The Antagonist - Football is in danger of financial implosion
Published: 29 Jan 2010 - 08:00:31
So, Crystal Palace have become the latest club to go into administration and it really is just a case of 'who will be next?'
It is a highly volatile situation that is rapidly getting out of hand and unless drastic action is taken now by the ruling bodies, top level football as we know it is in serious danger of complete implosion.
The real worry is that, unlike in previous eras where economic disaster was the domain of the smaller, unfashionable clubs from the lower leagues, financial meltdown is no longer confined to the Accrington Stanleys or Aldershots of this world.
It is now not beyond the realms of possibility that the likes of Man United and Liverpool could call in the Receiver at some time in the future and this, with no disrespect to Accrington or Aldershot, is finally making people sit up and take note.
There is a certain ironic link, is there not, in the fact that in the midst of a bank-driven worldwide recession, Barclays is the current sponsor of our Premier League!
For too many years football clubs have survived by wealthy footy-loving benefactors or disinterested entrepreneurs throwing money at their chosen club either as a tax dodge, to service their debts, as a boost to their ego or, perhaps, as an indication of an unsound mind.
It has made many clubs financially lazy and naively confident that there will always be another 'sucker' round the corner to pick up the pieces and bail them out.
For some (e.g Chelski and Man Chitty) the money pit certainly appears to be bottomless but, for the majority, the pot of gold disappears when the rainbow fades.
They are left marooned in a boat without a paddle; committed to huge outgoings, mainly to players receiving obscene salaries that would pay off the average person's mortgage in a week.
So far what have the authorities done to address the problem? They have decided to deduct ten points from a club if it goes into administration. Now that's what I call kicking a man when he's down!
Surely the rule makers need to be proactive rather than reactive to this dilemma and put measures in place that prevent the sort of scenarios we are seeing developing rather than just whacking the clubs with a big stick when it does.
Easy to say, you may suggest, but what exactly can be done to reverse the trend ?Unfortunately, because football has become a world game in as much as players and managers have, over the past 30 years or so, become almost totally geographically mobile, any legislation taken would need to be on a global level.
You cannot cap wages in England, for example, and not expect a huge exodus of players to more lucrative locations.
FIFA needs to take a lead here and introduce some radical and, no doubt, initially unpopular legislation to halt the lemming - like march towards bankruptcy.
In addition, the FA and Football League need to follow suit and deal with national issues such as the dispersal of TV income. Capping transfer fees, capping players (and managers) salaries, limiting the number of overseas players and ensuring a fairer division of media income are just a few basic initiatives that could have an enormous effect on clubs' balance sheets and, perhaps, make the difference between survival and extinction.
The whole area is, of course, a complicated minefield, the minutiae of which I would not pretend to understand.
On this basis, I am quite happy leaving the finer details of the necessary remedial action for grossly overpaid accountants to deal with. In the meantime, the juggernaut of galloping debt (I apologise for the mixed metaphors here!) will keep gathering pace until the brakes are applied by some external force and the spectre of starting a season with a majority of teams on minus ten points will loom ever larger.
Over to you FIFA!
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