Running a black light over the practices of English and Welsh football will reveal the stains and messiness that the fading glitz of the game often disguises. For those of you who are interested in football, or sport, or people, or well written articles, there is a great piece in The Sunday Times this morning (Sunday 19 September) about Phil Jones, the Manchester United and former England defender who has suffered through prolonged injury and severe personal attack. It is worth five minutes of your time.
The visible blemishes of football are there for all to see in the demise and then further kicking of once great club, Derby County, who are already facing a transfer embargo and a separate and additional nine points penalty for breaking the Football League’s financial rules. The club barely escaped relegation from the Championship on the final day of last season after drawing 3-3 with Sheffield Wednesday, so that nine point loss plus the compulsory 12 point deduction imposed whenever a league club goes into Administration should just about seal their fate this time around, despite the hard-earned seven points they have already won. Can you imagine walking across the Gobi desert, crawling to the end-point, going through a time vortex and ending up 200 gruelling miles before your starting point of the original journey? That's Derby County this morning.
Wayne Rooney plays for and manages Derby County and he will need assistance in adding that number nine to the additional twelve, but we in the NTI newsroom can help by saying it adds up to 'curtains', like the ones in his Nan's bungalow. Or maybe that is not his Nan's place he was spotted in; maybe he just popped round there for comfort having heard the news and struggled with the maths.
Billy has searched today's media high and low and cannot identify the Administrators of the club. If this is you or your friend please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. However, Derbyshire Live tells us that the club are desperate to avoid the original nine point deduction and have been asked by the English Football League (EFL) to resubmit accounts for the 2015/16, 16/17 and 17/18 financial years. The additional 12 point deduction will automatically apply once the EFL receives formal notification of the appointment of an Administrator and Billy's advice to them is to take the initial nine point deduction on the chin, save money on the fine and start again next autumn.
The August insolvency numbers are bigger and even attracted the interest of the mainstream media over the weekend. The Times reported that the number of companies in England and Wales falling into insolvency hit its highest level since the first pandemic lockdown in August, with 1,348 registered company insolvencies, the highest since the first UK lockdown in March 2020. The August increase was up from 1,094 in July, indicating that some companies are failing despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions earlier this year.
What The Times don't report (and we are not sure they even realise this) is how small that overall number still is; not just in relation to previous years, but against what it should and surely will be once Rishi and the gang remove all safety nets, revealing the black hole beneath into which many companies will disappear.
For individuals, there were 1,714 Debt Relief Orders in England and Wales in August, down on July’s pandemic high. The number is 29 per cent higher than in August last year but 12 per cent lower than in August 2019. There were also 614 Bankruptcies, the lowest since the series began in January 2019.
All these numbers add up to not very much, but it is good that the reporting of our our profession reached the dizzy heights of the penultimate article in the business section, below an advert for string in a mainstream broadsheet.