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A change in politics at Manchester United as we approach the £1bn league win

By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood

Of course we are not happy that Manchester City has won the title.  By and large Untold doesn’t like it when teams like Chel$i and Manchester $ity win titles. They can go out and buy every player under the sun and pay those players with money that never was made by the club itself. It is a form of cheating.

What are the odds that Manchester City could even be in a CL place now if the rich oil man would not have come over a few years ago. We know and we guess all long lasting City supporters will know it: zero. Of course it is not the fault of those supporters that the oil man came along. But a title won by money is something not to be proud about.

What we did like was the way Rednose XX was sunk, rather like the Titanic 100 years ago. City scoring in the extra time when the game at Sunderland was already finished was priceless in a way. All the diving, all the cheating… it didn’t help at the end of the season. But the bad news is that I fear that from next season on the PGMOL and Riley (if still in charge by then) will do all they can to bring the Rednose XX along.

There is however one possible good thing about this $ity win.

For decades Manchester United was the spending force in the EPL. Don’t let the numbers fool you. If it wouldn’t have been for the sale of Christiano Ronaldo United would be up there with $ity and Chel$ea.

When United only had to deal with Chel$ea they could manage that easily. They didn’t have to compete with Arsenal in a way because while building the stadium we had no extra funds available to buy many proven players. We did in fact but only sporadically.

But when also $ity came along it became clear that times were getting more difficult for United. Fighting one rich team for signing players could be done. But fighting two such teams…then things get more difficult. And if I’m not mistaken I have heard some encouraging things coming out the United camp.

We don’t have to think that United ever did anything to bring in financial fair play. They just went their own way. Arsenal and Wenger have been saying for years that there should be rules about it. That clubs only are allowed to spend what they earn themselves. United couldn’t care less. Until recently.

The building of a title winning team costs around £1 billion at the moment. And there are only two teams who can do this in the EPL for the moment. Chel$ea and $ity. Even United cannot compete on such a spending level.

So the noise coming out of the United camp that we have heard lately is one that those FFP rules are maybe not that bad a thing. By now the United camp will realise that their days are numbered if they have to compete with the money from Russia or whatever oil rich country it is coming from.

When Wenger and Arsenal asked for financial fair play we were described as moaners, bad losers and that we should get our own financial sugar daddy on board and join the mad spending. Something our club refused even to consider.  The FA and the EPL closed their eyes and counted their own money and didn’t seem to care about such things.

However when Michel Platini unveiled Financial Fair Play for the first time he said that Roman Abramovich was the man who had pushed this idea forwards claiming that Ambramovich and other club benefactors had pleaded with him to find ways to control rampant wage inflation and stem spiralling losses.

Of course the cynical among us then argued that Ambramovich was pursuing this line simply to stop others doing what he had done.  He’d brought Chelsea to the top, he felt (wrongly as it turned out) he had got a youth academy as good as Arsenal, and so he wanted the gates closed.

But then it didn’t quite happen for him.  The youth academy has been poor in its accomplishments, and the top men within the academy have come and gone, rather like the managers.

With hardly anyone breaking through to the first team on a regular basis since John Terry Chelsea have a problem.  Hence the £74m for Fernando Torres and David Luiz, the £5m compensation for Carlo Ancelotti, and the continuous pay out of salary to André Villas-Boas.

But if Chelsea are sending out mixed messages and Man City are sending out no messages what is happening to Financial Fair Play?

The BBC Radio 5 coverage of the final day’s play in the league contained endless references to Man City being the dominant force for years to come, because of their wealth.   No mention, at least not one that I heard that FFP might be in the way.  (Of course there was also no mention of the tapping up process that they, like Chelsea engage in).

But the agenda is moving.  Whereas the Daily Telegraph could run a story in February 2011 to the effect that Chelsea and Man City were confident they would meet FFP rules, by June that year there were headlines like “Chelsea a long way off satisfying FFP agenda” (Guardian).  When Chelsea posted its £67.7m loss in February 2012 much of the British press began to catch on to the fact that neither Chelsea nor Man City were doing anything to bring themselves into FFP requirements.

But supposing Man U still believes that FFP will happen and will have an effect.  If Rednose wants his XX there will be the need to stop teams like Chel$ea and $ity spending the money. And maybe from being not interested in FFP rules at all, it could be that United suddenly discovers that bringing in FFP rules might be the only possibility for them to compete with the oil money teams.

So don’t be surprised if the EPL and the FA in the next days, weeks, months start to talk about bringing in FFP rules themselves. Of course most Arsenal fans will be happy if that day would come. It will make the league more even and more unpredictable. And that is what made football what it is: one if not the most popular game all over the world.

But if the FFP rules come in it will be once again Arsenal that has done the hard work. It was Arsenal who first talked about it and pleaded for it. While the others just said nothing at all or didn’t care. The FA and the EPL didn’t take notice when Arsenal said such things. Will they listen when United opens their mouth?

Just imagine…Arsenal and United fighting for the same goal of FFP…. What losing the title to $ity can bring along…

38 comments to A change in politics at Manchester United as we approach the £1bn league win

  • CB

    Well paid City, well paid.

  • Shard

    More likely, Ferguson’s words of “they know I’m not going anywhere” are a reference to ManU stepping up their hold over referees. Ferguson will not call it a day having just been bested by their local rivals, and he will do anything to get ManU back to the top of the pile, even if it ruins the club after he leaves. After all, it will just solidify his legacy if his successor can’t match him. So I would argue that ManU will NOT be pushing for FFP to be applied. At least until the proud knight of the British Empire is there. ManU don’t need FFP till they have the referees, and Sky and the rest of the media, on their side.

  • Paul

    oh my god man city won the title on goal difference and nothing else

  • Legolas

    @ walter i am Lebanese from middle east and i am soo sad to see Man $ity winning the title because been years since Chel$ki came and i said EPL will get worse because of that and we remember they got Cole from us , we scouted Essien , Mikel they took them instead and so on . it is a DISGRACE for football allow money laundrer or Oil stupid barons controlling our most beautiful thing in our world which is football . we are fed up of corruptions in countries & wars and now football nowadays is all about CASH & betting it SUCKS. this is why i ADORE le Prof Wenger he is a cavalier he go for a battle with honor and no cheat .

  • vernat1066

    Hi cant see FFP being properly used or implemented. I would prefer to see a system where you can spend however much you want to but after a certain amount a percentage goes to a charity like Unicef that way at least some tangible good could come out of it and surely clubs would be happy with the PR?

  • I have attended over 2000 football matches, spoken to many fans of all clubs, every conversation included a wish list of players they would love to buy. Your own supporters who I shared a pint with at a league cup tie were reeling off a list of players they would have arsenal buy to strengthen the team. Fair play went out of the window with the expansion of the champions league, and the contraction of the premiership to accomodate it. The premiership itself closely guards the money it makes, practically none of it filters down. The fa cup the league cup, money spinners for the lower leagues, have also been curtailed. It is not the oil barons that started this money rush, but the premiership itself and sky TV!

  • simon

    Very typical article from a self-obsessed gunner. Not sure which team you were most having a go at, but as usual with you lot Arsenal and Wenger are the number one. Honestly when it comes to anything football related it would appear that monsieur wenger appears to be the first person to have suggested all ideas and also has scouted every player in the world first.

    I can never understand how people critise Utd for their past spending, firstly if it wasn’t for Utd the EPL would not be where it is now. They brought English football back amongst the elite of europe and if you cant see that then you clearly know nothing about the game. To do this you need to constantly provide additions to the squad and they dont come cheap. Also the ffp would have always suited Utd and they have always kept within their means. They usually average around 30/40 mill per season which is pretty good in comparisons to most other teams, considering their earnings and please dont get to carried away with the Glaziers, all they’ve done is come in hinder the clubs finance. You all make out like Arsenal are the only stable financial club, but Utd have been turning out massive profits for years until the Glaziers decided to come along and borrow to the hills, which i would like to add has been reduced by over 300 million now at this stage.

    “But if the FFP rules come in it will be once again Arsenal that has done the hard work.”

    How do you figure????? how is that Arsenal have worked to achieve this anymore than Utd?? as i pointed out previously the Glaziers are completed irelevant to Utd’s financial model, which is easily the best in the prem, so get off that typically high horse you gunners love to ride around on and understand that Arsenal are light years away from what Utd do off the field.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    The FFP rules are a thin veneer of respectability to permit the Rich Clubs to pay off the powers (FIFA,EUFA,National Associations, Leagues, officials etc.) who really control Football. The only TRULT effective controls will be when the financial crisis hits Europe.

  • Bradster

    Just a thought. Why wouldn’t football go like IPL cricket? That the rich clubs make their own league of the best players. Offer exhorbitant salaries and buy whoever they want. Have a real Champions league without red tape.

  • Damien Luu

    Just thinking about what Rednose will do makes me feel excited about the next season. Will he push for the FFP – very good for us. Will he tell Riley to do more with his gang – their cheating will become even more obvious and people will react stronger – good for all!

    Let’s see which cheaters shall cry at the end of next season – the rich ones, or the diving ones 😀

  • Tram

    I would have thought that ManU are looking at falling revenue (early exits from Europe ha ha, not winning the league, ha ha, and probably losing shirt sales to all the new “I’ve been a city fan all my life” fans, especially in the cobbled streets of Manchester itself.) on top of that they have an urgent need to spend a lot, not just because of fan pressure and red-nosed pressure after yesterday, but also because all this season they have relied on players who are, well, old. It seems to me that they are unlikely to be clamouring for FFP any time soon.

  • goonergerry

    The tone of this reads like a piece written by the Arsenal Board themselves.

    Well you might not like City-but you are quite happy for the club to sell our players to them-and Arsene is happy to take their money and subsidise our salary bill during the past few years. In fact our balances have benefitted to the tune of 71m from Man City alone during the past 4 years. So much for self sufficiency. If we are breaking even it is due in part to the oil money you decry.

    I would like to see the day when we weren’t a feeder club to one of them-when we could at least keep the stars we develop. If that requires a benefactor-I don’t mind. A well run business DOES borrow money-it evaluates financial risk and speculates in order to accumulate- it does sell its assets and buy inferior ones-and it doesn’t let its key personnel go to rivals.

    One final point-if Man U want to do something-if they do-it will be because they see that as the best way of keeping their market position-which of course amongst football clubs in England is top dog and monopolising the EPL and future commercial revenue.

  • Dutchie

    To be fair City is the only team that deserves the title. With proper refereeing Utd probably would end up closer to us then to City on the table. And to see Rednose and Rooney suffer while they were thanking the crowd, priceless.

    We have had our revenge on City. We outplayed them at home and should have at least get a draw in Manchester. Ofcourse they blow up the market but they also paid off 1/3rd of our stadium depth.

    The only reason they won the league is because they have about 15 players who can win a match for you (10 of them are strikers). The same worked for Chelsea for two years, but eventually the team fell apart because no one can manage so many unhappy worldclass players. This summer they probably have to sell Tevez and Dzeko. And then it comes to tactics and balancing your squad. Chelsea failed to do that since then, despite having all the money in the world.

    Arsenal is only two years away from having a big financial boost due to expiring commercial contracts. When that happens we can actually dominate the PL, if we only can find a way to reduce the influence of Riley&co.

    Now bring in a ball winning midfielder please!!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    If $ity and chel$ea would not be out there with their oil money our wage bill could go down with 25% maybe.
    It is them that oblige us to pay more and more and more and more and more. for them it is not a problem to pay more and more but for teams like Arsenal who have to work on a budget it is.

  • @goonergerry – cyclical argument mate – player valuations and salaries wouldn’t be so high in the first place if cash injected clubs weren’t willing to pay for it… yes we take the money from them but then we have to to compete with them.

    If they didn’t exist… things might be different, prices would come down – but we have to survive within the current climite and keep ticking over.

  • nicky

    Guys,
    An interesting and sobering post.
    We have the PGMOL apparently controlled by Ferguson.
    We also anticipate the advent of the FFPR which may or may not
    be implemented properly throughout the game.
    Now comes a devious twist.
    Imagine Usmanov taking control of our Board. He follows the example of the oil-men, buying success ad lib. We join Chelski and Citeh with our megabucks, rival Ferguson with the PGMOL and ride roughshod with others over the FFPR.
    What, do you think, would be the attitude of Arsenal fans to that scenario? It’s not so farfetched, really.

  • Dutchie

    @ Walter

    Well, our wagebill is so high because we thought it would be good for the teamspirit when the lesser players would have a salary closer to the better ones. The experiment failed because we ended up with a bunch of spoiled overconfident shitty players like Bendtner en Denilson while we could use a part of their salary to boost the contracts of our worldclass players. Now it’s also difficult to get rid of them, because they earn so much.

    But hey, that can happen. I think it was noble but a bit naieve to think that it works like that. Squad players like Djourou wont mind they earn much less then worldclass players as long as they are part of a winning team. I understand your point, and the article makes a lot of sense… ofcourse this financial doping is bad for the football market, because the amount of money spent in the footballworld is way more then it earns. But lets focus on the things we can do better as a club. Because we can.

    Besides, Barcelona and Real Madrid didn’t need City or Chelsea to spoil the market. Gosh, i can’t wait till the day that everyone in Spain realises that their anti-solidarity policy will be contra-productive, even for Real and Farca.

  • Basil

    Enjoy your mythical “moral highest ground” trophy.When you are on your deathbed you can wallow in all those memories of 3rd and 4th whilst City and Chelsea fans remember all those glorious days of winning titles and trophies.

  • Shard

    Dutchie

    While the wage structure is more,for lack of a better word, socialist, at Arsenal (and there are studies out there showing that it does make a real difference in performance), I think the main reason the likes of Diaby, Clichy, Denilson, Bendtner etc were given higher than normal wages was after Flamini left on a free. This was because, those young players, with their potential was the only team we had, and the only team we could afford then. If they too went the way of Flamini on a free, or were tapped up by clubs and could leave for a lower valuation, we would have had no team, even if we had bought and paid a few star players.

    We paid for potential, in order to keep a team together. I don’t count it as a ‘mistake’. It is a tough balancing act, especially when your entire stadium move plan was ruined by the constant inflation in the transfer market, the likes of which couldn’t be predicted before.

    However, I agree, that the wage structure now needs to be streamlined, and adjusted to not reward potential as much as achievement.

  • Shard

    @Basil

    Yeah.City and Chelsea have SUCH a great history to look back on.

  • @Basil – Hmm… I’m assuming that you were born in 2006 then?

    Don’t bother replying – we have a minimum age policy here.

  • Dutchie

    @Shard

    Spot on mate. Didn’t think about it like that. You are absolute right that we had to choose between overpaying a couple of our players because we can’t afford new ones. But then again players like Nasri where underpayed, when you compare them to Squillaci or Chamakh. The balance was gone.

    But hey, it’s a proces. I know Arsenal will be get their own dominant era soon. I think it starts in 4-5 years.

  • marcus

    Some strange comments here, not least Simon’s
    QUOTE
    I can never understand how people critise Utd for their past spending, firstly if it wasn’t for Utd the EPL would not be where it is now. They brought English football back amongst the elite of europe and if you cant see that then you clearly know nothing about the game.
    QUOTE

    1) English football has always been highly valued worldwide, long before MU appeared on the scene
    2) MU have never achieved anything like the prestige in Europe of Liverpool….so they can’t really boast about “bringing English football back amongst the elite of Europe”, whatever that means.

    Switching tack, fundamentally though football should be owned by people, but in reality it is owned by the landlord class. It’s somewhat feudal.

    Were it possible, I’d like to see a radical shake up of the whole thing.

    But prior to that we would need to see mass bankruptcies by clubs small medium and large.

    AW maintains that football is not divorced from the real world, economically speaking.

    Should the Greek bailout fail, the Euro collapse, and The German economy hit the buffers, things could get interesting.

    Oh, have Barcelona paid us for all our transfers yet?

  • Ugandan Goon

    Nice one, Basil!
    Shame a moral high ground is a mythical thing to you though.

  • ak47

    an article on manures spending would be nice, cos ive always thought they were just ‘doin a chavski’ in slow motion.

  • Wooby

    @Shard: bang on. Some of the players we thought would grow into stars have not grown into such (e.g. Bendtner) and it is time to prune. I think it is part and parcel of the cyclical nature of sports. We relied on young players with potential because 1) the previous core (Henry, Viera, Pires, Bergkamp, etc) had peaked and were starting the downside of their careers and 2) due to the building of the Emirates, we were not in a position to pay inflated transfer fees.

    That next cycle was supposed to be led by the likes of Reyes, Fabregas, RVP, Bendtner etc – only things did not work out the way we (or Wenger) might have expected/wanted. Such is life with young players – not all of them pan out. I believe we are on the cusp of the next wave, led by the likes of RVP, TV5, Kos, Ox, Wilshere, etc. I am keeping my fingers crossed RVP signs a new contract in the coming days and anxious to see what changes Wenger will bring about to the squad.

  • bob

    Tony,
    How about Trifecta of the Season award (now that RJ is gone):
    Most toxic commentator: Basil
    Party-pooper of the season: Basil
    Bitter is not better: Basil

    Btw, is the real Basil actually:
    RJ The Monocled, or
    The Dark Prince of days of yore, or
    The Rednose (still at) IX?

  • critic

    @simon
    Only one question that answers everything about what gooners and for that matter whole world thinks about MUFC?

    Why does utd buy referees to win titles?

  • critic

    By the way, i think MUFC has never spent more than what they earn. They are just cheaters since 2006-07 because i only started watching from that season. I can’t comment on what happened before that.

  • Shard

    Agree with critic. ManU, if not for the Glazers takeover, would be a very big financial behemoth indeed. Mind you, without the Glazers (or other similarly inclined owners), they might not have had the referees as blatantly on their side either.

  • zdzis

    I must say I’m happy for those City fans who came in before the oil barons and have been waiting for a success such as this for more than 5 years. I know it’s great to finally stand behind a winning team and I just wish them all the luck in the future.
    Those who started supporting the team when it finally had the money should perhaps think for a while on how little it took for the club to win the league. It just took a pile of money. And that’s just true. Everything else is irrelevant, including that winning goal by Aguero (incidentally, superb, and kudos to him for not having fallen down for a penalty under a QPR man’s challenge).
    I don’t think the teams in the top tier of the EPL are entirely in the clear as far as finances go. Only Arsenal consitently stuck to the policy of profit-making even if it cost them titles. I guess Newcastle is another team close to making it under FFP, with their policy of low-money transfers and building the team from the ground up. The other teams – ManU, City, Chelsea, even Liverpool – are definitely having problems. And let them have’em! I wish FFP was installed because it makes perfect sense to curb the big spenders before they start dishing out 1 billion contracts for a measly 5-year tenure. There are poor people all over the world, even in England (shocking!), so having a football club spend all that money on celebrity players is nothing short of immoral. I know this viewpoint is idealistic, but money is just a resource and all resources end sooner or later.
    But the biggest change that I would ask for is to finally have a proper refereeing standard in the EPL. Both title contenders won a significant number of games thanks to referee errors. I know, I know, you’ll say they would have won anyway. Perhaps, but what if Yaya Toure, Balotelli, Aguero and Richards got sent off for the red card offences that went unchecked? What if Young and Rooney were sent off when they should have been? There were quite a number of such events during this season – quite too many – and the fact that it never happened clearly affected the outcome. You say Barton is a bad boy, OK, he’s violent and hardly ever controls himself; but what about the rambling Toure, who seems to relish the poor refereeing standard in England? After the Chelsea game, during which he violently attacked Mata, he should have spent several games on the sidelines.
    If anything gets on my nerve it is this. The money question is more a matter of standards than of quality. The teams can often do better without big-money names and can challenge for titles without real stars. But if they are allowed to cheat both on and off the pitch, we’re simply starting to lose it.
    And as for the “transfer wishlists”: I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, there were those football games where you could build your own team through transfers. Typically, you simply acquired a player of a set value; he didn’t develop nor did he lose quality after the move. In other words, you were allowed to do what the oil barons do in the EPL right now, the only difference being that you then won every game (cause you were the only live player). Now, when people now say “oh, they nedd to buy X, Y, and Z,” they think in terms of those games, where you always had the resources, and if not, you couls always try a cheat code or make money otherwise. I remember playing – what was it? – FIFA ’98? Selling Seaman (whom I never really liked) and buying Francesco Toldo (whom I admired) plus 2! What a bargain! Imagine the clean sheets! 🙂 So, if you talk to the people, they will always give you an inflated image. But does it mean the clubs need to make this image a reality? If they did, the EPL would have to dissolve through mass bankruptcy. Even with the oil barons…

  • zdzis

    @Basil
    I had a laugh there, mate. Thanks for making my day 😀

  • Azd

    If anyone thinks $ity and the chavs don’t know/have lawyers and bankers to beat the FFP then that person does not live in the real world.

  • Tasos

    Man Utd as a club generate huge revenue, they remain in 3rd place (behind the two Spanish giants) in the recent Deloitte football money league. They will pass the FFP rules, no problem.

    Man Utd are a money making machine and so long as they remain successful on the pitch, then these large profits will continue to flow through the club.

    And so Man Utd’s owners, The Glazier family, will continue to use the vast sums of money generated by the club in order to pay the interest fee’s and thus service the large debt that they have leveraged against it.

    And for Me this is an area where the stench of foul play fills the air.

    The help Utd have received in recent seasons shows how much the people behind that club fear failure, this seasons lack of silverware alone could have a negative financial impact on the Glaziers plans to float their shares on the volatile stock market in Singapore.

    On the field success has become a fundamental requirement for the club and the ugly face of business and financial greed is fast suffocating what little sport there is left in the EPL.

    Finally, FFP does not hold all the answers for modern football but at least its a step in the right direction. Once implemented lessons will be learned and the system will hopefully become more efficient in dealing with all the various initial loopholes and legalities.

  • The Don

    You all miss the point! Fergie wants FFP because this would make united the dominent force way out on its own once again due to the revenues that they make compared to all other clubs. The vast amounts made from sellling out 76000 tickets, merchandise like no other english prem side and a vast amount from off field sponsorship etc..united’s business plan is not light years ahead but is supported by a base of worldwide fanatic support which makes more than any other football team on the planet!

  • Wooby

    @The Don: I think a discussion on a club’s finances based on revenues alone misses the boat. You can make all the money in the world, but if you spend more than you make, you won’t be making money for long. For all the revenue ManUre brings in, they have a large debt load and interest payments on them. One also needs to be mindful that the Glazers have other businesses and one area, commercial real estate in the US, has taken quite a beating since the financial meltdown of 2008. Which means there is every likelihood that some of ManUre’s revenues have to be siphoned off to address money gaps in those businesses.

    SAF’s interest in FFP is purely self-serving. He cannot compete with us for some young players because Wenger has proven he is not afraid to develop/play any player, regardless of age/nationality. ManUre’s track record of playing young players (16 to 19 year olds) is no where near us, especially in recent years. He cannot compete against City / Chel$ki based on dollars. He cannot even point to trophies this year. So what’s left? Well, the “honour” of wearing ManUre badge and the “culture” of winning at ManUre.

    Has anybody read the following article: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story/_/id/1070740/ferguson-expects-city-to-spend-big-this-summer?cc=5901 ?

    It’s rather funny that SAF is now the one saying he will not shell out for “proven goods”. Wonder if ManUre’s version of AAA will now call for him to be gassed because he 1) did not win any trophies this past year and 2)is already saying he is not prepared to pay for “proven” players to augment the squad. 😉

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I’m convinced the wheels might fall off the ManUre wagon if they have another season like this one. Not the record runners up points haul. The two early European exits, the poor cup runs, the lack of marquee signings – these do not impress the sponsors or the glory hunting fans like trophies and European success do.

  • Ed

    does anybody think maybe we paid off Fulop? if so, great work!! since the linesman and ref seemed to have been paid off by others with that first goal, it seems the goalie has an even bigger impact!

    i like how he was only pressured by his own player at the corner for our 3rd goal, and the ref and linesman could not even whistle for a foul! 😀