Wooly Thinking

A special Xmas prize of your editor’s expired Merseyrail pass for anyone who gets that headline…

Said gift is from about 2014 (I really need to clean out my room more often), but it has to be more use than what we are on the road right now.

If you can’t bear to look at our league results away from KM, I’ll put it in stat form: P11 W1 D1 L9. And the sole victory was against Southend, so that doesn’t really count as a full win either.

That we shit the bed up in the Wirral yesterday isn’t really a surprise, if truth be told. By the sounds of it we relied on Trott a bit too much.

Which considering Tranmere are one of the elite teams who are below us in League One, isn’t good to hear at all.

OK, it also sounded like we put ourselves about a bit more after the break, and when it’s only 1-0 there’s always a chance of a deflection off an errant arse. But somehow this was, well, expected.

I guess it must have been a little bit like Blackpool away, a game that is useful to remember if you’re feeling too happy in life and you need a comedown.

But leaving aside the late horror shows at Ipswich, Coventry and Bolton, where a bit more discipline could have made right now so much different, we’ve been shit on the road.

True, we’re not much better at home, but at least we’re getting points there.

I don’t know how many travelled up to the North West yesterday, but anyone who does away games right now deserves a lot of kudos. Especially before Xmas.

As will anyone who goes to the West Country on Boxing Day. I’m sure older heads will remember trips to Torquay or Nottm Forest in the WFC era on that day, although at least it’s a 3pm kickoff**.

** – your editor will be at Reading v QPR, which has the user-friendly kickoff time of 19h30. Though by that stage I reckon most people will be glad to get out.

On previous form, I’m sure we’ll collapse to a 3-0 defeat and have to rely on gubbing Oxford and Southend again to make it a decent holiday period. Why am I not holding my breath though?

The long and short of it is, we’ve blown two opportunities in the last couple of weeks to give ourselves a bit of daylight between us and the real crap in this division.

We are where we are for a reason though, and to reiterate – next month’s transfer window becomes one of the most important in some time.

Up front remains the issue, though after the way we defended yesterday…

Anyway, it’s easy to forget that there’s something called actual football right now. For more than a few, there’s that little matter of the “other” issue.

Helpfully, we got an update just before the Tranmere game, and while most of it isn’t new it will act as a holding piece over the next couple of weeks.

The timing of all this isn’t great as it is, but it falling over Christmas and New Year makes it even worse. It’s like trying to climb a mountain and timing it for the worst snow storms of the year.

The most important news is that we’ve (metaphorically) bought more time with the contractors. True, it’s only a month longer, and the end of February will come around a lot quicker than many will think.

But we’ve ended up with some breathing space at a time when we’ve got precious little of it.

The second most important news is finding out we’re, er, not going to find out the identity of the investors until we accept what they’re going to offer.

That’s probably going to scupper that particular route, because for various (and obvious) reasons there’s a significant amount of distrust over any anonymity.

And you wouldn’t blame anyone for doing that. I’m in full support of external investment, but I would get cold feet if I had to make a blind decision.

That said – depending on what question eventually gets asked, and indeed what gets offered, don’t be entirely surprised to see a majority/very large minority agree to what’s been offered in principle.

Partly because it will then flush out the identity of the potential investors, which is all we’ve wanted to know at this stage. Then I think we can make the proper choice that we can’t do at the moment.

But also partly because of something that’s become apparent over the past fortnight or so. True, there’s some who will never accept external investment, but it appears there’s a lot of people who aren’t opposed to it.

That comes with caveats, needless to say – it has to be on the right terms, the money has to be right, and nobody is rightly going to go in with their eyes closed.

However, like the whole Franchise business I think reality is (slowly) starting to bite.

We’ve been quite closeted since 2002 with the harsh financial realities of professional football. Up until the Conference South we could do what we still do too much of right now, because we were so big and powerful it didn’t matter.

We got lucky in the Conference and the change to full time football, insofar as we only spent two seasons there and didn’t have time to start facing up to what being a professional football club really entails.

If we’re being honest, we only just about figured out how to be a L2 club before we got promoted into L1, and with us taking on NPL at the same time, it’s probably no wonder we’re in the current situation.

What we’re dealing with now isn’t that unusual for a professional football club. It’s just that for many of our fans, they’re unprepared for it.

For many others though, they have a bit more of a grasp that running a club in the EFL isn’t cheap, and funding has to come from somewhere.

I think that’s why there hasn’t been the rooted objection to external investment as one may be led to believe – it’s just down to not knowing enough right now.

I think the current proposals, such as they are, will ultimately fail. But I’ve become more firm in my belief that external equity is a matter of when, not if. Especially when romance and naivety gives way to pragmatism and cynicism.

The proposal on offer may not be the right one. The next one might be.

Should it get rejected out of hand, that still leaves us with a funding gap. The bond thing has pledges of £3m**, but “potential support” is unreliable at the best of times – even if it got the whole whack (which it won’t) there’s still another £8m to find.

** – personally, I think we should have gone with the bond route instead of Seedrs. I reckon it would have raised more, and would have looked more “proper” than the tinpot, gimmicky stuff like naming a urinal. Part of me hopes the Seedrs money gets returned for that alone.

Could that shortfall come through a loan still? Or some other financing option? It’s interesting to note that Ivor Heller is no longer a director, although he’s still Commercial Director (does that mean he’s still on the FCB?).

That leaves two directors now, I believe, so some deck clearing may be happening. Either there’s going to be some sort of fundamental change in the structure, or we’re about to put at least one new director at the coal face.

Perhaps that’s the backup plan for at least one of the investors to get on board? It would be cheaper for them, they wouldn’t need to go through restrictive actions** and the FCB has long been the seat of actual power in the club.

** – if the DT is to survive long-term or have relevance, perhaps it needs to have its constitution rewritten to reflect the modern world? Admittedly, it would be a job for people who find watching the Test Card too exciting.

It might ruffle a few feathers, but the majority will probably be glad that the rest of the project will get completed after all.

Never underestimate the appeal of can-kicking when faced with a tough decision. Especially at this club.

We’re not going to find out any more on anything until 2020 gets under way now, and the statement still leaves a few things open.

I did note as well the bit at the end about “day-jobs”, which I don’t think was put in by accident.

You can question how effective individuals are, and maybe even their motives, but they are having to work within a setup and culture that “the fans” still want, apparently.

Or to put it another way – maybe those currently in charge aren’t the problem…?