Hindsight – an exact science!

Now that the latest financial figures are out there is a huge demand for interpretations of them. As this is not an easy task and there are may ways to be “creative” when describing the financial situation, people seem to be hesitant to comment on the wider picture and most comments has been on some easy to understand figures, like the cost/benefit of Dyer and Ljungberg.
While I wait for someone I trust to do a readers digest version of the numbers, I’ll do the same.

Those were very lucrative contracts, to say the least, and few with insight at the time would have called them conservative or maybe even reasonable. As things turned out, these contracts together with some other misjudgements are still costing us dearly, no doubt about that. As things turned out, they are a not insignificant parts of the threat to our PL existence that we have been under, on and off, for the last year or so.
What is generally not commented on, however, is the situation at the club at the time they were drawn up. The judgement on these contracts are passed with the key in hand, as most judgements are. We now know that Dyer and Ljungberg were never to add much to our team, and of course there was always that risk. Eggy got carried away and loved to be able to sign high profile targets. He did pay over the top for their (and others) services and I’m certainly not here to defend these contracts as such. But Eggy and BG were filthy rich at the time, they thought there was no danger involved. Bad business maybe, but no financial danger. Having a wage bill of 80% of the annual turnover is not sustainable, as Igoe points out in his accounts comments, but I bet it's not unusual during a build up phase when a rich owner takes control.

The Ashton contract has also been extensively discussed.
As things turned out it was another major mistake. However, Cole was also handed a long term contract a little more than a year ago, a fact that more than likely saved this and maybe also last years PL contract, and will secure a decent return if we have to let him go. If Cole had picked up a career threatening injury last spring, however, having him on a long contract would have drained our funds and a horrific £/game calculation would have emerged.
With almost 4 years to run on Coles contract would any of you like to cut
it short today to reduce the risk?
OK, so the comparison stinks, Ashton had a well known problem that should have cautioned us. But I also remember thinking, when he scored the astonishing goal against ManU in the penultimate game of the 07/08 season, that it was typical that he produced such a showpiece with the summer window coming up. I was overwhelmed with satisfaction when we just a few weeks later had secured his services for another 4 years. As things turned out, it was a bad move and in hindsight there should have been a few clauses included, but would we have gotten his signature had they been included? Was it totally appalling to be willing to take a risk to be able to “take the Club to the next level”? Again, this was some time before the financial meltdown.

As things turned out these are the very things that have put us in a very awkward financial situation. G&S and other owners with a restricted budget wouldn’t have done those things, and that’s also why I preferred G&S to a sugar daddy today, but remember that our owners back in 07/08 were filthy rich and that one of our main problems back then was to lure any decent player to us, almost regardless of what we were offering (now known as the Kaka to City dilemma). But the key words in the first sentence of this paragraph are “as things turned out”… If the world had NOT seen a financial meltdown there wouldn’t have been much discussion about these contracts today. The odd “we could do better with our wage bill” would still be heard but as our owners would have been able to line up decent replacements (i.e. not Tristan) we would be reasonably happy. The Icelanders were guilty of doing risky and even bad football business, but not of more or less willingly ruining our club.
Without putting these decisions into a context the discussion will revert to “everything is the Icelanders fault” which is a bit of an exaggeration. Unless they were responsible for the sub-prime mortgage fuelled financial bubble bursting that is.

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