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The Corrupted Game

August 1, 2009

The beautiful game as we know it, is no longer as pure as it used to be, and it’s not something we can help either. The constant takeovers of Premier League clubs by Middle Eastern, and American businessman has made the football side of the game a growing irrelevance.

The perfect example of this is Manchester City, who were taken over by a UAE consortium before the start of the last season. The ridiculous sums of money that they are continuously offering up to clubs for their star players undermines the less well-off clubs and the final standings of each League season are becoming more and more predictable. Manchester City finished in the bottom half of the table last season, and below Stoke City, so there is an argument to say that it doesn’t make a difference. However, with the Blues bringing in players such as Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor for outrageous amounts of money, it’s surely only a matter of time before the changes are noticeable. It takes time for any team that makes wholesale changes to their squad to gel, and become a unit, so once City do just that, I am sure they will make the break into the top 4.

Whilst it is part of the game, unfortunately or fortunately, it doesn’t seem right that a club fighting for survival just a few years ago can make such dramatic steps to become a successful football club. Surely there has to be some kind of barrier to prevent these sorts of takeovers and make the Premier League a division every team can compete in, and start on a level playing field. Of course some clubs are going to be richer than others, due to season ticket sales, sponsorship and what have you, but why not leave it at that? There is no need for such greed in our beautiful game, and football’s governing bodies should be putting restrictions and barriers in place to prevent such happenings.

Chelsea set the precedent back in 2004, when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in a 7-figure deal. That takeover brought instant success, firstly by capturing the signing of Jose Mourinho as manager, followed by several big-name, big-money signings that lifted Chelsea to the top of the Premier League, and ultimately gave them champion status. Now with Aston Villa, Liverpool, Portsmouth and Newcastle all receiving high-calibre takeovers in the last 4 years, it is just a matter of time before every single club in the Premier League, and some in lower divisions, become victims of billionaire takeovers. Such a thing would have an affect on the level of football, of course. The world’s best players will be playing in our league, but do we really want that happening, knowing they’re only there because they’re being paid £180.000 a week? Surely it’d be far more enjoyable, and beneficial to watch home-grown, young, quality players ply their trade in the world’s greatest League, in the knowledge that they are there purely to play football because they love it.

The recent news of Sven-Goran Eriksson becoming Notts County’s Director of football further underlines the economic power of football. Notts County have recently received backing from a Middle Eastern company, and there is no doubt in my mind that had that not happened, Sven would still be the manager of Mexico to this day, and not fishing around in the lower league’s of English football. Recent speculation has claimed that Christian Vieri will be the Nottingham club’s first big signing, a move that would bring joy and jubilation to the fans of the club. It’s great for a small club like Notts County to receive such press, and have a big name like Sven working for them. But my concern is that in 10, 15, 20 years, this will be the norm, and football won’t be the same again.

I’m sure that 90% of football fans, if not more, are willing the FA to do something about this, but the question is, how can they stop it happening? Football, after all, is a business, and businessmen see the profit in investing in such a business. You can’t stop a company purchasing what they want, as they have rights. That would leave it in the football club’s hands, but that’s not going to happen – if a billionaire comes along and says he wants to buy the shares in a football club, the owners are seldom going to reject, especially if the offer out-values the club itself. Therefore, it seems a lost cause to try and prevent the constant takeovers of English clubs, and football as we know it, seems to be losing it’s identity in the midst of such ruthless business.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2009 5:41 am

    Good work, George. Glad to see you on board.

    I’m Yank and I’m telling you, don’t let us get our hands on anything involving English sport and tradition. We like to ruin it.

    Cricket? Yeah. We added steroids and took away the cerebral aspect.
    Rugby? Forget about it. American football = Advert mania and about 30 lbs of padding added to each player.

    Lacrosse is absolutely brilliant though. You’re missing out there.

  2. August 1, 2009 6:29 am

    Good post George, welcome to the site. The money in football is definitely becoming a worry, and there doesn’t seem to be any realistic solution. Something that might work would be to introduce salary caps or even transfer caps, but the trouble is that the clubs with all the money also have all the power and would never stand for such a thing to be introduced.

    Couple of points though: Chelsea’s success wasn’t quite “instant”, they struggled under Ranieri and didn’t win anything until Mourinho came in after a season or two, and if it wasn’t for the money at Notts County Sven wouldn’t still be in charge of Mexico, because he was sacked in April ;)

    Also, Newcastle may have been taken over, but it hasn’t done them much good has it? Goes to show that money doesn’t necessarily equate to success, and hopefully some people will see that and think twice before flogging their club to the highest bidder.

  3. George permalink
    August 1, 2009 6:37 pm

    Yeeees, good points Adam. A few silly errors on my part there!

  4. August 2, 2009 8:29 am

    Hi George, welcome. Good article, but I’d like to point out that Man City finished in the top half of the table last season. Stoke finished in the bottom half. On the last day of last season, Man City, Spurs and Fulham were battling out for the last Europa league spot, which eventually went to Fulham, so I know all 3 teams finished in the top half of the table.

  5. shaun permalink
    August 3, 2009 5:53 pm

    Why the worry these most of the new owners such as short at sunderland or Lehenr at villa have hardley started to spend chelsea amounts of money jack walker spent over 80million at blackburn with dalglish to win the league back in the mid ninties. The captain of St Helens rugby league expressed concerns at the fact that his team were start to dominate super league and expressed concerns that his team were starting to dominate and that it could damage the product of super leage itself This is a game with a history and tradition of professionalism as long as football and has rules on things such as club debt and a salry cap linked to turn over, which prevent any new owners no matter how rich doing nothing more than paying off the club debt, they realise they are in a buisness and put in buisness rules to maintain the competiton and importantly their traditons its about time we stopped acting with sentimentality and treated football like the buisness it is that is the only way you can stop your game been dominated by billionaires looking for a bit of premierleague bling but then your club may not get its sugar daddy


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