Latics Lose Appeal & Are Relegated To League One
Latics will play in League One next season…if they survive.
First off, I should probably say that I never expected us to win our appeal if our defence was the Covid19 pandemic. The “sale” of the club was started before and carried on throughout so regardless of the time frame I didn’t think this would ever stand up as a viable defence. HOWEVER, if a global pandemic isn’t seen as force majeure then I’m not sure what ever would be.
Regardless of the time frame of the sale, it cannot be denied that the club have lost a large chunk of income from all of this and it would have been the owners that would have had to foot the bill. As their other businesses no doubt also lost money it’s understandable why they may choose to offset the sinking ship that is a football club.
Forgetting the pandemic for a moment though it leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth (and a rather large bit of anger) that this has been allowed to happen and the rest of this piece will probably become somewhat of a rant.
The EFL decided that the new owner was “fit and proper” to take over our club and had the funds to run it (another reason why we would struggle to suggest this was due to Covid19) less than a month before he decided he no longer had the money and walked away. What happened to that money that he showed the EFL and why is the club punished for his decision to think “f*** it, I’m off”? I appreciate that the rulebook states that should you enter administration you are deducted 12 points and I have no issues with that, but we did not “enter” administration we were forced into it in order to save our existence after an owner who had owned the club for less than a month had tried to place us into liquidation. Now had he done this, the EFL would be looking at a second club in less than 12 months that has been shut down and the reasons for which would sit solely at their feet. Don’t forget throughout all of this that they decided less than a month ago that this gentleman was fit and proper enough to own a football club. To own one of THEIR football clubs in one of THEIR leagues.
A simple look at Companies House will tell you that there was something not quite right about this whole situation with the number of Directors that were added to and suddenly removed from the board. One Director came onto the board ONE DAY before the decision was made that we were going into administration. Now of course there is the chance that paperwork took its time and he applied a few weeks prior to this, but there is also the chance that it was the real Elvis that I watched in a bar in Tenerife last year as opposed to an impersonator. Nothing about the situation makes any form of sense both business and legal, and yet the club has been punished. The 75 people that lost their jobs have been punished. We fans have been punished.
As someone who supported Paul Cook throughout his time here, albeit I didn’t think that some of our players were good enough at this level, seeing things start to click on the field gave me a huge sense of pride, as did seeing over 3000 fans visit Old Trafford to watch our under 18s push Man United all the way in the FA Youth Cup. The future of the club was starting to look as bright as it has ever been and now all of that is being ripped away piece by piece. The academy players are leaving for peanuts, our big name players will do likewise and of course Paul Cook has also left the club. Already inside just 5 weeks we are a shell of the club that we were when we hammered Stoke on June 30th, and there is the very real threat that in another 5 weeks we may not even be a club at all. Each bad news story that comes out of the club fills me with more and more anger. Relegations are one thing and usually you have no arguments against it because if you finish in the bottom 3 or 4 after 46 games then usually you deserve to do so. You may look back at a few 50/50 calls through the season or the odd missed chance, but generally if you don’t get enough points then you simply weren’t good enough. To be relegated however having finished 13th in the table based on, pretty much, the decision of one gentleman that has never stepped foot inside the club and dare I say has never even watched the club play a single game and to receive little to no protection from the people put there to protect us as I said has left me feeling nothing but anger. There has been a precedent set before for a club to enter administration and not face a 12 point deduction as it was solely the act of the owners so why were we any different? A club that at the time had money in the bank and had no creditors outside of football. We were not faced with any winding up orders from anyone as we simply didn’t owe anyone.
I don’t think we will ever get the answers that we need (and deserve) from all of this and I don’t ever think that those accountable will be held to account. There will be no investigations of fraud towards the owners or money laundering, those at the EFL that deemed him to be fit and proper will still be in a job next season whereas 75 people from our club were made redundant because of that decision and during a global pandemic that has seen the world’s economy crash. Unfortunately they won’t be able to claim force majeure against any of their bills though because as the appeal decision has decided, this isn’t that.
The anger that I (and I’m sure all of us) feel right now will go away at some point but until the future of the club is known there will still be a large feeling of fear. Fear that I may have watched my football club for the last time. I don’t think there will be too many of us that will care that we are watching League One football next season as long as we are watching football. I know I for one won’t (been there, done that, won the division) provided I still get to go to the game with my mates, watch my team and feel the emotions that only can sport can bring. This decision today, by an independent panel let’s not forget, may well have driven the final nail into the coffin of this great club and if it has then the EFL most certainly have blood on their hands.
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