Hurrah For HMRC

Before some suspect that I have lost copious marbley things, bear with me. I’ve been following the somewhat protracted administration problems at Portsmouth Football Club closely. They were the first Premiership club to go into administration and they’ve gone into administration for the second time recently – demonstrating once again that many football clubs are living beyond their means. But my main reason for following their plight closely is not because I have any particular affinity with them (yes good luck to them), but due to one man –  the administrator Andrew Andronikou.(pictured above – this is a bit of a personal post)

For those who are not familiar with the man, Andrew Andronikou works for chartered accountants UHY Hacker Young which in their words are:

…one of the UK’s Top 20 accounting and auditing firms

Mr Andronikou’s profile can be found here:

He has extensive experience in Bank receivership and investigation assignments, and also liquidation appointments. He is particularly interested in undertaking corporate reconstruction work, such as Administrations and Company Voluntary Arrangements. Andrew has headed a number of high profile appointments including the recent Administration of Portsmouth Football Club, the first premier league club in history to enter Administration.

Hmm “extensive experience” eh? Not that implies any level of competence of course, and rightly so. A substantial part of Mr Andronikou’s experience was being the administrator during the deeply entrenched money problems at Swindon Town. In summary, for long time until December 2007 we were a financial basket-case – and we were the first club to go into administration twice.

However according to Andronikou – when he was appointed at Portsmouth – he was the ‘saviour of our club’, as he became the only administrator arrogant enough to sign autographs:

This makes me think Portsmouth’s administrator Andrew Andronikou (the only accountant in the country who signs autographs) isn’t quite as media savvy as he imagines he is.

Yet describing him as Swindon’s saviour is a historical revisionism on a scale that the Ministry of Truth would have been proud of. Having been involved during that time, and witnessed first hand Andronikou’s role, (and I’m not sure how to put this nicely), but his actions left the deep suspicion that his mind was not entirely focused on fulfilling his legal obligations to the professional standard that would be expected.

Now I should mention at this point that he also had a close relationship with Swindon Town’s ‘advisor’ Mike Diamandis at the time. Diamandis was appointed as an ‘advisor’ despite being banned as a director for trading whilst insolvent. Yet in truth it was apparent that de facto he ran the club as a Director, some would say potentially illegally

He is the man who – behind-the-scenes – has effectively run the football club for the last five years.

Diamandis and Andronikou have had a close personal relationship in the past, their business record is indeed deeply suspicious. Andronikou was often appointed to a number of Diamandis’ businesses which had gone into administration and no questions were apparently asked – it won’t do to investigate rigorously whether a company was trading insolvently.

Unfortunately for them football fans tend to be a different kind of customer – ones with years of an emotional attachment that far outweighs concerns of finances. So as a consequence, and almost altruistically, awkward questions get asked, much to the discomfort of those with vested interests:

“I have an issue with the supporters trust as well as they could have caused untold damage if we had not ignored them. Their self importance genuinely put the club at risk. I think we all agree a supporters trust is healthy but for the right reasons. I think they have got out of hand. I think it represents about 20 people and that has to change quickly.

The Swindon Trust’s response being:

“The comment about the 20 or 30 busybodies finding something else to do has caused a great deal of anger among fans,” said Davis.

“We (the Trust) have over 950 members, all of whom are extremely concerned about the way the club is being run and the way that Mr Andronikou is supervising the CVA.

So…far from being a saviour, he took our club to within 24 hours of being wound up and didn’t sign off our Company Voluntary Agreement for years after it should have been. Previous to that this was the man that always had ‘mystery buyers’ lined up which never materialised, ignored genuine buyers to the detriment of the creditors because it didn’t apparently suit those in charge and blamed everyone else when things didn’t go according to ‘his plan’.

Not only that he took it upon himself to, despite being someone appointed to look after creditors’ interests, tell the creditors what to do (my emphasis):

“I have the discretion to do what I think is right for everyone. That is where it starts and ends really.  No matter what some people say, as long as I think it is in the interests of everyone to extend the deadline then I can extend or vary it as I see fit.”

So it’s no surprise to see Portsmouth experience the same ‘incompetent’ man:

Mr Andronikou was the preferred administrator – which sparked alarm among Pompey fans.

And as a result it comes as a source of great amusement to myself as a result of HMRC action that I learn this:

A High Court judge today refused to allow Andrew Andronikou’s firm to act as Pompey’s administrators. Mr Justice Alastair Norris ruled UHY Hacker Young will not be in charge.

The decision came despite Balram Chainrai’s firm Portpn Ltd offering £500,000 to the club if Mr Andronikou or another administrator it approves of was appointed.

And the Judge was pretty damning:

Mr Justice Norris added: ‘What’s proposed this time round seems to be exactly what was proposed last time round without addressing the real underlying problem. One would think that the real emphasis should be on reducing the trading losses of the club to turn it into a viable trading business. Perhaps a fresh view is called for.’

‘The general body of taxpayers, the ordinary consumers who do pay their energy bills and the ordinary traders and professionals who provide services such as, coach hire, catering, medical services, ground care and maintenance, must wonder why they should be subsidising the club’s energy bill and why it is that they are involuntary lenders to the club over their outstanding bills and why they will only get back pence in the pound for the services they have provided.’

And with that he blew the final whistle saying: ‘I will appoint Mr Birch and his team to be the administrators of Portsmouth Football Club.’

In other words the least of Andronikou’s concerns was the small business creditors. But we knew that all along. Sometimes HMRC gets things right – albeit like a stopped watch still being correct twice a day.


I’m Saying Nothing…

From today’s Daily Telegraph (my emphasis throughout):

The arrest of Labour MP Eric Joyce over an alleged assault in a House of Commons bar follows concerns over the culture of taxpayer-subsidised drinking in Parliament.

And from the Irish Times last Thursday:

BRITISH PRIME minister David Cameron has signalled support for a minimum price for alcohol that would raise off-licence prices, even though some members of his cabinet believe such a move could be illegal.

Mr Cameron, speaking during a visit to a hospital in Newcastle, said: “Every night, in town centres, hospitals and police stations across the country, people have to cope with the consequences of alcohol abuse.”

Sweet Eurosceptic Topping

Boris Johnson aka ‘I’m a lovable buffoon really‘ has just woken up to perils of CAP in his piece in today’s Telegraph. One wonders what took him so long? Anyway, he bemoans, in rather convoluted language, the negative impact the EU is having on the American owned company Tate & Lyle:

This historic company produces about 40 per cent of the cane sugar in the entire EU, and most of it comes from the London plant. 

Now this superb business faces a threat from Brussels, and the imposition of an unnecessary and badly thought-out regulation.

The plant has the capacity to produce 1.1 million tonnes of refined sugar a year; and yet the company is prevented, by the EU commission, from importing the raw materials in the quantities it needs. Their current output is now down to 60 per cent of capacity — and the result is that jobs are being lost in a part of London that already faces the highest levels of unemployment in the city and indeed in the whole of the country.

For decades they have been artificially shielded, by high tariff walls around the EU, which mean that sugar prices in Europe are more than double the world market price.

Boris is understandably not happy, even though Richard North highlighted the potential effects in 2004 and 2005. So after a lengthy criticism, by Boris, of the situation and of the EU, what does he propose to do? Well… wait for it…cue drum roll:

And we are lobbying Brussels to drop its crazy prohibition, and allow Tate and Lyle to get cane sugar from wherever in the world it can find the stuff.

Lobby Brussels? Not advocating withdrawal – nope – instead a pathetically weak proposal of lobbying Brussels. There lies another Tory Europlastic. Boris naturally has form on this. Take this interview with Paxman on the Lisbon treaty in 2009. When asked what should happen if it was ratified, Boris hides behind:

That’s a hypothetical question…and…I’m not an expert on Euro Treaty law.

An answer that is basically no different from Cameron’s “we won’t let matters rest there”. As always beneath the sweet Tory Eurosceptic topping lies stale Europhile substance.

With more than one eye on Cameron’s position Boris knows the sugary appeal of Eurosceptisim will win over the sweet-toothed Tory faithful. But should he win the leadership or even become PM we’ll go through the whole “veto” charade again.

The man is our enemy not our friend.

Irony On Stilts

The main purpose of the EU, from the very beginning, has been to abolish the nation state and to destroy democracy. The founding fathers have always made this very clear. And partly to achieve this, with significant irony, the EU has adopted all the trappings of a country in all but name. This is aptly demonstrated by the shameless lack of democracy, involving Nigel Farage shown in the clip below (1:40 mins in)

The President of the EU Parliament, Martin Schulz, says:

Nationalism is propagated, in this house, by those who wear flags on their desk and nationalism on their sleeve.

So says Schulz, a member of the EU, an institution which thinks that the solution to try to destroy any kind of national identity needs a flag, a national anthem, effectively a capital, and a European identity.

Presumably when the EU gets around to producing its own dictionary, the phrase ‘self-awareness’ will be noticeably absent.

hattip: Ironies Too

Deadly Switch Off

Swindon recently engaged in an experiment, despite local concerns, to save money and to ‘reduce their carbon footprint’ by switching off streetlights – enthusiastically supported no less by a Tory councillor.

But whoops it’s gone a bit Pete Tong according to the BBC:

Hundreds of street lights in Swindon which were turned off to save money are being switched back on.

Swindon Borough Council said the authority felt it was not worth continuing due to the number of concerns being raised by the public.

But what the BBC report and the Councillors don’t say is ‘concerns being raised by the public’ refers to the fact that lights have been turned back on because of significant safety considerations, views which were aired well in advance, and that accidents have subsequently increased as a result of the blackout.

Still at least it was supposed to save £20,000, only a snip compared to the total basic Councillor’s allowances of £722,600.

A Nation Of Goldfish

If there’s ever one issue guaranteed to drive me to drink, it’s the subject of binge drinking and minimum pricing, which has cropped up yet again:

Cells known as “drunk tanks” which detain inebriated people until they sober up could be introduced to towns to tackle the nation’s growing alcohol problem, David Cameron signals on Wednesday.

Next month, the Government publishes its alcohol strategy which is expected to recommend higher “minimum” prices for drink, potentially by increasing duties on many alcoholic beverages. 

Drunk tanks? What the hell are they? Challenger 2’s that run on ethanol?

It’s like there’s some software in Number 10 that shows an alarm and says; ‘it’s been 2 months or so since the last ‘binge drinking’ press release – time for another, we’ll just re-arrange the words a bit’. We had one in December and one in August and so on.

So cue another day of apparent ‘news’, liberally sprinkled with the same old photographs of young drunk women (well, if you can’t beat them join them). Given that the call for minimum pricing has gone on for years the MSM seems incapable of asking the obvious question, to both Labour and Conservative governments; “so why don’t you just do it?”. No-one else seems to be asking the same question either, preparing to take at face value regular press releases. Nevermind we’ll just go through this whole charade again in a couple of months time. We really are a nation of goldfish.

Meanwhile real news is happening…