Lord Mahwinney's reign can only be seen as an epic failure TSS March 7, 2010 Leeds United 14 Comments Not a friend of many Leeds United fans, few will shed any tears when Lord Mahwinney finally leaves the chair of the Football League this month, for his reign at the top has been like a thorn in the side of our club ever since we entered his league a few seasons back. His personal vendetta with Ken Bates led to an unprecedented 25 point deduction for the same administration proceedings and the various involvements he’s had with Leeds United since have seldom been productive for our club. For me, the chair of a governing body like the Football League should have a background in law, or at least have some experience as head of a sporting institution. Mahwinney ticked neither box. What he did bring to the party was a Ph.D in physics and a career in politics. Hardly seems the kind of guy to address the issues of the working mans favourite sport. It’s not that he didn’t have some successes, but on the whole he often looked like a fish out of water, trying to rule a crumbling financial mess of a football league by hindering them further and putting the very existance of these football clubs in the balance. For a man who was supposed to represent the members teams that made up the league, he did very little to help them. His points deductions and other penalties did nothing but push clubs closer to bankruptcy, all the while, Mahwinney was using his physics degree to see how exactly he could implement the much discussed “goal-line technology.” Whilst the bigger issues of club ownership and financing were brushed under the carpet with his famous “fit and proper persons test” and points deductions, Mahwinney focused his efforts on being the celebrity football league chairman we’d all so desperately craved! At least, in his mind anyway. New owners arrived at Notts County bigging up their Premier League ambitions and flashing imaginery cash at anyone gullible enough to believe they had any. Despite some questionable background checks made by the mass media, the owners passed Mahwinney’s fit and proper test with no problems whatsoever. A circus show involving Sol Campbell and Sven Goren Eriksson was to follow before it became clear that these mysterious owners couldn’t put their money where there mouth was, leaving County on the brink of doom. They survived – just, although the long-term implications of their estranged owners incompetence may be long and devastating for the club. Meanwhile, Mahwinney was putting his Ph.D to good use by assessing the need for goal-line technology in the game. Refusing to allow his fit and proper persons catastrophe to be brought into question, he was much more interested in how the position of the ball could be monitored in relation to the goal-line… yawn… To sum up, Lord Mahwinney’s reign at the top of the Football League should be remembered for his bulletproof ability to skirt over the major flaws in the game that are seeing club after club forced into administration. The owners of clubs are still allowed anonymity even after the Notts County catastrophe. Governing the members of the league was done so with an iron fist throughout. Attempts to help these member clubs in their time of need were non-existant. Instead, futher punishment would be given to them. Punishment that ultimately, only the supporters would really feel. He had two major problems to address when he started which were financing of football clubs and the transparency of their owners. He failed miserably at both. Good riddance. So, where does the incoming chairman start? Well, remembering where your breads buttered would be a good start. Football clubs should be assisted when the financing has gone wrong and helped in every way possible to ensure their survival. Afterall, it’s the fans that fund the football league and they’ll be funding nothing if some idiot destroys their club. More to the point, it’s the football leagues fault for not curbing spending in the first place and allowing things to escalate to this level – not to mention the inept chairman they allow control! Secondly, the fans of every club throughout the nation deserve total transparency with regards to their owners. To understand the success of football, you have to understand who makes it pay. The fans are what matter and Notts County proved they have a right to be concerned. If a football clubs ultimate benefactors insist on hiding, then there’s probably something to hide! “B-b-but, what about goal line technology?” Address the other issues and you can stick a camera on my head to judge where the ball is in relation to the goal for all I care. Caffrey C My contempt for this man knows no bounds! If he was a horse, he would have been shot long ago TheReaper08 And lets not forget the compassion shown to clubs like Luton either. The argument that we should know who owns our club also rests with this man and his cronies, they set the rules and Bates has just expoited them. Good riddance, let’s hope the next person through the door has the fans interests to heart. Craig Should that not be “attempted to exploit them”? Being docked a further 15 points at the start of last season was proof that Bates’ cunning plan backfired spectacularly. Craig Apologies – the season before last! Tempus fugit. TheReaper08 It should be ‘exploit’ as opposed to ‘expoit’ but my guess is you werenot picking upon my spelling. My point is actually in reference to non disclosure of owners. Bates doesn’t have to declare who owns the club under football league rules. Colin Bit harsh TSS me thinks. What do you want the head of the Football League to do? Side with Leeds when they go into admin during the penultimate game of the season when it was pretty much impossible for Leeds to stay up in the Championship. Side with a man like Ken Bates, who gives non football debtors 10p in the pound? Is it okay for Leeds to not pay the St. John’s Ambulance what they were owed?? We are where we are because of Leeds United. Whether it’s previous boards or the current one, they caused this situation, not the Football League chairman. Let’s say that tomorrow, Charlton & Norwich go into admin. You’ll disagree with them getting -10 points and if they don’t pay off the tax bill then they get another -15 as well? Remember, Bates played the game and it was the lax rules that allowed him to get away with it. You mentioned your unhappiness with the fit and proper persons test and the lack of transparency, allowing bad owners to come in (i guess you mean Bates). Well that’s fine and I’m no fan of Bates either, but the lax rules set down by the Football League allowed Ken Bates to front a consortium that saved Leeds. We were minutes away from non existence. Ken Bates came in and saved the club. Under stricter rules (ie. exactly who is fronting the money), that wouldn’t be allowed to happen. And I agree, that is exactly what should happen. However had that been the case then we wouldn’t have a club to support. There were NO others willing to take on Leeds when we went belly up. There were NO decent parties willing to buy Leeds. Through a loop hole, Bates took over the club. It was either that or non existance. That loop hole was allowed by the Football League chairman. Maybe we should be grateful to him. Colin Look at what’s happening to Portsmouth. I hate to say it but they’re knackered. They’re gone. They won’t find someone to bail them out. We were minutes away from non existance. But Bates/FSF/money launderers/whoever came in and took it over. Are Portsmouth going to find someone who will pay off all the debt and invest millions in keeping them going?? No. Can they pay the wages of expensive contracts and still survive on the money they get in from the turnstiles? No. They’ve had it. We were there, but someone did come in, the only person who came in, and that was Bates and his crew. Has he screwed the club? Yep. Is Leeds a cash making scheme to make money for Bates and FSF? Yep. But at least we have a club to screw over. All perfectly legitimate under Mawhinney’s reign. Craig Fair points Colin. Bates may look like your lecherous old grandad but he’s a wily old bird. mikelufc There were NO others willing to take on Leeds when we went belly up. There were NO decent parties willing to buy Leeds. Through a loop hole, Bates took over the club. It was either that or non existance. That is the sweetener that makes suffering Bates possible. For that we must be forever grateful and give him a resounding cheer when he buggers off. Craig But a sweetener nonetheless… One thing I have learned through life Mike is that no one is ever as bad (or as good) as we imagine. When Ken Bates took over the reigns at Leeds so many ‘fans’ went on the warpath not at Bates himself but at their idea of Bates: He was previously associated with Chelsea (enter tribal hatred); he took a gamble and became obscenely rich (stirs up jealously); he tends to be bombastic and to believe his own publicity (being honest I would like something of his self-belief); he knows how to play the system (lucky sod); he will not tell us everything we want to know about our club (something we feel we deserve but may not be in the club’s commercial interest) etc. etc. OK, so Bates is so supremely self-confident that he cares not what people think and thus does nothing to mollify the view of those who have already made up their mind about him – probably a wise move since there are none so blind as those who will not revise their opinion. What I have learned from this life lesson is that if I do allow myself to take off my blinkers I tend to find that those I despise or admire are actually a lot like me. There are bad and good motives living within my mortal shell that cause some to pigeonhole me (often the ones who see something they don’t like about themselves displayed in me) but don’t stop others getting close enough to find out that, underneath it all, I’m trying to make my way just like they are. This is why I tend not to scapegoat either Grayson or Bates when I become angry, worried or upset about the present state of my club. I hope that, one day, he is replaced by a more affable character with the long term interests of our club at his heart – but the last of those was called Ridsdale and look what a mess he made. Matt BB The chap who bought Portsmouth will doubltess end up repurchasing them after administration, it was through no accident that Ken Bates bought the club back. If you have strong knowledge of the business model and its requirements you will have an advantage over any other purchasers. He also had the backing of a major creditor (FSF) who seemingly only wanted his consortium to win. Anyway I digress. Lord Mawhinney has actually made life worse for clubs who are in financial difficulty and this is borne out of jhaving no knowledge of football prior to bcoming chairman of the football league. Like many other former politicians he will sdoubltess hold a number of roles as a managing director, non executive director, bu this is one which needs a head full time and with experience. The principle that a good business head, and some experience of leadership is enough is a total joke. All the moronic chairman who scented bllod when we were in administration and decided to vote for a further decuction of points were like turkeys voting for christmas, most other clubs dont have leeds’ inherent resources of a huge fanbase, and players to sell. Look whatsa happened to Luton and Chester, both circling the plughole. The fact of the matter is that a proper leader would never have proposed this as an option. Football is football, finance is finance. The two should remain separate, wage caps, transfer spending limits, these are all sensible things that he should have brought in, instead he dealt with the symptoms alone, ie what to do when a patient becomes terminally ill.. as opposed to how do we stop a healthy club becoming ill? Lord Mawhinney had an issue with Ken Bates, we all do, it was totally unprofessional and very blinkered to punish the football club however. Ken was only going to walk away with his money in the bank, we would have been left with nothing. I could rant and rant, but enough to say that it is excellent that Lord Mawhinney is going, and sad that he didnt resign. West Stand Rebel My feeling about Bates and the situation at the Club when he came in was that the inevitable i.e. Administration wss merely being postponed. When things conspired against Bates with relegation to the third tier for the first time in our history becoming a certainty he pressed the button. He did this in the knowledge that the creditors could now be legitimately screwed. This devise is quite common in business practice and Bates was a past master at it. Of course the biggest debt was to Revenue and Customs. Vat collected from fans at the gate and in the shop and PAYE and National Insurance deducted from staff and players salaries. One solution I have been pondering and I believe the Football League should consider is that any board of directors who take a club into administration should serve an automatic 5 year ban from involvement of any kind in a football club. Any close relatives should also be banned at the same time from reowning the club their relatives put into administration. Colin Only problem with that is the owners who are in charge when a club goes into admin are often the ones who are left holding the baby. Like at Luton – the current owners came in to sort it out, but it was previous ownership that really caused all the problems. And it won’t stop the goons like Taksin Shinawatra, Glazers, Gillette and Hicks and fake sheiks taking over clubs and taking out huge loans on the club. If the loans can’t be repayed, the owners will be all right, but the club is up for sale. West Stand Rebel Colin a football club is company like any other. If it’s a busted flush like Leeds was with massive debts then why take it on. Bates knew that when he “bought” it not of course with any of his own money.The club should have been wound up there and then. The brand could have been sold to the highest bidder and the slate cleaned. Instead we are years down the line having still gone bust with the same “owner” or fund manager at the helm….some saviour. The “Goons” at Liverpool and Man Utd may run into difficulties one day so be it. At that point they should as I say not be allowed to be directors of a football club.