Many eyebrows were raised when former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson was appointed as Director of Football at League Two’s Notts County during the summer yet just seven months later the Swede has departed from the job with four years to run on his contract but this time it is understandable and he hasn’t taken a large pay-off.
The Football League’s oldest has been left in financial ruin after a shocking case of mismanagement on the part of former owners Muntro finance.
Speaking to the Guardian this weekend, Eriksson despite his initial reservations of joining a club four tiers below the Premier League said at the start he was up for the challenge – “I liked the idea of the project, the challenge to do it. It was like a dream to me. And if all their promises had been true we would have done it.”
But as he and the players soon learned that promises of improvements to the stadium and dressing rooms were to remain broken. And when bills began to go unpaid, a winding up order being issued in November, doubts began to creep in.
The real problem was here never was any money to begin with, which is a surprise considering Kasper Schmeichel and Sol Campbell were brought in initially on high wages, subsequently that latter has since left and gone back to Arsenal, but the former Manchester City keeper Schmeichel continues as goal minder for the League Two side.
Clearly there is more to this story than you and I know about but the facts don’t lie about how the club was living well beyond its means. County have had a transfer embargo imposed on them, they have exceeded League Two’s salary cap, which limits wages to 60% of a clubs turnover and currently owe £324,000 to the taxman and £95,000 to former drinks supplier Marston’s.
However, that is only the tip of the iceberg with former chairman Peter Trembling admitting that the club is £1.5million in the red after his chairmanship. Eriksson and Trembling will be joined by the club’s chief executive Gary Townsend, who is also leaving the club.
This week the club was taken over by a consortium led by former Lincoln City chairman, Ray Trew who bought the club for just £1. He described Eriksson as a “gentleman” for wavering his £2.4million pay-off which he would have been entitled to because of the time left on his contract, instead the Swede decided to take two months wages as compensation.
Speaking this weekend Trew said “I am absolutely certain I can do something with this club,” “But I might upset a few fans. The problem with this club is that it has been living beyond its means and that cannot go on”
The main aim of this season for Notts County is promotion and despite all the commotion they are still in contention to do so via the play-offs. The Meadow Lane outfit are currently 7th in League Two on 46 points thirteen points behind leaders Rochdale who have played three games more.
In looking back on his time at the club Eriksson said that he has learnt one thing. “Maybe I trust people too much”
I’m sure it is not the last we have heard from the Swede in English football, there have been murmurs about the Liverpool job, but just about everyone is linked to that these days. He was genuine in his role as Direction of Football at County it is just a pity the owners weren’t like him.