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Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

The Premiership

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The gap with the super elite gets wider

The gap between the super elite of European clubs and the next tier is getting wider.   Clubs like Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Southampton have enjoyed success through good management and smart player acquisitions, but sustaining that success is difficult.

Newcastle sitting on pile of cash

Newcastle United's full accounts have now been filed at Companies House and they show that £38.6m has been transferred into the club's bank accounts as a cash flow sum, £4.5m of which was used to pay off an overdraft.

This news will reinforce criticisms that the club puts profit before ambition, having failed to sign a player in the January transfer window.   Fans are planning a boycott of Sunday's home game against Tottenham Hotspur.

Aston Villa deal imminent

A deal to sell Aston Villa to a consortium for around £150m is thought to be imminent.  Due diligence has been in progress and the purchasers are just waiting to ensure that the club's Premiership place is secure.

Because of the impending deal Villa have not made any arrangements for a pre-season tour.   Randy Lerner will make a rare visit to a Villa match when he attends the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

It remains to be seen whether new owners can realise the potential of this sleeping giant.

Labour's plans for football

The Labour Party manifesto issued today contains a section on football, a subject of considerable interest to shadow health minister Andy Burnham.

It states, 'Football clubs are an important part of many people’s identity and sense of belonging. They are more than just businesses. But despite their importance in the lives of their members and supporters, too often there are no effectivemeans for fans to have a say in how their clubs are run.'

Lot of interest in buying Baggies

At least five groups have now expressed an interest in taking over West Bromwich Albion.  An Australian consortium, two groups from the Far East and a potential buyer from the United States are known to have expressed an interest.   At least one other group of possible buyers has already been shown round The Hawthorns and the training ground.

The Ashley formula at Newcastle United

Top football journalist David Conn takes an in depth look at the state of Newcastle United under the regime of Mike Ashley.

Conn's assessment that Ashley wants to hold on the golden riches of the Premier League, but reckons he cannot compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.   Hence, he is happy to settle for mid-table.

Crystal Palace make good profit

As the Premier League returns to the black, Crystal Palace are the latest club to report a profit.    They have managed to achieve 25 per cent pre-tax profits, £23m on turnover of £93.4m.   They achieved a good profit in percentage terms in their last year in the Championship, £3.5m on a much smaller turnover of £14.5m or 24 per cent.

Their case illustrates how much the smaller clubs in the Premier League rely on broadcasting revenue which accounts for 81 per cent of their turnover.

Who is a real fan?

In my view Simon Kuper writes some of the most interesting reflective essays about contemporary football. He surpassed himself with an article in last weekend's FT Magazine.   I'm not sure I agree with everything he said, but it is certainly thought provoking.

He starts with the notion that the whole idea of following a particular club is central to the personal identity of many fans.  Certainly when I think of my friends and acquaintances, I know which club they follow.  That includes the women, by the way.

Doubts about Premier League assistance

The £1 billion provided by the Premier League out of the new £5.14bn television deal for grassroots football, solidarity payments to lower leagues, help for the disadvantaged and other purposes has been generally welcomed by fan organisations.   

They have also welcomed the intention to make the Premier League a living wage organisation, although some doubts have been expressed about how this will apply to sub-contractors such as match day stewards.

English clubs seen as good value by American investors

When the takeover of Crystal Palace is completed as expected by the end of the season, it will become the fifth American owned club in the Premier League.  At £90 million the price is higher, even allowing for inflation, than the £62m Randy Lerner paid for Aston Villa in 2006 or the £22m Ellis Short paid for Sunderland in 2009.