Plymouth Argyle fans and supporters have announced that 24 September 2011 will be a Fans Re-United Day at Home Park, Plymouth in order to save their club from going bust. It is a reminder that not all is good in football, particularly very often it is the business end that is not healthy and robust as it should be.
It is therefore no wonder that football magazine When Saturday Comes features a page each month to clubs in crisis (hence the headline of this post) to inform its readers on the various clubs and their problems as well as initiatives taken up by supporters to resolve the issues they are facing. This is important as the clubs featured hardly make front page news and rarely are covered in the sports section of the English sporting press. Therefore it is a welcome publicity campaign for those about to hit the wall. This is not surprising as the further down the football pyramid clubs are the harder it is to generate revenue via ticket sales, advertising, merchandise and television rights. Things are difficult when the club doesn’t own the ground their playing and have to pay rent, often enormous amounts of money.
The collapse of ITV Digital in 2002 left many football clubs stranded as they relied on the money from this subscription service. Another rival to BSkyB bit the dust in 2009. Setanta for many has been the long awaited hope to become a healthy counterweight to the behemoth that Rupert Murdoch’s institution has become over the years. It was not to be. Most notable about Setanta was that they screened football from below the Championship, i.e. Division One and Two as well as FA Cup matches and England international games. The loss of income from Setanta was certainly felt by many clubs and increased their crises.
However, that not only small clubs from the third or fourth division can face problems is highlighted by the case of Portsmouth FC. Proud FA Cup winners in 2008 under Harry Redknapp, less than two years later, they entered administration. Currently they are working their way out of debt in the English Championship (Second Division). Leicester City experienced a similar fate. The demise of ITV Digital hit them hard and they had to go down and enter administration with debt amounting to