Football implosion imminent
Many countries in the EU are in a financial crisis and even the United States election campaign is being fought on economic grounds.
The past five years have been the most fraught in all my time as a human being in terms of financial struggles for individuals, corporations and nation-states. However, football, footballers and football clubs are acting like they inhabit a different world.
The silly season is upon us with transfer speculations all over the place. A lot of column inches are dedicated to this gossip about who is buying who. Very little is written about football clubs that are in administration or, like Glasgow Rangers, have gone out of business.
Former European champions – twice winners no less – Nottingham Forest went into a mini crisis that seems to have been averted by the purchase of the club recently. Aside from the big two teams in La Liga and the new money side of Malaga, many of the teams in the league are struggling for finances. The truth is that there is NO money around. Certainly not in the way football wants the world to believe.
Luka Modric wants to move away from White Hart Lane. Spurs value him at £40m. Luka Modric? £40m? God give me strength. On what basis should that be? Fine midfielder though he is, the game is so far removed from reality it is untrue. Chelsea have made two major signings this summer, paying £25m for Oscar the 20-year-old Brazillian midfielder and then £32m for the loquacious Belgian, Eden Hazard. They have no doubt not finished.
Another Brazilian is being followed by Manchester United and the fee is supposed to be in the region of £26m. Chelsea have the limitless pockets of Roman Abrahmovic; United are neck deep in debt so it is not quite surprising they are back-tracking on that one. Who puts such a ridiculous tag on an unproven youngster?
When I was discovering European football properly, Milan was the European football power house driven by Silvio Berlusconi’s wealth from his vast media empire. At the time, Milan had first pick of the best players coming into Europe. Once they had the famous Dutch trio of Gullit, Rijkaard and Van Basten. These three were followed by Papin, Savicevic, Boban and, at one time, Gianluigi Lentini – who cost £13m in ’92!
If you were good you would be at Milan. However, last week, and in the biggest indication of how low Berlusconi’s wealth has fallen, and that of Italy as a country, Milan have sold their best two players from last season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the defender Thiago Silva, to PSG of France. That is a proper indicator of problems. Apart from these sales, they have rid the team of all high earners and are starting afresh so to speak. AC Milan!
There is too much corruption in football all round, as one who has been fortunate enough to speak to some players – here I mean footballers and agents and even officials – can point out. A lot of people in the know have buried their heads in the sand and just hope it will go away and things will get right. Or they believe that the game is too important to go bust. I watched as Portsmouth Football Club under Milan Mandaric and Harry Redknapp spent way above their means for a few years and now are on the verge of going out of business.
The volume of player movement at Pompey needs to be looked at to be believed. When players move, money moves around. On top of those movements came the assortment of fake sheikhs and fake owners who were never seen but for some strange reasons the Premier League sanctioned those purchases and transfers of ownership of the club. Now, four years after the FA Cup win, that club could go into extinction.
One reads how much Fifa Licensed Agents are paid during the transfer of players and you can’t but want to question why it is so. I can understand the place of Agents for a youngster making his way in the game but for an Agent to get paid some money when an established player is hunted by another club is totally illogical to me.
A footballer’s agent should only make money off his commercial ventures not from his transfers. My personal view.
Then to the footballers themselves: you read about the vast amounts they earn weekly and you just have to consider it obscene in the present economic climate. There is not ONE footballer on the face of this earth I consider worthy of £100 000 per week. Absolutely no way.
English Champions Man City have so many players who are close to that amount of money per week but who contributed very little to their title win last season. Emmanuel Adebayor is rumoured to not want to take a pay cut to play regular football at somewhere like Tottenham. Can you blame him?
The result of this is that ticket prices for matches are well out of the reach of the regular football fan who earns a decent wage and wants to watch his beloved football club at a weekend. In showpiece events, more tickets are reserved for the corporate bodies than for the rabid fan who wants to get to, say, Wembley for a Cup Final and enjoy his team’s day out in the sun.
At the moment the Arsenal Football Club manager, Arsene Wenger, seems to be one of the few managers who is disgusted by the way football is going and has a strong feeling that an implosion is going to happen very soon. The man has stuck to his guns that he will not bankrupt his club in pursuit of titles and cups. Fair play to him and to his board for standing by him.
I have been very disappointed with Uefa President Michel Platini in that, when the money men were with English Clubs he was strident in his Financial Fair Play campaign. Now that PSG are ready to match Chelsea and Man City he is rather silent or at least subdued. I don’t know what can be done to curb this excessive spending by football clubs but I believe strongly that it has no root in reality and therefore cannot last.
It is Rangers and Pompey at the moment. A big fish might follow sooner rather than later.