Tag Archives: Finance

Fulham’s Shahid Khan “Mugged” in Broad Daylight by Shady Italian – by Rob Atkinson

Ross Scot

McCormack – business or mugging?

Concerns are being raised about safety on the streets of south-west London, after the owner of Fulham FC, Shahid Khan, was allegedly mugged in broad daylight yesterday.  The American billionaire, 490th wealthiest person in the world, claimed that he was strolling along minding his own business when suddenly, out of the blue, he was waylaid by a man he identifies only as “Big Mass”, apparently a rival of Khan’s in the world of sport and finance.  Khan alleges that he was taken by surprise as the assailant appeared suddenly in his path, demanding money.  Anxious to avoid any unpleasantness, he gave up the contents of his wallet, some 11 million pounds.

The suspect in the matter, the man known only as Big Mass, was later questioned by police, but denied any wrongdoing.  “Was business deal, my friend” he is said to have claimed, before being released without charge. Mr Khan admits that he was presented with a second-tier footballer for use in his club Fulham’s forthcoming relegation fight, but he maintains that the transaction was more robbery than business.  “£11 million is a lot of money,” he lamented. “Would I really pay that much, willingly, for an ageing forward with only one good season behind him??”

A police spokesman commented: “We can find no evidence of any criminal activity here.  Money changed hands, as did the registration of a professional footballer.  We can see as clearly as anyone that the deal is lopsidedly in favour of the selling party, but that’s not actually illegal – not unless duress can be shown.  On the face of it, Mr Khan has simply been rather naive in paying so far over the odds.  But this appears to have been a case of being made a mug of, rather than an actual mugging.”

Local safety watchdogs were not so sure that things were as innocent as the police appear to accept.  One of their number is Fulham fan and part-time actor Hugh Grant, a man with some experience of the justice system at home and abroad.  Grant felt that there had been foul play, albeit very difficult to prove – and that vulnerable southern-based football club owners would need to be wary in future.  “This Big Mass chap seems to have got away with it big-time here,” Grant said, brushing back a floppy lock of hair from his forehead and smiling wryly. “We’re all going to have to be on the look-out – and we’ll be suggesting that Mr Khan is more careful about carrying large sums of cash.  It’d be embarrassing if he were to lose another 3 or 4 million to this plausible Italian character, only for Fulham to be left with a Paddy Kenny or a David Norris on our hands.”

The footballer central to the matter is philosophical about his newly-reduced status. “Business is business,” said Ross McCormack, 29.  “These deals get done, and I go where the wages are. I’ve already been given a Fulham FC badge to kiss and, while it feels a little strange, I can get used to it.  I can get used to anything if the price is right.”

Asked about his prospects at Craven Cottage, McCormack was bullish.  “I can achieve every bit as much here as I could at Leeds, possibly more.  At Leeds there was a statue of Billy Bremner outside the ground.  I was never going to get an honour like that, not there.  But here, the local hero is a player I’ve never heard of – so look out Michael Jackson, Rossco’s aiming to have his statue up there beside you before too long!”

Shahid Khan has more money than sense.

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Daily Mirror’s Leeds United Red Bull Link is Just Their Usual “Bull” – by Rob Atkinson

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Answer: The Mirror, Sun, Mail etc etc

The ecologically-fanatical Green movement have occasionally waxed lyrical about the possibility of generating energy from methane – using the flatulent output of millions of fields full of peacefully-chewing bovine powerhouses to provide light and warmth for our homes. It’s a nice if slightly smelly idea.  The Mirror newspaper appear to have adopted their own version of this cattle exploitation concept, basing their sports journalism service, for want of a more appropriate phrase, on the more solid waste output of those noble beasts. How else to explain their continual fabrication of outlandish stories concerning Leeds United?

This morning, in a transparent attempt to up the ante after yesterday’s news of additional investment for the Elland Road club, the powers that be at the Mirror have evidently set some hacks to work to find something – anything – to muddy what seem to be unusually clear and sparkling waters for Leeds United.  It’s not difficult to take an old and tired story, polish it up a little and then serve it up as something new and tasty for the kind of undemanding and uncritical readership catered for by the trashier Redtops. Not difficult – but not particularly clever either.  It makes you wonder – don’t the writers on the Mirror have any ambitions to work for proper newspapers?  If they do, then surely their current tenuous relationship with the truth of what’s actually happening will hardly help them on their way.

For the avoidance of doubt, Red Bull are a franchise that have added several sports outfits around the world to their portfolio, but without any real attendant record of success. Their involvement tends to be characterised by getting in there, ripping up most of the traditions surrounding their purchase in favour of the appalling measure known as “re-branding” and then watching a previously independent club or team go swirling down the plughole.  This is not an approach that would be tolerated at Leeds United, a club notorious for the militancy and truculence of its support.  What seems as certain as these things ever can be, is that GFH Capital, the owners of United, are well aware of the limits imposed by that support on their latitude for instituting radical change.  But the likes of the Mirror have never let inconvenient facts get in the way of making up fairy stories as a simple alternative to reporting actual news.

A mere two months ago, this blog was relieved to hear that the Mirror was reporting as fact Leeds manager Brian McDermott’s readiness to quit Elland Road and take over the Ireland job.  Relieved, because of the reliable principle that – when the Mirror reports something as fact – it’s invariably just more of those bovine solids that they seem to find so palatable it’s positively their staple diet. Again, there was a wisp of credibility about the tale – Ireland were looking for a man of ability and integrity (in the event, they got Roy Keane instead), and the Mirror had simply followed their usual policy of adding two plus two, to arrive at thirteen-and-a-half.  You won’t ever go far wrong just by reading the Mirror and disbelieving all of it.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it does seem that Leeds United may at last be on an identifiable and navigable path back towards the top.  A promising league position – despite yesterday’s blip – and a good manager with a decent squad and some potential to add to it in January – these are as close to good times as we’ve seen at Elland Road for many a moon.  None of which will be good news for the Mirror, the Sun and the other examples of toilet paper at the lavatorial end of the print media.  But frankly – who cares?  The truth is still out there, you just have to know where to look – and be determined at all costs to avoid the pungent Bull you’ll see in the gutter press…

Financial Fair Play Rules Will Be Anything But Fair – by Rob Atkinson

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FFP – In aid of The Cartel

With the news that QPR are in line for a massive fine – reportedly a possible £62 million – for incurring heavy losses in their vain attempt to retain top-flight status, it’s time to pause, scratch our heads and reflect: just who ARE going to be the beneficiaries of the Financial Fair Play rules?

Firstly, what is “Fair Play”?  Doesn’t it imply a leveling of the playing field so that true competition might be a feature of our national game – instead of an all-powerful cartel at the top of the Premier League, carving up the goodies between them?  One of the worrying aspects of the Fair Play rules appears to be their scornful attitude to inward investment. Suddenly, this has become a grubby, slightly indecent concept, the clubs trying to invest their way towards parity with the Big Boys are looked upon as upstarts, unwelcome parvenus  The idea of slapping a massive fine on top of a big operating loss is likewise perplexing – somewhat akin to seeing a dangerous blaze which threatens loss of life and property, then trying to put it out by spraying petrol lavishly all over it.  We are in danger here of applying a cure that is worse than the disease.

As a Leeds fan, I suppose I should be leaning towards rules like this.  Leeds are a big club, and success would multiply their potential to succeed commercially by a factor of many. Presumably, this sort of self-generated wealth would meet with the approval of the minds behind Financial Fair Play – although, given the fact that it’s Leeds, we’re just as likely to get hit with a 15 point deduction.  But the whole thing stinks to me; I am cynical as to the thinking behind it – and even more so, I am cynical as to the interests of those who are behind the thinking.

Financial Fair Play appears to my non-financially-wired mind to want to put more power and financial muscle into the hands of those who already have the most power and financial muscle.  It will benefit, surely, those who have tapped successfully into vast overseas markets, those with massive supporter bases consisting of millions of people, most of whom will not necessarily have even visited the country wherein resides their team of choice.  The more tacky memorabilia and replica merchandise such a club can sell, to the biggest market possible, the more the new regime of Financial Fair Play will approve and enable that club.  Who on earth COULD they be thinking about here?

I’m even more worried, having heard about the bleak situation facing QPR, about the direction in which our game is heading.  It seems to be all about empowering the powerful, and rendering those who want to rise and compete incapable of doing just that. The legends that have been built up in the game over the past century or so are now in a position to benefit enormously from rules that reflect today’s “Devil take the hindmost” philosophy.  That might thrill the capitalist souls of many, but it doesn’t do much for the guy who likes the idea that, every now and again, some hitherto unregarded club will ascend through the levels and leave the Goliaths with a bloody nose. That sort of scenario, to me, is what sport is all about – and if you legislate against clubs trying to better themselves in what is increasingly a money-dominated game, then you’re cutting off a hell of a lot of the appeal of the game.

Or am I just being hopelessly naive?