4.12.2002 Since the events of last Monday things seem a little quiet. Are there things afoot ? Are there any clandestine meetings taking place between other interested parties, not too keen on the new regime ? Who knows ? The reality of being a football fan is that you are usually the last to know about any developments that might occur inside the portals of the Boardroom. I mean, why should we be even vaguely interested in the future of the club ? We only provide the background noise once a fortnight, the audience at the Theatre of Our Own Dreams. Do we even have a right to be interested, to demand to know what's going on ? Well yes of course, but aren't there some circumstances in which it would be better to know nothing ? Can ignorance be bliss ? Earlier this year York City were thrown what at the time seemed to be a lifeline, in the shape of a guy with enough financial clout to appear to be able to make a difference. That he has come and gone suggests to me that he simply did not like what he saw, and he has beggared off before the financial reality of football in the current climate beggared him altogether. Ditto Bradford City. Their problems, it was said, were all to do with one man – Benito Carbone, demonised as at the root of all their ills. Rumoured to be on £40k a week, £2million a year, once he was gone that would be an end to it all – financial balance restored. Wrong! In spite of clearing him out, and them picking up a useful £800,000 fee the club were unable to pay the players their wages at the end of November. Reports over the weekend suggested that five of their players have been asked to effectively have their contracts bought out, leaving them available on free transfers, with the much lower amount of money now due to them being paid over a period of time. Anything to minimise the effect of burdensome long-term contracts. So what is our way forward? Can clubs in the lower divisions possibly prosper in the current financial climate ? The following is an extract from an independent study conducted recently into the financial position of Nationwide League clubs: "Not surprisingly, First Division clubs are less at risk than clubs in the Second and Third Divisions, reflecting the fact that the First Division still gets the lions' share of television revenues. The average Second Division club has a 1 in 5 chance of suffering financial disaster, while the average Third Division club has a 2 in 11 chance. It isn't all bad news for the lower divisions. Crewe Alexandra has the best financial prediction of any club, despite being in the Second Division. The club is known for its excellent youth development programme, the reassuring presence of Dario Gradi (its manager since 1983) and a healthy balance sheet." So independent research, whilst highlighting that 20% of all second and third division clubs could go to the wall, indicates that the club with an average gate of just 6,300 this season is best placed out of all the 72 Nationwide League clubs to survive in the long term. Crewe have, for many years, produced good young players who they have had to sell, and Gradi is of course the longest serving manager in the Football League, as well as also being a Director of the club. So, no rocket science then. No multi-millionaire owner. No need for massive support, no need for huge TV revenues. Just develop your own talent, recognise when the time is right to let it go, have a consistent management structure and good exercise good housekeeping. Like Mr Micawber said, "Annual expenditure £19, 19 shillings and sixpence, annual income £20.00 – result HAPPINESS, annual expenditure £20 and sixpence, annual income £20.00 – result MISERY". So if blooming Dickens knew it was all about balancing the books, if my wife knows it, if a kid with his pocket money knows it, how come the average Football League Chairman manages to preside over a financial debacle of Hollywood epic proportions? In so doing jeopardising the hopes, dreams and aspirations of you and me – the mug punters who turns up week in week out, in all weathers, to watch some rich idiot playing with his toys. Will it make a difference if PC steps in with a counter bid ? Are there others in the shadows of similar financial clout considering the purchase of the equivalent of a vast Scalectrix set for themselves as an early Christmas present ? I go back to the original point – will we, the fans, feel better for knowing the answers to these questions. In the end does it matter whose names is over the door ? Should we be asking the questions ? The problem with demanding to know answers is, are you capable of dealing with them once you have them ? It is over six years since I was diagnosed with Cancer, and I have never felt as psychologically low as I do now. Why ? Because, stupidly, I asked the question, 'How Long ?' Now if I'd asked that question six years ago I would, no doubt, have got the same answer as I did recently, because Doctors are just not able to answer questions like that. So instead of having six really good years, filled with optimism and great fun, as I have had, I would have had to live with the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over me, fretting all the time about possibilities that just might not materialise. I am trying to get myself back into sensible mode. Yes I have a problem, but there are good prospects for a reasonable outcome, and I intend to be around for a lot longer yet. So before you go demanding of Doyle what his intentions are, before asking Cryne if he is going to make a bid, before you start wondering if Oakwell is to be turned into a housing estate, ask yourselves - will you feel better for knowing ? Que Sera Sera. It will do you more good to just get up in the morning, smell the roses and get on with living each day as it comes, in the best possible way you can. Tomorrow will come with it's own set of problems, some that you can not possibly foresee. But whoever said that the only thing to fear is fear itself, knew what they were talking about. Like the visit to the dentist, the anticipation is always worse than the reality. At Barnsley we have the infra-structure in place to be optimistic that we, like Crewe Alexandra, can be a force for many years to come. In my very humble opinion I think it's time now to get on with it, make the best, and be thankful that we have a club to support.