Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I want you to go back, back in time ......

Trip down Memory Lane courtesy of Collski. Didn't we look like the dogs bollox?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The New Leg - a short story by Brusselsbliue

Collski and his “new” mates are playing indoor football on Thursday night when the door swings open and in strides this tall figure sporting a newly acquired Spurs retro shirt and gleaming white trainers. “So which one of you f**kers is going to pick me”.
They all stare dumfounded.
The last they saw of this  guy he needed a stroller to walk around Stillorgan Shopping Centre. Nobody moves until Hobbles coughs and claims he needs a rest and would be happy to sit on the bench. Yiddo goes up top calling for the ball.  It is played in to his feet. Collski tries in vain to go through the back of him (his “special” as the big bully calls it).   Yiddo swivels and  Bullock bursts in to  tears as the ball hits the back of the net. Without another word  Yiddo turns his back on his erstwhile friends and strides out the way he came in pausing at the door to glance back and saying  
“It’s that time of the year my friends . The king is born – again”

If I had a boat

About the choices we make in life.

Sandymount House

Sandymount Village

Farewell to the Drickster

Match action

Poppa, tell me when to cheer and for whom

Sexton breakthough

Mise's insatiable appetite for statistics and formations

Go for it, Michael D!

Aviva Stadium March 2014

Friday, December 5, 2014

From humble beginings

A review of the Deloitte (my old stomping ground) report on the finances of the football industry provides some interesting thought provokers.
The underlying data is based primarily on the 2012/13 season.
Leeds’ predicament
The Championship play-off decider at Wembley has been labelled the most financially critical game in soccer globally.   The desire to get into the Premiership has resulted in so many of the Championship clubs mismanaging their finances to such an extent that the combined debt of all Championship clubs exceeds their revenue by a factor of two.   The combined revenue of Championship clubs stood at £435million with debts of over £1 billion.
The step into the Premiership brings among other things a far more lucrative media rights pay-out.  In the year under review, TV payouts in the Premiership varied according to the profile of the club, with a high at £61 million to Man United and a low of £40 million to QPR.  Contrast this lower figure with average total revenues per club in the Championship of £19 million and you can begin to see the importance of staying in the top flight.
In pursuit of this goal, Championship clubs have substantially ignored financial discipline and only in season 2013/14 did they collectively agree to introduce some form of governance in the form of their equivalent of the European Fair Play Rules.
Poor old AVB
Much has been spoken about the brevity with which some clubs hire and fire managers.  Spurs are probably the prime example of a club which places limited store in longer term thinking and who do everything with this weeks’ results in mind.  Anyone who works for an American company will recognise this type of policy.
Football clubs are not football clubs any more.  They are financial institutions that have a large part of their revenue streams influenced by football results.   In the days of Lowry’s matchstick men, the football club was there to bring identity and pride to the local community; it now exists to deliver dividends and capital appreciation to shareholders.  Managers are no longer judged on attributes like loyalty, ethics, integrity and commitment (in addition to results) – think Shankly, Nicholson, Catterick – they are judged on results alone, because results generate revenues.
Clubs with benign or soft ownership structures have an easy “financial pitch” on which to play – meeting the expectations of Roman Abramovic or Sheikh Mansour from Abu Dhabi is a lot easier than meeting the expectations of the institutional investors who assess investments based on rates of return.   The principal recipients of “soft” financing (also generally interest free) in the Premiership were Chelsea, Newcastle, Aston Villa and QPR who benefitted from 90% of the soft financing which itself totalled £1.6 billion. 
Total debt for all Premiership clubs totalled £2.5 billion, and only two clubs had net assets – Swansea City and Norwich City, notably two provincial, “family” clubs who must be viewed as temporary or inconsistent members of the Premiership.
Show me the money
The total revenue for all Premiership clubs was £2.5 billion – an average of £126 million with six clubs above the average and fourteen below it.  Man United again weigh in on top with revenues of £353 million with the lowest being Wigan at £58 million.
Wages are the principal cost with the combined wages to revenue ratio standing at 71%.  Strangely QPR had the highest ratio in the Premiership at 129%, partly explainable by a low revenue base.   Contrast the 71% with the comparative figure in the Championship of 106% and you see further evidence of how messed up the Championship is.
Five clubs made pre-tax losses in excess of £50ml –the principal loss-making entities were Liverpool,  Chelsea and Man City (not necessarily in that order).   Total losses in the Premiership amounted to £316ml.
Qualification for the Champions League is lucrative but possibly not as much as may be thought.  The four clubs which participated in 2012/13 received Champions League payouts which averaged out at £29 million, although to get a true measure of value one must add to this the additional revenues for home Champions League fixtures. 
In the Indian Restaurant in Accrington
Brusselsblue passing himself off as a potential purchaser of Stanley wasn’t by any means inconceivable. Half of the Premiership clubs had foreign owners at the end of 2012/13.
While each deal had different valuation bases attaching thereto, bringing them all back to multiples of turnover allows us to crudely determine what the club might cost.  In the Premiership, Chelsea were sold in 2003 for a multiple of 1.2; Man United in 2005 for 4.7; Newcastle in 2007 for 2.4 and Man City in 2008 for 2.6.   Again the branded franchise and value of Man United comes through.
In the lower divisions (where there is going to be no “goodwill” or “Premiership” factor) it is more likely that the multiple will be lower, or alternatively for debt-ridden clubs that the purchase price will be £1 plus an assumption of the club’s debt.   However for the sake of conjecture let’s put that aside and work off a multiple of 1.2.
Total revenues in English football amounted to £3.2 billion - £2.5 billion in the Premiership; $435 million in the Championship and £200 million for Divisions 1 & 2.  Spreading tis £200 million across the 48 clubs in these divisions equally would give individual turnover of £4.1 million but more accurately the allocation should be weighted towards the teams in Division 1.  Refining the Accrington Stanley turnover along these lines would give turnover of say, £2 million and hence a valuation of £2.4 million. 
Using venture capital provided by Investec of 75%, Brusselsblue needs only find £600,000 himself – a drop in the ocean to a European bureaucrat who has been tucking away schillings at the expense of the Irish taxpayers for years.
Any hey presto, a Belgian owner for Stanley and a pension income stream for the Stillorgan corner-boy – funded out of replica shirt sales to “the Irish guys”. 
Internationally the Germans have it right
The Germans have an uncanny habit of winning the World and European Championships.  Based on technically superiority we might think.   Yes, this is undoubtedly a contributory factor but what it probably overlooked is that the Bundesliga is arguably one of the best administered and financially sound leagues in Europe.
Its’ revenue surprisingly surpasses La Liga and it is second only to the Premiership with turnover of €2 billion (Premiership €2.9 billion).   Along with the Premiership it makes an operating profit - €264 million; Premiership €90 ml – operating profit being defined as results before losses on player purchases transfers.  The latter item turns the Premiership operating profit of €90 million into a total loss of €380 million.
Wage control is prudently managed in the Bundesliga and with a wage to revenue ratio of 51%.  Unlike the Premiership, broadcast revenue is not the largest single source of revenue.  
Another feature of most Bundesliga clubs is that they are fan-owned via the” Verein” system which dictates that each must apply the “50 plus 1” ownership structure i.e. no majority shareholder.   If applied correctly, the fans retain control.   While this may limit investment, it certainly ensures that the League effectively is run by persons more interested in football than in financial return.
Interestingly the prime example of where this system has been manipulated is Hoffenheim, who assisted by an injection of more than €250 million from an ex-player, achieved promotion from non-league to the senior leagues and then the Bundesliga in 2008, where they finished runner-up.   This meteoric rise was accompanied by a popularity in Germany similar to that afforded to Chelsea and Manchester City in the UK, i.e. nil outside their own fan base.
Aside from this example, the Bundesliga appears to maintain as many of the facets of a football league as opposed to a share price index, than any other league in Europe.  Hard to prove or dis-prove but could this explain in any way why the German national team continues to throve while England, drawing from the Premiership (where reverse principles appear to apply) have deteriorated rapidly in recent years.  Interesting thought.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The other Arthur from Dublin

Mad Mary wasn't the only character to grace the centre of Dublin as we were growing up.

We also had Arthur Fields who graced O'Connell Street and particularly "Carlisle Bridge" from 1930 to 1985 taking and selling Polaroid photos of the passers-by.    The photos were developed by in a nearby studio by his wife and it is estimated that he took 182,000 over the course of his photographic career.

These photos have now become a cultural and historical treasure chest recording as they did Dublin life in its' simplest form over a period of 50 years.

An online archive is now being established of the photographs taken by Fields, whose real name was Abraham Feldman and who was born into a Ukrainian Jewish family in 1901 - the family fled antisemitism in Kiev and moved to Dublin in the early 1900s.

The online archive of Fields's work can be seen at

and while the site is not easy to navigate or refresh, it is an interesting browse if you wnat to while away a half hour or so.

Well done Arthur and to think we always thought you were a useless old dirty codger ripping off the public - your time has well and truly come.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I'm all right, guys

The stupidity and arrogance of John Delaney continue to both amaze and infuriate me. How the FAI can continue to leave him in place as the frontman on an organisation with ten of thousands of members while he buffoons his way around the pubs of Europe adopting serious double standards and insulting so many defies belief. But then how can we be surprised at the timidity of an organisation in dealing with this minor problem when it has excelled over the years at pure ineptitude. Maybe they're well suited to each other.

Delaney's denial that it was him singing the Republican song in the pub last Tuesday, only having to retract the denial when the youtube footage was produced says it all. The old Irish political ruse of denying it with a brass neck until you're actually rumbled. And maybe that the kernel of the problem - Delaney is more of an old-time politician than a businessman - stroking a deal from Denis O'Brien (which may be what's keeping him in a job) yet destroying the FAI's finances via the Eircom Park fiasco and the failure to pre-sell Aviva debentures (well done IRFU).   He wasn't wholly responsible for the Bertie Bowl but he was influential. 

And wouldn't the FAI's current debts of €50 million be a lot healthier if they hadn't being paying him his fat salary of €360k (after a 10% voluntary reduction at the end of 2012) - let's face it ten years in the role is a combined salary close to 10% of the associations' current outstandings.   And what did we get from his tenure - sweet fuck all, one miserable trip to Poland and managers like Steve Staunton and Giovanni Trappatoni. Laughable.

So we've got him on the back-handedness and gombeen-ness, adding to that hopeless business skills and inappropriate managerial appointments.

Let's turn to his personal judgement and behaviour. Church Door has already highlighted his mis-judged behaviour at the Euros in Poland.

This latest episode is a further example of his inability to behave in a way that is expected of someone in his position. We've just negotiated a potentially politically charged encounter in Glasgow (with evidence a few days later of some inappropriate chanting by English fans -for which the FA immediately apologised) and we've got the same coming again with games against England and Scotlandnext year at the Aviva. Throw in the rising spectre of Sinn Fein left-wing Republicanism and the approaching emotions revolving around the centenary celebrations around 1916.  Hardly a time for our front-line team to be chanting Republican songs in public you would think.   But what does Delaney do - he responds by laying into the sly user of the cellphone who recorded him singing "Joe McDonnell" by the Wolfe Tones, seeing this a graver evil that the singing of the song in the first place.  Kind of think you missed the point there, John.   You prick.

And to round it off some words from the song, written in memory of the hunger striker who died in 1981 in the Maze.

Oh may God shine on you, Bobby Sands
For the courage you have shown
May your glory and your fame be widely known
And Francis Hughes and Ray McCreesh
Who died unselfishly
And Patsy O'Hara, and the next in line is me
And those who lie behind me
May your courage be the same
And I pray to god my life was not in vain

And though sad and bitter was the year of 1981
All was not lost, but it's still there to be won.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The curious case of Nigel Owens

The continuing debate as to the differences between soccer and rugby; and their attendant fans; received a curious tweak this week with Nigel Owens the rugby referee publicly complaining about the homophobic treatment he received at Twickenham (England v New Zealand) from a section of the crowd. Owens unfortunately receives more media attention for his homosexuality rather than his significant refereeing skills.

On my part there is an element of schadenfreude in reading of his problem. In January 2012 Owens attained notoriety in the rugby world by telling Treviso scrum-half Tobias Botes that "This is not soccer!" implying a better level of behaviour is inherent in the oval-shaped ball game. Maybe now Mr Lewis will recognise that his game as just as many bigots; trouble-makers; racists; and anarchists as soccer does. Ok, well maybe not anarchists – no need for a political revolution for the sheepskin coat brigade. They’re doing quite ok as things are.

Despite my smugness at his current predicament for the reasons outlined above, the issue at hand is one at which he has my complete support. I can just see the offenders – alumni of Oxford and Cambridge; now corporate bankers; Burberry raincoats (with hip-flasks mandatory); a lunch at some institution’s expense and plenty of gargle swilling around in a developing belly which the (trophy) wife has been going on a bit much to him about. Have I been there when I was there age? Yes arguably but I never resorted to insulting queers of poofs because the penalty award went against us.

Owens predicament was probably also experienced by John Blankenstein, the seasoned referee who officiated in 502 FIFA professional games, 88 of which were internationals on the 1980’s and 1990’s. Simultaneously he was a tireless campaigner for the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation. Blankenstein refereed the UEFA Cup final in 1993 and was in the panel for the 1992 European Championship. In 1994 Blankenstein was selected to referee the 1994 UEFA Champions League Final between AC Milan and FC Barcelona, to be replaced only a few days before the match.

The official explanation was never made public (a failing in itself but maybe understandable for the time), but Blankenstein believed it was it was said that it was because the Italian club distrusted him on account of him being openly homosexual. An alternative reason for their objection might validly have been the fact that Barcelona were managed and captained by Johan Cruijff and Ronald Koeman, fellow Dutch nationals.Once has to hope the official reason was the latter, but viewing the non-transparency cynically, one has to think it was actually the former.

Returning to the issue of Owens, one has to hope that the RFU will eventually address the horrible problem that has plagued their game for years (laughing out loud) and deal with the homophobics responsible for this abuse.

A website for Mise le Meas

Here's the standards that you've got to aspire to, Mise.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

WBA 4 Burnley 0

Just get him up to bed .... we gave him every chance to behave.....

Collski the carnivore

Get that fucking taxi here quick!