With the English Premiere League about to come to another sanctimonious, self congratulatory and vain glorious end (Have you tried watching games on Sky lately? Even with Andy Gray gone they are still bludgeoning us to death verbally insisting the EPL is the best league in the world) the financial books are now open, and let’s just say the picture isn’t exactly rosy.
Last year English Premiere League (EPL) clubs lost close to a shocking £550 million. Sixteen of the twenty clubs posted a loss for the year. The picture painted by these financial reports is one of top heavy clubs being propped up by disgusting amounts of money provided by rich benefactors
The worst offender is no doubt Manchester City, practically a brand new club, built on a ridiculous £450 cash injection from its oil rich Middle Eastern owner Sheikh Mansour. To digress for a second, I suppose it is good to see the oil money that so many American and British lives are lost defending has actually been pumped back into British sports. What goes around, comes around, in a way.
We are standing on the brink of that moment, that point in time where, in a decade when people are analysing what went wrong in the collapse of English club soccer, they will point at this juncture in time and say, ‘That’s when action should have been taken.’’
Hovering on the horizon, like Imperial Walkers lurching intimidatingly towards the Rebel base on Hoth, UEFA will be allegedly enforcing its new ‘Financial fair play’ law in the coming seasons. We say ‘allegedly’ as it will be very interesting to see if UEFA actually denies entry into European Competition to clubs as powerful as Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, amongst many, many others. That’s exactly what they are talking about doing.
Clubs will be allowed losses of only £45 m or less combined over the course of three seasons from 2011 – 2014. If they do not meet these financial constraints, UEFA will not ‘sanction’ their involvement in its competitions.
The EPL clubs answer appears to be, raise ticket prices. Arsenal were first to do this, and this week Liverpool have announced a 6.5% ticket raise. Their argument will no doubt be, in order to fund the wages of the expensive players they have to bring in to compete, they have to raise ticket prices.
This of course is absolute nonsense. A creative, thoughtful approach with sweeping changes across the board is necessary. Clubs needs to look at new, creative ways of bringing in income, not merely hiking up ticket prices. Clubs need to find new ways to bring up their own players, or at the very least to bring in quality and yet reasonably priced players.
First and foremost, clubs have to cease immediately with this incredibly stupid ‘arms race’ purchase of expensive players, and agreeing to insane wage demands eliciting from dubious agents and their greedy players.
The Premiere league itself has plenty of responsibility here too. They primarily need to look very closely at the role of those football agents in the current explosion of Premiere League player’s wages. Out-of-the-box thinking, with creative answers to the questions being asked of the Premiere League are required, something more creative than ‘’Let’s spend £50 million on a striker that will subsequently score two goals in thirty games’’.
If there isn’t a complete reversal of the current trend of over spending, the Premiere League is going to completely eat itself to death.
It’s not like it has to look far for an example of the fall out of un-regulated over-spending without any sort of sensible underwriting. The entire Western world economy hangs in the balance thanks to the pretty much the exact same set of reckless financial circumstances.
The Premiere League has, very much, been warned.