23 April 2014

NORTH STAND SOCIAL CLUB


We've just taken delivery of a bunch of new stock of our super t-shirts, which will sell out in the size you want very soon, leaving you with the mammoth task of gaining around 10 stone in weight so you can wear one of our XXXL efforts for your summer holiday.

Along with our classic Good Old Sussex By The Sea and Stand Or Fall designs, we're also pleased to launch our new North Stand Social Club schmutter, essential outerware for the endless trips to Churchill Square that are round the corner as Saturdays become a deathly void of stimulation.

Check out our store by clicking HERE.

15 April 2014

POLICING HOMOPHOBIA AT THE ALBION: A NEW REPORT

I recently made a request to Sussex Police, based on the repeat ‘Tweeting’ of arrest and ejection statistics for homophobic offences at Albion games, by Darren Balkham, the Sussex Police football liaison officer. I was curious to discover how many of these ejections and arrests resulted in criminal prosecutions against those involved. Thankfully, the Freedom of Information Act allowed me to request this sort of information from Sussex Police, and dictated timescales within which they had to respond to my request.

I have to report disappointment in having to find all the details of how to make this request myself, despite two undertakings from Darren Balkham to assist me, including one promise to address the broken Sussex Police FOI submission form. To my knowledge the facility to make such an electronic submission is still not working. I did not hear back from Darren Balkham following his final undertaking to address the problems I was having... once he was back in the office. I can only assume that he’s still out and about somewhere apprehending villains.

The questions I sought answers to were as follows (in bold), with the answers I received from Sussex Police inserted beneath them:

In relation to policing at The Amex stadium, for BHAFC match days that occurred in the calendar year 2013, I would like to know the following;

Number of allegations of homophobic behaviour/abuse reported to the Police by the public or stewards ;
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Number of instances of homophobic behaviour/abuse detected by Police staff/officers (excluding those that were initially reported by the public or stewards);
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of persons ejected from the stadium based on homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of arrests in and around the stadium, and on any journey by public transport to or from the stadium, as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of persons charged as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Statistics on recommendations for prosecution made by investigating officers, as opposed to the number of cautions issued and prosecutions commenced (i.e. how many times did an investigating officer think a prosecution was worthwhile and requested a decision from a senior officer or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and, from within that number, how many times was a caution issued, how many times was a prosecution not commenced and how many prosecutions were undertaken?);
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Copies of decision-records for those cases where decisions were made not to prosecute (i.e. where no prosecution was undertaken, or where a caution was issued), including the organisation and grade of the person making the decision (redacted as necessary to protect people’s identities, or copied onto plain-paper formats if document-structures and formats are considered sensitive):
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Number of cautions issued as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Separate data detailed below. The data is based on data from our custody system as the crime system does not have a homophobic marker to match that on the custody record, and will not correspond to the data from custody.

Number of convictions obtained as a result of homophobic behaviour/abuse;
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Details of sentences/fines/community service orders imposed for those convictions (if these are not available to Sussex Police might I please be directed to the correct contact within the CPS or the Court Service to make this request, although I would hope that the PNC would hold this information).
Unfortunately we do not have this information in a centrally collated format and would require the manual search of documents and files, in order to answer your questions.

Copies of guidance and policy documents for staff/officers who have homophobic behaviour/abuse reported to them, or witnessed by them.
Section 21 - Information reasonably accessed by other means.
In terms of Section 21 of the FOI Act 2000, information reasonably accessible by other means, I can confirm that the above policy can be found on the Sussex Police home page.
Please see below link which will direct you straight to the appropriate policy.
If such statistics are maintained, I would be keen to know how many of each of the above categories (apart from nos. 10 and11) relate to home fans and how many relate to away fans.
This would create new data which a public authority is not required to do under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

While some of these answers are useful, others strike me as pretty unhelpful; but I’ll get to that in a moment.

The separately provided data revealed the following statistics (I have inserted the details of the away team although I am unaware whether those arrested were home or away supporters) –




This shows that the alleged offender was referred to the Courts to determine whether they were guilty in only four of nine cases of reported homophobic abuse. 

Paragraph 15 of the Guidance from the Director of Public Prosecutions (http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/directors_guidance/dpp_guidance_5.html ) indicates that the Police cannot make their own charging decision where ‘hate crimes’ are concerned (i.e. they must seek the approval of the CPS to charge someone, unlike some low-level criminal offences, e.g. shoplifting). Therefore, the decisions made where the alleged offender was not charged would all have been taken by the CPS, whether the Police recommended this action or not. 

In light of the advances made in the CPS’s engagement and equality processes over the past 5-10 years, it is surprising to see so few recent decisions to charge where such an offence was concerned. 

Paragraph 26 of the above guidance clearly indicates that paperwork relating to what decision was made, and why, should be held. The answer to question seven indicated that the Police do not collate this paperwork centrally. 

FOI requests can result in the person making the request being asked to pay if that request will cost the organisation more than £450 to respond. I may have to go back to Sussex Police and ask them why a manual search for nine pieces of paper would exceed this financial limit, either in staff hours or in subsequent photocopying costs.

I’m also surprised that, in relation to question 10, the Police National Computer does not contain details of any sentences or fines imposed or, if it does, that is not considered to be ‘centrally collated’ within this system. I would have been very interested to see whether the Criminal Justice System imposed fines commensurate with offences of racism, in similar circumstances. 

Compare the Court-imposed fine for Colin Kazim-Richards’ homophobic gesture (£750) with the FA-imposed fine for John Terry’s racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand (£220,000 and a four-game ban), or Luis Suarez’s verbal assault on Patrice Evra (£40,000 and a four-match ban). 

(That said, a quick ‘Google’ search revealed that a Derby fan found guilty of racist abuse of players in 2013 was fined just £219 [plus £750 costs], although he was banned from attending games for three years. It doesn’t take much to see that the Court system lets homophobes and racists off more-lightly than the FA does. It will be interesting to see, if CKR’s conviction is upheld at appeal, whether the FA impose as high a fine and ban on him as they did Terry and Suarez.)

In relation to the available statistics it is a surprise to see that, in light of the media-reported prevalence of homophobic abuse levelled at Brighton fans, only nine people were arrested throughout 2013, on suspicion of such offences, and that the Police kept no statistics to show how many allegations of homophobic behaviour were made to them. This failing is consistent with the Police performance highlighted in the BBC’s Panorama episode that addressed similar problems (i.e. reports of homophobic abuse being made but the Police recording nothing of the allegation). 

UKBA have recently received lots of criticism regarding how they record and account for ‘allegations’ of immigration offences that are made by the public. So much criticism in fact that they have implemented a separate database to count them and account for what happened as a result - LINK

While these immigration statistics look poor (1 in 100 allegations results in action being taken) at least they know how many allegations there are and so can, presumably, analyse them in some way to see whether they need to target their resources more-effectively. It would appear that Sussex Police aren’t yet quite as effective as UKBA... or their answers are as suggested earlier, unhelpful.

However, it is worthy of positive comment that since the change in policy last summer (regarding intolerance of such behaviour), all persons arrested for homophobic offences have been charged. Whether this reflects a better attitude from the Police, the CPS, or both I cannot say.

Before the change of policy, the charging of only one person out of six arrested for homophobic abuse is uncomfortable reading, particularly when half of those had no further action taken against them.

I do not know whether the names of those arrested were relayed to the club they support for consideration of some other form of action. I also do not know whether details of the fans who have been charged have been passed to their club. I would hope that such an action is permitted under the Data Protection Act, and that clubs are encouraged to ban supporters who aim homophobic abuse at others.
It will be interesting to see, in a year’s time, whether a similar request for information is responded to with a similar lack of collated data, or whether performance monitoring is better able to detail the number of allegations made, as opposed to the number of occasions when the Police have seen fit to make an arrest.

Having travelled to the Amex alongside away fans indulging in homophobic abuse (Leeds fans this year singing “We can see you sucking dick”), it was disappointing to see the Sussex Police officer in the same train carriage making no attempts to suppress the abuse at the time, and no efforts to deal with the ringleaders of the abuse after arriving at Falmer; and all of this after the change in policy to be tougher on homophobic behaviour and chanting. Is it any wonder there were only nine arrests in 2013?

I accept that a single officer attempting to limit abuse from a large group of fans is in a dangerous position but once fans alighted the train and more Police staff were present, I saw the officer summon no assistance, speak to none of the abusive fans in question, and make no notes about what had happened. I ‘tweeted’ about this to Sussex Police (not the most-robust of actions, I admit) but I wasn’t asked for any further details or given any advice. The FOI response I received clearly illustrates that there were no arrests for homophobic abuse by the Leeds fans that day.

There are many who still see homophobic abuse as acceptable banter. There are also those who repeatedly claim that homophobia never crosses their mind when they’re going to a football match, so they don’t understand why others are so concentrated in their efforts to raise awareness of it.

I have never heard anyone openly say that eliminating racism at football grounds is unnecessary in their eyes because the race or skin colour of a player is not something they care about. While it is right that most people don’t care what race someone is, it is also right that the same people are determined to eliminate racism from football and care about the impact it has on all people, not just those at whom the abuse or discrimination is directed. I don’t understand why this attitude doesn’t apply to homophobia.

Maybe it’s because the homophobic abuse is aimed at the fans, not the players... but if racist abuse were aimed at fans, everybody would be rightly appalled by it.

Maybe it’s because sexual orientation isn’t visible and so it’s hard to identify those at whom the abused is aimed... but when it’s aimed at all Brighton fans (the majority of whom will be heterosexual, statistically), maybe they don’t care because it doesn’t feel to them that they are being abused for something that they care about.

I’ve heard numerous responses to homophobic abuse, amongst them, “one-nil to the nancy-boys” when we score. If racial abuse along the lines of monkey chants and similar was aimed at our fans, would a response of (with all apologies for writing this) “one-nil to the banana eaters” be acceptable? Of course not, because it promotes the negative, discriminatory attitudes that racism celebrates.

So, when Albion fans are chanting “one-nil to the nancy-boys” while holding a ‘limp-wrist’ aloft to the opposition fans, are they eliminating homophobia, reinforcing it, or just indulging in banter?
Racism and homophobia are both classified as ‘hate incidents/crime’ by the Police and I do not understand why one appears to be taken more seriously than the other. It is strange that people of all races see racism as unacceptable, but people of different sexual orientations do not all see homophobia as unacceptable. Hopefully one day this will change. Is that something you want to contribute to?

Thanks to Dan Aitch for this article. 

17 March 2014

TSLR COVER JOKE CAUSES STRIKER TO LEAVE

Those of you who picked up the latest (hard copy) issue of the fanzine over the past three games will have noticed that Jonathan Obika was the butt of our cover joke. Well, just nine days after publication - and with the man himself having seen an actual copy of TSLR057 - the Tottenham striker has left Albion. We can exclusively reveal that the two events are related.

Having been a jolly unpopular loan signing, it was with some relief that we heard today's announcement of how Obika will return to fellow Division 2 club, Charlton Athletic. Charlton fans are now getting as excited about him in a very similar way as Albionites did back on 8 January. After over two months at Albion, Obika scored just the one goal, in the FA Cup match against Port Vale (some may say - and many have and will continue to do so - a club around about his skill level). In the latter part of his loan deal with us, TSLRites would be known to take bets on how long Obika - having been substituted on to a pitch - would take to touch the ball. In the home match against Hull, it was seven minutes, and he'd only come onto the hallowed Falmer turf some 11 minutes from the full time whistle.

The latest issue of TSLR came out ahead of the home match with Reading last Saturday, a few days after the topic of offensive chanting at football was covered by Channel 4's Dispatches. Being that one of the most offensive things we've seen this season was Obika on a football pitch - and as it appeared to be that all Albionites correctly asserted that he was a donkey - the cover was a no-brainer.

Following the Reading game at Falmer, some of us found ourselves in what used to be the 'East Stand Brassiere' or what they now call the 'Sports Bar' (or should that be bra?). For those who don't know, this 'Sports Bar' is situated right next to what the club calls the 'Player's Lounge'. As we supped on yet another pint of post match Harveys, our delight in spotting Obika emerging from the lounge was indescribable. As soon as someone spotted the Tottenham striker - and as we have done over the past six seasons with Albion players - we got him to pose with the latest issue.

The thing is, it's the first time that we have collared an actual Albion player to pose with a cover laughing at that exact player. Usually in the situation of a player-holding-TSLR-photo-opp, we'd let the player take the issue home but, on this occasion - and on the basis we didn't want to erode his already frail confidence levels whilst he was an Albion player - we snatched it back. As we grabbed the issue from Obika's strong grip, there was a telling look from the kid (and he is just a kid, even if he has been to the gym more than most of us adults). There was no doubt Obika had spotted his name on the cover, and there is no doubt that if a player features on the cover of a fanzine, then it's usually not in a complimentary way.

We felt a little bad afterwards when we thought about our role in helping to break the kid's confidence but we did feel better, however, after a few more beers. It turns out that when a player we abuse is a small, inanimate object on the distant pitch, it's far easier than when they're up close and in person. Especially when they easily have the ability to beat you up. Don't worry though, we feel great today. If in some small way we stopped Obika wanting to waste a place on the Albion substitute's bench, then we must have done something right, right? So does anyone have any cover ideas about Kemy for our final issue of the season?

14 March 2014

HOW TO DEAL WITH A VISIT FROM ALBION FANS

Well, it's really happening. The FA are taking homophobia seriously, and this is one of the steps they have taken to deal with the sensitive issue within football grounds. We were forwarded these pictures of the FA briefing to clubs who are hosting Albion fans, in this case Bolton Wanderers, and they give pretty clear guidance on why it's an issue and how to deal with it.

It's good to see the FA making it reasonably clear that clubs should deal with homophobic abuse in the same way they would with racist abuse, for example, and much to our delight mention the word banter to describe what medium such abuse can be delivered as! That's more than our own police force in Brighton will do. Some of the example chants seem a little wide of the mark, but it's positive to see the footballing authorities taking action none-the-less.

10 March 2014

LEARNING TO LOVE GLENN MURRAY

I find it almost impossible to dislike Glenn Murray. On the contrary, I still like him. Quite a lot. And I thoroughly enjoyed watching his first Premier League goal on Sunday. The hysterical logic of football fans dictates that when one of your best players leaves you for your biggest rival then the mercenary, big-shot douchebags should be consigned forever to our list of enemies. But I don’t think I am the only one to disagree with this in the case of Glenn.

It’s hard to explain exactly why I don’t feel ill will towards Glenn. It could probably be argued that he played with our feelings in a small way, first with the claim that if he was to leave, it would be return to his native north. Croydon might seem like a drab outpost akin to a slightly bigger Carlisle or Rochdale, but northern it is not. Secondly, he did say in his final season with us that he’d be up for staying and intended to discuss a new contract.

However, this is where our club comes in. It is widely documented that Palace not only offered higher wages than us (hardly a surprise), but also a longer contract. From T Bloom’s position, it is pretty clear that our number 1 transfer target that summer was CMS. It was a gamble, but also a potentially big statement to replace one of the better strikers in League 1 with the best one. We were a club with ambition that was going places. This is not to lay any blame at anyone’s door for the fact that Glenn and CP are now Premier League and we are not. Weird things happen in football.

Anyway, back to Glenn. In his final season with us, he operated as the gnarly spearhead of a quite stunning team. Superb goals were paired with some of the most complete striking performances I have seen in my time as an Albion fan. It was probably the only year in which he appeared completely happy in the blue and white stripes. Previously, we saw glimpses of a smile as he put two past Southampton, a brief escape from desolation as he scored a last minute equaliser at Northampton, and various other sudden bursts of unmisery. He was just one of those players though, with various intangible qualities that endeared us all to him.

However, on the whole, there was always the impression that he was never completely happy. Clearly a complex character, Glenn had needs that, in the end, could not be met by BHAFC. He is now fit again and is operating at his highest level yet. We would all rather he was doing it for someone else, but it is good to see Glenn Murray happy.

Article by @EdwardWoodhouse

5 March 2014

BONJOUR! BONJOUR!

A tweet, seen second, third or fourth hand via a maze of retweets after the Hull defeat last week, had TSLR literally 'laughing out loud'.

The 140 character story, sent by an unknown Albion staffer, told the tale of a wonderful exchange between the two sets of fans. The vocal Hull fans, who stand/sit right next to the away enclosure at The KC, sang to the 450+ Albion contingent;

"You're practically French
You're practically Fre-e-ench
You are so southern

You're practically French"

That's to the tune of Sloop John B, and we think now is sung sarcastically to other northern teams who sit a few degrees lower on the lines of latitude than Kingston Upon Hull.

In our case however, we are the closest team to France, well, Gillingham is probably a bit closer, but they aren't sat on La Manche like us, they probably haven't been invaded by the French like us and they definitely don't drink gallic wines and cheese like us cosmopolitan Brightonians. In fact, the cliffs at Veulettes-sur-Mer in Normandy are just 73 miles from Black Rock, meaning frere Jacques is actually closer to us than Bournemouth and Luton.

Albion fans in Hull, swimming in a sea of grim self-deprecation at being 2-0 down and far from home, responded to the Humberside chorus with our own international piss-take. The song, now epitomised in these t-shirts we've made in conjunction with our friends at Cult Zeros are available to buy for a tenner in the link below. We hope, going forward, that the North Stand continues this slight amendment to a famous old song, and add a bit of humour to the increasingly cheap Albion chants.

"Bonjour!
Bonjour!
We Are The Brighton Boys"

Buy your t-shirt by clicking 
here.

23 February 2014

200 MILLION REASONS TO LOVE TONY BLOOM

£14,756,989 in a year, £1,229,749 a month, £567,576 per match at the Amex, £283,788 a week, £40,430 a day, £1,685 an hour, £28 a minute. However you put it, the Albion lost a huge amount of money in the year to 30 June 2013, how and perhaps importantly, why, did this occur?

Ultimately profit is the money generated by a business less the costs in running that business for a period of time, so we’ll look at those things in isolation to begin with.

Income

Football clubs make money from us (the fans), sponsors, and TV.

In terms of fan income, the Albion did extremely well. Having the highest gates in the division, along with prices that weren’t extortionate but not cheap either, meant that our match day income (tickets, catering and merchandise), at £11.8 million, was far ahead of a lot of the competition such as Bolton Wanderers, freshly relegated from the Premier League (£4.8 million), and the league champions Cardiff  City (£6.2 million).

The increased capacity of the Amex soccerdome was the main reason why ticket receipts increased by 10.6%, although home cup matches against Newcastle and Arsenal, plus the play off semi-final against ‘that lot’ contributed too. We also ate a lot of pies, catering income, despite the issues with the clowns at Azure at the start of the season, increased by 42% to nearly £1.8 million.

The main downside was that merchandising income fell, as the club was in the second year of the Brighton and Hove Jobs.com shirt deal, and most of us had rushed out to buy the shirts the previous season. The good news is that the Amex shirt deal is likely to be far more lucrative, and the club have been making big noises about a record shirt manufacturing deal for next season onwards, all of which will boost revenue.

Commercial income is still suffering a hangover from the days of tea and biscuits in a Withdean portakabin. Most of the commercial and sponsorship deals signed then have now expired, and the facilities and environment at the Amex are far more attractive to sponsors. Commercial income rose by nearly 7% in the year to £4.2 million, which is good compared to both Cardiff (£3.4 million) and Bolton (£2.4 million) despite the issues I have highlighted.

Expenses

Mention football expenses to fans, and they immediately start talking about the level of player wages. The Albion’s wage bill has shot up from £7 million in our last season at Withdean to £14 million in the first season at the Amex to £21 million last year. For fans, many of whom can’t recall their last pay rise, this seems extreme. The problem facing the Albion is that in order to be competitive on the pitch, they have to pay wages that match our competitors. Both Cardiff and Bolton paid out a huge amount more than we did in the year, and based on the figures I have seen so far from all the other clubs in the division, it looks as if our wage bill (some of which are still to be published), I estimate we are probably about 8th-10th in the wage table of the Championship.

Part of the reason for the increase in the wage bill is that the club employed more people than the previous season. There was an increase in management and administrative staff from 122 to 178 employees. In addition an average of 572 part time staff were employed on match days (up from 495). This reflects that the Albion are a professional outfit and have people dedicated to ticketing, marketing and so on, but it did look as if things went too far. There have been redundancies since last June, and this is likely to contribute to a drop in employee numbers when this years (2013/14) accounts are announced. To give the numbers some context, in our final year at the Goldstone, the club had only 12 management and administrative staff. Those who recall those dark days under Bill Archer will know that Ron Pavey and co were running around from role to role by the hour.

It won’t have gone unnoticed that Paul Barber trousered a not inconsiderable £480,000 in his first year as club chief executive. This compares favourably to predecessor Ken Brown on £143,000. Whilst eyebrows will be raised by many, (especially as the job was advertised for a much lower sum), ultimately you get what you pay for. Those who have had dealings with Barber know that he is committed to the job 24/7 (just check out some emails from him sent at all hours), and he is carrying out Tony Bloom’s orders from afar to the letter. If Barber can negotiate himself such a good salary, then no doubt he is equally adept at negotiating good deals for the club with sponsors and commercial partners. There is anecdotal evidence that when the club first moved to the Amex that cost control went out the window, and there was profligacy that angered TB, bringing about the changes in the composition of the board. We’re living in an age where high quality football administrators are on big money (Manchester United, Spurs, Arsenal and Sunderland each paid theirs more than £2 million last season), and it is no longer a career just for someone who has worked themselves up from being the post boy.
Trying to work out player wages is nigh on impossible, but I’ve given it a go with the following spreadsheet


I have taken as much detail from the accounts as possible, and worked out a rough total for match day costs based on seven hour shift at £10 an hour, the directors pay comes direct from the accounts themselves, as do employee numbers. I’ve also assumed an average cost of £27,000 (including pension and NI costs) for admin and youth team employees, and stuck in a million for the management team.

Deducting all those costs from the wage total gives an average player cost of over £9,200 a week (which includes pension and NI), so after deducting for NI/pensions then the weekly wage is about £8,000 a week. I suspect that in reality the wages vary considerably, as the likes of Kuszczak, Bridge, CMS, Buckley, Bridders, Crofts, Ulloa and Vicente were taking home considerably more to reflect that they were signed from Premier League clubs, or for big fees, or had been given new contracts to ward off bids. It might also explain why Ashley Barnes, one of the lowest paid players in the squad, took the offer from Burnley earlier this year.

The other main player expense is transfer fees. These are spread over the player contract period, so Leo Ulloa’s, who we signed for £2 million and signed a 3½ year contract, will only ‘cost’ the Albion £571k in the accounts (this is called an amortisation charge).  The total amortisation cost in the profit and loss account  for all our signings was about £2.7 million last season. The Albion are reluctant to reveal how much they pay for individual players, but ferreting around the accounts  showed the total paid for Leo, Crofts and errr…….Stephen Dobbie (the other signings were on free transfers) to be £4.2 million. We also sold Craig Noone and made a profit of about £1.6 million from player sales.

In addition the club invested in the academy, and have been awarded level 2 status. We have seen how clubs such as Southampton and ‘that lot’ have benefitted from having a good youth team policy, and Tony Bloom is clearly keen to make the most of all the local talent in the local area. However this comes at a cost of about £1.4 million (level 1 would cost at least £2.5 million), although the club does receive a grant from the FA to partially cover these costs. The main issue with the new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), is that it will allow Premier League clubs to sign promising youth team players for peanuts compared to the current tribunal system.

FFP

FFP is looming over the Albion and all clubs in the division. This season (2013/14) we have to be below £8 million or face being unable so sign players in the January 2015 window and onwards (cynics might say that that particular punishment seemed to apply to the recent window too). The aim of FFP is to reduce the negotiating power of money grabban (geddit!) players, who are have been in a very strong position in the last few years in the Championship because clubs have been chasing promotion, and are prepared to pay extra to achieve that goal.

If fans are worried that we won’t achieve that target, they can put aside such concerns. The redundancy programme and legal battles with Azure and Gus are not going to be repeated, and I estimate these to have cost the club about £750,000. Youth development costs and some stadium costs are excluded when calculating the numbers for FFP, and these come to around £3 million in total. So as per the table below, our FFP loss last season was about £11 million.

Losses per accounts
£14,756,989
Add back: Stadium costs
£1,000,000
Youth development costs
£2,000,000
One off expenses
£750,000
FFP Loss
£11,006,989

The club therefore need to make up a hole of about £3 million this season, this sounds frightening, but the increased revenue and cost savings initiated by Paul Barber and David Jones should just about make this achievable, and that is before the sales of Bridcutt, Dobbie, Barnes and El Abd are taken into account.

Tony Bloom

There’s one word to describe where the Albion would be without TB, and that word is fucked. To hear some fans (and former managers) claiming that the club lacks ambition is in my mind at best ill informed, and at worst the sign of an enfeebled delusional brain. At the end of June 2013 he had loaned the club £102 million, and had another £60 invested in the form of shares. Since that date he has written off another £11 million of the loan by converting it into shares. Furthermore, this year’s losses are likely to be around £8 million, and the club have a £21 million commitment in respect of the Lancing training facility.

People may query how much money he has spare to stick into the club, but in keeping with being an expert poker player, he keeps his cards close to his chest. Suffice to say is that if my sources are right, he could do the same investment again at least two to three times. However there is no reason why he should be expected to subsidise our enjoyment.

Last season he effectively subsidised every ticket at the Amex by £21 from his personal wealth. We are very lucky to have him as a chairman, but just as importantly as a fan, as there’s less chance of him throwing his toys out of the pram and threatening to walk away, as the club is in his blood just as it is in ours.

The Future

Being a Championship club is a licence to lose money. In 2011-12 total losses in the division were £158 million, I expect those losses to be close to double that for 2012-13, partially as a result of the huge write offs from the three relegated clubs (Bolton, Wolves and Blackburn have announced losses of £116 million between them), and partially due to other clubs making a huge effort to be promoted before FFP sanctions kick in (Cardiff and Hull lost over £58 million in taking the top two slots in the division).

Whilst some fans will consider the Albion to be at a significant disadvantage to those clubs who have parachute payments from the Premier League, those relegated clubs do have significant player costs to incur (Wolves, for example, and paying Jamie O’Hara £35,000 a week to play for the reserves in League 1), and apart from QPR and their seeming disregard for FFP, the relegated clubs are decent, but not outstanding as a result of parachute support.

Getting to the Premier League is a double edged sword. The increase in TV money is worth an extra £60 million a year, but this is quickly swallowed up in transfer fees and player wage demands. Only 8 out of 20 Premier League clubs made a profit in 2012, so those who think that TB will sell out and make a fortune from the Albion should we go up are once again talking nonsense.

How much is the Albion worth?

For a multi-billion pound industry, there is no agreed way of working out the value of a club. Traditional methods used by banks don’t really apply, as they fail to take into account the emotional investment that goes into a club, and this can often skew the price paid. There’s also the fact that people buy clubs for three reasons:

Local lad made good: This goes for the likes of our Tony, Jack Walker (at Blackburn), Steve Gibson (M’Boro) and the revolving door of ownership that is Palace (Simon Jordan, Steve Parish, Mark Goldberg etc). They are likely to overpay for the club because they love the team.

Vanity purchase: This is usually from someone who is so rich that they are looking for a toy to play with. This could be hugely beneficial for the club (Manchester City, Chelsea) but the lack of understanding of the culture and history of the club can create problems, (Cardiff and Hull), and there are often threats to walk away if the owner doesn’t get their own way.

Pure investment in order to make a buck. This usually only applies to clubs that have international brand value (Manchester United) or are in financial hardship and will take any money from any person (the Albion with Bill Archer, Leeds, Pompey, Hearts).

I’ve found a research paper that uses the following formula which works very well when compared to the prices paid for the club in the market:

Club value = (Revenue + Net Assets) x (Net Profit + Revenue)/Revenue x (Stadium Capacity %) /(Wages/Turnover)

Applying this to the Albion (group accounts) gives (34,800,427 x 0.3468 x 0.8602)/0.9006 and a total value of the club of £11.53 million. Applying these figures to the 2012 accounts gave a value of £7.04 million.

This might appear low, but the Albion’s huge debts to Tony Bloom, huge annual losses and the fact that wages are 90% of turnover mean that as desirable as we find the club, from an investment point of view it’s not very attractive. Perhaps in twelve months the figures will look a lot better if cost control is achieved under FFP.

These valuations show conclusively that our chairman is it in for love, not money.

We are indebted to El P for this article.

7 February 2014

TSLR056... ON SALE TOMORROW


Another month has passed and to celebrate we will be flogging TSLR056 outside Falmer tomorrow in the usual spots. The February 2014 issue of The Seagull Love Review has all the usual stuff plus a look at January's now termed 'transfer meltdown'; why we'll miss Adam El-Abd and why you should too; how our recent poor form shouldn't make you rule out the rest of the season; and what would happen if the Albion's squad found themselves in a regimental unit fighting a war. 

In fact, we even have a photo of the latest cover, featuring yet another cover shot from inside the Amex. This month the cover mentions FFP - the Albion's FFP story has advanced quite a bit in the last 48 hours, since the fanzine was sent to the printers to be inked, so - as with most stuff featured in an antiquated hard-copy fanzine more suited to the 1980s - we barely mention the massive losses announced by the club. Don't worry though, we'll cover that in March. Just about the time when everyone's forgotten about it.

If you fancy a decent collection of Albion-related-ish words for a paltry quid, then pop along and find us at Falmer over the next 4 (yes, four) home games in a row or at Blackburn and Millwall away. It's THE perfect Albion-related material for reading on your toilet. If you can't afford a quid, then come and tell us your sob story and we'll think about giving you a free copy. If you don't want a fanzine, forget about it - waste your cash on a more expensive tea bag inside the ground. And before you ask, no, we're not the programme.

28 January 2014

PORT VALE 1-3 ALBION

The magic of the cup, then - or, in our case, the miracle of a run not yet impeded by an impossible kick-off time at the behest of our broadcasting overlords.

The sky went black, hailstones hammered down and Brez was named in goal but, on paper, even on a pitch cutting up worse than Edward Scissorhands at a teenage emo papier-mâché club, we were favourites. Sure enough, Rohan Ince - who will surely be playing alone in midfield soon, purely to prove a point to the still-AWOL Bridders - put us ahead from what The Argus neatly called a “flag kick”.

The other two goals also came from flag kicks: they equalised just after the monsoon (the weather, not a ‎reference to Jon Obika being a damp squib with The Cyclone on the bench), and then Solly March scored from one of those overhit crosses you immediately claim as a curled stroke of genius on a Sunday league pitch once in a while.

Read the full article on the At The End Of The Day Des website HERE

27 January 2014

CMS INTERVIEW: INJURIES, STRIKERS, OSCAR AND POYET

Amid the flood of recent rumours linking Albion stars to moves away from The Amex, Brighton fans were buoyed this week with the news that Craig Mackail-Smith and Will Hoskins were both nearing a return to first team action.

Hoskins told his Twitter followers he had managed to join in with the first team a full three months ahead of schedule, while a video clip of Mackail-Smith finding the net on the training ground had earlier given fans a much needed boost.

The club’s record signing has been out of action for around ten months, during which time the Seagulls signed a new centre forward, suffered play off heartache and underwent a high-profile managerial change.

So, with all that in mind, NotWorthThat caught up with the Scotland international to find out how his rehabilitation is going, what it has been liked stuck on the sidelines and how much he is looking forward to pulling on the stripes again.

Read the full article on the Not Worth That website HERE