The headline on the back page of yesterday’s News of the World screamed (as all NOTW headlines do) “1 Billion Chinese Takeaway at United”. According to the NOTW six Chinese billionaires are lining up a deal to buy the Old Trafford club for a whopping one billion pounds.
United fans are said to be excited about the prospect of this takeover because they think that the Chinese, of whom two are said to be “keen” United fans, will kick the Glazers out and rid the club of the debts the Americans have piled on the club. Now where have we heard that before?
All I can say to the excited United fans is dream on. The deal may very well go through but as for the debt I very much doubt it. To do so these six businessmen are going to have to chip in with 166,666,666 quid and 66 pence each of their own money to buy the club without having to resort to going cap in hand to the banks. In fact that would leave them 2 pence short but I’m sure they’ll sort something out between them. Add the costs of lawyers, agents and all the expenses that go with this sort of deal and you’re looking at something like 200 million EACH. The words frying pan and fire spring to mind.
Am I the only one who remembers the fanfare when Hicks and Gillett took over at Liverpool? They were going to build a new stadium, Rafa was going to have his pick of the world’s greatest players and Liverpool were going to dominate the world of football till judgment day. As it turned out they have won f*** all since the Americans took over bar an FA Cup on penalties against West Ham. They did sign Dossena and Lucas though.
West Ham had similar great expectations when the Icelandic bloke took over. Pompey thought they hit gold with the Lithuanians I think it was. They have since been taken over by a Saudi sheikh who, poor chap, forgot to put money in the bank for the players wages last month.
Then there was Shinawatra at Manchester City who brought in Sven and then quickly paid him millions to get rid of him. In fairness to poor old Thaksin, all Sven’s employers go through this sooner or later.
At Arsenal trouble is brewing as Alisher Usmanov and Stan Kroenke battle for supremacy. The clever money is on a move by one of them in the new year with millions of pounds borrowed to pay for the takeover to add to the debt that Arsenal already have to pay for the Emirates Stadium.
And on and on it goes. Except for Chelsea and Man City (who we don’t really care about anyway). While the anti-Chelsea brigade harp on about the club’s debt they conveniently ignore the fact the Chelsea Football Club’s debt is owed to the owner of Chelsea Football Club itself rather than some voracious bank. If nothing else we have a head start in that the club does not have to service interest payments running into tens of millions a year as United and Liverpool do. And as United will continue to do if the Chinese take over.
While we might not have agreed with all of Roman’s decisions since he bought the club he has been exceptional for Chelsea. I still find it hard to believe, as a supporter of forty five years, Chelsea being mentioned alongside Barcelona when people talk about favourites to win the Champions League. Christ almighty, I remember the days when we weren’t even favourites to win the second division league, let alone the Champions League. Not to mention when we were actually favourites for something – going down into Division Three in 1983.
The clubs owes an everlasting debt to Ken Bates for taking Chelsea as far as making it attractive for someone like Roman to buy. But it is to Roman that we owe the unprecedented trophy haul in the last five years and no one else. Rewind fifteen years and we were all excited because we signed Mark Stein. Now we make a 40 million bid for Aguero and it’s so what.
So when you turn off your light at night and say a little prayer to whichever god you believe in, thank God for Roman and David Levy. Roman for the millions of his own money that he has lavished onto the club to make us the global football power we are today. David Levy for being such a prat and asking Roman for crazy money when he showed an interest in buying Spurs.
To think that Roman was ready to pour his roubles on Spurs and it ended all in our lap. Now if that thought isn’t that enough to warm your heart this Christmas, I don’t know what is.
Ho ho ho