Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Rich owner wants to restrain other rich owners

Oh look at him, the cheeky scamp

Mohamed Al Fayed has a plan.

The owner of Fulham FC, the team of Clint Dempsey and surely Obama's favorite EPL team, hasn't said much in the media for a while, but thankfully, this got him a moment of attention, sparing us all yet more column inches reserved for Big Sam's flapping jowls, Sir Alex's frothing discontent, and inanities from John Terry.

Basically, Al Fayed wants a salary cap in the EPL.

Here we go again!

So yeah, a salary cap in the EPL. Naturally, as these caps are wont to do, it would perhaps bring the league into that nirvana-like state known as parity.

It's something owners love because it finally gives those middling ones a chance to compete. No longer must they battle and struggle to maintain their mid-table foothold; nay, perhaps we'll see something majestic and unexpected, like Blackburn winning a league title (yes, for the love of Gerrard, I know LFC haven't managed that, please don't remind me). Granted, their team was stacked to the rafters with a payroll quite handsome for its day, but I digress.

The advertisers, marketing wizards and broadcasters grit their teeth at the sheer unpredictability of it all, because it forces them to send their preening, coiffured broadcasters and pundits to the league's least exotic climes. Perhaps a pivotal Sunday afternoon game from Sunderland? Or maybe Fratton Park could become the next Old Trafford? No, TV loves a bankable sure thing, meaning we get 50,000 games a year from Emirates or Stamford Bridge.

Fayed's point is simple:
"Our expenses bill rose by 17 percent last year. How can it be right for top players to be earning 15-20 million pounds a year? It's crazy. These wages need to be capped, but I worry that it won't happen because the Premier League and the FA (Football Association) are run by donkeys who don't understand business, who are dazzled by money.

If the world wants to keep players in pocket for tens of thousands of pounds every week, then let the Premier League and the FA negotiate with Sky and other broadcasters for a share of the billions that they make in profit from our product, from my product. Because, at present, they don't. All around the world, football fans are paying to watch top matches on TV.

And yet do most clubs see any of that money? No. We are hopelessly dependent on our end-of-season league placing to determine our share of the cash. It makes a difference of feast or famine every season.

Yet even then, except for the top four clubs, we're only talking about a difference of (a) few million, which doesn't get you far.
Fair play, Mo. I mean, we could readjust the TV revenues and profit-sharing somewhat to make things more even, without gutting the entire system and forcing teams to abide by a cap. That is a smart idea.

But let's not be naive about the greater point here: the beauty of the EPL is its free-for-all when it comes to wages and contract structures. Without the retarded amount of money being slung around, would we ever see the world's best fighting to play in England?

Without the big money due to salary restraints, the quality of the squads would drop (something really affecting the top tier of teams), the quality of play would drop to something akin to the mind-numbing hoof-ball of Serie A, and the TV revenue would drop because people might take up more traditional weekend pursuits like hiking, camping, and casual sex.

And yet, without the cap, all the good players turn up (don't get me wrong, plenty of crap ones do as well...) to accept the gold bullion of EPL, and thus TV/sponsorship/branding/etc etc etc are all satisfied.

So really, how do we change the system to make it more fair? Is there even a way to do that? You'd imagine such a proposition would never pass, else all the top clubs (funded by loans, mind you) wouldn't have the scratch to hold their teams together.

Fiscal responsibility is important; in the last week, several news stories have cropped up condemning the business practices of the big clubs for their large, unnecessary squad sizes, their financial stability, and so on, and so forth.

Fayed is right about one thing, mind you:
I speak my mind and other chairmen should too. They need to wake up from their coma and join me in this fight with the Premier League and the FA. In fact, they can come and have lunch with me at Harrods, where I can serve them stags' testicles from my Scottish estate, Balnagown. We all need big balls in this business."
It sure would require some balls to make such a staggering, inconceivable change to the EPL. Mind you, would those FA execs really want to munch on deer nuts in order to figure it out?

Oh, and when evaluating his "radical" idea, note that his comments came on the back-end of an emphatic denial about rumours that he is looking to sell the Cottagers. So he might not care after all. Just another millionaire looking to run a bait and switch.


Spectator said...

The biggest problem is that a salary cap would require all the UEFA leagues (at least) to coordinate and institute a cap simultaneously. God knows that kind of organization will never happen. I think the better idea is some sort of luxury cap and/or better redistribution of EPL revenue... If the top three-and-a-half want to continue breaking the bank each season, that's fine, but they have to subsidize the rest of the league to do it.

The Fan's Attic said...

Devil's advocate, but, isn't that what they do by being the most popular league in the world subsidizing the lesser teams with the revenue generated? They have great players because they spend a bunch of money, which in turn brings in lots of TV revenue, which in turn goes to all of the EPL clubs.

I don't know, maybe just a greater redistribution of the TV revenue.

Lingering Bursitis said...

See, I agree with both of you. Just organize the TV money better, but some sort of Luxury Tax-type thing for those clubs willing to spend big could work too.

Either way, Mr. Al Fayed should shut up.

30f said...

Thanks, Mo, for bring attention to your team with quotes that manages to misunderstand the economics of the league, half-heartedly promote your 'other' business and work in a gonad reference. Great work. If it wouldn't embarrass Fulham even more, I would suggest MAF get his own reality show.

Wait, I like that idea - a reality show where all the Premiership owners have to live in one house. How long before Ashley and Hicks would turn up dead with Roman shrugging and trying to look innocent in the corner?