Thursday, April 21, 2011

Smoke and mirrors

His face smeared with egg, duped former Notts County executive chairman and owner Peter Trembling responded to Monday night's edition of Panorama to claim that we may have dodged a bullet.

The programme investigated the 2009 takeover of the other Magpies by the shady Qadbak and their subsidiary Munto Finance, implicating convicted fraudster Russell King in the running of the club and underlining how all the too-good-to-be-true promises of oodles of cash that rendered deluded County supporters giddy and irrational proved to be just that.

But, according to Trembling, their sights were initially set higher than a League Two club: "They had tried to buy Newcastle United. I told them they were better off going for a smaller club and building it up. At one stage, they were looking at all sorts of clubs. Liverpool was on the radar. Then they said they had the money to buy Notts County."

Sven-Goran Eriksson, Kaspar Schmeichel and a certain Sol Campbell were all improbably lured to Meadow Lane, but it all collapsed leaving the club £7m in the red and in serious danger of extinction. Presumably Munto Finance's sales pitch to the Supporters Trust, from whom they bought the club, was: "Why not let us consolidate all your existing debt into one much bigger debt and then fuck off, unpaid bills flapping in the breeze?" That the owners were somehow able to pass the Football League's "fit and proper persons" test speaks volumes about its stringency and rigour - as Ian King has pointed out on the ever-superb Twohundredpercent.

Anyway, the point is that perhaps we shouldn't scoff at the gullibility of Trembling and the County faithful, and instead reflect on what might have been for us. Gripe all you want about Jabba, but in this instance it's a case of better the devil you know.

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