Thursday, July 15, 2010

15 July 2010: Appeal

(Note: Tour De France stuff at end of this blog entry, including links to some fun headbutting-while-on-bicycles video from today's stage.)

The Pompey story, about which my coverage has been somewhat lacking recently, came down to this:

1. Pompey, in administration, proposed a CVA that paid most of the creditors 5p in the pound that they were owed, over four years, thus ending up at a total of 20p. Excluded from this were football creditor (eg Sol Campbell and his image rights) and the current "owner" who also happens to be funding the administration and also happens to be the main - and secured - creditor, one Mr Chainrai. Those dudes all get 100%. HMRC ("the taxman") would not be included in this list, and they're owed a whole bunch.

2. This went to a vote. Need 75% of unsecured creditors (according to amount owed as % of total debt) to say yes. Total debt has been "re-estimated" upwards from 70 million quid to over 130 million by the administrator over the past few months. Still, HMRC said they'd vote against it and they were owed 38 million.

3. On the morning of the vote, the administrator "re-estimated" HMRC's total debt down to 24 million, thus reducing their percentage in the vote. The vote passed.

As a matter of law, creditors unhappy with CVA votes have 28 days to appeal against any such votes. Today is day 28.

And HMRC have appealed.

Two grounds specifically (from that article):
The first was that the interests of HMRC 'have been or will be unfairly prejudiced' by the agreement. The second was that there were 'irregularities' in the way the votes of creditors were taken to secure the agreement.

No kidding. The main point about this is not that they'll necessarily take Andy Android and his cohorts to the High Court (although frankly they should, given the dodgy dealings that have gone on the last few months), but that as the CVA is now suspended and possibly dropped altogether, Pompey can't appoint a new owner. And whatever happens, they face more points deductions and possible winding-up orders, or at the very least they face the prospect of playing in the Championship with no players.

The proposed "new owner" would be Chainrai, of course, who'd be very pleased if it had all worked out, given his money actually belongs to convicted Israeli arms dealer and father of former owner Arkadi Gaydamak, currently in exile in Russia and with all his assets (except those awarded to Chainrai in a legal action) currently frozen due to his illegal arms dealing. But any suggestions of money laundering are, of course, pure speculation. As is the notion that several million pounds were filtered out of Pompey into offshore accounts via a law firm bank account during January until the whistle was blown and the lawyer resigned from the law firm. And then joined the Pompey board.

Makes Harry Redknapp seem like a decent, law-abiding chap all in all.

Postscript: In Tour De France matters, there's seemingly no room for appeal for Mark Renshaw, although he's going to try (don't hold your breath, these appeals rarely succeed). He's the guy from Columbia HTC that leads out Mark Cavendish for all those stage wins, including today. Thing was, today on the way to the line he blocked one bloke and headbutted another (several times) as part of this lead-out. As a result, he's been thrown out of the entire Tour, which is a kicker for Cavendish's (very poor) hopes of winning the Green Jersey and also for his previously excellent chances of winning 'his' stage on the Champs Elysees a week on Sunday. Tour official Jean-Francois Pescheux said: "This is a bike race, not a gladiator's arena." Great fun watching it though, I'll post a YouTube link when I can find one, but I'm sure it's on the ITV4 website for UK folks and for those in the USA.

Further update: here's the vid from YouTube, provided they don't take it down.
Headbutting to be found at 4:23. video has the Phil'n'Paul commentary, but I don't know how visible that is outside the US. Agree with Phil, it seems remarkably harsh punishment given that normal argie-bargie results in disqualification from the results of the day but not expulsion from the race. The thing is: Renshaw's actions benefitted Cavendish, and you can't punish Cav for what Renshaw did unless you chuck Renshaw out of the race. So that's what they've done. As with many other such decisions in the Tour over the years (eg Cav being denied a stage last year), you do have to wonder if Renshaw would have been expelled had he been French. Hm?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

10 July 2010: Tracker

There appear to be two reactions to England's somewhat disastrous departure from the World Cup: one is to say "hey, at least I can now enjoy the World Cup without having to worry about supporting England [or the USA, given my present context: several US-based friends have said this to me]", and the other is to say "pah, pschh, bleddy football, bleddy England" and largely ignore the rest of the competition.

I fall into the latter category, aided somewhat by the annual tour de farce that is the Tour De France. No major drugs allegations yet (wait a week or two) and the mountains just starting. Mark Cavendish gave up on one stage earlier in the week when he either went too early or too late (it's hard to tell) and then won the next two on the trot, but now we head up into the Alps so we won't see much of Cav until the middle of the week when we're back on flat land and he's had a chance to recover a bit. Probably already too late for him to win the Green Jersey too.

But here's what I like. His team, Columbia HTC (that's the Columbia company that makes shoes, not the Space Shuttle Columbia nor the country of the same name), have teamed up with Google so you can track their riders live via telemetry and GPS data. Click here to see the page. Not much happening when there isn't a stage on, but surely this kind of thing is here to stay: rather like I can now track flights around the US on Google Earth and actually watch images of planes coming in to land based entirely on their telemetry data, I can now track Mark Cavendish as he slowly creeps up the mountains or gets off and pushes or whatever he does. (Sidenote: back in the day - and in this case, 'the day' is the 1950s, they actually used to get off an push their bikes up the mountains often in the Tour).

Anyway, that's the sum total of excitement for this Tour so far, although the battle between Contador and the doping cynics is surely just beginning. Elsewhere, we're just about finished preparing a room for the still-nameless baby, and have a checklist ready for packing bags for the hospital. Had a tour round birthing facilities at said hospital earlier in the week and frankly, while impressive, it does make you realise it's getting pretty durned close. Before the Michigan peaches are finished for the season, we'll have a little baby here.

What's scary about that is that it seems no time ago that youngest brother Callum was born. He turns 21 this week. I've got a pair of shorts older than him. Makes you realise, our time here is brief.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

3 July 2010: Correction

Nephew Matt wishes to point out that Emile Heskey's goals-and-games stat is actually seven goals in sixty-two games, not two goals in seven hundred games, as implied in the previous blog entry. Matt is big on stats.

In the same vein, I should point out that legislation to legally prohibit Emile Heskey is also unlikely, although David Cameron has yet to officially rule it out.

In terms of official stats though, it's worth a look at WikiAnswers, where you can pose factual questions to experts, who can give clear insightful answers. Question: is Emile Heskey rubbish? Answer: yes. And so that is an official stat.

Another is that Fabio Capello will continue as England manager. Wonder if it's him or John Terry who's the real problem? Or Roy Hodgson taking a job at which he's far more likely to succeed?

Meantime, in real sports, the Tour De France has started. Doping allegations - or at least doubts on the entire testing process - are already well underway.

Ooo, David Villa just scored for Spain. Interesting. However good they may be, they've never even threatened to win the World Cup in the past. Maybe the old adage is no longer accurate: "When the going gets tough, the Spanish go finishing". Paraguay must be feeling miffed they didn't get to take their penalty again.