Middlesbrough's Gareth Southgate fears Premier League may lose its appeal and clout

17 December 2008 04:50
"Everything goes in cycles," Southgate said. "The Spanish league at times has been the one to play, Serie A definitely was a few years ago, basically it was the place the players got paid the most.

"That place is now the Premier League so the best players come here, but history tells us that those things don't stay that way forever. It's the same with individual clubs, Chelsea weren't always in that bracket but they are now, Leeds were for a spell, now they most definitely are not, likewise in other European countries." Southgate's club are officially more than £90 million in debt but survive thanks to chairman Steve Gibson and he suggested that such business models were undesirable and unsustainable on Teesside and beyond.

"I could see a Serie A collapse here," Southgate added. "I don't think we can take it for granted that people will keep turning up and keep paying. What might have to happen is that the money coming in might have to be used to subsidise the tickets more and encourage the stadiums to be full because without the full stadium, the production doesn't have an attraction to TV either.

"There may have to be a period when clubs have to change how they do things.

Do I think it's close? You would have said with satellite TV it can't keep going on. I remember saying that in the late 90s and it has, then it was pay-per-view and now it's billionaire owners, not quite sure where we go after billionaire owners, especially after a lot of them are losing a lot of their money at moment.

"I think there's a dangers there's a complacency about the game, that it' ll keep growing, but it's global now, it's broadcast around the world and how much bigger can it get, that's the question I guess. It remains to be seen." Southgate continued: "I think there are a lot of clubs – we're quite honest about our financial situation – that are potentially in the process of being sold, that we hear have to got move players one, reduce wage bills.

"It will be an interesting few years for English football, because the Italian league went through this. It was the place to play, all the money was in hteir league, at the moment there are quite a few clubs that are completely dependent on billionaire owners.

In the past, club spent what came through the turnstiles, then the income from satellite tv meant that there was money from outside direct contribution of fans, that inflated things a bit, now the different ownership has put a completely different spin on things.

"If those people walk away you're reliant on finding somebody else with those sort of funds to come in. It's my belief that as much as possible, I don' t see why a chairman should keep standing the bill for the football club, can we run it on what comes in and it's run as a sound business and anything that comes in on top of that is a bonus rather than it being expected of the person in charge."

Source: Telegraph