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Football Thread 2020/2021


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First of this weekends FA cup ties called off for Covid. Southampton v Shrews/Shrowsbury.

 

There simply isn't room in the calendar to accommodate rearranging loads of these ties so suspect they are going to start forfeiting them, which brings its own pressures for small clubs in need of TV money to keep quiet or turn a blind eye to a test or two.

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Villa close training ground after a ‘significant outbreak’ 

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Aston Villa can confirm that the Club has closed its Bodymoor Heath training ground after a significant Coronavirus outbreak.

A large number of first team players and staff returned positive tests after being routinely tested on Monday and immediately went into isolation.

A second round of testing was carried out immediately and produced more positive results today.

First team training ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup match with Liverpool was cancelled.

Discussions are ongoing between medical representatives of the Club, the Football Association and the Premier League.

 

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11 minutes ago, dizogg said:


Not like you to be pessimistic! 

 

Oh come on. At what point does it seem a good idea to keep the season going? 

 

I'd rather see a short suspension now and start again when/if safe to do so. 

 

The scheduling is likely to become way too difficult to cope with properly. 

 

I'd love it too carry on, but we will see more and more postponements.

 

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The difference this time is that a number of clubs are having covid outbreaks, which hasn't really been a thing up until a month or so ago. A break is looking more and more likely on that basis.

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don't recall if you are an Athletic subscriber @Plissken, article in the spoiler on the financials of the takeover and how your lot are now a Poundland Man Utd with your debt fuelled takeover.

 

Spoiler

New Burnley owner ALK Capital borrowed a sum in the region of £80 million from American technology billionaire Michael Dell’s investment firm to complete its takeover of the Premier League club, The Athletic understands.

According to several well-placed sources, ALK paid about £150 million for 84 per cent of Burnley’s shares but has put in only around £15 million of its own money up front. The rest has come from MSD Capital, the private equity firm set up in 1998 to manage the Dell family fortune — and approximately £55 million from Burnley’s own bank account.

Under their previous ownership, a group of local businessmen led by outgoing chairman Mike Garlick, Burnley have made almost £110 million in profits since 2015 and had £42 million in the bank as of June 30, 2019, the last set of club accounts that are publicly available.

Since then, the club have spent almost nothing on transfers, so their cash reserves have grown, despite the impact of the pandemic over the last 12 months. That cash is among the assets ALK has bought and will be used to finance the takeover and invest in players.

MSD’s loan is secured against the club’s assets and was registered at Companies House on December 31, a day after the takeover was announced. MSD has also lent money to Derby County, Southampton and Sunderland, and typically charges borrowers 9.5 per cent annual interest, although that can rise to 12 per cent if various fees are included.

ALK’s managing partner and new Burnley chairman Alan Pace was asked about the loan during a video conference call with the media on Tuesday. He refused to disclose the amount or the terms of the loan but said they are “are absolutely reasonable and in-line with what can be supported by this club and will not take away from the ability to operate on a daily basis”.

When asked if Burnley fans should be concerned that a previously debt-free club now owes money to a private equity firm, Pace said: “Fans should think about it in the same way they would have chosen their mortgage lender. It is about finding the right building society or bank… and making sure it is a reasonable relationship. We think we have found a brilliant partner and we are so happy with them.

“Fans, as they get to know and understand how we’ve done things, will think of it no differently than they look at their own personal lives. We are going to be very responsible for what happens here. We are not going to do things that are silly, that are going to cause problems. We would be silly to repeat the mistakes of others.”

Following that call, The Athletic asked ALK to confirm it had paid £150 million and put in £10-15 million of its own money, with the rest being the cash in the bank and around £80 million from MSD Capital. A spokesperson said: “This information — about both the terms of the loan and structure of the acquisition — is factually incorrect and untrue. ALK Capital will therefore not be commenting further.”

That, however, is not what multiple sources with knowledge of such deals have told The Athletic.

It is highly leveraged — £80 million in debt believes one source, who is clear the MSD debt will be at 12 per cent once the various fees are included.

“American hedge funds are very aggressive when things go wrong — forced sale of players and so on. It won’t end well. They will get relegated in the next few years and the loan will be called, much like Sunderland and (that club’s former owner) Ellis Short. And the problem is Burnley are a relatively small club, historically.”

Another source said: “Manchester United was bought entirely on debt, so it’s not illegal. If (Pace) buys it on debt, can finance that debt, invest in the team, get into Europe and increase the revenues by £50 million a year, then that’s not a bad plan. But it means they have to increase their revenues by £50 million a year, and that isn’t easy.

“In this league, you cannot increase your revenues from the already high revenues we get unless you are in Europe. Anyone who thinks Burnley will be regularly in Europe is insane. I see Burnley crashing badly.”

Three other sources who looked at Burnley’s sale prospectus in the last six months said they had also heard similar numbers for the ALK/MSD deal. One suggested the Lancashire club would be paying more than £10 million in interest every year and would need to sell “two or three players a season” to break even.

MSD Capital has not responded to a request for comment.

Pace, however, is adamant he and his ALK partners can grow the club’s international brand, marketing Burnley as “Britain’s favourite underdog”, and increase commercial income. Only five top-flight clubs made less than Burnley’s £16 million in commercial revenue in 2018-19, with 83.5 per cent of the club’s total income of £138 million coming from the Premier League’s central broadcast deals.

But Burnley’s reliance on media income, which has remained stable apart from the league-wide rebate for finishing last season late after the three months of lockdown, means they have weathered the crisis caused by the pandemic better than most. Their wage-to-turnover ratio of 63 per cent has also contributed to what remains a healthy balance sheet.

Keeping it that way, however, depends on Burnley retaining Premier League status, which had looked under threat when Manchester City thrashed them 5-0 at the end of November. Results have improved since then, though, and Burnley are 16th in the table, on 16 points, five clear of the relegation zone.

Much, as ever, will hinge on manager Sean Dyche’s ability to get the most out of a group of players that is relatively short on quality but scores highly on cohesion, experience and work-rate. That said, Dyche and Burnley’s fanbase will be expecting ALK to invest in the transfer window this month.

When asked about new arrivals on Tuesday, Pace said: “Short term, we need to stay in the Premier League and do a really good job in this window… I hope (Dyche) will be pleased with the way we can support him.”

 

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Yes, I am a subscriber.

 

I'm obviously concerned, but also a little bemused.  The club was going to be taken over by somebody and it was perfectly obvious that that somebody was highly unlikely to be putting up their own money.  No-one has walked into Burnley (the town) in the last forty years and declared that this was the place to make or spend their fortune.  When it comes to business finance, the rules are different - no-one ever spends their own money.  This is doubly so when taking over a sporting club.

 

And when the words "American hedge fund" were first mooted it was obvious that some sort of leveraged buyout was happening.  It can be a Glazer, or it can be a John Henry.  But ultimately millionaires don't become millionaires by spending their own money.  The club was profitable and (pre-Covid) had a lot of cash in the bank.

 

 

The idea that we have to sell players to make a profit, well, duh, that was the plan before ALK and it very clearly is the plan afterwards - Alan Pace gave an interview* basically saying that the idea is to attract players to the academy and develop them - of course the ultimate plan is to sell them on.  That is what we've done with Jay Rod, Danny Ings, Kieran Trippier, Andre Gray, Michael Keane, with Tarkowski next in the summer and Dwight McNeil after that.  If we get better at it, then fine by me.  It seems much more sustainable to me that the approach of, say, a West Ham, who are about to lose more money on Sebastian Haller in 18 months than our transfer record.

 

In short, am I happy that for the first time in 140 years, the club is not owned by someone from the area?  Of course not. But the outgoing Chairman was faced with Hobsons Choice.  Clearly the business model had gone as far as it could - the wage bill has increased tenfold since 2014 and is still in the bottom three in the Premier League. The best he could hope for was keeping it away from a "mysterious Egyptian consortium headed by a bloke who had previously serially been in charge of various clubs that failed".  Someone from "outside" is going to come in and buy the club and that someone is going to be using financial fun and games to do it because that is the norm these days.  We're now owned by three Mormons who were a success in MSL, rather than a dodgy Saudi prince, a Russian oligarch or Ken Bates**.  We've gone from being the model business and a complete football exception to pretty much like everyone else in the top two divisions.  It's not much, but it's something.  The feeling among the fan base is best described as "nervous, cautious optimism".

 

*The full press conference is on Youtube, by the way.  What I did notice was that he wasn't badge kissing, sucking up to the fans and promising trophies and European runs.  To me, it seems that he knows what he's getting into.

 

** Almost bought us in the 70s, but took Chelsea instead.  Bob Lord was many things (including a vicious anti-semite), but saw him coming even then.

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Not sure what you lot have thought of football during the pandemic, but the sad reality for me is that I'm massively struggling to enjoy it.

 

1.  It's just so soulless in empty stadia.  Canned crowd noise isn't going to help!!

2. When you add even more appalling VAR inconsistencies into it, it seems the main drama isn't atmospheric or dramatic, it's the ineptitude of officials

3. The lack of any kind of preseason is MASSIVELY affecting consistencies throughout the league.  I suppose you could argue that it makes things less predictable but when your club's supporters seem utterly incapable of handling anything other than a comfortable victory, it sucks the joy out of the game.  I also think that lack of preseason has fucked around with the conditioning of players - there are more muscle injuries than usual.  Can't be a coincidence.

4. International breaks at the start of the season - pointless at that - combined with the lack of preseason, also badly affected the preparation for games, and took away yet more important time that should have been spent on the training ground in the early days of the season

5. The Covid affect - as players/squads have to isolate, it must be incredibly frustrating to have to work around this problem.  And when you read about brainless 'professionals' (Grealish, Mendy, Walker etc - fucking idiots, the lot of them) showing no disregard for the rules, it only exacerbates the problem.

 

I go on social media and it's full of entitled babies throwing their toys out of the pram because Team A didn't beat Team B who themselves lost to Team C, who Team A beat comfortably earlier in the season.  I fail to understand why these people follow football as it clearly doesn't give them much joy.

 

I suppose I just have more important things to worry about right now (lockdown, imminent house move), but it's meant that I've actually not bothered to watch some of our games, despite having Sky Sports, Amazon Prime etc.  I still watch when I can, but I certainly don't prioritise watching Wolves over other things like I used to.  I appreciate that we actually aren't playing as well as we did last season or the season before, but that's not the reason my interest is waning - I used to go every week when we were actually really shit, during the halcyon McGhee/Lee years, and we're a million miles away from that standard!!

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It's definitely a bit shit at the moment, but I still love the sport and watch it every week.

 

It's a tough season for Wolves but I'm actually finding the shift in our tactics and the manouvering in the market we're doing really interesting.  I'm sure many fans in here have seen their club's go through shifts before, but it's the first time at Wolves I can remember seeing a manager trying to change their approach so much.

 

Having said that, getting to 35 to 40 points is probably the most pressing thing for us right now, which feels a bit crap to a lot of fans after three years of solid progress.

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The Zaha to Arsenal rumours have started again I see. 

 

I get it. He's understandably worth £70m to Palace and maybe £35m - £40m to clubs like Arsenal, which makes the whole situation untenable for all parties until his contract runs out.

 

For Brighton, the Lion of Judah - Percy Tau has arrived along with his fanatical social media fan base. It only took 2 1/2 years and Brexit from us signing him to actually getting him to play for us rather than being trapped in Belgium and playing glamorous Champions League football.

 

There's no way he'll save us but it'll be nice to see him play here for a bit.

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2 hours ago, Boothjan said:

Not sure what you lot have thought of football during the pandemic, but the sad reality for me is that I'm massively struggling to enjoy it.

 

1.  It's just so soulless in empty stadia.  Canned crowd noise isn't going to help!!

2. When you add even more appalling VAR inconsistencies into it, it seems the main drama isn't atmospheric or dramatic, it's the ineptitude of officials

3. The lack of any kind of preseason is MASSIVELY affecting consistencies throughout the league.  I suppose you could argue that it makes things less predictable but when your club's supporters seem utterly incapable of handling anything other than a comfortable victory, it sucks the joy out of the game.  I also think that lack of preseason has fucked around with the conditioning of players - there are more muscle injuries than usual.  Can't be a coincidence.

4. International breaks at the start of the season - pointless at that - combined with the lack of preseason, also badly affected the preparation for games, and took away yet more important time that should have been spent on the training ground in the early days of the season

5. The Covid affect - as players/squads have to isolate, it must be incredibly frustrating to have to work around this problem.  And when you read about brainless 'professionals' (Grealish, Mendy, Walker etc - fucking idiots, the lot of them) showing no disregard for the rules, it only exacerbates the problem.

 

I go on social media and it's full of entitled babies throwing their toys out of the pram because Team A didn't beat Team B who themselves lost to Team C, who Team A beat comfortably earlier in the season.  I fail to understand why these people follow football as it clearly doesn't give them much joy.

 

I suppose I just have more important things to worry about right now (lockdown, imminent house move), but it's meant that I've actually not bothered to watch some of our games, despite having Sky Sports, Amazon Prime etc.  I still watch when I can, but I certainly don't prioritise watching Wolves over other things like I used to.  I appreciate that we actually aren't playing as well as we did last season or the season before, but that's not the reason my interest is waning - I used to go every week when we were actually really shit, during the halcyon McGhee/Lee years, and we're a million miles away from that standard!!

I've definitely watched a lot, lot less this season, compared to project restart, which saw me watching nearly every game that was on TV (I quite liked those 5pm kick-offs).

 

For me it's not for any of the reasons you state though - if nothing else, it's ensured there's a lot more to talk about - but I've mainly been doing other stuff rather than falling out of love with the game. I'm actually looking forward to a weekend of FA Cup action across what feels like about 40 channels/websites - whilst my interest in the FA Cup in general has waned massively these days (I don't even remember the last time I watched a final), the 3rd round is still a fun weekend. Hoping for some giant-killing!

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Good write up @Plissken.  I’m a season ticket holder and don’t know what to make of it really. I don’t know if it’s because the pandemic and distance from the club has affected me but I’m ambivalent for some reason. I think I’m kind of like “well let’s see what happens”.
 

It’s not like the old ownership was sustainable if we wanted to remain at the top table. We had to get investors in to continue. The manager would have probably left too - which obviously would be a disaster. 

 

I was impressed by the press conference with Pace the other day. Yes, they were only words but with the situation as it is I think it’s going to be a while before we see any changes.   
 

The scepticism is understandable. They have it all to prove. But I’m not getting bothered by it yet.


I think we’ve done as well as we could with the previous financial model. Now let’s see if we can improve the infrastructure and help this great manager improve the 1st team.

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Age of Aston Villa's starting XI when James Milner made his professional debut for Leeds in November 2002:

Onodi - 1
Bridge - 2
Revan - 2
Walker - 2
Rowe - 3
Chrisene - Not born
Barry - Not born
Kesler - Two weeks old
Sylla - Not born
Raikhy - Three weeks old
Bogarde - Not born
 

I think @dizogg is going to get his revenge drubbing and more. :lol:

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It is reassuring that the drubbing has rankled Klopp so much he's decided to put a side that's more or less full strength against a team that's arguably weaker than the side we'll put out in the U18s Cup.

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3 minutes ago, BabelRich said:

Not sure we had anyone quite the quality of Mane and Salah on the pitch that game. 
 

Henri Fucking Landsbury anyone?

 

I hope your kids do you proud like ours did against you lot.

 

Good luck. :)

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1 minute ago, bradigor said:

 

I hope your kids do you proud like ours did against you lot.

 

Good luck. :)


Ta mate. I’d be made up of Louie Barry can sneak a goal but I doubt it. A harsh lesson in football is incoming. 
 

1 - 0 as I type :lol:

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4 minutes ago, BabelRich said:

Not sure we had anyone quite the quality of Mane and Salah on the pitch that game. 
 

Henri Fucking Landsbury anyone?


Well obviously not, you don’t have anyone that good at your club. 
 

How are Liverpool now getting shit for respecting the FA Cup and playing the team that they had planned to? It’s Villa players that got Covid, not our issue!

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2 minutes ago, dizogg said:

Well obviously not, you don’t have anyone that good at your club. 

I knew you’d say that. Tedious. I obviously meant we didn’t play any of our best players. 

 

3 minutes ago, dizogg said:

 

How are Liverpool now getting shit for respecting the FA Cup and playing the team that they had planned to? It’s Villa players that got Covid, not our issue!


This is fair. Not Liverpool’s job to play gently because we have to field a 3rd string team. 

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40 minutes ago, BabelRich said:


Ta mate. I’d be made up of Louie Barry can sneak a goal but I doubt it. A harsh lesson in football is incoming. 
 

1 - 0 as I type :lol:

You got your wish :D

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