A case of mistaken identity
Solved it… well sort of… after all that faffing about last week that got nowhere… it was a case of mistaken identity.
Turf Moor is indeed still owned by Longside Properties and they in turn are owned by Lionbridge Ltd. I think most if not all of us by now were up to speed on that one - except this wasn’t the Lionbridge Ltd that we thought was owned by Anthony Parmiter and Richard Hull (now dissolved anyway)… it’s the mystery Lionbridge Ltd owned by ???
And the question marks will have to remain because this particular Lionbridge Ltd is registered in the British Virgin Islands. The abbreviated 2009, 31st August accounts for Longside Properties Ltd contain this final paragraph:
During the year, Lionbridge Ltd, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands acquired the whole of the issued share capital of the company. Lionbridge Limited is the immediate and ultimate parent undertaking. The controlling party of Lionbridge Limited is not known to the director.
I read that last bit again; ‘the controlling party of Lionbridge Limited is not known…’ Does anyone know then who actually ultimately owns Turf Moor? Surely someone in the boardroom does.
“Why on earth are you so obsessed with this?” asked Mrs T as I sat there muttering,’ well I’ll be damned.’
“Because it’s so intriguing and such fun to follow up and write about,” I replied. “Some blokes’ hobbies are horse-racing, or golf, or darts or creosoting anything that stands still. Me: I like finding things out and chasing paper trails. And the next question is Mrs T; where does the rent that’s payable finally end up – at Longside or at the British Virgin Islands Lionbridge. This is £300k+ a year. Whose bank account does it eventually end up in? When the ground was owned by Longside, and Barry Kilby and John Sullivan were the directors, we knew where the money was going. That was kind of OK. Now it all seems rather hazy and blurred and when things are hazy and blurred you start to ask questions. Now I’ve heard the name Peter Ashton mentioned, a London property guy, being the guy who bought it. What’s the connection between him and Lionbridge if Barry Kilby says to the best of his knowledge it’s owned by Lionbridge?”
“Why can’t you be happy reading Clive Cussler novels and helping me at Tesco? Is it really anything to do with you?” she asked.
“Maybe not but then on the other hand if you’ve been a supporter for over 50 years, it is actually nice to know who owns the place, and if I was a shareholder I’d certainly want some answers,” I responded.
“Did you never read ‘The Elephant’s Child’ by Rudyard Kipling, about the little elephant that was ‘satiably curious?”
“Yes and the little elephant got his nose bitten by the crocodile, very painfully,” she retorted.
“Ah yes but now he has a very useful long nose and can do all kinds of things with it that he couldn’t do before.” I answered. How nice and how rare it was, to get the last word.
The Graham Alexander articles by Suzanne Geldard in the Telegraph were interesting as well. Amongst his comments was the feeling he had that he limped over the line towards his 1,000th appearance, getting there with cameo sub appearances rather than actual starts. He reckoned he’d made 960 starts in the game but what he probably didn’t remember was that a couple of them went back to the time that Roger Eli was at Scunthorpe for a brief spell. That bit of info cropped up when Roger was outlining the way his career came to its inevitable end, although it was actually in Scotland where he played his last 12 minutes of first team football at Partick that it finally died.
But maybe the most interesting of Alexander’s opinions was how he felt that when Eddie Howe came in, it was almost as if, instead of concentrating on the second half of the season, when a top six place was still a clear possiblilty, the club abandoned that and instead looked in a more long term fashion towards building something for the future. “Too much changed too quickly…. From January onwards the focus seemed to shift to the future…. I didn’t think it was right halfway through a season…. I couldn’t understand looking to the future at that time because we still had something to play for that season. ”
And then a telling comment that you could easily miss: “Players like their lives to be quite simple.”
Alas since the Coyle walk-out, life at Turf Moor has been anything but simple. In came Laws making changes. In came Howe making changes, too rapidly, in Alexander’s view.
Big surprise of the week was the move of Steve Cotterill to Nottingham Forest. Forest has been a graveyard for managers of late and would appear to have little money. One can only assume that SC sees it as less of a potential trauma being there than Portsmouth. There’s no question however that the potential at Forest is huge if they can get their boardroom and finances sorted. His legacy at Burnley is mixed. Undoubtedly he worked a minor miracle to stabilise things in that first season. After that there were faint but only fleeting glimpses that he might produce something attractive. One game perhaps summed up his insecurity and negative philosophy and that was the home game against Sunderland when late in the game and winning 2 – 0 he tinkered, introduced defensive minded subs, and the game ended 2 – 2. Was that the beginning of the long run without a win?
The loss, too, of Andy Gray was pivotal. Sadly SC is remembered by most for the long run without a win and a period during the back end of his tenure at the club when most of us were just plain bored and people were staying away. Brian Jensen in his book has quite a few harsh words to say about him.
His man management philosphy was very much: “I’m the f*****g manager and you’ll do what I f****g say.” It was a philosphy that was confirmed in an interview I did with Clarke Carlisle. With that as his sole motivational tool it was no wonder that several players had had enough of him and by the end, the dressing room was not the happiest of places. His touchline tirades were overheard by fans in the Bob Lord many times. When Joey Gudjonnson objected in training to the foul language, it was the beginning of the end for Joey. But mind you a section of the crowd were none too worried at that. Nobody played a long diagonal ball more stylishly than Joey – except most of them went sailing straight out over the touchline.
He also provided the most bizarre excuse ever for poor results when he blamed the publicity for the new ground improvments (the ones that never happened but there were lots of fabulous pictures) and that it had put too much pressure of expectation on the players. I remember thinking at the time since when has the promise of new changing rooms and big mirrors ever put pressure on a footballer?
At informal ‘functions’ he could be informative, entertaining and amiable, with a fund of football anecdotes. With the Press, reporters and ‘writers’ he was edgy, defensive and suspicious. At each club he has left, the tale is told that the local Press usually breathed a sigh of relief. One reporter said that if you asked him his name he’d want to know why you asked.
Yet, remarkably, despite the lack of any success during his reign, and the eventual dire football, he remains affectionately respected I suspect by a lot of Burnley supporters. That may well be because the lack of loyalty shown by Owen Coyle and the abruptness of his exit, only served to emphasise that Cotterill was the opposite at Burnley, and even with things at a low ebb did not quit until he was asked to leave. Funny really; the man who brought the Premiership to Burnley was savagely abused when he came back with Bolton. Cotterill on the other hand who brought new meaning to the word boring, was warmly welcomed when he brought Portsmouth to Turf Moor. It can only be because he wore his heart on his sleeve, worked his socks off, and could never ever be described at Burnley as duplicitous
But there was a comment on a Forest website that made me smile: “Great, now I’ll need a neckbrace and a f*****g telescope.”
We turned up for the Reading game full of anticipation – and Tuna sandwiches. Our routine now is to leave Leeds early and then have a picnic in the car pre – game or eat at the Kettledrum. The gorgeous drive over the tops under a clear blue sky was a highlight of the day – although it would be after the game that I’d realise that. On this occasion it was a picnic in the car. You can only dine out so often when you’re a pensioner. And, whereas once upon a time they’d be M&S sandwiches, now Mrs T makes them. We talked about the game while we munched.
“Gotta guard today against double exposure in transition,” I said knowledgeably. “That guy Phil Smith in the Burnley Express says so in his tactics analysis column.”
I’d no idea what it meant but it sounded bloody good. From what I’ve read it may be something to do with being careful when you don’t have the ball. Or it may be what transvestites have to do when they’re changing.
“Well what a wasted afternoon,” said the old guy coming down the stairs again after the game. It was a sentiment echoed by one of messageboard posters. It was hard to disagree. This was an afternoon when I sat thinking I could have been doing some much needed autumn clearing up in the garden on a rare sunny day after the rain and drizzle of the last week. It was a beauty of a day, something that could not be said for this dire excuse for a Burnley performance.
“Never got out of the traps and never hit our rhythm,” said manager Eddie Howe.
“A young side… in transition… just needs more time to play together… Reading are a bogey side… beaten but not outplayed… we will be fine… need to be patient,” said the faithful. “Don’t panic,” which is apparently what folk said while the Titanic went down.
In a nutshell it was lacklustre and lethargic, just four shots on target in the 90 minutes, clearances constantly going straight to the opposition, some quite horrible shooting, lacking anything resembling penetration, flair and invention. Only the tireless Bartley and Grant, who made a string of interceptions and saves in the second half, distinguished themselves. This was a game to forget. The problem is I suspect, there are plenty more to come just like it. This is a side with too much mediocrity and averageness. There was little evidence of the young exciting players and the bright future that has been talked about. Hines was outstanding though… trouble is that was only on the touchline warming up.
“The summer signings have provided us with some really exciting young stars for now and the future,” wrote Brendan Flood in the programme.
“If this is the strongest squad we can assemble whilst we receive parachute payments, then Lord knows what side we’ll turn out in 2 or 3 years,” was a telling comment on the website.
According to the stats Burnley had far more possession. But it counted for nothing. As the final whistle approached you thought that 0 – 0 was a fair result and that at least Burnley had kept a clean sheet. But with 9 minutes added time for what looked a horrible injury to Reading’s Tabb; you just knew that Reading would pinch the points. They duly did with just a couple of minutes to go of extra time.
I was bored today but the gloom lightened on the way home. There was Russell Grant and Nancy Dell Lollio to look forward to on Come Dancing. I cheered up. How sad is that? But Russell Grant put more effort and entertainment into his 5 minute routine than eleven Burnley players did all afternoon. And up front if only we had Nancy Dell Lollio.