Thursday, March 04, 2010

Football Failings

Only occasionally do I intrude into the wonderful, wacky world of football. Mostly it is either too silly, too exasperating or just down right too frustrating.

Recent developments deserve a mention. I happened on an interesting programme on the BBC News channel the other evening. It was a discussion regarding some of the recent financial crises that have been plaguing the “beautiful game”.

In case you missed it, Portsmouth FC are about to enter administration and a number of other clubs are queuing up to join them. That's the story, basically.

Like the weather, lots of folk are talking about it, and no-one is actually doing anything.

The programme “identified” some areas that need discussion/amendment/improvement. Clubs are (obviously) being extremely irresponsible with their finances. Players (and their union) are milking the cow for all it's worth – despite the fact that the teats are giving no succour, for the milk has run out. Fans are in disarray because of increasing ticket prices and lack of success on the field.

Where to start?

The Clubs. Football clubs operate as if they were immune to the forces of economics and gravity. Being immune to gravity is especially good for them as they think they can avoid the drop! Yep, that's how stupid they are. The truth is only a very few clubs, either by reason of an incredibly wealthy owner or owners, or a fan base that covers the known world can possibly aspire to win the Premiership. All the others are simply treading water. Clubs can, of course, never admit this because it would upset and alienate the fans.

The Supporters. The supporters like to think that they are the backbone of the club and the most important leg of the tripod. They are chin-dribblingly deluded on both counts. Clubs make noises about how wonderful the fans are and how they are striving to win trophies and championships for them. In reality, as long as some fans ( primarily the most stupid ones ) continue to troop gaily through the turnstiles so that the TV companies can pan the cameras around the ground without encountering too many empty seats; the clubs aren't really worried about the supporters ( or cannon fodder if you prefer ). Clubs know that the real money comes from TV.

The Players. Players are easy targets. Well, those at the very top who earn obscene wages are easy targets. The PFA is charged with protecting all players and their views on wages are simple. Get you hands off! For the PFA the problems with club finances are nothing to do with them and they don't really want to discuss or negotiate any change to the status quo.

What's to be done?

The Clubs. Clubs will not regulate themselves. Leagues will not regulate clubs. FIFA, UEFA, etc. will not regulate clubs. The EU ( for once charged with doing something useful ) could regulate clubs. How? Make Europe-wide rules and regulations regarding club finances. Stipulate the amount clubs can spend on players and transfers. Clubs should only be able to spend a proportion of TV and gate receipts and bring down wages and ticket prices in order to comply. At a stroke you level the playing field and make football more competitive.

The Supporters

Supporters need educating. This will be tough for they generally make Dewsbury Chavs look like intellectuals. Deep down they know they are gormless. Commentators, managers, players and administrators must stop pandering to fans' basest instincts and explain their real strategy: i.e. stay in this league, remain solvent, introduce more home-grown players that fans can identify with, live within our means and avoid what seems to be attractive short-term fixes!

The Players

Players are their own worst enemies. They are all in the gossip columns too often because they earn obscene amounts of money and don't know how to spend it except on Chav Flash. Players must learn to sign contracts that mean something, that put most of their earning into long-term investments instead of short-term bling, and act like responsible adults instead of spoiled brats.

Incidentally, none of the above had even the remotest chance of being adopted.


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