Neil Doncaster Predicted Financial Disaster Before – Was He Right?

In 2002, the Football League in England had its multi-million pound football deal collapse when ITV Digital went bust.

There were dire predictions of financial disaster for the members of the Football League, on the basis that they had all budgeted for the ON Digital riches, without realising that the demand for watching Bristol City v Huddersfield might not match the demand for Manchester United v Arsenal or Real Madrid v Barcelona.

One of the Football League Chief Executives who spoke out about the collapse and the Titanic scale disaster about to sink the Football League was the Chief Executive of Norwich City.

He was quoted in the Guardian on 28th March 2002 saying:- “If Granada and Carlton are allowed to escape their liability they will put at risk a very large number of Football League clubs. At Norwich we are budgeting for a £12m income next year, £2m of which is television money. Even if we receive that we are heading for a £2m loss – £4m would obviously be unsustainable.”

The Chief Executive was Mr Neil Doncaster, now supremo of the SPL.

 

Norwich did not go bust, and indeed are now, as far as I am aware, in the Premiership.

At that stage the predictions were dire. As the Guardian put it:-

“Football bosses yesterday warned of impending disaster, with dozens of clubs going to the wall and wholesale redundancies among players as a result of the ITV Digital decision.

The chairmen of the 72 clubs in the Football League reacted with undisguised fury towards Carlton and Granada, the channel’s owners, claiming the companies had acted in bad faith in failing to uphold their end of the deal. Many warned that their clubs would be in dire financial straits unless the broadcasters paid up.

In a statement, the Football League vowed to use all available means to pursue Carlton and Granada for the remaining rights, fees, damages and costs of the deal.

Keith Harris, chairman of the Football League, said: “The actions of Carlton and Granada threaten the survival of professional football in this country, which would have a devastating effect on many local communities. They will not succeed.”

The clubs stand to lose more than £178m, with first division clubs forgoing £3m each, and second division and third division clubs £600,000 and £400,000 respectively.“

 

The Football League failed in its efforts to have the courts order Carlton and Granada to pick up the bill, as reported in the Guardian on 1st August 2002.

The warning of “dozens of clubs going to the wall” failed to come true. Since the collapse of ITV Digital 26 English Football League and Premier League clubs have entered administration, and indeed 10 of these did so in the two years following the failure of the TV deal.

None of them folded however.

 

Even though Mr Doncaster and his members have been very anxious now about the effects of Rangers not being in the SPL, with talk of four clubs in the League going bust immediately, perhaps he should take re-assurance from someone whose team survived the ITV Digital debacle, which was clearly in its scale a far large financial cataclysm for the Football League than the demise, should it happen, of Rangers would be.

The Daily Record on 9th July 2009 reported the words of a former Chef Executive of a Football League team.

Referring to the ITV Digital situation he said:-

“At the time ITV Digital collapsed we had budgeted to receive £3million in TV money and ended up with a deal which brought in £1m so over a two-year spell we ended up with a £4m shortfall.

“I can only speak from our experiences … and it was very difficult. “

“It was a difficult time but the clubs got through it at that time and I think they’re stronger for it.”

 Who is this voice of realism and calm?

Step forward Mr Neil Doncaster, who was the newly appointed head of the SPL!

 

 

Posted by Paul McConville (with huge thanks to BillyBhoy68 for his marvellous researches, as always!)

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27 Comments

Filed under Football Governance, SPL

27 responses to “Neil Doncaster Predicted Financial Disaster Before – Was He Right?

  1. scapa

    Am rapidly coming to the conclusion, that ND would be hard pushed to locate his backside, even if he was firmly grasping it with both hands

  2. garry88

    Fantastic stuff , ND mr mealy mouthed is simply sh1tt1ng himself no wonder after Jardine & McCoists public outbursts , the league is doomed to failure anyway it has got nothing to do with RFC , the SPL format has been an unmitigated disaster since its inception ,
    It has caused a chasm rather than a gap between Celtic RFC & the rest rangers will take their med wether they like it or not, BUT i do feel the whole set up must & will change maybe @ the end of next season …

  3. Ed

    Good spot on the quotes – I’m willing to bet that Doncaster is being paid (or at least incentivised) on financial results as boss of the SPL. I would also be willing to bet that there was a nice big fat bonus cheque heading his way on completion of the proposed new TV deal – a bonus cheque that he probably sees as being at risk without zombie RFC. I can’t see there being any financial upside for him in maintaining sporting integrity so I suspect his decision on their re-entry will be somewhat compromised.

    All in my opinion of course.

  4. Carntyne

    Doncaster has a different face for every occasion.

    Like a politician, he never answers the question he is asked.

    He only answers the question he would prefer to have been asked.

    His comments are unreliable.

  5. So ND shows he can be good for football – clubs, after all, seem to become great successes once he leaves

  6. BlantyreKev

    Hey! Internet bampots! This is not part of the agenda, pipe down!

  7. Rossewan

    ‘The warning of “dozens of clubs going to the wall” failed to come true. Since the collapse of ITV Digital 26 English Football League and Premier League clubs have entered administration, and indeed 10 of these did so in the two years following the failure of the TV deal.’

    That’s over 25% of all clubs, equating pro rata to 3 clubs in the spl. Do you think the spl could survive with 3 teams in administration?

  8. CE

    Got a mate who is a big Norwich fan, and due to ND’s pessimistic utterances at the time of ONDigital’s collapse, they bestowed him with the moniker ‘Doomcaster’.

    Doomcaster and Topping(despite shareholder revolts) are probably both in line for financial reward for shafting Scottish Football and Society.

  9. Al Ross

    I happened on your site a couple of days ago and am really enjoying it none of the usual polarised views just reasoned comment an oasis let me tell you ! Something though Paul that concerns me you have posted on SPL and SFA rules and indeed how D&P are getting quoted as working for RFC rather than the Creditors which is what the CoS appointed them to do yet our fantastic press are strangely silent on both fronts.Surely they must have access to the same information sources and at the end of the day stuff like this adds to the public’s understanding of the macinations which are going on and dare I say it sell papers, any thoughts on why they are not going down this road?

    • gopaul

      the press you talk about probably cant read……….

      remember they been given lines to talk from above….. for so many years.

    • Bhoywonder

      No idea where you get that “our” press are fantastic unless of course you of a specific persuasion. Good investigative journalism is a term Scottish journalists treat with contempt. Why has there been no investigative journalist addressing these small and seemingly inconsequential matters?:

      Continuously highlight the plight of the hundreds of creditors, who are the victims in all this, not RFC (ia)

      Investigated and produced informed and accurate details of the EBT’s and who received them going back 10 + years,

      Continually question D&P as to why, apart from offloading 2 duds since day one, have done absolutely nothing for the £2m they have pocketed.

      These are just three issues to give them a starter for ten. In fact nothing appears to be getting reported at all, except of course the pending demise of Rangers FC (ia), an relatively anonymous trucker, Neil Doncaster and their beloved SPL and SFA

      To add nonsense to all of this, Hamish Mackay of the Drum (the beating heart of the Scottish national press….not) has the audacity to condemn the only investigative journalist worthy of the term, Alex Thomson, Channel4, who attempted to ask these questions in the face of unbelievable intimidation.

      Fantastic?…emm….sorry, but I’ll take a lot more convincing on that one

  10. Excellent stuff, and a great example of how stories can be properly told with good journalism. Contrast this with the comments by one Mr Jackson, the ex-sub who is reported in the Drum defending the inept ‘churnos’ who have been resposnible for the worst standards the noble profession has seen in years.

    One can only surmise that Mr Jackson is at least admitting to being a pretty duff sub-editor.

    He has my own thanks on behalf of Scottish journalists everywhere for being yet another one who is making us all look like incompetent illiterates.

    YES, sports journalism IS different – IT’S REALLY EASY! But they are JOURNALISTS none the less, so we, the public, would expect that when just ONE proper story comes their way after decades of getting their quotes etc written for them – along with plenty of subsidised/on expenses grub and booze – none of them can be bothered.

    Or maybe they just don’t remember what they were trained to do?

    None of them deserves half the pay the average fans gets – even though most are on double what the people who pay for the game take home. They are worse than any cheating club because it is THEIR JOB to uncover these stories on our behalf. It’s not just Scottish football that needs to clean house.

    • How exactly are journalists ‘worse than any cheating club’? I’ll give the benefit of doubt by suggesting you got a bit carried away when you typed that line.

      You say it’s a journalist’s job to uncover stories on your behalf. At its most base level, a journalist’s job is to write stories which will sell papers. Newspapers are not a public service, they are commercial organisations run by shareholders who demand profit, meaning big pressure on editors to keep sales up (or, these days, minimise the amount they fall by).

      Look at the reaction to Mark Daly’s excellent BBC Scotland documentary into Craig Whyte back in October. Whyte labelled it ‘lies’, said he would sue and claimed bias. The reaction? Hundreds of Rangers fans gathered at Pacific Quay to protest against the very organisation which had just uncovered the mess they were in.

      The BBC can withstand a boycott by half the Old Firm. Commercial media outlets cannot. Rangers fans did not want to hear the truth, and given their likelihood of turning on anyone perceived to be ‘against them’, I can see why sports editors were reluctant to dig too deeply until the story became too big to ignore.

      In writing this, I am well aware that the Rangers saga is probably the most important story to have ever hit Scottish football, as those of us who were looking around online knew it would be a year ago.

      But in Scotland, transfer gossip sells papers, complex financial what-ifs do not. A sports journalist who is banned from Ibrox or Parkhead is of limited use to his employers. Over the years the Old Firm have been happy to throw their weight around, knowing it was commercially imperative for the papers to lie back and take it.

      In writing this I am not seeking to defend everything the sports media have done. They have come out of this with their credibility badly affected. But it’s too easy to blame the hack-pack for everything. In an ideal world, they would be checking power and unearthing injustice at every turn. In the real world, they have to sell papers.

      By all means, criticise the Scottish sports media. But don’t do so without looking at the commercial environment in which they have to work. The Rangers fans who didn’t want to hear the truth have got to look at their own role in why this didn’t come to light years ago.

      PS I agree with you that the story, above, is an excellent bit of work.

    • How exactly are journalists ‘worse than any cheating club’? I’ll give the benefit of doubt by suggesting you got a bit carried away when you typed that line.

      You say it’s a journalist’s job to uncover stories on your behalf. At its most base level, a journalist’s job is to write stories which will sell papers. Newspapers are not a public service, they are commercial organisations run by shareholders who demand profit, meaning big pressure on editors to keep sales up (or, these days, minimise the amount they fall by).

      Look at the reaction to Mark Daly’s excellent BBC Scotland documentary into Craig Whyte back in October. Whyte labelled it ‘lies’, said he would sue and claimed bias. The reaction? Hundreds of Rangers fans gathered at Pacific Quay to protest against the very organisation which had just uncovered the mess they were in.

      The BBC can withstand a boycott by half the Old Firm. Commercial media outlets cannot. Rangers fans did not want to hear the truth, and given their likelihood of turning on anyone perceived to be ‘against them’, I can see why sports editors wanted to avoid this until the story became too big to ignore.

      In writing this, I am well aware that the Rangers saga is probably the most important story to have ever hit Scottish football, as those of us who were looking around online knew it would be a year ago.

      But in Scotland, transfer gossip sells papers, complex financial what-ifs do not. A sports journalist who is banned from Ibrox or Parkhead is of limited use to his employers. Over the years the Old Firm have been happy to throw their weight around, knowing it was commercially imperative for the papers to lie back and take it.

      In writing this I am not seeking to defend everything the sports media have done. They have come out of this with their credibility badly affected. But it’s too easy to blame the hack-pack for everything. In an ideal world, they would be checking power and unearthing injustice at every turn. In the real world, they have to sell papers.

      By all means, criticise the Scottish sports media. But don’t do so without looking at the commercial environment in which they have to work. The Rangers fans who didn’t want to hear the truth have got to look at their own role in why this didn’t come to light before it did.

      PS I agree with you that the story, above, is an excellent bit of w

    • I’m reasonably sure that the sub-editor’s name was Johnson, not Jackson.
      Jack Johnson, as I recall, (albeit with slightly less certainty).
      I left a comment on that article pointing to the fact that it does not surprise me in the slightest that one of the worst articles I’ve ever read was written by a former sub-editor in the mainstream media. It serves only to confirm the extent of the problem which we’re up against.

  11. Al Ross

    I wonder he said tongue firmly placed in cheek if we can draw any correalation between Journalists not being able to hack any more and their lack of doing any digging. Naw I think Kenny has the rights of it.

  12. Sara Richards

    Can I persuade any of you regulars to turn your forensic attention to Craig Whyte’s involvment with Pritchard Stockbrokers ? I discovered this wonderful site soon after the FSA served a Supervisory Notice on Pritchard on 10th Feb, freezing all assets, following use of client money to meet the firm’s own expenses. There was a happy time when I had no idea who CW was!! – not being a football fan, although I have always enjoyed the ‘politics’ of the game…I digress. Anyway, it transpired that CW had ‘invested’ in Pritchard to the tune of about £250k and somehow got himself appointed Company Secretary of Pritchard in 2010. Special Administrators were appointed in March to sort out the mess (there will be a substantial shortfall on client funds) and I shall be attending the Creditors meeting on 14th May – I would love to know more/anything about CW’s involvment/appointment – how/why etc. As a result of all this I also now have a long list of things which puzzle me about just how the FSA and the world of stockbroking operates – how could someone like CW possibly slip under the FSA radar for instance…….they need to read this column for a start. You would think that the FSA might be better placed than the world of ‘football’ to detect a rotten apple but it seems not. Keep up the good work all of you.

  13. What an excellent article this one is.
    Lest we forget who to thank, let it be recorded that the appointment of Neil Doncaster was made by an SPL sub-committee consisting of Rangers CEO Martin Bain, Hibs chairman Rod Petrie and former Rangers player and ex-chairman of Hibs Lex Gold. It took them six months.
    I shudder to think of the calibre of candidate who was rejected during those six months if the very best candidate turned out to be Mr. Doncaster, a man singularly lacking in vision and also the victim of a complete personality bypass.

  14. Geddy Lee

    Shocking hypocrisy yet again from Doncaster.

    To say this man is not “Fit for purpose” is stating the obvious but really, he should be made to explain why the English clubs ALL survived yet we face imminent meltdown should rangers not keep their place at the top table.

    I wonder what Mainstream jounalist will be the first to steal this little nugget?

    I shall certainly be rubbing it in their faces, further highlighting their appalling coverage of this farce.

  15. Pingback: Neil Doncaster – CVA and Newco – What’s The Difference (As Long as Newco Accepts Oldco’s Punishment?) | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

  16. Pingback: Neil Doncaster Predicted Doom and Disaster for a Larger SPL – Now He Wants a Larger SPL | Random Thoughts Re Scots Law by Paul McConville

  17. Peter

    On a lighter note – had to laugh at this comment on a BBC article: “Expanded SPL included in proposed overhaul” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18795597?postId=113033721#comment_113033721

    “quote”
    166.
    englishman abroad
    2 Hours ago

    Who would have thought that Scottish football could ever be so entertaining.

    When all of this is over what will the movie and musical be called:

    Once Upon A Time In The West

    As Good As It Gets

    The Unforgiven

    The Anti-Social Network

    The Usual Suspects II

    Titanic II

    Reservoir Dogs II

    Friday The 13th – The Prequel

    Indecent Proposal I, II & III

    “unquote”

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