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Roker Ramble: What the EFL need to do to ensure no other club suffers the same fate as Bury

Football (and the EFL in particular) needs to tighten up right across the board to save another situation occurring like the one we’ve seen unfurl at poor old Bury - and here’s what John Crocker thinks they should do about it.

Bury FC Plight Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images

Manchester United have announced the loan of Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan for the next ten months. Under the terms of the deal Inter will pay £175,000 of Sanchez’s alleged weekly salary of £390,000. This means United are paying him £215,000 per week to play for someone else. The EFL have given the club fourteen days to confirm on which planet this makes sense.

Also given fourteen days were Bolton, who were heading down the Bury route if they couldn’t sell the club within a fortnight. The deal to sell the club was stalling because of the behaviour of Ken Anderson, the most recent owner.

In the words of the administrator trying to broker the sale:

Sadly, Mr Anderson used his position as a secured creditor to hamper and frustrate any deal that did not benefit him or suit his purposes.

Prior to owning Bolton Wanderers Ken Anderson was banned from being a company director for eight years – but when he applied to purchase the club, the EFL sanctioned the move despite his background. In addition, whilst the sale was progressing there was the unwelcome distraction of a takeover bid from Laurence Bassini, briefly involved at Watford, but again someone who’s twice being declared bankrupt and was once banned for three years for financial misconduct.

Bolton Wanderers v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One
Looks like the Xmas fixture in back on....
Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Thankfully, Bolton have now been saved, but you have to ask – how can we protect our clubs from these sort of people, who’re attracted to owning a football club, not out of any loyalty or community spirit but purely as a way to increase their personal gain?

It’s like putting Harold Shipman in charge of the Exotic Marigold Hotel then wondering why the guest list is going down.

Bury were brought to their knees by just such men. As long ago as 2014 their then owner Stewart Day took out a loan with 138% annual interest secured on the ground. He subsequently re-mortgaged it to a consortium of companies abroad, but 40% of the money never came to Bury as it was paid as ‘introduction fees’ to unnamed third parties.

Bury Football Club Expelled From The English Football League After 125 Years
‘We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity.’ Stephen Hawking
Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

When his other businesses collapsed he then sold the Club to Steve Dale, who failed to comply with the Leagues rules disclosing that he had sufficient funds to run the club – and was never punished because the EFL rules state that the club is responsible for the actions of the owner, not the individual himself.

If any good is to come out of this saga it has to be the wholesale reform of the regulations associated with buying and running a football club. The ‘fit and proper person test’ is completely toothless. The Financial Fair Play (or SCMP as they’re known in the EFL) rules did nothing to prevent the Bury owner from assembling a team that won promotion last season - one that he couldn’t afford, couldn’t pay, and who’s salaries are still outstanding.

There has to be more stringent tests over the history, character and resources of prospective buyers - and once in place, the clubs accounts should be subjected to official scrutiny on an annual basis. And if not passed as conforming to previously agreed accounting standards then the club should be prohibited from taking part in the next season until steps are taken to redeem the situation. This could involve selling players to reduce costs, or whatever action is deemed necessary.

Bury Football Club Expelled From The English Football League After 125 Years Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Steps like this won’t necessarily constrain or restrict club development.

No one is saying that Manchester City don’t have a barrel-full of money which they can spend accordingly, but it should be designed to prevent the ‘boom and bust’ cycle caused by overspending and to stop inscrutable people from bleeding clubs dry for their own benefit, as we’ve seen recently at Blackpool, Leyton Orient, Charlton, Coventry, Bolton Wanderers and ultimately Bury.

And if it can rein in some of the ludicrous situations we find at some of the top clubs with their frankly obscene contracts being offered then so much the better.

Rant over.

I need to issue an apology. Recent articles have contained rather a lot of bad language and this isn’t a style of writing that I want to be associated with. I’ve allowed events from outside the world of football to influence me somewhat and I shouldn’t have let this happen.

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Premier League
The outward displays of emotion being a thing of the past....
Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

The situation was brought home to me this week when Mrs Ramble had a few pointed comments to make about the lowering of standards.

And so, in order to bring this rather distasteful habit under control, I’ve enrolled in the Steve Bruce Anger Management Course (online), in which Steve teaches us to recognise and verbalise our anger whilst at the same time dissipating its intensity and volume and emitting it slowly over a period of time.

So instead of flaring up at the injustice of it all – and coming out with the consequent inappropriate language - we admit to those emotions internally, process them, understand them and then release them, ensuring that all feelings are expelled in a measured way and that nothing is left behind.

This is nothing to do with breaking wind; however there is a lot of misunderstanding over this technique. So when Steve says that he’s ‘insulted by a widespread perception that he lacks tactical awareness’ and that ‘no-one in the country is under similarly intense and hostile scrutiny’, then the impression to the uninitiated, the untrained, would be that’s he’s just whinging.

But this is a misconception; what should be recognised and appreciated here is the control and technique being applied, the intense mental processes going on in the background, the emotional maturity that many of us can only imagine and hope to aspire to.

The man is a true Master who’s taught me to understand that estate agents are people too and that the house moving process should be seen as an opportunity to concentrate the mind rather than an excuse to give free rein to ones feelings.

He’s also someone who moans a lot.

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