Wednesday, April 29, 2009

29 April 2009: Books

Front page of this blog is now entirely Saints. Normal service may soon be resumed, featuring highlights of our UK visit, possibly some curious videos and the forthcoming Oracle presentation in Orlando.

But for now, I feel compelled to report on the rumours as they flow in and out. Today: total number of consortiums in serious negotiations was four, but two today pulled out. One in particular pulled out because they "looked at the books".

Souness and Le Tissier both continue to be rumoured to be involved, although with different consortiums, and there is a rumour of some kind of discussion between consortiums to put together a joint bid.

All makes the swine flu thing seem perfectly disinteresting, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

28 April 2009: Guernsey

More from the just-beyond-the-rumour-stage department...

Sky Sports News apparently reported earlier today that the front-runners for buying Saints are a property development consortium from Guernsey headed by a man named Quentin. It all sounds small enough that it may well be true. SSN are now no longer reporting the story but it has been 'stickied' on the Saints forum so it must be true...

The more regular rumour mill continues to report either two or three bids, all of which are/should be covered by NDAs (which therefore leads to doubt over the story on Sky Sports News), but one of which may emerge as new ownership for Saints sometime this week.

Additional rumour note: The name 'Souness' still does not seem to want to go away, although I remain doubtful on that one.

Monday, April 27, 2009

27 April 2009: Countdown

Aaaaand we're back.

Many highlights of the UK visit, not the least of which was visiting the old castle up near Skye, along with several days of Scottish wilderness up near Staffin, where the local landmark is the Old Man of Storr, who turned out not to be a man at all, but a rock formation. Along with all that there was much visiting and driving (on the left), two football matches (let's not talk about Plymouth Argyle's astonishingly bad performance against Doncaster, which left me almost speechless) and even very interesting discussion about sausages with a local Southampton butcher.

The other football match attended was Saints v Crystal Palace, which was interesting partly because it was nephew Matt's first time ever at a league match, and partly because it may prove to be my last time ever to see Southampton, who I first saw in a pre-season friendly against Plymouth Argyle as long ago as 1985. Saints won one-nil, and were actually not bad, David McGoldrick taking his goal very very well down at the Chapel End, right in front of where we were seated. Certainly the performance was much better than that offered by Plymouth Argyle five days later.

But then on Thursday last, the Football League announced Saints would indeed be docked ten points, and if they went down anyway, the ten point deduction would be applied at the start of next season.

Then on Saturday, Saints only drew, meaning mathematically they were relegated, so the ten point deduction will be applied at the start of next season in League One (or Division Three, as it's known to us old-timers).

Then this morning, an article in the Guardian showed a possible way that Saints might cunningly avoid being deducted ten points next year: they might just go out of business altogether. Saints have eight days left before going under, according to the article. I hate to say I told you so, so I won't.

The rumour mill is a little light due to those cunning non-disclosure agreements signed by all concerned but from what I understand, there are two bids on the table who have proved they have the funds, and a third who are still in the running as a possibility. The make-up of these bids is not known but the rumour is that one group might go public this week. Certainly with eight days to live, something has to happen soon. And a big question: is Rupert Lowe involved? Lots of rumours again, but the more in-the-know folks seem to suggest there is no Lowe directly involved... still too early to officially say.

However, it can't remain "too early to say" for much longer. The last home game is over, the fans are directly paying the players wages via the Save our Saints fund, and the club has eight days to live.

This, now, is the endgame, and the countdown begins.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

8 April 2009: Poundland

And I thought Saints were in trouble...

Turns out Salisbury City are completely up the financial creek, and the club is on sale for one of your British pounds. You can get four cans of Dr Pepper from Poundland for that.

Maybe Saints should buy them out and start again from the Conference. Or Blue Square Premier. Or whatever it's called these days.

Off to Chicago, then on to the UK. Saints - Palace on Monday to be followed by Argyle - Doncaster the following weekend. Throw in a little family time, Scotland visiting and passport renewal and it will be a very full two weeks...

And if you want to see more of Kokomo and Indianapolis, Rob has just finished doing Flickr things so you can see many photos if you like.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

7 April 2009: Delay

Football League board just met to decide if Saints should be deducted ten points for going into administration and decided...

... that they won't make a decision yet. Instead they're going to have their people (Trevor Brooking and Brian Mawhinney presumably) perform a "forensic accountancy report" as a "matter of urgency", and then they'll make another decision.

Meantime the official news coming out of St Mary's has largely gone underground, with rumours abounding of Graeme Souness putting together a consortium that may or may not be linked with Dave Merrington's consortium, and nobody seems to know what happened to Barry Briefcase. There's also something about Rod Stewart and Gordon Strachan that nobody seems to believe.

Rupert, meanwhile, is doing a major round of media engagements today - why? Seemingly simply because he can: he is getting his face and voice over the airwaves to give "his side of the story" (summary: I didn't do it). He could use such opportunities to reach out to fans, but he seemingly isn't (ah well), and he could use such opportunities to drum up support if he were planning a consortium of his own, but seemingly he isn't (let's pray it continues that way). Nope, it's all about Rupert's ego, and that, after all, seems to have been the biggest problem all along.

Meantime here in Kokomo, Rob is busily documenting everything we're doing so that I won't have to.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

2 April 2009: Administration

Hard to gauge the feelings of the Saints fans this morning. Some are happy that Rupert has left, some are confused because Rupert might still be on the board of Southampton Football Club Ltd, having resigned just from the PLC parent company, and some are wary because Rupert apparently stated this morning that there is nothing stopping him from buying the Football Club Ltd company from the administrators.

You'd think he'd have had enough by now, wouldn't you?

Most worrying, though, is this section from the official SFC website, part of an interview with the administrators:

How long will this process take?

We have to find a buyer before the end of the season because there is not sufficient cash in the Football Club to support its ongoing trading beyond that time.

What happens if you are unable to re-finance or find a buyer for the club?

If the administrator is unsuccessful it is likely that the Football Club will enter an insolvency process which is likely to effectively mean that the club will cease to operate. Clearly this is an outcome that all parties will want to avoid.

No kidding. I'd rather take a fifteen point penalty both this season and next rather than lose the club altogether. Sadly it seems that Rupert, who's been in charge long enough, doesn't agree that Saints ceasing to exist is the bottom-line-thing-to-avoid and he was always just too proud to admit he was wrong.

Now, who's got a few quid so we can get a quick consortium together?

Update 10.34 eastern: Having listened to the Press Conference in full now, it sounds clear that Rupert, along with Wilde and Cowan, is no longer involved at either PLC or Football Club level. Now... whether there's a buyer, and preferably one not named Rupert...?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

1 April 2009: How Lowe?

As I write, the current BBC report states the following:

... it means the Saints are now threatened by liquidation and could drop out of the Football League, if SLH [the parent company] fails to attract new investment by the end of the summer.

I therefore may have to take back what I said about Saints not making it to the end of this season. Instead it looks more like they might not make it to the start of the next one.

Let's not forget, this is the all under the chairmanship of Rupert Lowe, who decided to [insert story representing his idiocy here].

Oh, you want an actual Rupert Lowe story? And not the Klingon one? OK, how about blowing 2.5 million quid on Jelle Van Damme at the beginning of the relegation season in 2004/05, essentially because he had a name that fans might want to have on the back of their replica shirts. He played four Premiership games (generally badly) and headed off to Werder Bremen for an undisclosed fee (which may or may not have been one pound).

This whole fiasco makes the Hotelicopter thing look quite sensible.

Update 9.12am eastern: Sky Sports News now reporting that a board meeting (without Lowe for some reason) has broken up and Southampton Leisure Holdings has been placed in administration, with official announcement to be made tomorrow.

Update 10.37am eastern: Sounds pretty much confirmed that there will be an announcement tomorrow afternoon UK time regarding the placing of SLH in administration. The points-to-be-deducted-or-otherwise debate continues, centring mainly on the experience of Derby County in 2004, who avoided points deductions either because the parent company, not the FC, went into administration, or because it was the season before the rules changed. Nobody is quite sure which.

Update 10.59am eastern: The Times now reporting that SLH is in administration, and that there will be no points deduction. The plot thickens...

"Southampton Leisure Holdings plc was placed into administration today with debts of £27.5 million but the club will not lose points because the holding company, not the club itself, went into administration."

Update 2.32pm eastern: While official news outlets are drying up until tomorrow's Admin announcement, the rumour mill continues and various sources tend to agree that Rupert 'Lower Than' Lowe, along with Andrew 'Sidekick' Cowan and Michael 'Judas' Wilde, are stepping down at 10am tomorrow. The administrator will then attempt to sell off the club (technically an asset - a wholly-owned subsidiary - of the PLC) to anyone with some money (hopefully not Rupert, although don't rule it out). Other rumours include the administrators only having 21 days to find a buyer, and the Football League meeting on Tuesday to determine whether there'll be a point deduction or not.