier League club to have fallen foul of a wildly unpopular owner.
Cautionary tales litter the English Football League and while the likes of Leeds United, Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City and Leyton Orient - the latter now all the way down in the National League - will be hoping their worse days are behind them, for others the battle wages on.
There are enough clubs who can stake bigger claims than Bradford to having been failed by the EFL, but the whole sorry saga again highlights the limits of the oft-maligned fit-and-proper person test. The test focuses on associations between clubs, disciplinary matters, criminality, company disqualifications and insolvency matters.
There is no assessment for competence or, aside from criminality, conduct. To an extent that is understandable, as what constitutes a bad owner will always be subjective, but that is of scant consolation to fans and, moreover, the employees at the heart of the storm in a club descending into calamity.
Who are football chairmen actually answerable to? Would an employee, at the bottom of the food chain in a club who have become the plaything of a rich, powerful oligarch ever feel protected enough or able to whistleblow should they feel compelled to?
The League Managers Association offers legal advice to football employees, but you can understand why, with so many seeking a route into the industry, those inside clubs would be scared to rock the boat.
That is a whole other issue that hovers outside the remit of the EFL's test. And this is a test that, let us not forget, is so stringent and rigorous it allowed Leeds' Massimo Cellino to slip the net. The EFL ultimately banned him three times, twice for evading tax and once for illegal payment to an unlicensed agent during the sale of Ross McCormack.
Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee, said last year the test is not fit for purpose and he wants to emulate the test used by Ofcom to award broadcasting licenses. Ofcom assesses applicants previous behaviour in business.
It is unclear if more robust legislation is the answer, but history has given us reason to doubt the test, in its current guise, is sufficient to protect clubs and those who work for them."
Not a particularly good article but strange that Blackpool don't get a mention. I think the media are getting bored with us.
Callum Guy is on loan from Derby so unfortunately not one of ours.
His loan deal becomes a permanent deal in January.
Today's Football league Paper:
Former teen star is one in a million
Liam Watson still remembers the headline in the Liverpool Echo when his pal Terry McPhillips was released by the Reds in 1987. "They called him 'The million pound striker that Kenny let go'," recalls the Southport boss. "That tells you how good he was back then."
Watson knew that better than anybody.Born a year apart, the pair first met when McPhillips - then aged nine - moved to the Sefton area of Liverpool after his prison officer father snagged a job at HMP Walton.
Originally from Manchester, but a boyhood Koppite, he'd won over the local kids with blistering displays of speed.
"He was a frightening player to come up against, even then," recalls Watson, who later played in the Football League for Preston. "He was strong, he could finish, he was bright. And his pace was something else. Nobody got near him."
Soon, scouts were flocking to see the young whippet playing up front for Eden Vale and Sefton Boys. Both Merseyside giants offered a trial, but when Joe Fagan's all-conquering Liverpool offered a scholarship, the 14-year-old was in dreamland.
"It was awesome, the best days of my life," said McPhillips, whose year group included Jim Magilton and Steve Staunton. "As apprentices, we all had our jobs, sorting the kit for the staff and the first team, cleaning the corridors. I used to clean King Kenny's boots."
As a boy, McPhillips had idolised Dalglish, who took over from Fagan in 1985. A year later, coach (and future manager) Roy Evans quietly told the youngster that Dalglish had noticed his prolific form for the youth team and would soon invite him to Melwood for extra sessions.
It never happened and, 12 months later, McPhillips was released by his hero, prompting that memorable headline. "Even then, we had no doubt he'd make it," says Watson.
Nor did fans of Halifax, who in 1988-89 saw McPhillips plunder 25 Fourth Division goals in a vaunted partnership with future Huddersfield and Sheffield United striker Wayne Allison. Briefly, he was the country's leading scorer.
Yet that season would prove to be the apex of McPhillip's brief career. Frozen out after a series of injuries, he joined Crewe in 1991 but had played just six games for the Railwaymen when he ruptured cruciate ligaments. Aged just 21, the million pound reject was on the scrapheap. It was then that the one-time star in the making became a star-maker. "Even at that age, I could see the coach in Terry," said Dario Gradi, the legendary Crewe boss. "He was intelligent, he understood the game and he had a very keen eye for a player."
Initially, McPhillips was entrusted with Crewe's Under-13s. Later, he set up Technique, Movement, Skill (TMS) a coaching school in Sefton that flourishes to this day.
Soon, however, he would ascend to the academy - and become the final piece of Gradi's coaching dream team - alongside Steve Holland and Neil Baker. Between them, the quartet nurtured a galaxy of stars, from Danny Murphy and Dean Ashton (the best of the bunch according to McPhillips) to Seth Johnson, Rob Hulse and David Vaughan.
McPhillips calls Gradi "a genius, a workaholic, the best person any coach could learn from," but James Robinson, another Crewe graduate now managing in Australia, remembers his protege most fondly. "For me, the biggest thing was how simple Terry made it," said the 36-year-old. "You played in as many positions as possible to learn the game but everything was kept simple. As a young player, I had the chance to go to other clubs. But the way Crewe and Terry worked, it made the game seem easy." Watson adds: "Dario, Steve, Neil and Terry that was Crewe. Take one of them away and I don't think it would have been the same."
In the end, McPhillips spent 14 years at Crewe, many of them out on the road, huddled in frozen Non-League outposts on the hunt for the next Murphy or Ashton.
"The club made over £10m from transfers while Terry was here," said Holland, now assistant to Gareth Southgate with England. "That cannot be underestimated. He made a major, major contribution to this club."
It was Blackburn's academy that finally lured McPhillips from Gresty Road, offering greater resources and a more convenient base for a man still based in Liverpool. There he struck up a close bond - both personal and professional - with academy chief Gary Bowyer. Once again, the stars began to roll off the production line. Phil Jones, who was sold to Manchester United for £16.5m, Grant Hanley, Anthony Pilkington, David Raya.
"Terry's got a fantastic knowledge of players - he sees a player and he sees the potential of a player," said Bowyer. "He loves being out on the grass and he loves watching games - he's got an unbelievable work ethic."
Later, as chaos descended on Blackburn in the wake of the Venky's takeover, Bowyer and McPhillips would restore a modicum of respectability during a two-year stint as manager and assistant.
"As a coach, he was great with the forwards," said Bowyer. "Even now he never passes the ball in staff games so you can see why he scored loads of goals for Halifax!"
When Bowyer departed in November 2015, so did McPhillips. A year later, the pair pitched up in Blackpool, winning promotion from League Two despite a fanbase at loggerheads with neglectful owners. In August, one game into the season, Bowyer gave up, unable to stomach the lies and underfunding. McPhillips stayed and now has arguably the toughest gig in management. "It's no wonder he looks so old." quipped Watson. "But joking aside, if anyone has worked hard enough to get to where he has, then it is Terry. He's a good coach, a good lad and a good, honest football person."
"Gary Rowett has told four Stoke players. including record signing Giannelli Imbula and Charlie Adam, they are free to leave the Championship club. Imbula, the £18.3 million recruit from Porto, and former Scotland international Adam, plus Maxim Choupo-Moting and Geoff Cameron, are all available before this month's EFL deadline of Aug 31."
"Good luck to Gary Bowyer. He was always too decent a man to act as a stooge for Owen Oyston.
The former Blackburn boss delivered a promotion, refused to criticise stay-away supporters and even paid for training facilities out of his own pocket.
But his dignified presence served only to distract attention from the canker at the heart of this famous club.
Now he has quit, pushed over the edge by an owner reportedly unwilling to retain key players or even refurbish a derelict training ground.
Short term, it is a blow for supporters. For two years, Bowyer held their club together. In his absence, a return to League Two now looks likely.
Long term, however, it is better the problems remain unmasked. Maybe then the rest of the fanbase will join the thousands already boycotting games and stop pouring money into the pockets of a man they despise.
Protests have failed. Even this week's offer to sell up for £5m to Valeri Belokon was made knowing the Latvian could not accept a deal that did not include the ground.
Bowyer's reign offered brief respite. Shouldn't his departure provide the impetus to start a phoenix club? Because a decade slogging through Non-League would be a lot better than another decade of neglect. "
I don't think Mr Dunlavy has got his finger on the pulse if he thinks Owen will be around for another decade.
"Goodness knows what Jimmy Armfield would have made of it all. Or Stanley Matthews or even Alan Ball.
Gary Bowyer's departure from Blackpool is a sad result of all that is going wrong at a club which was once synonymous with dazzling wing play and glorious Cup runs.
The Tangerines always stirred the ancient blood. Now the modern version turns the stomach. In the board room that is.
On the field, the players are proving that even against the most odious odds, the spirit to succeed will always burn strongly.
Yes, they lost 2 -1 to Kenny Jackett's Portsmouth at Bloomfield Road yesterday but a glance at the stats shows how hard they fought against one of the fancied clubs in the division.
Sixteen shots and four corners seemed to bear out caretaker manager Terry McPhillips praise in the week for the players, who he said were devastated by the news of Bowyer's departure.
"The lads have responded fantastically," he said. "We already knew we had a fantastic group. They're putting in a shift for each other and covering each other. They've gelled really nicely."
That work ethic may not save Blackpool from the drop, but it will certainly give their remaining supporters a meagre reason to be cheerful amid the mayhem.
Well done lads!"
Where's Jimmy Ryan?
Injured again (knee).
"Divorce tourists are good for Britain because they pay so much tax, a High Court judge has suggested.
Deputy High Court Judge Richard Todd says hundreds of thousands of pounds sometimes have to be spent on lawyers when millions or tens of millions of pounds are at stake.
He also says the Government can benefit because foreign millionaires pay tax on what they spend.
The judge spoke out when analysing a case in which a former director of League One football club Blackpool is embroiled in a battle over money with his former wife.
Valeri Belokon, a Latvian millionaire businessman, and Diana Belokon, his ex-wife, are fighting at a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
Judge Todd said Mr Belokon had spent more than £1million on lawyers and his ex-wife around £750,000. "These figures may seem to an uninformed bystander to be extremely high," said the judge. "They are not."
He said "millions and tens of millions," could be sometimes at stake in the matter.
The judge heard that Mr Belokon's ex-wife wanted a payment running into millions.
"There seems to be a misunderstanding that somehow lawyers in these cases are charging fees that are wholly unreasonable," he added. "These fees are subject to rigorous investigation and assessment."
He estimated the Belokon case, due to be resolved this week, might generate more than £19 million in tax. *
The judge said that was "vastly greater" than the amounts of public spending paying for him, court staff and courts.
Mr Belokon is arguing his ex-wife's claim is without merit and says she should get nothing.
In November, Mr Belokon won a High Court fight with Owen Oyston and his son Karl Oyston, Blackpool FC directors.
A judge told the Oystons to pay more than £30 million after Mr Belokon, who bought a 20 per cent stake in Blackpool FC 12 years ago, complained of being excluded from key decisions and shares of profits."
* That's what is printed in the paper but I suspect there may be a missing decimal point and it should read £1.9 million.
Can't wait for Spielmacher 10 to see this thread!
Strange comment. What's it got to do with me?