How not to run a football club

Hearts held an EGM last night to consider a resolution to approve the sale of Tynecastle for housing, and move the club to Murrayfield.

Murrayfield – across the train tracks on the Glasgow-Edinburgh line – isn’t Milton Keynes, but it’s the national Rugby Stadium, it’s got a capacity about 4 times the normal crowd at Tynecastle, and well, Tynecastle’s everything you’d want from a ground. It’s got 4 stands heaped on top of the pitch. It’s in a residential area, not out of town shopping city. It’s redolent of tradition and simply, the fans don’t want to move.

So why will they move? Because the major shareholder wants to, that’s why. He thinks the only way the club can recoup the 20M losses it ran up is by selling the ground for housing and sharing at Murrayfield. They’ll eventually move to a purpose built ground, fans are told. I think we’ve heard this one before haven’t we?

There’s a rival plan to reorientate the piutch, rebuild the stadium and attach community sports facilities to it. It’s never been pursued, as the major shareholder is against it. He says they must take the option that pays off the debts.

And who ran up the debts? Why, the major shareholder did, who’s also the Chief Executive. He’s also sitting in judgement of Berti Vogts as he’s on the Board of the Scottish FA; all that tip-top business experience, see. Who wouldn’t be without it?

It’s the major fault in the game today – no-one is ever held toi account for their actions, no-one ever held to blame. It’s the same in England. The FA have on their board at the moment the man who left Sheffield Wednesday millions in debt heading down the league fast (he jumped ship before they were relegated naturally) and has seen other businesses fail. There’s a pathetic cry from such types that football needs people with business expertise, which begs the question why such business people always turn out to be complete muppets. Part of it is the environment – the boot room ether, if you like – which encourages spend spend spend. Part of it basic incompetence. But in the most part, it’s the inability to remove people who aren’t strong enough to resist the spending urge, or too stupid to recognise the need to do so.

There’s an article in the current edition of 442 magazine on the resurgence of Barcelona, which mentions that they had a clearout of a tired and broken old regime. They didn’t have an EGM which dissolved into farce and threats to remove them though – they had an election. Democracy’s not just something that’s morally right – fans after all, are the moral owners of their clubs. But it’s also bloody sensible, the most effective and efficient way to get rid of the dross populating many of the boardrooms up and down the country short of demonstrations and protests and instability. Though stinkbombs should always have a place in grass roots protest.