THE STRUGGLING Setanta could deal a huge blow to Scottish and Conference football according to Dr John Beech. The Coventry University lecturer feels many of the countries lower league clubs will be unable to find any sort of stability after the collapse and may find themselves reverting from their professional status writes Steven Carpenter.Beech said: “It’s certainly going to hit Scottish clubs and I think even more it’s going to really hit conference clubs because although it’s not that much money, it’s still a significant percentage and so many of them are already struggling.
The conference is unusual because a number of the clubs there are ones who within the last ten years have gone from amateur to semi-professional through to professional and I think many are going to have to seriously go back to a semi-professional status.”
He added: “The particular bids they put in and the particular packages they got didn’t go the way Setanta wanted and they struggled.”
A sudden collapse of Setanta Sports and the effect it could have on English and Scottish clubs slightly resembles the historic fall of ITV Digital back March 2002 which had a horrific effect many football league clubs.
Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United were among the clubs left struggling for solvency following the collapse of ITV Digital, though Beech feels it was the clubs rather than the broadcaster which was to blame.
“So many clubs that went into administration blamed the collapse of ITV Digital, but here was one example I found: the debts were £36million and the payment that they failed to get because of the collapse was £2million,” said Beech.
“It may well have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but I don’t think you can really say that was the cause of why the club was in trouble. If you look back to when the administrations were occurring, they were distinctly on the rise before ITV Digital collapsed.”
Following the collapse of ITV Digital, the Premier League introduced ‘parachute payments’ to help support clubs who struggled after the crisis and although Beech feels this was a good idea a new form of ‘rocket payment’ should be introduced to help lower league clubs who progress to a higher level.
Beech concluded: “I think the collapse of ITV Digital made the authorities wake up, it certainly made the Premier League wake up and we started to see the introduction of the parachute payments. I’m not against them but I think what is strange is that parachute payments reward people for failure. I would like to see, in parallel, ‘rocket’ payments.”
Beech claimed the case for these rocket payments was strong: “When teams are promoted people say ‘oh, they have got £60million to spend’ which they have, but so has everybody else that they are in competition with. What they need is something extra.”