Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Announcing a New Tuesday Column: Football Is a Beautiful Business

Hello, and welcome to another UF-approved, brave new experiment in armchair sports journoism. I’m the armchair journoist, but not the armchair, and this is the experiment: A weekly column looking at the business, legal and structural machinations of this sport that we all love, football.

And you may ask, why? Join me down the rabbit hole and I will try to answer that very question.

The question before us is why? The short answer, of course, is "because." The long answer is....

- Because the English Premier League (suck it Barclays) makes revenue of £2 billion per year, which is more than the GDP of some African nations.

- Because we have seen an unprecedented summer of spending by one club in particular (oh you know which one!).

- Because another club in particular (oh you know which one!) is not-so-quietly assembling a team to rival the Big Four.

- Because since the Premiership was founded in 1992, only three four [fixed! sorry Blackburn!] clubs have ever lifted the trophy.

- Because American ownership’s greatest contribution to the English game thus far has been debt financing.

- Because the governing bodies that oversee football are consistently buffoons and empty suits, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

- Because it’s only a matter of time before more clubs follow Leeds, Charlton and Newcastle down the ladder.

- Because Arsenal’s chief executive pointed to the Bundesliga (yes, the Bundesliga!) as evidence that the English Premier League needs a salary cap.

- Because the only way for the “big clubs” to continue on their current trajectory is brand marketing.

- Because we’re still being promised a we’re-waiting-for-it golden age of football soccer in the United States.

- Because the past few months have presented endless copy and endless confusion about English and American T.V. rights.

- Because fans know and care as much about Bosman transfers, T.V. rights deals, boardroom struggles and wage structures as they do about the results on the pitch.

- Because the idea of a European super league will not die.

And these are just the touchstones off the top of my head. So, certainly enough material to keep us occupied each week. There will be some "ripped from the headlines" pieces, some think pieces, some sacred, some profane.

While I am in manifesto mode, one quick note about my approach. I have no patience for the view that the commoditization of football has ruined the sport. Instead, I am essentially agnostic. I take the view that what has transpired over the last 10-15 years was an inevitable response to the violence that almost destroyed the game in the 1980s. The question for football, and here is where my column comes into play, is what now? Is the current trajectory sustainable, and if not, than what needs to change? And, most importantly, what are the obstacles to change?

To wrap up this little introduction, while I may sometimes use big words, this here experiment is still just armchair speculation. I understand no more than you, and we collectively understand no less than the executives in charge. So let's have it.

First proper column coming next Tuesday. Thanks for reading.


Whizalen said...

Because since the Premiership was founded in 1992, only three clubs have ever lifted the trophy.

some people in Blackburn would like a word with you...

epiblast said...

I was thinking the same thing Whizalen.

Brian K said...

Props on the Monarch quote.

Nathaniel said...

So before I go reading Spectator's big words, I have one question:

UEFA Salary Cap, yay or nay?

The Fan's Attic said...

I would be a yay if it was enforceable and that the clubs wouldn't use shady deals to circumvent it (I'm looking at you Italy). I am certainly more of a capitalistic/free market sort of guy when it comes to economics, but it seems to me sport is inherently more fun if the teams have a level playing field in terms of how much they can spend.

I don't know how to resolve my inconsistent positions logically other than to say it seems fairer to put a cap on how much can be spent per team.

I don't think that the wealth should be redistributed but at least limit the amount of wealth that can be used to put a team together.