WHEN SATURDAY COMES 40 BOWLING GREEN LANE CLERKENWELL LONDON EC1R ONE It’s That
Boss: Mike T icher U n d e r l in g : Andy Lyons C o n t r ib u to r s : Neil Hurden, M artin Lacey, Chris Lynham. I l lu s t r a t io n s : Gordon Southgate Special ithanks to Jeremy Narduzzo.
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T h e n ex t issu e o f W hen S a tu r d a y C om e s w ill com e o u t o f th e c lo se t in th e th i r d w eek o f M a rc h , a n d s u b s e q u e n t issu e s w ill th e n fo llow in th e th i r d w eek o f every m o n th .
Our last issue went to press just after Robert Maxwell had announced that he was going to buy Watford, and as a result we made some statem ents that were not precisely borne out by the subsequent events. At the risk o f boring everyone silly by going on about it all again, there are some loose ends that need to be cleared up. As it tu rned out, the League Management Committee did not capitulate quite as readily as their past record might have suggested, but nevertheless, they hardly came up smelling roses. After all the bickering and squabbling, it’s worth recalling one or two things which might have been forgotten.
Firstly, Maxwell told a downright porky when he said he would w ithdraw from the deal if he d idn’t get the support o f the Management Committee. Obviously he was as convinced as we were that they would react as spinelessly as they have to all his other purchases, and so must have been considerably annoyed when they called his bluff. Secondly, Philip C a rte r’s willingness to do a tawdry little deal with Maxwell behind the backs o f more than half o f the rest o f the Committee demonstrates very eloquently how committed he is to ideas like democracy and consultation. Maxwell and Carter both made mistakes for the same reason — they had duped themselves into believing that they as individuals were so im portant and so respected that they were answerable to no-one, and therefore their word was enough to carry all before it. Both had good reason for believing that this was, in fact, the case, but fortunately both were wrong. It was a close thing though. As David Lacey put it, the League “ arrived at the right decision by the wrong route”.
Other important issues were brought up by this whole affair, but were scarcely aired in more than a couple o f papers (perhaps not surprisingly since most o f them were lining up to score points off Maxwell’s M irror rather than arguing on the facts). For example, why had nothing been done to tighten up the League’s regulations after the mergers issue? I f Phillip Carter was so unsure o f the validity o f the League’s own rules in a court o f law, why had he not acted previously to make them watertight? Ken Bates hinted that an attem pt had been made, but that the proposal was turned down by the club chairmen.
Presumably none o f its supporters on the Management Committee felt strongly enough to publicise this fact at the tim e, or to resign when it was defeated. No doubt they assumed that they could muddle through again i f it came to another sim ilar crisis.
Equally overlooked was the logical conclusion o f Maxwell’s willingness to relinquish control o f Oxford in order to take over at Watford. So much for his committment to them. Presumably Derby would have been equally expendable if the need had arisen. People like Maxwell are clearly not prepared to invest in the long-term future o f the clubs they are involved in (and that doesn’t just mean financially) and therefore should not be given easy access to them , just because they have large amounts of the capital needed by such clubs in the short-term . How do the supporters o f Oxford United feel about being treated as pawns in Maxwell’s power-game? We never found out.
T hen there was Maxwell’s insistence that the Committee were solely responsible for the current TV deal (“ a disgrace” according to Jack Steggles in the Mirror) when in fact it was Maxwell h im self who recommended that the initial offer by the TV companies should be rejected (in 1985). T h is lead to the blackout for half o f the 1985-86 season, and the subsequent capitulation o f the League in settling for a much smaller sum.
T hat Jack Steggles comment came in the M irror’s thoroughly predictable SOCCER IN CRISIS special on December 1st which used four pages to say, in effect, that Robert Maxwell should be running football. Among the star names they roped in to bolster this argument was Albert Eckersley, secretary of Chester City, who “feels there is nothing wrong in Robert Maxwell’s company BPCC gaining control at Watford”. Now there’s a surprise! The readers poll in the same edition invited suggestions as to who should replace the current management committee (‘‘Time Is Running Out For The Dinosaurs”). The astute readers came up with such un-dinosaur-like candidates as Bobby Moore, Bobby Charlton, Lawrie McMenemy, Emlyn Hughes, Alf Ramsey, Ron Saunders, Bob Paisley, Mel Machin (!) and (get this!), Robert Maxwell.
Rampant Exploitation As you will have noticed, the price o f When Saturday Comes has increased from 35p to 40p from this issue. The price had previously remained the same for a year, during which tim e the quality (we hope) and certainly the costs o f the magazine have risen considerably. We hope this increase will not seem too unreasonable. Subscription rates remain unchanged for the moment. We have to apologise to some o f our subscribers for the post-Christmas arrival of their Christmas issue, and for the fact that two o f the pages in it were transposed. T h is was due to a ‘m isunderstanding’ with our ex-printers. Obviously the late arrival was also the reason why some o f the material was rather dated by the tim e the magazine appeared. We hope this d idn’t spoil your enjoyment, i f any.
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