Cherries: One year of the transfer embargo
EDDIE Howe is unlikely to reach for the cake or candles, neither is he expected to party. The first anniversary of the tightening of Cherries' transfer embargo is hardly a time for celebration. Since Anton Robinson and Liam Feeney checked-in to Dean Court just over a year ago, permanent signings have been outlawed by the Football League. And while emergency loans have been granted in extreme circumstances, this luxury has been afforded to Howe on only three occasions. The ban, which has been the subject of much conjecture during the past year, is now seriously threatening to undermine Cherries' promotion bid. In one form or another, it will be in force for another 18 months and it remains to be seen if and when league chiefs will reduce its severity during that period. As a condition of the club keeping its place in the Football League when it came out of administration in August 2008, the board had to accept all transfer activity would be monitored for three seasons. And while the club was subject to a rolling embargo to start with, the noose was tightened fully 12 months ago following a hectic January transfer window. Since then, a succession of pleas to have it lifted have fallen on deaf ears with the reasons remaining something of a closely-guarded secret. The Football League has continually and steadfastly refused to comment, while messages from the Dean Court boardroom have been mixed, to say the least. All the while, long-suffering Cherries supporters who patronise the club and, in effect, the league have received anything but excellent customer service. As a result, conspiracy theories have abounded, although the team's exploits on the pitch, both at the end of last season and the start of this, have somewhat masked the problems. However, as Howe's troops nursed a new year hangover that resulted in three successive defeats, disquiet escalated as the natives became increasingly restless for information. At a fans' forum last week, Cherries chairman and majority shareholder Eddie Mitchell was again probed as to the exact reasons for the embargo. He replied: The embargo is in place to the tune of about £500,000 to £600,000 and those debts relate to tax, VAT, stadium rent and CVA payments. So, until those are cleared, I don't think we stand much of a chance to get the embargo lifted. Asked whether there were any special conditions, specific to this club which would have to be satisfied before the ban were lifted, Mitchell replied: First and foremost, the embargo is here because the club in the past hasn't run properly. When we found the club, it was in a very bad state. Since we've been at the club, which is about seven months, we've reduced the outstanding debt by about a half. Most of that has been through hard work and the generosity from vice-presidents and supporters turning up in their numbers. And that's the way the club is going to stay. It's not going to get the embargo lifted by an insertion of money from one person. I would say it's 95 per cent sure that if we were able to clear our debts then we would have the embargo lifted. There are not any other specific requirements. We can't for sure say what the Football League's attitude is going to be towards the club because (it has now come out of administration twice). We believe we can get it lifted if we clear the outstanding debt we've been carrying since the start of last season. Cherries' latest quest to bring in an emergency loanee, Doncaster's Mustapha Dumbuya, was this week blocked by the Football League, raising the frustration level within the Dean Court support base further. The Echo is still awaiting a response from the league after submitting a number of questions relating to the failed Dumbuya deal.
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