Saturday, 5 February 2011

Football is not a matter of profit and loss

It's far more important than that.
Well, that's what you'd glean if you asked fans of the clubs that occupy the upper echelons of the English Premiership. (As long as you refrain from using words like 'echelons'.)
While lesser teams make do with pumping high balls into the opposition's penalty box, the more fashionable clubs benefit from wealthy benefactors pumping high finance into their coffers.
More money pays higher wages which attracts better players which, in turn, draws bigger crowds.
There seems to be the vestige of some logic in this economic model.
But there isn't. At least, not on the scale that money is being paid to modern day footballers.
Last week signalled the closure of the transfer window.
Before it shut, Andy Carroll, who had only played half a season of Premiership football, moved from Newcastle to Liverpool for something approaching £40 million. He replaced FernandoTorres who had been shipped out for £50 million to Chelsea.
There's not another business like it and the owners could not have made their fortunes had they conducted their core businesses in that way. So what's their game?
Is it a tax loss? Is it ego? Or is it simply men and boys and the size and value of their toys?
This week we witnessed an even more significant event.
A pub landlady from Portsmouth fought for her right to beam in top UK games via Greece.
If Sky cannot dictate where we buy their viewing packages from, revenues will fall and so too will the money that they inject into the game.
Were the bubble to burst, the rich owners are wealthy enough to walk away. The fear is, by then, many fans will have walked away too.
For the future of football to be worth a punt, we need to start thinking more about the punters.
Today and tomorrow.
Otherwise, you won't need to be a prophet to forecast a loss.

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