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SPL is on it's deathbed 0 Sunday Mail


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Maybe we should hang onto Milne for a little longer......a depressing read


Feb 21 2010 Gordon Waddell, Sunday Mail


THE Old Firm have spent the week wheeling out two sets of financial results telling us one thing - Champions League cash is their life-support system.


But straight-talking Stephen Thompson insists there's a darker truth sitting on our own doorstep: that the SPL is lying with its throat cut and is bleeding to death before our eyes.


The Dundee United chairman has had to plough in another half a million quid of his family fortune to balance the Arabs' books this season.


However as he looks around him and sees almost every other owner and club lying in the same intensive care ward, he reckons the wider worries causing cash carnage in the game need to be addressed now.


In a wide-ranging interview, the 43-year-old Tannadice supremo revealed he's already lobbied the SPL for radical changes including introducing wage-capping.


And he insists the governing body needs more neutral directors on board to save the SPL from drowning in self-interest at every vote.


He told MailSport: "I was talking to Walter Smith and Ally McCoist at St Mirren a couple of weeks ago.


"Ally asked me how I was getting on and I told him no one in their right mind would ever want to be chairman of a football club!


"The financial state of Scottish football is a lot worse than people realise.


"So you have that to contend with first. I also have the fact my father spent most of the money we made selling Morning Noon and Night.


"It's gone. It went into here," he says, gesturing around his club's boardroom, "and it will never come back out again.


"There are times when I feel like saying, 'Bugger it'.


"When we were losing to Hamilton a couple of weeks ago a few fans began to have a go at me at half time. They shouted, 'Thompson get tae f***'.


"Fine, I'll go - you just won't have a club next week.


"And I know that's just one or two individuals, I know they're not representative - but things like that get to you because there's enough hassle running the club.


"If I walked away from this club, though, I don't know what would happen to it to be honest.


"That's the weight on your shoulders."


It's a weight he's prepared to carry as far as he can, though.


But as a different animal to his father, he insists it won't be on the wave of emotion Eddie used to surf on.


He sighed; "I said this to Walter during that conversation too - nobody outside of the clubs has a true understanding of how bad the SPL is financially.


"The Setanta thing hit hard. But I love my club and I want to prove a few things.


"I want to turn the club around financially, which we were doing until the Setanta thing.


"We've put another half a million in this year, my family, and we can't go on doing that.


"And that's the thing -you can't rely on the Thompson family, on David Murray, on Stewart Milne.


"You can't rely on an individual for the long-term stability of your football club.


"The clubs needs to wash their face, which is my ambition for this one.


"We made a profit in June 2008, the first profit in 12 years.


"When the accounts are eventually signed off for June 2009 it will show we 'd have made a small profit but for the £230,000 write-off from Setanta.


"And this year we may have broken even but now we'll makes a substantial loss. And that's us in the top six.


"No club can survive long term by people putting money in from their own pocket.


"And that applies to everyone. What happens to Man City when the guy gets fed up with his new toy?"


Thompson scoffs at the thought that anyone else could come along to bail them out either. Especially when he sees a national institution such as Rangers or a debt-free clean slate like St Mirren sitting unloved and unwanted in the showroom.


He said: "There's no one out there. People say 'Oh someone will step in and take over'. There's NO ONE there to take you over.


"Look at St Mirren. They're a club with a new stadium, great set-up and no debt. They can't sell. Nobody wants to buy because they know they'll still have to put money in.


"Them getting to a cup final has saved their club having to put three or four hundred thousand in this year. It's a lot of money.


"No one is buying Rangers although that's a very complicated deal because the shares are tied up in the Murray Group.


"But I heard someone asking the other week why the bank wouldn't just take £18million for their debt.


"Fine, I'll go along tomorrow and ask to buy out MY debt for half its worth as well. So will Killie. So will everyone else.


"The bank are taking a very consistent approach to all the clubs. They have to because they know in football we all talk."


And talking's what he insists they have to do more of. Even if it means the Old Firm conceding some of the power they wield over the rest.


Thompson revealed: "I've even suggested putting a cap on wages in Scotland for three years. People have told me about the legal obstacle to it but who gives a monkey's about that. They do it in America, don't they?


"We should do it for the sake of the game and the sake of the clubs.


"Make it a rule you can't break. It would be good for the game to get financial stability back.


"It will probably never happen but these are things we should be talking about in the SPL.


"It's a bit radical but it might be the thing needed to turn things round.


"United have £6.5m worth of debt and there's no chance we're paying anything off that in the near future.


"It's just about keeping your head above water and thankfully interest rates are low at the moment.


"It's not just us. Rangers haven't signed a player in 18 months while Celtic have just announced a set of results they're not happy with.


"Hamilton brought 68 fans to their game with us and only 29 of them were paying customers. That's not a slight on Hamilton, who I really like, but it's just another financial reality check.


"Crowds are dwindling. We have a problem. People don't have the money in their pocket and football is expensive to watch.


"The SPL needs to change. We have a good chief executive in place in Neal Doncaster but he doesn't have a lot of power due to the voting structure.


"Ralph Topping has come on board and he's a big hitter, working very hard behind the scenes.


"But what we need is a bigger board with some non-execs who are neutral, guys with no club loyalties who'll do what's best for the SPL.


"And what that will require will be the Old Firm giving up some of their power to the board and accepting that's the right thing to do for the game."

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That is just sad. The boy just aint settled into a game up here, Yet was good south.


Who? Ifil? He was punted by Swindon.


"Especially when he sees a national institution such as Rangers" made me boak. We might as well reminisce about stringing up darkies.

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