Home > Football, New Business > It’s only a game

It’s only a game

Staffers at Views not News are suffering from FSAD: Football Season Affective Disorder. Sadly, no one at VnN HQ saw the light back in August 2015 when Ladbrokes offered the now not-so-crazy odds on Leicester City’s Premiership campaign.

So who’s not sick at missing out on a 5000-1 ‘certainty’? Well, certain now on this final morning of April 2016, anyway?

There can’t be many easier ways of making a wedge for so little effort. United’s mostly morose LVG must now stand for Leicester’s Victory Game. Even without suspended Jamie Vardy.

And even if they don’t win on Sunday thanks to a very unsporting Man U mistakenly thinking their league position means anything at all to anyone, most teams, Tottenham apart, beat Chelsea at the Bridge nowadays (Leicester’s final game this season) so BIG Congrats Leicester City and Claudio Ranieri.

Image result for bhs

“You’ve all done very well.”

Theatre of Dreams

Yet for one man there’s an even more rewarding game than footie. A game that pays out much MUCH more. It’s called retailing.

OK, Sir Philip Green had to have £200m handy way back when but he’s had more winning seasons than Scotland’s national treasure, Sir Alex Ferguson.

VnN understands that the winning formula for £££ billionaire success this millennium has been as follows:

  • Yr 2000, Sir Phil buys BHS for above mentioned sum
  • Yrs 2001-15, takes £586m in dividends
  • Yr 2015, sells the business for £1

Accountancy really does rule. You can see why ad agencies pay lip service to everyone else’s efforts but never their FD’s. And if you can afford to pay for financial advice, why not just take, take, take? Just look at how simple it seems to be:

  1. Jack up the company’s borrowing levels
  2. Pay yourself bigger and eventually obscene annual dividends
  3. Hit the master-stroke button when the business crashes: transfer all the risk from private to public sector
  4. Net result is (Ta da)…the taxpayer (and low-paid shop staff) are left with the bill.

Now just in case £586m in divi’s sounds like a lot to you, please remember that Sir Phil’s three super-yachts are notorious gas-guzzlers. I mean, do you have any idea how many hundreds of galls it takes just to get one of these damned things fired up and out of port? Didn’t think you did.

Anyway, Sir Phil’s probably on deck now. Somewhere off Monaco. Or Panama, perhaps. Basking. Deeply saddened, no doubt, by all of this as he doesn’t seem able to muster any words at all in response to various financial authorities’, government authorities’ and media demands.

Perhaps Kate’s been invited along, too..? To keep him company?

Game of laughs

While Sir Phil, we understand, may yet have to cough up a few hundred million in Pensions Fund compensation to make up the deficit, consider BHS’s current owners.

Their 25,000,000,000-1 odds makes having a punt, last August, on 5000-1 Leicester City winning the title look a bit rubbishy.

Do the math: in just over one year, BHS’s new owners managed to extract a further £25m from the business which they bought for £1. Talk about having a laugh!

Queen Elizabeth II and Luis Garicano at LSE

So easy in hindsight, Ma’am

And as our venerable monarch and incomparable national treasure, HRH Queen Elizabeth II, famously asked of an assembled group of respected economists at an LSE briefing discussing the financial meltdown of 2008, “Why did nobody notice it?”

Her Maj did have good reason to ask the ‘notice’ question. According to reports in The Daily Telegraph at the time it was claimed

The Queen, whose personal fortune is estimated to have fallen £25 million in the credit crunch, has demanded to know why no one saw the financial crisis coming.

Numerologists may want to offer suggestions as to the uncanny figure of £25m disappearing not once but twice! VnN’s minimum-wage staffers know nothing about £££millions but could the Queen’s missing £25m be the £25m taken from BHS…? Nah.

So getting back to BHS, apparently everyone did ‘notice it’. They just omitted to tell anyone. Up to now, that is.

It [BHS] is a firm that is out of step with modern consumer tastes, which lacks the finances to enact major changes required, said Neil Saunders, head of research firm Conlumio. As such, it is now a retailer that is out of time.

It’s good to have such front page, insightful comment from sages such as Mr Saunders.

I’m sure none of us would ever have guessed that BHS was just a little bit…well, like Woollies used to be, naff. And no one, frumpy mums and uncomplaining dads and pensioners cruising cities and shops on their Granny Passes excluded, EVER went into BHS for ANYTHING. Even after they updated their logo.

Although the cut-through from Princes Street to Holles Street (running parallel to Oxford Street) was very useful when it was raining and you needed to get to John Lewis. I hope the new owners will keep that.

Capitalism is a wonderful thing. But limited liability exploitation, aggressive tax avoidance and accountancy-led justification for unjustifiable ceo salaries and bonuses are what brings modern-day capitalism into disrepute.

Although a quick vote at VnN indicates that if we had our chance we’d (shamelessly, we know) do exactly the same.

But in the meantime – and since the opportunity is unlikely to arise – we’re looking to make our fortune from Leicester’s continued success next season.

So, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, William Hill or whoever…we’d like to place a bet of £20 at 5000-1 on Leicester City winning the Champions League 2016. Any takers?

Come on Leicester! It’s only a game.


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