The Michael Wood Column

Tuesday 1 April, 2003

Jorgi, Leeds, Town and Fiorentina Viola

Claus Jorgensen is leaving Bradford City. He wants more money than the deal on the table for next season. He deserves more money after the season he has had and although I'm sad to see him leave Valley Parade, and I hope that he has been given the best offer the club could make within the current financial constraints, I'm glad to see that at this first test of the policies that are straightening this club out Gordon Gibb, Nicky Law and Julian Rhoades have held line.

We have a policy for paying players that is at odds with the legacy of player contracts we have. No one would say that Ashley Ward or Danny Cadamarteri should be allowed to keep deals at the Bantams for more money than Claus but that is the reality of the situation and although it is harsh it's not going to be as harsh as Jorgi wheeling away arm aloft after he scores at VP for his new club.

Prudence is the order of the day today as it was from the day the CVA was accepted and should have been for years before that. We dashed over the rubicon in terms of football finance years ago but now we can try right ourselves and in doing so it is important that we make the same sort of commitment to a profitable club able to pay off our creditors as we did to throwing ourselves into the promotion push in 1998. Like the summer we splashed 3.5m around on Lee Mills and Isaiah Rankin we cannot afford to be half hearted.

Half hearted is a fairly good description of how Huddersfield Town approached the mounting financial crisis in football. While we struggled in the summer the TB chairman David Taylor called for us to be thrown out of football for sacking players and spoke out against Geoffrey Richmond's call for a collective administration. Huddersfield get administration to themselves now and the young North Yorkshire business man looking to invest in a club in the area has already got one.

Town's decline is in part unfortunate, Crystal Palace's goal that put them down was a David Hopkin handball and former chairman Barry Ruberry's divorce is reportedly very costly, but more built on the fact that the club could never work out to cut it's cloth to match it's position. Players like Andy Booth were signed on good wages because Town saw the problems as a blip. Of course they thought they would be straight back up from the second division, we all did, but TB friends of BfB said after pre-season that they would be nearer bottom than top but no cost cutting.

We have to hope that Town can get through administration and the good news for them is that football still has a nod of confidence in it. It is my belief that that confidence will be shot when the first big club folds. Enter Leeds United.

Leeds United are eight to ten months off administration according to the men with big hats. If they are relegated they will follow into administration the next day. They need to sell everything in the summer, Harry Kewell is going to Anfield, Alan Smith to Old Trafford and Marko Viduka will go to wherever they will pay him twenty dollars more, and after that they will probably be relegated the season after provided they survive but all this beats the very realistic alternative of going out of business.

Think back to Benito Carbone's debut against Fiorentina in a preseason friendly. Big club Fiorentina. They do not exist anymore having hit the wall hard and coming back as Fiorentina Viola. "It couldn't happen here?". Don't believe it. Leeds United's best bet is to put themselves in the Bolton league of football. Just good enough to stay in the Premiership until they can rebuild and to do that they need to keep the nerve while their favourite players, like lipstick Smith, end up away from Elland Road because prudence is the order of the day until the storm is weathered and some money becomes available again.

Just like at City and with Jorgi.

Index of column & Biography | Mail