I urge you not to buy a football club. Along with running an airline, it's believed to be about the best way to lose a lot of money, very quickly. Footie should remain a plaything for the super-rich, not a sensible business for you and me.
But what an exciting week it's been for football fans. Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was cleared of tax evasion - just in time to throw his hat in the ring for the England manager's job. Redknapp's performance in court was poetic in its innocence.
The wind of public opinion was not on HMRC's side. Whilst these cases are rarely about right and wrong, I suspect that HMRC was looking for a high-profile scalp; but instead of creating a bogeyman, they allowed Redknapp to play the role of victimised folk hero. His headline quote was: "I am completely and utterly disorganised. I write like a two-year-old and I can't spell."
Perfect credentials for England's new manager role, one might think.
Can people in business learn anything from Redknapp's tribulations? Well, what also came out of the case was Redknapp's reliance on a litany of advisors. It's as though "Redknapp plc" had a raft of non-executive directors, none of whom were willing or prepared to take full or long-term responsibility for the business. Fiscal irresponsibility (which leads to going broke) and fraud (which leads to jail) are two very different things, but court cases like this would not arise under either circumstance if there was adequate financial oversight.
The reason Redknapp might yet bag the England manager's job is also exciting. The incumbent (aka holder of "Most Poisoned Chalice" award) has just resigned. Fabio Capello made his comments in the Italian media which made his position with the Football Association completely untenable.
What went wrong? Well…
- He commented on a politicially sensitive issue, namely
- He disagreed 100% with the FA's position.
- Oh, and the first that the FA found out about the conversation was when other members of the media rang them up asking for comment.
None of this points to happy families at the heart of English football.
There's another lesson for businesses here: nobody likes a public spat. Boardroom hurly-burly is much more widespread than any of us would like to admit, but a crucial job of management teams is that "what happens in the boardroom, stays in the boardroom".
When reputations or egos get tarnished in publicly aired disputes, the result is almost always a loss of value and goodwill.
There's more on financial management and boardroom issues in my book, 'From Vision to Exit, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Building and Selling a Business'. Available on Amazon and in all good bookshops now.