- In April 2002 the then Chairman of Motherwell FC announced that the club was being placed into interim administration. I imagine many of the supporters during the preceding period, of heavy spending and losses, knew very well that they were not genuinely able to pay the salaries they did at that time. This was a direct result of John Boyle’s deep pockets combined with a willingness to use his long arms to extract the necessary funds to support his and the supporters’ ambitions for the club. I also imagine that some of those supporters worried that it would be unsustainable. I don’t know John Boyle but he does appear to have written off some 9 million pounds to save the club from liquidation. Whether he may have been overconfident in what he could deliver for Motherwell FC or naïvely expected a return on his investment in the club, I have no idea, but he didn’t throw them off the bus and hope nobody noticed the problems he caused.His investment drove the team forward to their league peak of 4th place in season 1999/2000 from a lowly 9th place in season 1997/98. That was almost enough for a European run out. The gravy train ground to a halt in the following 2-3 years culminating in administration in 2002 and a get out of jail free card that was presented by the rejection of Falkirk, Division 1 winners, as Motherwell finished bottom of the SPL. Apparently the SPFL (SPL at that time) didn’t like Falkirk’s stadium and wouldn’t accept an alternative proposal. That is a cabal working for its membership right there!
For me there is no doubt that this was the single most important factor in Motherwell’s favour in avoiding the liquidation that Rangers face. Plunging down to the First Division would I’m sure have come very close to wiping the club out or at least changing them in to an almost unrecognisable entity.
Once again though we face the questions:
• What were the SFA doing?
• What did the governing authority of Scottish Football do to stop a club plunging itself in to debt?
The answer is of course, the square root of heehaw! In fact they allowed the league authority to penalise another member club, Falkirk, this being only one of three occasions they allowed this to happen.
But thankfully Motherwell were able to take at least some responsibility in the end. A great article on the Fir Park Corner website posted 10 years after administration shows a club and a supporter base that learned the lessons and was contrite enough to acknowledge its luck at the expense of Falkirk.
If you have time check it out, it’s not a long article and, I really like the closing paragraphs.
In season 2012/13 Motherwell would be the first club to benefit from Scottish Football’s Armageddon. Keith Lasley and his teammates were no doubt devastated that they would have to compete against Panathinaikos for a place in the Champions League! While disappointed by the result I’m sure they wouldn’t trade their experience. They had legitimately earned the right to try for qualification to Europe’s premier club competition.
Motherwell prepare for their first League Cup Final since 2005 and will be the underdogs against a seemingly unstoppable Celtic. Their one and only win came in 1950. With a total of 3 League cup final appearances, since their formation in 1886, this is a rare achievement for the club. Their manager seems determined to make the most of what he has and his players will be primed to try to derail the juggernaut that his Celtic. That really would be a fairy tale. Achieved despite the poor governance of the SFA, this should be a lesson to all clubs to keep themselves in order as your representative authority isn’t worried about your fate. Just ask Motherwell’s vanquished opponents last Sunday!
The Well Society is now in place and has a controlling interest in the club as Motherwell prepare to tackle Celtic in their first League Cup Final appearance since 2005. You can find out more about them here http://www.thewellsociety.co.uk/our-aims/
I like the very first aim on the list – safeguard the financial future of Motherwell.