The Bills Add Up
What are we to make of the current events in Ukraine? These were well-signalled in advance,ever since Putin began the build up of forces around the country in the early autumn. While it may lead to the autumn of his own political career,and hopefully its death knell,it has also spread chaos in a much wider sphere than “mere geopolitics”
It has seen one country ostracised from football,while another has suspended its league operations and international matches.
But are these “faraway countries about which we know nothing”? In these days of the Internet and JFGI,there is no country anymore which fits that description. Though maybe North Korea comes close. But closer still is the plight of Chelsea FC,due entirely to its ownership by Roman Abramovich and his alleged close links to Putin himself.
I don’t deny the veracity of those reports,as I’m sure that due diligence on the matter has been done. And the speed with which the sanctions were imposed on him strongly suggests a previous awareness in government/intelligence circles of those links. But is it fair to impose the sanctions on the club that he owns?
Well,all is fair in love and war,and while there is no doubting his affection for the club,there is also no doubting that Russia has declared war on Ukraine,a sovereign nation whose right to exist is denied by Putin. And there are increasing reports of Abramovich’s closeness to Putin. In this case,I have to support the sanctions imposed-indeed,I thought that the game’s rulers,national and international,were slow off the mark. Even if i do have concerns that HMGov has effectively taken ownership of the club,placed it into administration AND appointed itself as administrator. Given their competence levels elsewhere,Chelsea fans should be worried…
And so we have the very real prospect of the current club world champions going out of business! The sanctions imposed mean that they cannot provide more than £500,000 of financial assistance to visiting clubs,and must not incur costs of more than £20,000 for travel to away games. It seems that autograph hunters are most likely to meet their heroes at King’s Cross/St Pancras or the EasyJet check-in desk!
I had my own theory about Abramovich’s arrival at Stamford Bridge,back when it happened. That he was making a high-profile purchase in our national game as a means of protection from Putin. That the ownership of such a famous London club would act as a means of deterrent or protection. Even if he WAS then close to Putin,with that man he would be looking for any clues that Putin might be ready,as with so many before and since,to turn on him.
I still think that was his motivation,as he seemingly had shown no previous interest in football. The possibility that his divorce from his then wife was also to shelter a significant sum from any potential fallout has also been raised,and widely discussed ever since. But he and his advisors will have their work cut out to get out of this one.
So too will Chelsea. The government has essentially confiscated the company,while denying it funding. And since that funding has included over £1,500,000,000 in “loans” from Abramovich-a way round the Financial Fair Play regulations-it will take a brave or foolish billionaire to pay a further £2,000,000,000 for the privilege of buying a money pit. And a bloody good accountant to configure it all as a tax loss!
Additionally,they desperately require a new stadium,and you can ask any supporter of Spurs or Arsenal what happens to the playing side of a club when the bills for that stadium start piling up. Meanwhile,the club play the “sporting integrity” card in an attempt to have a cup-tie at Middlesborough played behind closed doors. Really…
Well,good enough for them,in my opinion. I have little or no love for that club,their demise-whether that be a reduction to their former status or their eventual disintegration-will see me shedding no tears. But what does any of this have to do with Celtic,I hear you ask?
Well,assuming you’ve stayed with me this long,it transpires that it costs Chelsea around £900,000 to open the ground on a match day. I can only assume that the costs are inclusive of such as policing,stewards,catering staff,etc. Of course,they can deduct the staffing costs for the club shop as that is no longer able to trade!
So probably around £25m pa just to make the game available for fans to watch? Blinkin’ flip,that’s a tough gig. And I very much doubt that it can cost Celtic much less than that to host home games,given that it is a far bigger stadium. All of a sudden,it looks as though most of the income from season ticket sales are swallowed up simply by opening the doors for those ticket holders!
I don’t know how the report arrived at that match day figure,but I’m sure it wasn’t just a wild guess. I wish Celtic would release their own costs for a match day,it might open a few eyes to the travails involved in running a football club regardless of size.
Of course,Chelsea paying £25m to open the doors is a drop in the ocean when compared to their annual income for doing so. But it amounts to 25% of Celtic’s highest ever annual income. Fortunately,the club has by and large been well run financially over the years,even if many of us disagree vehemently with the methods required. But here’s another thought-just how much equity confetti is required over Ibrox way to achieve that? And how much longer can that source or sources be counted on?
Above article by BMCUWP