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Friday, November 13, 2009

Football's Sugar Daddies

After Peterborough's decision to dismiss manager Darren Ferguson after a disappointing start to the season, the lads discuss the controversial decision.

With Posh's success largely down to the huge investment of owner Darragh MacAnthony, they also reflect on big-spending clubs with so-called 'sugar-daddies' and their chances of success.

Darren 'back to back promotions' Ferguson getting the old heave ho? Ridiculous if you ask me, even if I do hate anything remotely connected to his whiney old father.

Turls: I think the Ferguson dismissal is typical of sugar daddies up and down the country. When Posh were romping Leagues One and Two, the board thought they had one of the brightest young managers in the land on their hands.

As soon as results start to take a turn for the worse, the manager is in danger. It has nothing to do with the fact that the club have leaped into a league where they can ill afford to play fast attacking football that thrilled the lower leagues.

It doesn't occur to the chairman that three consecutive promotions is asking a little too much of a club the size of Peterborough. Ferguson's job had to be to try and keep the club up.

Sure, he was struggling to do that but can you justify quickly getting rid of the man who has taken them from playing Rochdale away to Newcastle at home in the space of a couple of years?

Having said that - it is nice to see Whiskey Nose's son unemployed - but I can't see him staying like that for too long, unfortunately.

Nobes: Yeah, I have to admit, my first reaction was slightly of glee. Darren is a chip off the old block and could be equally obnoxious as his father in post match interviews. So for that reason, I was quite pleased to see him go.

However, that can't disguise from the fact it was a particularly harsh sacking. Are Peterborough really at the bottom of the Championship because of his managerial skills? I don't think so. So why sack him?

It's even more bizarre when you consider the chairman said last month that even if they went down they'd have Ferguson at the helm and he'd know how to get them straight back up. So much for that!

Posh achieved successive promotions under rookie boss Ferguson

Turls: As for where Peterborough go from here, who knows? I thought the chairman had a good system in place. Clearly intent on investing in youth players rather than buying journeymen who would do the job for them.

If he'd have kept faith in Ferguson then they would eventually have been established as a Championship outfit. The thing that no-one seems to realise is that this all takes time.

I think at some point they will need to invest on tried and trusted players just to drop an experienced head into the team - look at what Paul McKenna has done at Forest for proof that it does work.

Can they become a Premiership team? Yes, with money anything is possible - as long as it is invested wisely. And up until now, I think Peterborough have invested wisely, although getting Ferguson to sign a new four year contract and then sacking him months later isn't sound financial planning.

But as I said before, it will take time and I wouldn't be surprised if they did get relegated this term. If they do, the chairman needs to remain calm and not panic.

If they sell players, they will reap massive profits on most players, allowing them to bring in other players to take them up and be better prepared for the Championship.

Lakes: There's something to be said for a club's "natural level." Peterborough are trying to get beyond theirs, Notts County are definitely trying it on - but they're just clubs whose souls have been dragged from their limp corpses.

I hate Wigan and Blackburn in particular. Not just because they've had money thrown at their clubs, but because in cheating like that they've stolen fans from Preston in what is a very tight, overlapping catchment area.

How can we be fashionable when old soggy dickheads are pushing their hands in their pockets left, right and centre?

I doubt they'll ever make the Premier League to be honest. Wigan did it by spending huge amounts, and I don't think Posh have the equivalent funds. Wigan also had a brand-spanking new stadium too.

It's easy to sugar daddy a team like Fulham, as Al Fayed did, up the ladder. They had a history and good potential support. Peterborough will only ever be as big as their support allows them to be, and that makes them a League One club.

I'm going to be honest here in a way that perhaps I couldn't be when this show was on the radio: sugar daddies stink of urine. Actual urine.

I say take your sugar daddies and dissolve them in a big cup of steaming hot grassroots tea. Tell that wrinkled old man to get lost and mind his own business and get back to hoofball in front of a crowd of 50.

Wigan supremo Dave Whelan spent millions to get his club into the Premier League

Turls: Sugar daddies are bizarre really. If you don't have one you hate them. If you do most people love them. If the project is set up with footballing knowledge and financial planning, then once the sugar daddy leaves, the club can still do well.

The problem is this rarely happens. too many chairman come in, splash cash, get frustrated then bolt, leaving the club in a precarious situation.

I think if I was a fan of a lower league club, say, Kettering, then I would rather go at it in a slow and steady approach. But fans are easily swayed by the promise of exciting times ahead and barely look at the fine print that comes with a sugar daddy.

Fans are idiots. I'm sorry, but it's true. Wave promotion under the nose of a fan and most, if not all, would be willing to sell their soul for the cause. As soon as that money has gone and the fan turns to his chum in the stand and says that he was always against the idea of selling the soul of the club.

I have to say, I wouldn't want one full stop. I suppose it's because I've seen my club coming so near to the wall that I know no quick success and promotions are worth putting a club's existence on the line for.

I'd much rather remain in Non League with a stable future rather than spend big to reach League One and come crashing back down to earth. Rushden fans might disagree, but just having a football club is more important than having a successful one.

I often think: would I want a sugar daddy at Preston? The answer is yes and no.

Yes, because I think we need that kind of investment to push us to the next level, no because I think teams should do it on their own merit from their own resource base and not create some sort of artificial status.

What would be the point of, say, Notts County being in the Premier League if they only raised gates of 10,000? It's just not right.

I read an excellent article that mentioned that money is all we talk about when discussing football and I couldn't agree more.

I know money is a massive part of the game now but lets move away from the pound signs and talk about the quality of the striker, the turning circle of the defender, and the complete lack of control from the foaming-at-the-mouth centre midfielder.

Lets start talking about how Stuart Pearce was a million times the player that Nickey Shorey will ever be. Lets argue until our bones melt over whose club is better than whose. Forget money, let the corporate bigwigs and financial advisers spunk all that up the wall. Lets just talk football.

The problem is that money does play such an important part though, and it's also the best refuge for a manager. Sure, we can talk about the quality striker, but that quality striker costs money.

Football has become so high-pressure and the stakes are so massive that we've seen a ridiculous culture of hiring and firing managers on a whim. And the manager's best defence is surely the fact that he can't be expected to compete and get results if he hasn't got the same resources as others.

It's become less a sport and more a business now. The danger too is if you ignore the financial aspect then, as a fan of a rich club, the success starts to blind you from the reality of how dependent you are on the money.

Look at Truro City, they're just one of many Non League clubs with a rich backer financing their climb up the football ladder. All those cups and titles are only down to that money though. I would fear for that club's existence if they lose their wealthy owner.

Truro City's money has helped them progress up the football pyramid

Lakes: I hate it. You have the horrible situation of some old doddery guy bossing his club around, when he is perhaps one of the least qualified to do so.

"Buy Sol Campbell!" comes the order from the massive walking chequebook, and your hands are completely tied. Do it or get out. And then get out anyway.

So get lost, sugar daddies, and don't come back.

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