Rough guide to
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'05-06 season index
Rough guide to... Peterborough United
3 June 2005
If Peterborough were a Spice Girl, they'd be Posh Spice: not at all posh, and a bit rubbish really. And continually being shafted by an Essex boy. Ahem. That's a bit harsh I suppose - but very tenuous.
They started out pretty poorly but picked up before Christmas, with a win here and there, but still losing more than is healthy. By the time Christmas had been and gone things were looking a bit more tricky. Perhaps distracted by a little run in the cup - narrowly losing to Forest in the fourth round - their poor league form brought only four more wins all the season. Thirteen points adrift of safety by the beginning of April, relegation was inevitable, two wins in their last five games being too little too late. Only Stockport fared worse.
A decade of Barry Fry. The poor bastards. I tell a lie - almost a decade of Barry Fry. Former Town midfielder Mick Halsall was in charge for the 1995-96 season. The poor bastards. Still, as owner and manager, the ol' Fryster must've taken the Posh to new uncharted territories,
right? Wrong. The rotund one managed to get them relegated in his first season. They hung around the bottom division for a few seasons before scraping through the play-offs and getting back to where Fry found them in 2000. Since then it's been mid to lower table all the way. They finished with two more points than Town in 2003/4, but last season the Grim Relegator finally caught up with them and dragged them back down to our level. In summary, then, Barry Fry has achieved pretty much bugger all in about ten years. Who would've guessed, eh?
The next ten years hold promise, though. There was much rejoicing in the homes of Peterboroughians (that's what they're called, right?) when Barry Fry eventually stepped down as manager at the end of the 2004-05 campaign. He still owns the club though - so I'm sure he'll still be
prone to a little meddling. Into his place steps Mark Wright - who did rather a good job at Chester.
Do we like them?
It's a tough one, this. I would say that we probably don't not like them, but that possibly we perhaps don't especially like them either? I think what it really comes down to is dislike by association. People don't like Barry Fry; Barry Fry is owner of Peterborough; ergo, people don't like Peterborough. It's a bit hard on them, I guess, given that most Posh fans probably hate Barry Fry too. But what you gonna do, huh?
This is a funny one, and I'm not sure I've quite got my head around it. Peterborough United FC, until recently, were owned by Pizza Express founder Peter Boizot. Around 2001 he decided he'd had enough and sold his shares in the club. At which point existing shareholder Barry Fry bought them all up, taking his stake in the club to 97.7 per cent. However, there's a complication in that Fry's company Peterborough FC Ltd borrowed money to finance the deal from Peterborough FC Holdings Ltd (owned by a friend of Fry), which, it turns out, owns the ground, which it leases back to Peterborough FC Ltd for a nominal fee.
Now as if that weren't complicated enough, the Posh Supporters Trust claims that for Barry Fry to sell his shares (which, apparently, are 'B' shares - anyone?), he needs the support of the owners of Peterborough FC Holdings to do this - which is unlikely. Fry himself has made it publicly known that he'll happily take £600k for his shares. The issue here, according to the supporters' trust, is that the £600k they would pay would go straight into Fry's pocket and they'd be lumbered with the debt that the club is sinking under. Fry, though, insists that the club makes a healthy profit year on year. It's all very confusing and all over the place, so you're probably best just reading the supporters' trust website.
The supporters' trust is actually the third biggest shareholder in the club - but with Fry owning, as I said, 97.7 per cent of the shares, this doesn't amount to much.
As generally happens when a team is relegated, there's a bit of a clear-out of players. Barry Fry has promised lots of new names, but with the new manager only just installed it may be a while before any signings are made. With Andy Clarke, Steve Thomson, Christopher Kanu and Simon Rea all being allowed to leave when their contracts expire this summer, the squad looks rather threadbare. Add to this the fact that influential captain Curtis Woodhouse has joined the massed ranks at Hull and Danny Sonner has gone to Port Vale, and you're not left with much to play with.
One player who will do well if they keep hold of him is Callum Willock, who scored 14 goals for the Posh last season despite their lowly finish. Willock came through the youth ranks at Fulham before signing for Peterborough in December 2003 after a successful loan spell.
New manager Mark Wright is sure to strengthen his squad with a couple of good signings, and if Barry Fry lets him have some of the £500k from the sell-on clause in Simon Davies' contract (he recently joined Everton from Spurs for £3.5m) then he shouldn't have difficulty offering decent contracts.
This can go two ways really. The first scenario is that, assisted by Fry's wheeler-dealing, Wright gets to sign a good squad of players and is left to it. Wright's success at Chester suggests that with a bit of board backing he can produce a winning team.
The other scenario is that Fry can't stop himself from interfering with team selections after an indifferent start to the season; this infuriates Wright, who leaves the club; and Fry resumes managerial duties. The first scenario would see them finishing - let's be fair - in the third automatic promotion spot. The second scenario would see them finish in their usual lower mid-table position.
Why don't you just switch off from the football and go out and do something less boring instead?
Well, there's the Broadway theatre: a "multi-purpose entertainment venue for
all types of theatre, music, dance, cabaret, conferences and light entertainment, as well as cinema." Or if that doesn't take your fancy, you could go to one of the many events held by the East of England
Agricultural Society, such as Truckfest or the British Motorcycle Federation rally.
What you should remember, though, is that Peterborough is the capital of Fenland. I'd just go to the football if I were you, then get the hell out of Dodge.