When you think of football players you think of glamour, fast cars and easy lifestyles, but I challenge anyone who feels this is the case to take a look at life at Port Vale at the minute.
A club which has been poorly run for a number of years now is really starting to feel the pinch as the net has started to tighten on them, culminating in players and staff receiving no wages for the month of February. Sure some players will be able to survive, some will have savings and will have no problems, but equally some young players will be on £2-300 a week and are effectively currently being expected to work for free. Manager Micky Adams told his players last week that they are no longer obligated to play for the club but all players still reported for duty. What a refreshing sight this is – take note Carlos Tevez.
Adams is a man with experience of administration having previously gone through the same situation at Leicester City, but he has recently said “This situation is a lot worse, at Leicester we had money to see us through administration, there is no money here at all.” Anyone who didn’t recognise the seriousness of the situation was made blatantly aware of it by Adams after the 2-2 draw with Accrington Stanley. Vale had four subs after Marc Richards rang in sick, and were unable to pay expenses for youngster Kingsley James to travel from Sheffield for the game.
So who is to blame for this situation? Port Vale are not a poorly supported club, as average attendances last season were around the 5,500 mark. But supporters began a ‘Starve Em Out’ campaign in an attempt to get rid of old Chairman Bill Bratt last summer, and subsequently attendances are down by nearly 1,000 this season resulting in a loss of income. Bratt was replaced by Peter Miller as Chairman and subsequently Glenn Oliver and Perry Deakin as Chief Executive, who have not improved the situation at Port Vale. Back in December supporters were told the club had secured a lucrative investment from American company Blue Sky International, but this fell through and Vale now appear to be heading for administration very shortly.
Despite this Deakin has still refused to apologise to the Port Vale supporters for the situation they find themselves in, preferring to pass the blame to the previous owners of the club. The board only has three members, which means they are now unable to function as a business and have had to ask Stoke-on-Trent City Council for another loan despite failing with repayments on a loan they already owe the council. There is no way the council will offer another loan in a city where money is tight and budgets are being cut across the board, so it appears administration is the only remaining option.
But the real losers in this are the supporters. Owners will come and go, players will come and go. The real Port Vale supporters are in tough times at the minute, and looking across to their rivals Stoke City in the Premier League is not helping. But Stoke-on-Trent is a two team city and hopefully it will stay that way for years to come.
I’m not going to pretend to be a Port Vale supporter, in fact I’m far from it, but anyone who supports a football team will recognise that the plight of a club with over 125 years of history is a very sorry sight.