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Cobblers in financial mess

Kindly reproduced with gratitude to Development Finance Today – an article that highlights the pitfalls that can unfold in sports developmental projects when capital-build is the name of the game.  Over the years, we’ve witnessed several horror stories or simply buildings not fit for purpose for the sports for which they were intended. Also, we ‘County’ fans no the impact of loans rather than equity and how they can lead to demise of a club:

“Buckingham Group has stopped work on the redevelopment of Northampton Town’s East Stand because the contractor has claimed it is owed £3m from its client County Developments Northampton Ltd (CDNL). CDNL, which is jointly owned by Northampton Town Football Club Chairman David Cardoza and his father Anthony Cardoza, has not paid the Buckingham Group.

Northampton Town has recently been issued with a warning from Northampton Borough Council over the repayment of a £10m loan as well as being issued with a petition by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).  Buckingham Group has so far been paid a total of £442,000, net of VAT, by its initial client 1st Land Limited which received a significant proportion of the public loan through its client, Northampton Town FC.

This contract stalled after a dispute between 1st Land and the football club where Buckingham was owed £1.85m. But at the end of March, the contractor had reached an agreement with David Cardoza to return to work and complete work on the new stand.  “This agreement was based on assurances that there were adequate, additional, public loan monies that remained available to fund the completion of the East Stand works,” said Buckingham Group.

A new contract was signed by CDNL and Buckingham returned to work, but a repayment due under the contract was not paid on time in May, leading to another suspension.  Buckingham has claimed that to date, no money has been paid by CDNL and it currently owes £3m, inclusive of an element of VAT, to Buckingham for works completed and for the debt that CDNL took over from 1st Land.  This has resulted in the contractor engaging in legal action against CDNL.  “This regrettable situation has arisen through what we can only conclude is the gross mismanagement and/or the misappropriation of a very significant public loan by those in receipt of that loan,” said Buckingham Group.

“The loan sum advanced to 1st Land Ltd via Northampton Town Football Club was approximately double the value of the original construction contract for the East Stand work.”  On the 22nd October, Northampton Borough Council confirmed CNDL had been wound up, resulting in the Council to look at a wider range of ways to get its £10m loan paid back.  “Our priority is to protect the public purse and ensure that the loan is repaid in full, while also offering support to safeguard the future of the football club,” said the Council. “With that in mind, we have made proposals to David Cardoza and offered to work with the club to avoid being liquidated by the HMRC petition, and we await a decision from David Cardoza on that.”

Last week, David Cardoza said he was working night and day to secure a resolution to all the issues that the club is currently facing.  “There are plenty of headlines surrounding the club at the moment, that’s understandable, but all efforts are being dedicated to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” said David.

“I understand and accept the urgency, I understand the importance, and I am doing everything possible to remove the uncertainty surrounding the club as soon as possible.””

What a Week!

Next week sees the last date of my role at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU).  I have enjoyed my activities and am proud of achievements.  The next challenge will come from my joining the University College of Football Business (UCFB).

This is a logical progression with thirty years in sports management and marketing – and an opportunity to build on the Associate and Guest Lecturing that I have undertaken at MMU, UCFB and University of Northampton.  I will initially lead the modules on Sports Management for Burnley and Wembley Stadium, and Lecture on enterprise in the first semester.

I believe that UCFB is the pinnacle of sports education and this Week’s developments have done nothing to dispel that belief.

On Monday, the University announced its partnership with Real Madrid. It announced: “UCFB to create first ever UK higher education partnership with Real Madrid Graduate School. From September 2016, UCFB’s postgraduate students will be given the opportunity to add to their unique experience of studying inside the famous Wembley Stadium by spending a period of time in Madrid.  The Real Madrid Graduate School’s facilities include the new Sports City and the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, home of Real Madrid.”

On Thursday, UCFB “marked a significant step in its growth with the launch of its third campus at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester. UCFB Etihad Campus will allow students to live, learn and work at the heart of one of Europe’s leading sporting facilities. UCFB’s newest location will see lectures and seminars delivered within the Etihad Stadium itself, building on the unique learning environment harnessed since the pioneering higher education institution was founded. Amongst further Etihad Campus facilities, the agreement will also see the impressive City Football Academy facilities utilised during students’ degree programmes.”

This is why I joined the University and will work whilst continuing to lead ACROBAT Consulting & Marketing LTD and FC Sports Marketing LTD.  The organisation is more commercial than other providers and proudly shows that ninety percent of final year students have secured jobs prior to final examinations.  UCFB setting the standards for others to follow.

Interested to find out more:

Young Turk

Not much gets past us, but when it comes in the form of another language it can present more of a challenge. Thank goodness one of my businesses, FC Sports Marketing LTD operates from the relevant Country of Turkey – and my brother-in-law, Bilen Kur, was available.

An article was about the latest Turkish import, a player with impressive goal-scoring potential and prowess. Here it appeared in the Turkish version of Four Four Two:

We translated it for appreciation and publishing in the UK. A summary was published in the Manchester Evening News:

Anyone interested in the full, unabreviated translation can read it exclusively here:

When Enes Ünal signed for Manchester City, most people couldn’t understand how it happened. The young striker removes the mystery and writes about the days that he achieved his dreams for FourFourTwo.

I am 18 years old Unal. Son of football player Mesut Unal, and the oldest child of my Mother, the big brother of two who follow their Father’s footsteps. I will try to explain for you my journey from Bursaspor to Manchester City with the things accompanying me.

Humanity, exists with the story and this keeps in existence by my sharing these stories with the future generations. We live to leave a mark with our feelings, what we experience and also what we give to other people. Everybody has a story and moments that can be shared with others. My story, running after a football is similar to everyone’s story. It contains every feeling bit by bit. There was at first malaise because of a sudden climate changes, but most often the happiness of where I am and the pride of pursuing my dreams.

I started to write this article’s first lines from the other side of the World. I will be in a different continent next and this story will continue as long as I have dreams. There is a nice adventure in front of me and I feel I am energetic, strong and determined enough to go after this adventure. Now, I will go back to starting point for my story, to the moment that I first opened my eyes from birth.

Everything started in Bursa Zübeyde Hanım A State Hospital, 10th of May, 1997. I opened my eyes. Obviously, I learned these first moments from what I am being told. I remember the tale and I like a lot that I listened to it many times from my Mother. After a smooth operation I was born as a healthy baby except for one issue. My legs were so skewed that my Aunt was trying to fix them with her hands and her efforts were being stopped by my Grandmother. My Mother was upset about my warped legs and started to grumble to the Doctor. The moment that makes the story unforgettable is the sentence that the Doctor said on one of the examinations 18 years ago; “Don’t get upset, he could be a quality football player”.

So, that is how my story begins. And most of the subsequent memories, the moments I remember, contain a football. Like most of the children, my story started by playing between roads and includes many parts from the local games in streets which we were playing in Adapazarı. I can share some of them here.

When I was six or seven years old, I remember football with Tuncay Şanlı (ex Middlesbrough and Stoke City player) who played in Sakaryaspor with my Father. I should mention that, after being ten years old, I had a chance to play with him in the same team.

I keep the date in my mind when Bursaspor was relegated in 2003-04 season. The last game of the season was with Samsunspor and it was in Sakarya (Adapazarı). We were in the stadium with my Father. Bursaspor won the game but was still relegated because of the other games’ results. We left the stadium early because fans seemed to make a scene. I met pepperspray that day! I wasn’t really aware what was going on, but I witnessed one of the worst days of the team I supported, a contrast just like I witnessed the best days a few years later.

With some years in Bursa, I saw a lot of things in this City, even in the two years which I was professional; there are lots of memories that have affected my life. Some of these are the ‘unseen part of an iceberg’ and it is better to leave them there…..

I was in Bursa in my childhood, the best years of my life. The years where everything I learned was new everything I lived was for the first time. That was the hardest thing about when I was leaving. Because of this, I don’t want to dwell on Bursa, if I started it could be a little novel instead of an article in the magazine! I have learned in the streets of Bursa everything I know, I made good friendships. I always liked living in Bursa and I will always be proud to be the kid from Bursa.

Manchester City Days

I had the best moments in Bursaspor but you already know these days, so I will talk about the part you are more curious about.

As you may guess, the first days were hard for me. Especially in the first week I can say I am startled in many ways. I was late to training in my second day in City. It wasn’t my fault though. It was the mistake of the person who is looking after me in the Club, as he told me the wrong time, but never mind! In Turkey, usually the pre-season camps start with adapting to conditions, physical tests and light trainings. But it wasn’t like I expected here. In the first training session, the tempo was so high that I was about to throw up. I started to get used to it slowly and started to be more comfortable both physically and mentally.

After that part of the story, everything was perfect. Team mates had a big role in this situation.
Nobody is arrogant or disrespectful. There is no distinction between young and old players. You feel like one of them in a short time. They make you feel like this on the pitch, in the changing room, during lunch or in parking area, almost everywhere.

In teams, everybody has a nickname which is private to that team, which makes you feel you belong to that group. So I can say nobody called me with my name. Led by Joe Hart, some players called me “Zlatan”. A television crew, as they are doing more visual stuff, called me “Johnny Depp.”

As these ones sympathetic, I feel free to share them here. But there are some other nicknames which need to stay inside!

I believe, it would be nice to share what I have experienced on the pitch. It gives the feeling that it is a high level organization – players are very comfortable at ‘City’. This feeling is valid from the Captain down to the 17 year old player. It is very important in helping a young player develop at Manchester City. One of the coaches I worked with before would yell; “Young players don’t have a chance to lose the ball!” but in here, everybody is motivating each other even if you lose the ball. All they want from young players is to put in an effort. It is that simple and easy! Besides, motivation after a mistake you are given support and praise. They try to keep mentally up in every way. For example, you can make a hard tackle against the Captain Kompany but he doesn’t say anything to you and carries on focussing on his job only. You don’t ever expect that somebody will come for revenge later on in training! A young player can say “it is my ball” (take a throw in or corner ) against an experienced one, and believe me, there are many places it is impossible to say that!

Before training, nice music is played in the changing room and everybody gets in a good mood and then all training is challenging. As I mentioned before, the most important part is the relaxed mood of all players in all age groups. They are giving there best on the pitch and know how to have fun when they are not working. In Turkey, there is big pressure but no system. In here, there is no pressure but an unbelievable system!

I need to wrap up the City part of the story… From Bursa to Manchester, to joining team in Melbourne for pre season camp and then ending at a camp in Vietnam. I am writing these lines in the last part of the 15 hour Vietnam- Manchester flight. We might be on top of Genk. My first experiences in City is getting to an end here. It was very good and an important experience for me. I followed my dreams and realized what I can do. Now, I will be pushing harder. The next stop on this story is Genk and I will write rest of lines about there. Let’s see how Belgium sounds in this story.

Genk Days

After we landed at Manchester my first thought were, the long journeys have ended. The following day, I move to Genk, which is has a 1 hour trip. I recall the Far East journey, it makes me feel like I am just coming back home after each training!

We are at the airport with Batur Altıparmak (my agent). While waiting for the plane, Batur wanted to check my passport and we had a bad surprise, my visa had expired! After a little shock, we just bought tickets for Istanbul and we arrived to Istanbul early in the morning. With the help of Genk’s authorities we sorted out the visa problem quickly and flew to Belgium on the same day and the first lines of the new part unfolds.

Genk is a small city. You can see everything by walking 5 minutes around the City Centre ! As all over Belgium, there are lots of historical artefacts. If you are looking for different things Genk is not the right place, but if you like calm places you are in the right location. You can’t even compare the stress and pressure with Turkey both in the City and the Club. I am writing these notes after I have played three games and I only had a little stress in the last game. And that was because it was a derby game. We trained looking to “There is only one game you must win” dictate all week. By the way, the stress I am talking about is the same amount in a standard league game in Turkey. Unfortunately, we lost the game but fans called us to stands for consultation. Genk fans are great and don’t leave us alone in away as well as home games.

I want to talk a little bit about the pitch. My first target was adapting to the system and I can say I have achieved that. After I started to play in officiaI games, I got rid of the pressure and stress which occurred last season. I feel very good whilst on the pitch. More importantly, I am at peace. The Belgium League is hard and pacey. There might not be the same quality players as in our (Turkish) league but there are athletic and strong players. All teams have a shape and system, there isn’t any teams playing a random game. And this makes, especially away games, really hard. As a result, football authorities call it “the Evolution League”.

I would like to share just a few details about my social life in Belgium. At first, days were training- eating – sleeping. After a tiring pre-season camp, I needed a mental rest , then I started to adapt to a new country. I emphasise again, the calmness of City helped me a lot in this period. I spent my evenings reading books, watching movies and series. I had a chance to watch the movie “In Bruges” which is shot in Bruge where is very close to Genk. I wish I could have seen this masterpiece movie before but in terms of geography, it was the best time I guess.

There are a lot of Turkish people in the City. I hear people talking Turkish whenever I go out. The hospitality of our people is recognisable here as well, they always try to help me. So I don’t feel a stranger. The biggest problem is staying in a hotel but my house will be ready when you are reading this article.

So then there is one thing left; showing good performances on the pitch and saluting you with my goals…


Want to learn more about our activities in Turkey visit: Beware you’ll need to know the native tongue though!


Cheesy but no doubt similarities to headlines in the ‘Red Tops’ as soon as the deal is done. It shouldn’t need translating but a play on words with incoming manager, Jurgen and the famous Anfield Kop.

I’ve put forward my opinion that Ancelotti might be a safer bet, with his track record in Europe and knowing the EPL, but that’s from an armchair EPL follower – and fan of none in that League.

Did I see Klopp in Manchester today? I think not but it’s amazing what that bright yellow of BVB and a hairy chin symbolizes. Maybe there’s a Klopp Minion on the way?

I listened today to Dietmar Hamann on TalkSport. I find his pitch somewhat akin to Jimmy Cranky with a Deutsch twang. Is it just me or is his tone as motivational as a lettuce. Supposed I’m scarred, not by Germans, with many a good friend and colleague from that Country – and lessons to be learned from the fatherland. But, because as Wiki states: “On 5 July 2011, Hamann was appointed as the new manager of newly relegated Conference Premier club Stockport County, replacing Ray Mathias. His appointment was made after businessman Tony Evans headed a consortium proposing taking over the Club. Hamann resigned as Stockport County boss on 7 November 2011, citing the failure of the proposed takeover by Tony Evans to materialise; his team were languishing in 17th place having taken only three wins from his nineteen league games in charge.” A tangled web.

Is Dietmar hoping for a recall to the background coaching staff at Liverpool or is he sitting comfortably in the media room these days. If the former, maybe ‘Clumsy Klott’ would be more appropriate headline?