Tag Archives: Barnsley

The Sweeper: England’s Worst Club Chairman Refuses to Run Away

Peter Ridsdale

Big Story
Sometimes Wikipedia, despite often lacking the neutral tone of your average encyclopedia, does describe things best — in fact, precisely because of that. Witness the entry on Peter Ridsdale, former chairman of Leeds United.

Ridsdale became chairman of hometown club Leeds United in 1997 and enjoyed success in the first four years of tenure as Leeds reached the UEFA Cup semi-final in 1999–2000 and the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2000–01. During this time he enjoyed a good relationship with the Leeds fans.[1] However, once the full extent of what Ridsdale and his board had done at Elland Road was discovered by the fans this relationship vanished and he is now best remembered by Leeds supporters for the financial nightmare that the club found themselves in.

Under Ridsdale’s stewardship the club borrowed £60m against future gate receipts, effectively gambling on Leeds qualifying for the Champions League in successive seasons, which they failed to do. Ridsdale has repeatedly denied any blame with regard to the later situation of the club[2] but has also conflictingly admitted it was a mistake to allow David O’Leary to spend so lavishly on players.[3] Ridsdale also claimed that he would have saved Leeds from subsequent relegations to the third tier of English football and the debt his board had incurred in the name of the club.[4] The fact remained however that by the time Ridsdale stepped down in March 2003, Leeds were £103 million in debt and failing on the field.[5]

So Ridsdale left and went on to Barnsley, where he showed considerable improvement in his club management skills, this time taking only a little over a year to run the club into the ground and get the hell out of there.

And then he showed up at Cardiff City; this time, he’s managed to make himself perhaps even more unpopular than ever before — quite an achievement.  His latest bout of unpopularity comes after he convinced thousands of fans to buy 2011 season tickets at the end of last year to bring in revenue to be used on bringing in new players in the transfer window, only to then announce the money would be used to pay off unpaid tax bills and that new players would not be brought in. The fans are furious, and are calling for an Emergency General Meeting of the club.

Cardiff City supporters have called for an extraordinary general meeting so the club can explain why they will not be using fans’ money to buy new players.
Fans had expected an estimated £3m raised by advance season ticket sales to be used to finance transfers.

But Cardiff’s decision not to buy players is because of a cash crisis. ”They have made a big mistake by over-budgeting. An EGM is what we need now,” demanded Paul Corkery, chair of Cardiff City Supporters Trust.

More than 10,000 fans invested in deals for season tickets for 2010/11, cash that manager Dave Jones said he expected to be used to buy new players.
And if Cardiff won promotion to the Premier League the fans were promised that money would be paid back to them in a scheme called “Golden Ticket”.

In response, Ridsdale said “I have two choices. I either run away or I apologise.” Unfortunately for Cardiff City fans, he decided to take the former option: “I won’t run away.”

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The Sweeper appears every weekday, and once at the weekend. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

The Sweeper: Manchester United Fans Branded Thugs

A Man United fan

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Every time crowd trouble breaks out involving an English team as it did this week when Manchester United fans visited Barnsley in the Carling Cup, we get the “return to the dark ages” pieces that suggest these are nostalgic occasions akin to 70s night at your local disco.

Oliver Kay has an interesting piece in The Times on it that pinpoints when and where this trouble is tending to break out — rather than seeing them as random accidents in the time-space continuum — pointing out that there is a particular trend towards trouble on away days for big clubs in smaller towns in the Carling Cup as “the competition is, by virtue of low ticket prices and a reduced uptake from the more established support, accessible to troublemakers.”

Kay says that Manchester United fans as a whole are, as seen at Old Trafford, amongst the best-behaved in the country; but that on away days, “United fans behave differently” and that they lead the nation in arrests (though he fails to point out it’s highly likely more of them travel than for any other club).

Thousands of them travelled to Barnsley this Tuesday, and Kay makes it clear policing was not at its best, reporting that police “reacted hysterically by trying to confiscate a banner that stated “United>England” and that they acted “hostilely. . .herding them to a “compound” nearby before the match”.

Kay asks if heavy-handed policing is really the answer, whilst not letting United supporters off the hook for their own culpability as multiple arrests were made and with thousands of pounds of property damage. The club themselves branded the trouble-makers as “thugs”, and the authorities ought to rethink how they handle these away days. Though I have to say it was amusing to read this account of the trouble: “The fans jumped over the counter and in one case kicked the door in, and started attacking the staff with tomato sauce.”

Not exactly the ICF, are they?

Worldwide News

  • The MLS playoffs get underway today, and there’s plenty of deserved praise for the Seattle Sounders ahead of their match-up with the Houston Dynamo tonight, though Grahame Jones in the LA Times is rather generous in this eulogising piece: “One more victory would have given Seattle the best mark in MLS.”, he writes, ignoring that Columbus took their foot off the gas as they had that sewn up even before their final game (a defeat) against New England. He also says Seattle have “Created several new MLS traditions”, but only provides Drew Carey’s marching band as an example, a tradition they can keep in Seattle. Seattle have done great, but lets remember they’ll need to win the league to match the best ever expansion performance –the Chicago Fire’s double in 1998. You just knew I had to mention that, didn’t you?
  • As Rangers’ crisis deepens, supporters’ groups are threatening to boycott Lloyds bank, who in many ways now essentially control the club.
  • It looks as if the end-game has been reached in America’s lower-league power struggle, with the two Canadian teams who contested the USL-1 final just earlier this month set to leave the league.
  • Google Maps has launched in South Africa, just in time for you to plan your trip to World Cup 2010.
  • FIFA are investigating Diego Maradona’s remarkable press conference tirade following Argentina’s qualification to the World Cup, with his lawyer defending his behaviour because of his “state of violent emotion”. This sounds like an excuse we should all start using.
  • John Duerden at Goal previews the Asian Champions League final, flying as ever under my radar, unfortunately.
  • Wait, Phil Brown still has a job?

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.