Greedy Clubs Risking Their Image? By Dan Smith
I cherish my football. Yet the game is in danger of taking someone passionate like me and making me stop loving the beautiful game like I once did. In the last couple of weeks, it is hard to ignore how greedy this sport is.
You have every right to say, ‘it’s about time’ and point this has been the case for decades. Yet it’s like now no one is even trying to hide the fact.
Deep down the world knows (particular Belgium, Holland, and France) that it’s the safe option to ban the League for the rest of the year. Yet the Government, realising the Premiership is one of this country’s most lucrative brands is doing everything to keep options open. No one wants any business to lose millions so if flexibility can avoid that then brilliant.
TV companies are not sitting around hoping their contracts can’t be met. The longer the game takes to go back to its original version the harder it is for a SKY or BT to sell their packages.
The more revenue that clubs lose, the harder it will be to bring the best talent to these shores. That long term hurts the product, which in turn will impact ratings.
Fans are being ignored, players welfare isn’t being considered, some squads are taking pay cuts, everyone is doing their best to compromise. Training has resumed in Germany which after a week saw 3 players get the virus. That’s still not enough to listen to the likes of Sergio Aguero’s fears.
Then we wonder why Ozil won’t help out his employer. Even if you think players are overpaid, they are being used as puppets like never before, billionaires asking them to dance on glass for the sake of a bank balance.
So, I’m disgusted to read reports that there are clubs (Brighton confirmed) who are not happy with the proposal of matches being played at neutral venues with zero fans. They logically were banking on 4 games at a packed Amex being their best bet of getting the points they need to avoid relegation.
They argue why should they lose out on the 3 figure millions sum you get for being in the topflight just because they can’t have home advantage. (E.g. Norwich beat Man City thanks to their supporters. Why shouldn’t Brighton have the same opportunity?). Those fighting to be in Europe can make same argument.
Then we have the dilemma over contracts being expired by the time we resume.
Is it equally fair if a Harry Kane scores the goal which costs someone their future based on him being fit, when he wouldn’t have been if the campaign had finished at its planned date?
At what point is it fair for Saliba to play?
Any owner making these complaints has to accept something. If they are strictly wanting the 100 percent fairness of clubs going up and down the motorway to packed stadiums, then they have to wait until 2021 at the earliest.
To get that you sacrifice that maybe you don’t make the income you want and therefore tightening your belt. Maybe you can’t spend 50 million on a striker or offer 150,000 a week for a while? You might have to resort to trusting your academy or (heaven forbid!) train your current players to be better, get coaches to teach them how to improve.
If your criteria though, is making cash as quickly as possible, then you’re going to have to be adaptable.
Something tells me Billionaires don’t get told ‘no’ too often, but trust me the idea that 60,000 people will be allowed to travel to North London simply isn’t happening by the apparent June target date. If you want to play now, it’s neutral venues. If you’re not willing to bend on that then you have to wait. Boris Johnson is not going move on that.
Here though is what leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
There is one solution which will make the Seagulls chairmen accept a ban of fans in an empty arena ………If relegation can be cancelled! What a surprise!
You will be shocked to learn that the rumours are that Norwich, Villa, Bournemouth, Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle (aka, those who are in danger of the drop), also are not comfortable but would be if they knew they couldn’t be relegated. Hence, they get the lucrative TV, sponsorship money.
Even if that’s a smaller pie than before this outbreak, that’s a bigger pie then if you were eating in the Championship. Not just those at the bottom, we are just as guilty.
Suggestions to void everything and just base everything on where you finished in 2018-19 means we are back in the Champions League, so Mr Kroenke is voting for that. Liverpool, Leicester, and Chelsea would all vote for where the season ended in Feb, that’s your position, you just have to jump it. Which all makes sense.
Yet if you offer that to all 20 clubs; If you made Liverpool Champions, banned relegation, and said see you in 4 months, they still wouldn’t all be happy.
They would complain about all the money they would lose and, let’s be honest, would get their highly-paid lawyers to appeal everything. When a way is found to lessen their losses, they complain about the integrity of the competition?
It’s like a toddler having a tantrum, not understanding that they can have an ice cream, but the chocolate flavour has run out. Nothing mum or dad can do about it, they don’t have any out the back, they are sold out, it doesn’t matter how loud you scream. That though would be a child.
This involves adults, you assume intelligent, successful men and women who just have to accept the reality, like the rest of us. It might not be fair. Yet it’s not fair that hundreds have lost their jobs, that thousands have lost their lives. Families changed forever; depression rates will increase.
The average person in the street can’t threaten lawsuits. We have to take it, accept it, and learn.
The hope is when we can see our loved ones, when we are back in that staff room, when we are allowed to go cinemas, Costa, etc, we will appreciate it more and won’t take it for granted. Maybe we will be nicer to each other? Maybe, but that’s not the image clubs are portraying.
I respected Karen Brady for being honest when she said at the start of this pandemic ‘end the season’. Yes, she was thinking purely of her club’s self-interest – but at least she was transparent.
Clubs are not just trying to save money they are trying to use a crisis to gain an advantage, whether it be staying up or qualifying for Europe.
For years they have exploited our love, thinking we would never walk away, but this might be the one time they are wrong? The Emirates was already seeing attendances drop, how clubs choose to conduct themselves in the next few months could push away their ‘customers’…
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