Reporter 431, 15 February 1999


Bill's skill on the ball stops City own goals

Europe's leading football clubs are to be advised on transfer fees and stockmarket trends by a University economist.

Bill Gerrard, from the Leeds University Business School, will address club directors at an international conference on football finance later this week (February 16 - 18).

Investment bankers and stockbrokers will also hear his assessment of the impact stockmarket flotation has on football clubs.

"There was a great deal of excessive optimism about the performance of football clubs in the market three or four years ago," said Dr Gerrard. "It was seen as very sexy, but there is more realism now, with only a handful of clubs doing as well as hoped."

Shares in many football clubs are worth about half what they were twelve months ago and other clubs considering future flotation have become wary. "They need to be careful because if they float and subsequently perform badly, they leave themselves open to hostile takeovers."

Dr Gerrard will also be running a transfer fees workshop for the clubs at the conference to demonstrate his unique player valuation computer software.

He believes a football club's share price is inevitably linked to its league position - bad news for those with a stake in clubs currently at the wrong end of the table.

"Southampton are struggling at the moment and their share price is low enough that it could be cheaper to buy up the entire club than to buy one of their star players," he said.

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