With it being open season again in the transfer market, the inevitable phrases are doing the rounds regarding the vast sums being flaunted by some clubs. Nowadays this is Manchester City but in the not so distant past it was Chelsea spending all the money. The question for today is, “is money ruining football”?
In the “case for” you will hear people talking about how Chelsea only bought their success and Manchester City are doing the same, whereas in the opposite camp, supporters from these clubs will tell you that if they have someone prepared to stump up the funds then why shouldn’t they buy the best players in the world for the prices that they command?
First and foremost, in the modern game one has to accept that money is the driving force behind the game, which it generates from its success and popularity. Fans are prepared to pay £45 per game, £45 per replica shirt and £15 per month for their Sky Sports subscriptions. Without people spending this money, there would be no massive sponsorship deals where Thomson holidays promote themselves to you each weekend, or Samsung wave their newest products in your face. Similarly, Sky would not have to pay the Premier League so much money for the rights and the charges couldn’t be passed on to the fan. So, like it or lump it, those fans claiming that the game is being ruined by money are part of it. Away from the fans, the shareholders (or, increasingly, owners) want to see their clubs increase in value. The Glazers at Old Trafford are a great example of this; the club is an investment used to generate returns.
To get back to the original question, I don’t think that money is ruining football. Way back in 1995 when Blackburn Rovers won the Premier League, a lot of Jack Walkers money was spent on the club. Then through the late 90’s United were the big spenders. Yes the club had an excellent youth system producing the Neville’s, Scholes, Beckham and Butt but they were a massive commercial success and bought big when needed. Then came Chelsea and Abramovich’s billions. This is where the trouble started really as the money was spent so quickly and this was unlike anything that had ever been seen before. So you see, money has always been a big part of football and will continue to be.
Of course this could be all set to change with the introduction of the Financial Fair Play regulations set to be introduced. This opens up another can of worms in that is there anything to stop the Manchester City owner setting up a £200m sponsorship deal for the kit? I think that these regulations, in principal, are a good idea however policing them is going to be an extremely difficult job.
To finish, money is not ruining football. It is a contributing factor to the changes that we are seeing come into the game and whilst I accept that this increased rate of spending of late has attracted some negative publicity, it will come to be accepted as a normal part of the game until FIFA or UEFA decide to do something concrete about it. After all, it would be hard for me to complain being a Chelsea fan!