There is a joke that the quickest way to become a millionaire is to be a billionaire and buy a football club. Mark Goldberg, although not a billionaire, might be able to testify to that after rapidly going from a successful multimillionaire businessman to bankrupt after buying Crystal Palace, blinkered by his love of football and the club, from the infamous Ron Noades.
When Jack Walker purchased Blackburn Rovers and subsequently bought them the Premier League title in 1995, they were the exception. It was already clear though to sustain that level of success significant further investment would be needed.
This was because Jack’s cash was chicken feed compared to the money then coming into the game as the oligarchs, sovereign wealth funds and crony capitalists moved in. Rovers then quickly found their level again and are now owned by poultry magnates who, ironically, might have been better sticking to spending their money on chicken feed.
Many of us though still dream that United will be taken over by an infinitely wealthy owner with business nous and no common sense when it comes to football or better still that we will come into money ourselves so we can buy our own football club. There have been a few examples of this but most of them have inevitably been doomed to fail including Gretna and Rushden & Diamonds usually spectacularly.
I would therefore never want to own United outright as much as I love the club. This is because it is a completely thankless position to be in particularly if you are not at the highest level of the game constantly challenging for prizes.
You can only fail as the expectations of fans rise as you progress or worse go backwards despite spending big on marquee signings that do not perform or gel. There have been a few examples of the latter our level including the once mighty Notts County.
Crucially the money will also eventually run out and there are rarely plans in place for a smooth transition to the next regime, again, as we have seen all too often. Far better in my opinion to spend what cash you have or can justifiably spare in ways that make the biggest impact or an investment for the long term as boring as it might be.
Investment in the ground to secure additional non-match day revenue streams might be one option. We are however caught in a position where the ambition, in the long term, is still to move to a purpose-built community stadium limiting the return on that option
Despite all this I like many others still daydream about how I would spend my imaginary millions on the club if money was no object. I have therefore put together a list of my ideas starting with the ground.
Firstly, I have long half-jokingly referred to our ground as the Mighty Abbey Stadium borne out of resentment at the monikers, we have been forced to adopt such as the Trade Recruitment and R Costings Stadium. I would therefore sponsor the ground and formally call it the Mighty Abbey Stadium meaning the media, including Jeff Stelling on Soccer Saturday if were ever mentioned and the Peterboring Telegraph, would always have to refer to it as that.
I would then like to see the NRE referred to as the Corona Kop again in reference to the old Corona works of course that abutted the ground as I have always preferred it. The name also now has the added benefit of deadly menace as Covid-19 continues to take hold and memories of the soft drinks delivered to your doorstep fade into the past.
I would also rename our other terrace the Happy Habbin, and I say this as a die-hard Habbinite, if only because it would be one in the eye for all the moaners and naysayers that occupy it although it could just be something else for them to whinge about. Although together now if you are happy in the Habbin clap your hands!
There are rumours CFU are buying the club a new scoreboard to be located near the South Stand so as many fans as possible will be able to see it. However, those of us with long memories will remember the old scoreboard behind the Supporters Club which did not function for long and is now covered by an advertising hoarding. For those with even longer memories it was also the location of the Tick Tock before that and I would like to see a return of a simple clock to the same location.
I would though insist that the money spent on sponsoring the ground was invested in Youth Development rather than thrown away on signings and wages. Again, as dull as it sounds, that is where our relative success lies in the longer run, developing and nurturing players that understand the club and what it is about.
Once I had finished with the ground I would move on to our badge and kit. It has been the trend since the formation of the Premier League to simplify club badges to increase ‘brand recognition’ as the marketing merchants would say.
Our badge though is already quite simple and distinctive but there is no denying the fact the top of it makes it look like an upturned toilet seat. It is for this reason I would like to see a return of our book and ball badge, albeit in updated form, also featuring our United in Endeavour motto which I think is a great slogan.
Fans can be quite schizophrenic when it comes to kits demanding tradition and at the same time lauding those kits that break the mould. You only have to look to the enduring popularity of our Influence / Fujitsu yellow arrowed kit for an example of that.
At this point then I should state for the record I love motorcycles, almost as much as I love United, and Yamahas in particular, especially in their iconic yellow and black speed block race colours made famous by King Kenny Roberts. I would therefore break the mould again kit wise with a speed block inspired home shirt sponsored by Yamaha and an away shirt that referenced their modern era white and blue speed block race colours.
The club is already trying to do some of the following things thanks to the hard work of their current media team. However, Cambridge has long been a City divided between Town and Gown, a divide that has arguably grown in recent years particularly as housing has become more unaffordable amongst other things.
This point has been made elsewhere but this division can mean that in the centre of the city it can be impossible to realise the club exists. Many incomers to Cambridge can also be unaware of our presence even amongst those that profess to like football given their consumption of the game is largely vicarious via the TV or internet.
I would therefore like to try and raise our profile in the city through funding and promoting further ticketing initiatives, advertising and targeted social media campaigns. I liked the old your City, your Club slogan as it felt quite inclusive and feel it could be resurrected as a means of encouraging more people to sample the delights of the now Mighty Abbey Stadium on their road to getting hooked on the Abbey habit!