The Libero - Blackpool must break with tradition
Published: 26 May 2010 - 06:55:17
There can have been few neutrals left disappointed once the final whistle sounded at Wembley on the weekend. A famous old club had rejoined the elite ranks of English (and Welsh) football after a lengthy absence, and their glorious history is all the richer for it.
Yet there is a certain amount of irony surrounding the use of the word 'richer' to describe Blackpool, Saturday's Championship play-off winners, since they are anything but a wealthy club. Indeed, their relative poverty amongst other teams in the top flight will be the reason why they will go straight back down to the Championship, if not next season, then at least the season after.
That sounds pessimistic, even a little caustic considering the euphoria of promotion has barely had time to wear off, but Blackpool will start next season as favourites to go straight back to whence they came.
That's a shame, because there is a great deal to be admired about the way the club is run. It is the antithesis of most modern day football clubs, yet their success this season has proved that a lack of money need not be an obstacle - in the Championship, at least.
It is, however, in the Premier League. There, an annual turnover of £7 million, average gates of 8,611 and a wage bill of just £4.8m simply will not cut the mustard.
Of course, the estimated £90m eventually coming the club's way from promotion will boost their coffers massively, but the indication is that chairman Karl Oyston will not splash that cash to bring in big-name new players.
It is admirable how Oyston has run the club, where wages are cut during the summer months when there is no income and whose record signing is Charlie Adam - bought from Rangers last summer for the not-so-princely sum of £500,000.
But now they've joined the big boys on the pitch, they need to adapt their operating ethos off it.
Oyston has said his model should be the blueprint for other "cavalier" chairman to follow. That's certainly a nice idea - no more astronomical wages, transfer deals for sums that could wipe out small third world countries' debt, or grossly pampered players with hugely inflated egos. A hark back to the days of Blackpool legend Stanley Matthews, if you like.
But of course, it's pie in the sky, and surely Oyston understands that. Blackpool should be an inspiration to others, but unfortunately, there are not. Money is far too ingrained in the DNA of the game for change to happen overnight.
Lessons can, and should, be learned from those clubs like Portsmouth, where overspending and general financial mismanagement has done irreparable damage, but the difficulty lies in finding a balance between staying afloat in financial terms while remaining competitive on the pitch. Pompey failed on both counts.
A quick look at the Tangerines' squad reveals that they need heavy investment in their squad over the summer months if they are to survive in the Premier League. The likes of Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Brett Ormerod and Keith Southern were good enough to help Blackpool win promotion, but are they really good enough to keep them there?
Like it or not, unless the club is prepared to spend some of that £90m on competitive packages to attract the kind of players who are capable of keeping them up, their sojourn in the top flight threatens to be of the briefest possible variety.
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- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:the libero
- Libero (noun): 1. Versatile, ball-playing defender given licence to roam. Expected to break up opposition attacks while instigating counters. Role patented by German legend Franz Beckenbauer. 2. Versatile weekly football columnist, aka journalist Mike Hytner, given licence to write what he likes. Expected to file every Wednesday. Not nearly as talented as his boyhood hero Der Kaiser.
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