There’s been a lot of discussion of ethics and morals (or, in this case, lack of them) in sport in recent months.
FIFA have been described by US Revenue Officials as akin to a “mafia-style syndicate”.
Sorry; I disagree. They’re not ‘akin’ to it, they’re much worse.
Tennis now joins the ranks of the dodgy results ‘racquet’ while, of course, horse racing has always had a bit of a sniff around it.
But English football has always got off pretty lightly.
The game which first emerged in the latter decades of the 19th century has, since then, always been a game of the people’; a working class bastion of joy and hope when other things in life were tough. They nurtured and tended to the game over the decades and came to the matches in their millions.
Then, somewhere between the eighties and nineties a funny (well, not so funny really) thing happened. The game became ‘sexy’ and a chap called Bosman made it possible for young 18 year-olds to earn £50,000 a week. You didn’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to see where this was going to lead. And it did! Sensing blood (or extreme cash windfalls) the sharks gathered in their shoals. We’ve had clubs like Hearts, Birmingham City, Blackpool, Leeds United brought to their knees to the point where they’ll never recover. Rangers are now a basket case and, as a direct result, the SPL is not much better than the Derry & District F.A.
In Manchester an American family ‘bought’ United with their (United’s) own money while the club pay the interest on the money used to buy them! The Anglo Irish Bank would have trouble beating that one.
Meanwhile, just across the city, what used to be the fine old club of Peter Doherty, Bert Trautmann, Bell, Lee and Summerbee is now an advertising vehicle for an airline! And if the airline ever decided to pull the plug, or IS moved into Abu Dhabi, Manchester City Football Club would go the way of Third Lanark and become just a distant memory.
This year Premier League revenue has increased from three billion quid to an eye watering EIGHT billion which means a massive annual windfall of about £200million to EACH Premier League club. And, no doubt, they will all show their gratitude. Liverpool have already started the ball rolling. Last week they announced that, next season, their ticket prices would be INCREASED from £59 to £77! In appreciation of their fans loyalty! Football’s equivalent of taking your eye and then coming back to pee in the socket! Though, thankfully the fans sent that one to an early bath.
All football clubs are too well aware that they don’t operate in a competitive market. If you don’t like how you’re treated by TESCO you can easily go to ASDA, Sainsburys or even LIDL. Not so the football ‘customer’. You usually inherit a team when you’re a kid – and you’re stuck with it for life! A captive audience. So you’ll take your medicine; and like it.
Wouldn’t it be great if the actions taken by the Anfield crowd last week, were to escalate into a full blown boycott of the Premier League. Hit them where it hurts.