It’s nothing to do with the debt that he left in. We didn’t pay interest on the debt, we weren’t repaying the debt, it was completely meaningless other than a safeguard against a rogue owner.
The problem was the level of losses that we were incurring each and every month, mainly because we had players on 2/3/4 year contracts and earning way more than the club could afford once we were out of the Prem.
The only way he could have safeguarded would have been to instruct Gartside and the others running the club day to day to move towards balancing the books and becoming self sufficient, which would have taken 3-4 years due to the length of player contracts. That alone isn’t easy, and lets be honest would have had supporters up in arms as it would have been seen as us going backwards, throw in a relegation, which he could do nothing about, and you have the perfect storm. We either battened down the hatches straight away, sold off everyone we could, let all out of contract players leave and start signing players on similar wages to what we are doing now, or we gamble, spend the cash for 1 or 2 years in the hope that you go back up to the money machine.
It’s well known that Ed gambled, which I’d say was a decision made by the fan in him rather than the business man. The gamble didn’t pay off and we were left with players on contracts too big for the club to sustain alone for another 2-3 years. That’s when shit hit the fan.
Personally I think the only way that we could have “safeguarded” against what happened was to always live to a crisis plan, even when in the prem. That means that you always budget for the worst case scenario, I.e relegation that year and the following 2 years in the championship with the parachute payments. From there you know the minimum amount of cash that will be coming in over the next 3 years and can offer contracts that fit your budget, most of which would need relegation release clauses, and or would have been 1-2 year deals (which aren’t too common for the better prem players). The problem with that is that we were top 8 for 4 years running. Once you hit that level, how do you attract the right manager (or keep him in our case), the right players and keep the fans happy when you are running the club as if you will be relegated that season.
It’s a balancing act that got harder and harder every year our success grew. The main reason for the demise was on the footballing side, bad managers bought the wrong players on high value contracts with little chance of making good money by selling them on. None of which Ed had much say on.