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And then he was gone… 04/11/2008

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.

The shocking thing, in many ways, is that it is a shock. Back in May, amid the strewn wreckage of a failed promotion fling, Adrian Boothroyd was a dead man walking. Some might’ve bought into the guff about a radical change in style…but, really, it was exactly the same guff as the previous summer, a desperately see-through attempt at demonstrating that he hadn’t yet run out of ideas. Gone at the start of November as the team drops towards the bottom three? Hardly a radical departure from the script….

The odd thing, then, is that the script has gone sufficiently awry between then and now for it to feel like a genuine surprise. Of course, a managerial departure requires a context…and so, inevitably, we must read about our dismal results and our precarious state. Having been there for most of it, however, it feels as if the context is being placed around the event rather than vice versa: this has been a campaign of inevitable struggle, but tackled with a determination and a spirit that was sorely lacking when the Premiership beckoned not so long ago.

While the media may be trying to dig up revelations and explanations (the former more important than the latter, natch), we’ve discovered absolutely nothing that we didn’t know already. We’ve got no money. The squad lacks leaders. The defence is thoroughly and endlessly self-destructive. And so on. We knew all of that before we started. The genuine discoveries have all been positive, remarkably. The manager still has ways of motivating a squad of players decimated by fire-sales and an extraordinary succession of injuries. There are goals where we figured there’d be drought. There are fewer excuses: we haven’t had “a wake-up call” every week, mercifully. There’s an atmosphere around Vicarage Road generated by a combination of lowered expectation, reduced wages and battling performance that makes it worth travelling for three hours to get to the game. Hell, even the disastrous three-game week that formed the build-up to last night’s news began with a tremendously valiant, bloody-minded performance against Wolves….

The problem is that if you can’t sort out the defence, it all ends up counting for nothing. Which is fine every once in a while, but not every week. There’s a certain irony here, for it could be argued – indeed, I would do so – that Adrian Boothroyd’s first success as Watford manager, keeping a side in free-fall narrowly clear of relegation back in 2005, was in part down to Ray Lewington’s last, parting gift. Boothroyd inherited a side with precisely the same problem as he leaves behind, a problem that eventually leads to a team taking the field in the certain knowledge of defeat. He also inherited the solution, something that has evaded him over the last year. Oh, for a Danny Cullip now….

So if it feels distinctly odd, that’s because nothing’s changed. And everything’s changed. If we were going to agree to a parting of ways based upon last season’s mistakes and failures, there was a time to do that. If we had decided to put all of that behind us and fight on, to battle on against the challenges ahead, there was surely plenty of fight and battle left to draw upon. For a manager with so much bravado, for a manager who achieved so much against the odds and spoke so loudly of achieving so much more, Adrian Boothroyd’s departure is surprisingly meek, surprisingly fatalistic.

Somehow, it feels as if someone’s mislaid the final part of a six-episode serial. It really wasn’t supposed to end like this, of course…but in many ways, it hasn’t ended at all, a whimper rather than a bang. He’ll be remembered for entirely re-defining the club’s ambition (even if the new definition sat uneasily with some) and, just for a while, proving himself thoroughly and gloriously right. He leaves behind a very different definition of success, a very tough set of challenges. For a moment there, it seemed as if he’d meet them noisily head-on, as he’d met pretty much everything else, for better or worse.

And then he was gone.


1. Ed - 04/11/2008

Good points, well made. Additionally though, this was a termination by “mutual consent”. I’m guessing they’ve been discussing the upcoming transfer window, and Aidy may have been told he can’t buy any defenders, and maybe a talented midfielder has to go, at which point he may have finally had enough.

2. kris - 04/11/2008

I am saddened by the departure of Aidy. I always felt he had this season to prove he was a good manager. I think he IS a good manager. And I feel that this season – he has done well against tough odds. So we’re in the relegation zone but we’ve scored many goals and I for one would think we could sort out our defensive troubles and get some results going our way, build confidence af finish mid-table.

All that said, I have recentluy found myself becoming more and more disinterested when it comes to our club. It feels as though we’re in limbo, and bound to remain there until someone else takes over. But by replacing Aidy, at least there’s a new challenge, a new dawn – a new hope… (to use a Starwars title) maybe.

But then I see today that Malky – the man responsible for coaching our defense – gets the nod as interim manager. How does that work then? Where’s the logic?

I wonder who we’ll get as a perm. replacement? I for one would like to see a Watford old-boy in charge. Gibbs, Hessenthaler or David Holdsworth – or even Mooney 😉 – someone with a passion for the club. I feel passion can fix us – where experience and ability will fail.

Either way (and to quote the BSaD match previews)…

Bring It On!!!!

3. Weymouth 'Orn - 04/11/2008

Just two weeks ago we were celebrating a 3-0 victory at Southampton and chanting Aidy’s name.
We were then 2-0 up against Cardiff when Priskin decided to get himself sent off – clearly the turning point in the match and a season defining moment??
Tommy misses a penalty against Wolves.
The roof caves in as confidence evaporates, espcially at the back.
Aidy goes.
A very sad day.
I can’t see a new manager making a better fist of it unless substantial funds are forthcoming – quickly. And who would want to come here if there is no cash to spend?
If the only way to raise money is to sell Tommy and J-J disaster looms.

4. Simon in Oz - 04/11/2008

There have been only 4 manangers who have ushered us towards promotion.
Burgess in 60, Furphy in 69, GT (too many to mention, Ye Gods of Joy) and Aidy in 06.
He deserves to be placed in the Pantheon with the above.
I agree that he has made many poor decisions (as did all the other above WFC heroes in their time) but, I do not believe we would have gone up in 2006 if not for his drive and inspired recruitment.
I think he has been an honest and passionate manager.
Sadly, a lot of his later recruitment and tactics were as bad as the initial ones were great.
Despite this, some may feel that the problems with WFC lie in the back office or boardroom, rather than the coach’s boot-room.

5. Old Git - 04/11/2008

When Sir Elton came out (hah!) with his criticism of the Board a few weeks back, it was widely understood that he had been given information by an insider, and that that insider was somebody who had regular conversations with Sir Elton. His identity was not much of a mystery. That is why I think Aidy was sacked, for criticising an increasingly authoritarian Chairman who has brought new meaning to the concept of ‘ring-fencing’ with the dissappearing new stand money.
The much discussed defensive problems are caused by the uncertainties of a dodgy third-choice keeper in the worst form of his life, whose lack of authority in his box has affected otherwise reliable defenders. Had the increasingly assured Poom remained free from injury, then our League position would now look very different.
The worst outcome is Aidy being snapped up by QPR and taking them into Europe, using the lessons he has learnt in his first job as a manager. Yes, we know he made mistakes but he will have learnt from them and be a much stronger manager now than he was when he arrived with us. We’ve all enjoyed the attacking performances and been impressed by the spirit in the side this season. It just needs a top quality keeper to get the defence sorted…oh yes, and a new Board.

6. Ben - 04/11/2008

As a sacking it feels odd, but as a resignation it makes perfect sense. I don’t blame him for walking (player sales, lack of money to invest etc.) and I am still grateful for all the that he has brought us these past 3 or so seasons, but I can’t get away from a slight feeling of betrayal. What about all those things you used to say about loyalty Aidy?

7. David, Aylesbury - 04/11/2008

Excellent article. I too have my suspicions that the required player sales in January probably convinced Aidy he’d had enough – what was the point in struggling on knowing that two or three of the better attacking players were going to be leaving ? In my opinion the Chairman should have done a much better job of persuading him otherwise, but I tend to think there may be non-football issues here too (mainly the Elton John story).

I was fairly critical of Aidy last season and the dreadful football we played, but this season has shown we can play decent stuff and score a few goals. Maybe the defence wouldn’t have been so bas if we hadn’t had to sell a certain centre back….though I accept he made his fair share of mistakes too.

Let’s face it, whoever we get in is not going to be as good a manager as Aidy – and the prospect of a Dowie, Wise or Holloway fills me with absolute horror.

8. Pete - 04/11/2008

So who made all the money yesterday then given that Aidy was 14/1 to be sacked next in mid afternoon (4 hours before even the players found out he was off) and then it became 6/4 shortly afterwards.
That sort of spiralling set of odds means SERIOUS money was placed on the bet.
Given that so few people knew it was going to happen, someone must be a richer bunny today.

Maybe we will get a new East Stand afterall!!

Good Luck Aidy. I found you an arrogant tosser to start with, a beligerent denier throughout last season and a man totally out of his depth in the Premier League season, but I never doubted you tried your best and did what you thought was right. Your transfer record after year 1 was dreadful and has in part caused much of this mess. But we could / can do far worse than have you at the helm because it was evident that this season you knew what the problem were and were trying to sort them out.

But you don’t sign the cheques and that is what a board is for.

And it is on their watch that this has all happened – again in the case of 1. Yes, that’s you Graham Simpson (you were around in 2001/02 when we went into the shit before however you wish to downplay your involvement).

Plead “Im a fan who will not jeopardise the clubs future” all you want. Fewer people believe you now. More people can see the truth.

Will you be walking around the pitch side before / during the QPR home match? Will you be applauded? What will your legacy be when the East Stand finally gives way and the rust begins to form on the half finished bits of building work by the Rookery?

9. Aylesbury 'Orn - 04/11/2008

I’m sorry to see him go and felt that given time, he would have turned it around. Perhaps Aidy’s seen the writing on the wall and when given the opportunity to walk with a payoff, grabbed it with both hands.

10. simmo - 04/11/2008

Having spoken with Aidy on numerous occasions (unlike so many previous managers he always made himself available to the fans) I always found him to be an honest, decent person. If he should visit the Vic as an away manager I trust we will applaud him in the same way we did when GT returned.

As much as I dislike the decision be it a dismissal or a “mutual agreement” we have to move forward and hope that the new manager benefits from the legacy left by Aidy, namely, an Academy with the potential to produce many more like Ashley Young.

On a slightly different note, while Mr Simpson has presided over one of the clubs more successful periods and prevented the club from entering administration for which we have to be grateful, I feel that at the upcoming AGM/EGM he needs to be persuaded that it would be in everyone’s best interest if he passed the club over to a successor. I accept that the successor may be no better than past administrations (such as the Petchey era) but it somehow feels like we are currently stuck in limbo. Mr Simpson if you are a Watford fan lets move on!

11. Matt Rowson - 04/11/2008

pete, the legacy might involve hanging around to sort the problem rather than bailing out with the others. risking his own money to help save the club and presiding over decisions that resulted in us getting promoted and repurchasing the freehold. But don’t let both sides of the argument get in the way of your crusade will you?

And no, it wasn’t me that made the money. If only.

Simmo… he’s got the club up for sale, I’m not sure what you’re implying? That he should give it away? In which case, can I have your house? If you’re advocating handing over control to a couple of dodgy spivs without a pot to piss in but a big interest in causing trouble, heaven help us.

12. simmo - 04/11/2008

Matt – yes I am suggesting that he give the club away. After all Mr Simpson has already made substantial profit from the club as is borne out in last years accounts.

If you want to use the analogy of a house, in the current climate I know plenty of people who are having to give the keys back because they cannot afford to meet their expenses. Mr Simpson claims to have no money to put into the club so lets pass it on to someone who will invest and hopefully for the better. I do not know who would be the best investor for the club (because like you I am not privy to private discussions) but we cannot stay as we are.

13. simmo - 04/11/2008

Sorry, Matt I forgot to mention that my house is only three quarters built because the money I ring fenced on improvements was spent. I can’t tell you how and frankly it is none of your business.

I also have to advise that there is no equity in the house because I wanted to spend it on myself rather than make the necessary improvements. I also potentially have to repay £4 million in January 2009 that I needlessly borrowed. I was intending to sell the rest of my furniture to try to meet the debt but doubt if this will raise sufficient money. I have other debts mounting on the house and my income seems to be depleting fast.

Matt if you want to take over my house with all its liabilities and exonerate me so I can rent a small cottage in say Brighton please let me know your address so I can send you my keys!

14. JohnF - 04/11/2008

Matt, I am in total agreement with your comments. One feels that some of our fans have short memories and don’t want to think about facts. Graham Simpson put most of his own money into saving the club. He has actually been a careful chairman and most of his money is still in the club. The profit he has made was, I would agree, significant but I have less problem with him making some money as a recompense for neglecting his own business. I think that the biggest problem was his loyalty to Aidy and perhaps being too willing to support Aidy’s excesses in the transfer market. We must also remember that Aidy has been responsible for the sacking of a number of backroom staff of significant talent and at a significant cost in compensation. The academy was in place and the improved academy would, I think, have happened anyway. I think the club has been too secretive and the issue of the East Stand is a key one. I don’t think Ellington was a fair exchange for that. The board, which includes Mark Ashton, now of low profile, gambled on promotion last season and lost. However, the fans would not have been supportive of denying Aidy. I do not think there has been any sign of a fire sale. We made good money from Shittu (Bolton reserves) and Henderson who had stopped scoring goals last Christmas. King wanted away and it is just a pity that Jackson didn’t also want away, but why walk out on a really cushy number.

Having said this I am sorry Aidy has gone. He is a young manager and has tremendous potential if prepared to work in a team. It was noticeable that performances dropped, and Aidy seemed to struggle, once Keith Burkinshaw had gone. The interview with the chairman today and recent post match interviews with Aidy gave the impression of a man at the end of his tether. We wait to see what transpires.

I like the Russo brothers, who still have a lot of money tied up in the club but I am not comfortable with the EGM and, particularly, its timing. We do need a bigger board that is willing to properly debate decisions before coming to a consensus, not just yes men. We also need to be very careful with the finance as it doesn’t take too much for a small club that showed some ambition resulting in a big wage bill to go into administration; a drop into the 1st division could be a trigger for just that. Note what has happened to several other smallish clubs and once down it can be very difficult to get back up.

Any investors must be just that and in for the long-term. The future of the club has always been rather uncertain in these days of football wage inflation and we do not want to make it worse. I for one am sure that Graham Simpson will always do the best he can to secure the club and turning on him will not be constructive or helpful.

15. Matt Rowson - 04/11/2008


it’s an overdraft facility, not an overdraft. how the fuck did you get a mortgage?

16. Dan Thompson - 04/11/2008

I question G. Simpson’s supporter status when he sells 22 million pounds worth of players and sacks the second most successful manager in our modern history. It appears we are at the mercy of a disinterested chairman looking after no. 1. I find it hard to believe we will find anyone better suited for this crisis than Aidy B. Will we witness a return to the dark ages?

17. Esp - 04/11/2008

So instead of Aidy’s war cry “Come ON” it’s now let’s all Move On.

Chanting of Aidy’s name in Wales next week would be counterp[roductive and so would calling for the head of Simpson, even though it might geel cathartic

Just because Simpson had had enough it didn’t mean that at their cosy “mutual” chat on Monday afternoon that GS should have persuaded Aidy that he had had enough; but then again none of us will even know the true nature of their chat as (unless you know otherwise) the WST didn’t bug the room

It is a sad week “distictly odd” in ig’s words but I can’t help thinking that just 4 weeks ago (before the PNE match) we were just 6 points behind a play off position and even TODAY if Attwell hadn’t allowed the “ghost goal” we would have been joint 18th with Palace; ironic he shared the sports page headlines today having been banned (again) after another howler which MAY not, this time, result in a manager looking for other employment.
Would 18th, the position we SHOULD be in have been lowly enough to enforce a sacking by “mutual consent”? I doubt it somehow but then I am not Graham Simpson a man who treats his “wonderful” manager who he “greatly respects” (his words) like, well, err, Ray Lewington

18. Matt Lovett - 04/11/2008

Pete – I said to my mate who I sit with on the way out of the ground on Saturday that I wouldn’t be surprised if Aidy resigned on the back of that result. Imagine my ‘irritation’ when I found out at 7pm last night that he’d left and I hadn’t placed a bet on it (not that I would have done such a thing that would have resulted in me in hoping for Aidy to leave). The problem I have now is that we spoke further last night after the news came out – you know, the usual, speculating about who might be the next manager. The prime candidate for me was John Ward…experienced, cheap, ex Hornet, knows how to keep teams above the relegation line, etc. Even more disturbingly I’ve seen a few newspapers/intraweb articles linking Mr Ward with the Watford job. So, do I get down to Ladbrokes, bung a few quid on this and then hope he gets the job, or do I ignore the portents and pray that we end up with a Dowie, Wise or Holloway (as I’m sure we won’t be attracting anything much better…)?

19. Pete - 05/11/2008

Give the balanced arguments a rest will you!!! 🙂

Balance has a time and a place and when you’ve royally fucked up a situation like Simpson / A$hton have, who cares what the achieved in the dim and distant past.

Where are we on the 5 year plan?
How is the plan going to operate in the black?
What is the definition of “Ring Fenced”?
Nice East Stand!
I see work on the ground development is bang on track!
Interesting to note that we’ve got no fucking money when we have taken into the club more time than at any time in it’s history.

Oh yes, he did come in a few years ago, made the right decisions to stabilise and then started a procession of lies (when did the Trust give up on holding Simpson to his PROMISE ON VIDEO that they could get a place on the board, what with the trust actually meeting all the criteria he laid down and everything!!!) and behaviours which have lead to our current plight.

But as long as we all stick to remembering the few decisions he made a number of years ago and stop focusing on the actual mess his actions have lead to, then I guess we will all be OK in ourselves and when the baliffs walk down Occupation Road with the chains and padlocks. At least I will be able to say that I tried.

20. bob - 05/11/2008

very sorry to see aidy given the chance to go with £600K in his pocket. but if i was him, I might have done the same. sets his kids up for life. i wish him luck and thank him for a very eventful 3 years (two plays off and one semi final – not bad at all). losing him now sets us back and is not a positive move. but there we have it, good luck to the next encumbment. hope you have more luck motivating the back 5.

simmo, agree with your sentiment regarding aidy and appreciate your annoyance but the reality is no one WANTS to buy us. In common with probably 70 or so other football league teams we are not a profit making organisation and have a very limited fan base.

Name one indivudual you know of who wants to buy the club. You probably cant. Neither Petes or your own position on this issue are based on sound business.

I for one, think simpson has made a few blunders as chairman and letting aidy leave like this is the biggest so far. That said, when it has come to money prevously, i cant actually think he has done too much wrong.

21. Ian Grant - 05/11/2008

Two points, Pete. Firstly, this is precisely the time when a bit of balance goes a long way. Given that the club is already up for sale, it’s impossible to see what finger-pointing over past mistakes can achieve, apart from a) making you feel a bit better, b) making them feel a bit worse and c) pulling the club apart at the seams. The last one is in nobody’s interests.

Secondly, “we’ve got no fucking money when we have taken into the club more time than at any time in its history”. The Sky era in a nutshell, no?

22. bob - 05/11/2008

pete, we have no money becuase the players you and i idolise need paying to let in four at home to blackpool. end of…

dont see how thats simpsons fault. he pays handsome wages as the chief motivational tool to those who have underachieved thus far. what they do on the pitch thereafter is not his responsibility.

23. Back from Hammerau - 05/11/2008

Despite the recent results, I was initially surprised by the news and will always think fondly of him, both for where he took the team and as being a friendly, approachable bloke who always seemed to have time for a chat.

However, I don’t excuse our defensive inadequacies this season because of the financial belt-tightening. All our current defenders have previously shown they can defend adequately at this level, but seem to have forgotten how to.

I also wonder about the point of the EGM. Such turmoil can’t help the chance of attracting a buyer for the club, which is the only way forward for the club (and for the Russos to get some money for their shares). It’s counter-productive.

24. Esp - 05/11/2008

Pete wrote (re: Simpson): “Will you be walking around the pitch side before / during the QPR home match? Will you be applauded” – err, certainly not from the East Stand Pete which (like the Red Lion) will be an empty legacy to the man when he goes. Although there may well be some hand gestures from the WO reporter in the Press Box
To coin a phrase “Do I NOT like” watching football in a half finished stadium where we have “sold the air” as Ashton so often likes to tell us. Too much hot air has been expelled in the name of our club from the two well paid Executive Directors and it will be fun when the Essex greengrocers finally ask them to empty their pockets in December and tell us where the loot is buried (allegedly).
Yes Pete, I too thought AB was an arrogant tosser to begin with but one who was ultimately betrayed by the Board and four or five defenders who should be hanging their heads in shame – it would be nice though if Richard Lee would straighten his neck though in time to save some crosses on Sunday

25. simmo - 05/11/2008

Matt R – re 15 above. And I thought we were having some nice friendly banter. However I think you will agree that when you are left arguing semantics about the words overdraft/mortgage you realise you have lost the argument. However I used “mortgage” to fall in with your house analogy. Does that help? I would be more than happy to continue the discussion over a pint. It does however seem that having read all the comments the majority agree with my position regarding Mr Simpson.

Bob – My understanding is that the board have received 10 offers and presentations for the sale of the club have been made to at least half. I agree that football is not known for being a profit making exercise but there does seem to be interest. I also accept that we have had 10 offers because of the prudent running of the finances by the board. However I am first and foremost a Watford supporter and as such I want the club to be successful. At the present time it feels like the Board are asset stripping to the detriment of us all. For all I know none of the prospective investors may be suitable. It could also be that Mr Simpson is asking for too much money for the club and that is putting investors off. I could continue to speculate but while we wait for Mr Simpson to make a decision the club slips further and further away from its goals and that is why I say it is time for him to pass the club over so we can move out of limbo and just move on.

26. Matt Rowson - 05/11/2008


sorry if i overstepped the mark. but my dispute with your analogy is more than just semantic. you said “I also potentially have to repay £4 million in January”. The difference between an overdraft and an overdraft facility is that the former IS money that needs to be paid back, the latter is just the bank saying they’ll let us have this much on credit if we want it. So we have access to funds such that we don’t need to wait for money to come in from Peter before paying Paul for example. In the current financial climate such access to finance is a Very Good Thing.

So, yes, you might need to repay £4m in January. But you’d need to borrow it first. As for disputing semantics indicating a flimsy argument, I’ve always found that claiming to speak for the populace is a much more reliable barometer. But IF the majority hold the same view as you, I disagree with them too. Sue me.

27. Tim Turner - 05/11/2008

There’s been a lot of invective here about the amount of money Aidy and/or Simpson have ‘wasted’ in the transfer market. But have we really done any worse than any other club in our division?

As a rule of thumb, I’ve always reckoned that in any batch of five signings, two will work out, two won’t and one will fall somewhere in between. Or to put it another way, for every Heidar Helguson and Nordin Wooter there’s an Adrian Bakalli and an Alexandre Bonnot (all signed during our first Premiership season, IIRC).

Apply this to the players Aidy signed in January: Sadler, Eustace, Bromby, John and Ainsworth. John was a dud, Ainsworth could still go either way, and the other three have done okay until the recent defensive debacles. That’s not really so bad, is it?

The point is that most of the money has actually gone on playing the salaries players demand these days, especially in the Premiership. I’m not blaming the players – it’s just the price of admission to the game.

28. simmo - 05/11/2008

JohnF – I know your comments were not directly aimed towards me but far from agreeing with Matt, if you actually read my comment about Mr Simpson at 10, you in fact agree with me.

Matt R – wow, this has become a deep exchange of views for a Watford blog.

In the same way I am entitled to my view, I have no difficulty with you expressing your view (even when it is just plain wrong!). I could argue the position further but I think it would become even more boring to read .

As for sueing you, if you are worth a few bob I might just give it a go. I’m currently in need of funds, just like my football team.

29. NickB - 05/11/2008


Not a huge fan of the Salads then?

Pray tell…

30. Adam J - 05/11/2008

A friend of mine had lunch with the banker in charge of our sale today. Apparently they recommended to Mr Simpson that he didn’t relieve Aidy of his duties, most notably as they had no one to replace him. Obviously Mr Simpson doesn’t like to be told what to do!

31. Jimbob - 05/11/2008

“Matt – yes I am suggesting that he give the club away. After all Mr Simpson has already made substantial profit from the club as is borne out in last years accounts”

Erm…no, he hasn’t made a substantial profit. He’s bought heaps of shares in multiple share issues which cost £4.3m. And those shares ain’t worth anywhere near that today (approx. £1m in fact) so he’ll be lucky to breakeven over his time here. Up to the last set of accounts he’s been paid around £1.2m in his time as chairman, with the last year still to be counted. Even if that’s what it was last time we were in this division he’d have been paid £1.6m. Your maths is severely flawed Simmo.

32. Back from Hammerau - 06/11/2008

Simmo – I’m not sure about a sale not having happened already being down to Graham Simpson wanting too much.
Given that Lord Ashcroft owns around twice as many shares as GS, I’d imagine that if someone came in with an offer with which LA was satisfied, GS would have to fall into line.
Given his wealth, does LA have to hold out for a few quid more in disposing of a troublesome investment?

33. JohnF - 06/11/2008

Simmo, I’m not sure what Simpson can do in terms of passing the club over to someone else. He is not the major shareholder and as far as I can reckon is only third largest. If he resigns then it is going to be for someone agreeable to Lord Ashton and or Valley Grown Salads (the Russo brothers) to become chairman but that will not change the ownership. The only way the club can pass on cheaply is by going into administration (disaster) and the conditions would not allow that. My understanding is that although there has been interest, that interest has now cooled in the current economic climate. As others have indicated, this is not a profit generating business. My additional concern is that the press comments this morning are that Elton is going to resign as life president in some sort of protest. I really do not see what this achieves if he is not going to get involved in a rescue bid as previously. I have concerns about the way the finances have been handled and the way things are being done but protesting against Graham Simpson is not going to achieve anything constructive. He already wants to sell his stake and obviously so does Lord Ashton. The danger is that if we sell to the wrong person we could lose the ground and the club so we don’t want him to be so under pressure that he will sell to just anybody. The business over player sales was not a surprise. This was clear at the last AGM that ahead of the loss of the parachute payment we would have to trim the wage bill, which, in my opinion, was outrageous for a club of our status and size. Responsibility for allowing that situation to develop must fall on the board.

The situation is not good but at the moment it isn’t disastrous. I see Aidy appears to want a break and this may have happened anyway. Now we need to get behind the caretaker management/coaching team and the players to try and boost their confidence. Home games particularly need lots a positive noise and lots of support.

34. Big Tone - 06/11/2008

Well, well. Is it just me that’s thinking that the reappointment of Kieth Burkinshaw this afternoon puts a rather different spin on the whole ‘Malky as the gaffer’ thing?

Malky has the linhearted passion but knows he’s inexperienced and has brought in the experience via a right hand man as Aidy did?

And should we be reading anything into the fact that KB has agreed to come back now the Aidy has left?

Or am I just ridiculously bored this afternoon…

35. Wrighty - 06/11/2008

For all the arguments over broken promises and money, i still just have the same uneasy feeling about the club I’ve had for the last 2-3 seasons. I can’t put my finger on it but I think there is more to come and it’s not gonna be good.
Getting back to the original topic, Aidy for those who have got lost somewhere along the way, we weren’t far away from winning the Wolves or Blackpool matches, we’re scoring regularly and not really playng badly (except for general moments of indecision/madness in the important defensive areas). With a bit of luck we could have been mid table, it just seems the wrong decision, unless of course there was more to it than meets the eye, I refer you back to my initial point.

36. Far East Hornet - 07/11/2008

Doesn’t look like Elton’ll be doing any more reinvesting now then…

Dark times are these!

Haven’t been down the vic for quite a while now since I’ve been living overseas but it seems that they were wrong not to let Betty have more of a go at things with his new style… if they’d lost the next 4/5 games on the trot, then OK, maybe questions should have started to be asked. Much too soon though, after only a couple of defeats like that.

To be honest I prefered it when we used to up to Blackpool away and have massive piss-ups with the lads. Those were the good old days… and in the home stand we always used to be able to sit wherever we liked – so they’d always be a great atmosphere up the back. With its constant strive for the First Division all the time is just taking all the fun out of it all.

“We’re the baaack row, we’re the baaack row, we’re the baack row, vicarage road… ” we always used to the sing followed by “We’re the front row, we’re the front row.. etc etc” And what about that dude who always used to stand up in the middle with that cowboy style hat.. Camren or someone? Is he still around??

Was looking like we were finally getting that atmoshpere back recently then the board had to go and fuck it all up. Thanks for nothing.

I really hate to say this, but maybe we do need to go down a division just to find out who we really are again. (and come back up again soon I might add!!)

37. Far East Hornet - 07/11/2008

No, it was is the front row guy who wore / still wears the hat isn’t it

Is that guy still around who shouts STAMP ON HIS FACE every single time an opposition player goes down?

Oh fuck this I’m going to bed

38. Mike S - 07/11/2008


I admire your passion. But blaming Attwell for AB’s departure is akin to blaming the Holocaust on a teacher who once erroneously accused young Adolf of pulling a girl’s pigtails.

That’s all.

39. JohnM - 08/11/2008

Have spent an interesting hour or so reading the W.O and this blog. Since I have no direct contact with, or access to, the financial details of the club, and since, in general, I can only agree with most of the previous comments, I would add the following:-
Aidy’s transfers: The main problem seems to be that his loan deals, in general, (but with one or two spectacular exceptions), have been good. But as the transfer money splashed out increased, the poorer the deal. I suspect that the playing returns on the Ellington and McAnuff deals did very little to enhance his standing with the board–remember that after signing McAnuff he brought in Johnson on loan, and after signing Ellington he hardly gave him a decent start to a game for some months: Both players were (or are) on good to high wages, too. I remember Aidy writing about his pressurising the board to finance Ellington—.

Malkie Mackay: Am I the only one to find it to be sligthly curious that the man appointed temporary manager (and possibly permanent) is the defensive coach, and presumably responsible for the players who now, apparently, would struggle to hold a regular spot for the Oxhey Jets (nothing against the Oxhey Jets)–and the ‘final straw’ wielders in Aidys demise.

Finally, I can only agree with the opinion that Aidy had run out of ideas, and had found progress with the current players difficult. A new manager, with a differing approach, might(!) motivate them, at least for a month or two. However, I have very bad feelings about Malkie. I really, really pray that I am wrong

40. Malmo Hornet - 08/11/2008

It seems that this club has been falling apart for a year or two now, with the recent news this week of Aidy Boothroyd’s departure followed by Elton moving on too the final icing on the cake.

Everytime a few good players came through, whether picked up by the manager or coming through the academy, they move on very quickly to other clubs, giving the (former) manager the challenge of building the team up again.

Ian, why can’t we hold on to a squad of players for any decent length of time to make a difference?

Aidy Boothroyd was doing a great job with F**k all cash and doing it well. How is any new manager going to do any better and who the hell would want the job?

Surely Newcastle United seems like a better option right now?

Malmo Hornet

41. Matt Rowson - 11/11/2008

Adam J – what, he was advised on football matters by his banker and didn’t follow this advice? Perhaps his hairdresser or postman disagreed? Or perhaps Aidy did? That’s what mutual consent implies, after all… that the responsibility for the departure decision was mutual, no?

42. Esp - 12/11/2008

Mike I just read your: “But blaming Attwell for AB’s departure is akin to blaming the Holocaust on a teacher who once erroneously accused young Adolf of pulling a girl’s pigtails.”

As my letter to the WO letters page as part of the Fans Forty forum said a similar thing I would say that Anthony Matthews agrees with you cos my letter was binned!!

I wonder what Aidy would have made of the Carling Cup win last night?? It would be interesting to hear his thoughts; I would hazard a guess he would be quietly pleased.

QPR or Huddersfield next for the Bradford one?

43. Back from Hammerau - 12/11/2008

Matt, to be fair, it would’ve been business advice, not footballing advice, that the banker was providing.
Advice that it’s easier to find a buyer for a ship with a wonky rudder in place than one from which a wonky rudder has been removed and to which a new one has yet to be fitted or to which a new one has been fitted but for which no sea trials have yet been carried out. (Apologies for the analogy.)
Mutual consent simply means that the departure was agreed, rather than being a dismissal. Unless an employee has breached a term of their contract of employment and can be dismissed, surely it cannot be terminated before the end of it’s term unless both parties mutually consent to it.
My contract of employment has a month’s notice period, but if my employers were to offer me enough money, I’d happily mutually consent to shortening that period.

44. Matt Rowson - 13/11/2008

BfH, I take your point about the banker’s advice, but still don’t see it as damning of the chairman that the manager left – even if it HAD been solely the chairman’s decision.

But as it goes… don’t agree about your interpretation of Mutual, whatever the legal semantics. If a manager is “sacked” for anything other than breach of conduct (e.g. poor team performance, real or perceived) then his contract is paid up in full. And yet we are told that Boothroyd and Simpson spent last weekend negotiating a settlement? Boothroyd will thus have received less money than his full contractual entitlement, not more. Sounds kinda mutual to me.

45. Back from Hammerau - 13/11/2008

I don’t disagree that the sacking isn’t damning of the chairman.
The banker’s advice regarding the impact of a sacking on the chances of selling is just one of the factors that should’ve been taken into consideration when making the decision.
(I also would imagine that any banker acting in a professional capacity relating to the sale would be bound by a duty of confidentiality that would prevent them disclosing the nature of any advice given to AdamJ or anyone else.)

Why assume that they spent a weekend negotiating over how much the settlement would be less than was stipulated in the contract? Perhaps they were haggling over much extra Aidy would get for signing one of those non-disclosure agreements. One can but speculate.

46. Gerry G - 13/11/2008

Betty’s leaving was a shrewd and calculated move on his part. The club’s going down the tubes financially, the team is weak and will get far weaker when Smudger and John-Jo get poached, and relegation is odds-on. Staying on a sinking ship would take his reputation and CV down with it, whereas leaving now he can rightly say that he achieved miracles on a relatively shoestring budget with a small-time club and that he had his hands tied by the sales of the club’s best players against his wishes – Ashley Young and Marlon King come immediately to mind, and he will claim that he nurtured their talents so that they blossomed into the valuable stars they are now.

So, Betty’s reputation will remain intact, and he’ll be in the frame when the next club with ambition ditches its manager after a bad run. If not for Derby’s recent recovery he’d have looked a good candidate for that job. If, as I expect, Sheff Utd have a bad run and ditch Kevin Blackwell then Betty will be a strong favourite for that post, and will do well with a club of such a size. He might even be in the frame for a low-ranking Premiership club, though would probably turn his nose up as he wouldn’t want to be associated again with Premiership relegation, and his strategy is based on long-term planning and development, not short-term success.

Anyway, good luck to the guy, not that he’ll need it. It’s his gain and WFC’s loss. The club won’t find anyone half as good, and certainly not as cheap as he was.

47. Matt Rowson - 13/11/2008

BfH… you’re right, one can only speculate. But it doesn’t seem entirely equitable to suggest that at a time when the chairman – and therefore the club – is contemplating selling off yet more players to AVOID debt, that he would willingly write off more money than was necessary in seeing off a manager. If he “sacks” him he has to pay his full whack anyway, what’s to be gained over haggling for more? I guess it depends what you want to believe – not that this is necessarily true of you, but many seem prepared to ignore any inconvienient obstacles to a witch hunt. Like logic, for example.

Gerry G’s suggestion is closer to the mark – I’m sure Aidy didn’t like the lay of the land and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if his decision was influenced by the need to protect his share price. Not sure I agree with all of your accounts of history though. Both the King and Young sales were sanctioned by Boothroyd, and both were the right decisions anyway in the circumstances even if he hadn’t agreed with them.

48. john - 13/11/2008

This sacking/resignation/departure was sooo similar to the departure of Lewington. The board leaves a young manager strapped for cash, sells the family silver, forces him to bring in youngsters still unprepared for the sort of battle they face in the Championship and then uses him as the fall-guy for a lack of success on the pitch. That’s not to say that Aidy didn’t believe his own publicity that he was the New White Hope of football managers … a little more humility in accepting help from more experienced heads wouldn’t have gone amiss … or that his departure might have been more about him jumping than being pushed. He did make some costly mistakes in the transfer market with what little funding was at his disposal, but it’s the same as any employee … they can talk a good game but it doesn’t mean they are necessarily going to deliver for you. The biggest difference this time, compared with Lewington, is that there really WAS money which should have been available and it has been squirrelled away who knows where … not within the bounds of the ring fence anyhow! All that said, I agree with the comments that there is a certain back five (seven or eight of them actually) who should be under no illusions that they have cost someone their job.

49. Matt Rowson - 14/11/2008

john… i’d disagree with the “what little funding was at his disposal” assessment. I make it £1.525m spent in 05/06, ~£6m in 06/07 (guessing £500k for Williamson & Hoskins, £1m for Priskin), and over £7m last season (Ellington 3.5, McAnuff 1.75, Ainsworth 0.5, Sadler 0.8, Bromby 0.6, Eustace 0.25). Now, sure, money came in as well, and we had Prem income. But that’s still an awful lot of money by Watford’s standards, and last season’s outlay was huge by the standards of anyone in the division. And that’s just the transfer fees, let alone wages… so it’s hardly accurate to say that the board left him strapped for cash. That sort of outlay really ought to have seen us promoted.

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