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The transfer market is on the edge of collapse, and the explosion is working to Arsenal’s advantage

By Tony Attwood

Man City are the only Premier League club that has bought no one so far this summer – and in terms of sales they haven’t brought in any major money either.

Just to summarise the countrywide scene: Arsenal have bought in two players, Villa four, Chelsea four, Everton one, Fulham three, Everton one, Man U two, Newcastle two, Norwich four, QPR six, Reading six, Southampton four, Stoke two, Sunderland one, Swansea three, Tottenham two, WBA three, West Ham six, Wigan one.  (The figures come from soccernews.com – they might not be 100% but you get the general picture.)

Of course these players range in price from £80m or so by Chelsea, to £27m by Arsenal, £19m by Man U, nothing by Fulham (frees and a loan), etc etc.  Again some figures are guesswork (by soccernews not by me).

So it is approximate stuff, but still, at the moment of writing I don’t think Man C have signed anyone.  The boss blamed our old pal Brian Marwood for not getting stuck into the market – and of course there is a long way to go.  As we found last season, you can do a lot on the last day.

But surely Man C, with all the money, can’t be hanging around can they?   Well… they are on the sales front for they still have Adebayor, Santa Cruz, Tevez and Dzeko, and that suggests that they are trying to sell these unwanteds before they buy.  Which might mean that they are actually looking at the Financial Fair Play regulations, or it might mean that  the wily old head-scraper-with-the-boot Adebayor is demanding that he continues to get his Man C salary when he moves.

The trouble is, when a player gets used to £4 million a year plus bonuses, he can find it hard to take less.  Santa Cruz cost £18m and is on goodness knows what of a salary, so who wants to match his salary even if Man C give him away?  No one really – and for two reasons.  One is he isn’t that good, and the other is that the whole of the football world is changing beneath our feet and it is starting to look like transfers, wages and bonuses might have peaked.

And at such a point the market in footballers can look exactly like the market in shares, diamonds, personalised number plates and fine wine.

To some degree some of these items have a value through their use – but even then that value can be highly inflated because the market believes the price will rise forever.  But it never does, and so suddenly people think that personalised number plates are actually rather prattish, the stock market is probably fixed by bent bankers, and fewer people are getting married so fewer diamonds are being sold.

Who is to say that Robin van Persie is worth £5m or £50m?  The value in fact is just what someone will pay, and now, leaving aside the special case of Chelsea, everyone is starting to look a little uncertainly at these prices and think, “Did we really pay that much for one player?”

That doesn’t mean the market has stopped, but I think it has just had its first wobble in many a long year.   (It won’t be the first time – in the early days of the transfer market at the end of the 19th century, player values just about doubled every two years as the clubs got the hang of the idea of transfers.  Then suddenly there was a dip around 1905, and all the prices went down again.  It happens.)

But why now?  Why should football destabilise at this point?

There are so many reasons that when one starts looking at them, they seem obvious.  Each one of these reasons could cause some wobbling in the system.  Stick them all together and you have chaos.  Probably now, but if not, next year.

FFP is one reason for the crisis. No one knows if the big boys can ignore it, or if something actually might happen.  The huge escalation in prices for not-that-special  players is a second.  And third, the fact that a player can be poached or can announce in year three of a four year deal that he’s off, suddenly makes the value of players meaningless.

Fourth, the advent of the billionaire clubs has meant that the non-billionaire funded sides know they can’t keep up, so they need to turn away and try and look for bargains and indeed seek to start running a decent youth system.  Worse some of the billionaires turn out to be money launderers, and some are just plain incompetent dodos.  Even some players are waking up to the fact that virtually every top player Arsenal “lose” actually makes Arsenal a packet, and costs the buying club a fortune, while the players ends up in no-man’s-land.

Fifth, the manipulation of the market by agents, the media and non-participating clubs means the market is utterly unstable anyway.  I’ve mentioned it before, but agents will tout a player even if he doesn’t want to leave just to get the media to show an interest, which in turn could get the club he’s with to improve the contract.   Tell the world Arsenal are after some obscure player in the French league and his price goes through the roof overnight – with other half-baked managers buying the poor sap just because of the rumour that Arsenal wanted him.

Finally: Rangers and Portsmouth.  Those are just two examples from Britain – scout around Europe and there are many more.  Somehow clubs thought that it wouldn’t happen, couldn’t happen here.  Fraud, false contracts, financial disasters, bankruptcy, quadruple relegation, no players… no, that’s Italy isn’t it?  Actually no, it isn’t.  Suddenly football clubs don’t look like the place you might want to have your money.

In summary, a bent, over-inflated system, with crooks and unstable billionaires involved, and players and their agents seeking salaries so large that they are beyond obscenity: it is amazing the system has lasted this long!

It is like the Emperor’s New Clothes or Barclays Bank, Nat West, or Royal Bank of Scotland, or Northern Rock, or Lehman Brothers.  Anyone outside the industry could see the whole system was as sane as a bunch of baboons running Britain’s political system… and then kerplunk.

Man City could of course have Agüero, Balotelli, Silva, Deko, Tevez, Santa Cruz, Adebayor and RVP – with each one expecting to be first choice each week.   But one day someone is going to say, “can you actually play all those guys – even with rotation?”  And suddenly the club think, oh, we don’t need eight forwards.  And then the players start to cry and stamp their feet and say, “But I want to play every game!  You told me I could!”

So the alternative for Man C is – let’s sell some of these guys.  Except no one wants to buy at anything like the crazed amount Man City, Chelsea, PSG and the rest are paying.  And no one wants to pay the salaries that are asked.   RVP is said to want about £50m across the five years of the contract he is demanding – with the knowledge that long before the end he’s going to be worth next to nothing.

And all this before Man City revealed that they paid over £6m bonus to their players for winning the league.

Markets sometimes fall apart suddenly, dramatically and with one hell of a crash.  But markets supported by billionaires can come down more gently, or have the appearance of being quite stable when they are not.  How this will shake out I don’t know.

But the one thing that all false markets have in common is that just before the collapse, no one believes anything is wrong.  So the clubs with big name players to sell hold tight, still demanding their insane transfer prices, as the players hold tight while demanding 5 year contracts at £200,000 a week irrespective of injury and form.

(I’m reminded of a time when around 1997 I was looking to buy a house near Rutland Water – a lovely part of England.  I went from house to house where retired couples looking to downsize were asking around 50% more for their houses than they were worth at the current market rate.  The reason was that two years before house prices had been at their peak – but these poor saps had not sold.  Instead they had waited for the market to go even higher before so they could make more profit, before they moved to their retirement cottage in Cornwall.  And when the price collapsed they simply couldn’t accept that they had screwed up by holding on, and so kept on asking for prices that no one would pay – at least not for another 10 years).

In the midst of all this we have two clubs sailing on serenely.   Chelsea who act as if nothing has changed – no FFP, no inability to sell players once bought for crazy prices, no financial collapse in Spain making it hard for clubs to borrow money, nothing.  I have no idea what they think they are doing, but presumably when you have that much money and you see another billionaire looking over your shoulder, well, no one is going to tell you that you are a semi-skimmed nutter who needs to be taken out in a wheelbarrow.

And Arsenal – profit making, amazing youth system, best stadium in the country, and ready to leap up another level financially as the old marketing contracts come to an end and Man U finally find they have a rival when it comes to squeezing money out of sponsors.

Of course you might not believe a word of this.   And why should you?  One Arsenal season ticket holder sitting here spouting the same old stuff for four years now.

And maybe I’ve got it wrong and nothing will happen.  OK, so we carry on. But if something is building up to a big bang, I’m still sure there’s only one big time club that is going to sail through it all.

———————-

If you think you know your Arsenal, it is time to think again.

———————

47 comments to The transfer market is on the edge of collapse, and the explosion is working to Arsenal’s advantage

  • Law

    I love your writing Tony. As always 😀

  • Luke

    Excellently written article and a great read, I completely agree with you and can’t wait for the day when the clubs who buy their success come crashing down and realise you can’t spend that way sustainably. Chelsea seem to have not learnt their lesson from doing what city have done 5/6 years ago or so, when they bought anyone and everyone, won a title or two, but then the players got too big for their club and it imploded (Ballack etc). Now they have started the same process again and no doubt will be very good this year, but at what cost? At some point the other big clubs will regret their spending (Man U seem to be more sensible this year, but spendings like 27m or so on Berbatov, really???) and turn to Arsenal, who will just say “We told you so” and the EPL dominance will be back where it belongs, in a world where football success is not governed by money!

  • TheSKAGooner

    Steady’s the helm of the Good Ship Arsenal. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    And I wouldn’t have anyone else writing about the right way forward than the good folks here at Untold.

  • ak47

    its a long wait but will be worth it.

  • Robbo

    An interesting article and some point here I agree with. As a City (don’t shoot me please!) I would say that the mad rush during Hughes’s reign (Robinho, Adebayor, Santa Cruz and Bridge in particular – though not forgetting his great business with Zabba, Vinny and NDJ) is obviously what is causing issues now. That step was necessary for us (no way Aguero, Silva etc. would have joined City with the likes of Garrido, Petrov etc.) and is obviously a bit of a frustration for Mancini.

    You will call me bonkers, but other than the striker department, we are actually a little short. Mancini does not want to get rid of either Dzeko or Tevez in my opinion. I don’t blame clubs for wanting to take us to the cleaners when buying their players (though Clichy was a bargain at £7m), but I would say that we have now stopped pandering to those demands (of clubs and players) and are willing to walk away. We are not in so much of a rush any more and the pool of players that can improve our team is much slimmer than before.

    Would be glad to see Arsenal continue with their model and (i’m not having a popping here) it will be interesting to see if they can win anything without doing so.

  • Flavour

    WOW. Tony you remind me of the book I am about the publish, the one you authorise. This article makes me feel like I was in a business school again. Your thoughts are my thoughts. This is the truth but so many will argue because they lack business sense to see the future and move with the time. I reswpect Arsenal because they trade like they are buying shares and I do the same in property, in stores, on ebay, on everywhere that has to do with buying and selling.I always negotiate my price and funny I always get it exactly how I want it or with some discounts.

    The point is the fact that the markup price is not the true price. We all look at things from different perspective. The way Wenger looks at and buys is not the same with Fregie or Macini and also they look at players with the way their teams have been outlayed. Arsenal should not be bullied by fans or the media, who is a world class player. Today everone is saying RVP is a world class player. How and who made him world class? When he started in Arsenal who would have bought him and recreate him from a winger to a striker. Okay Arsenal made him. So we all need to back and support Arsenal for we are creators.

    How can we survive in this country with all the spending cuts yet we hear this ridiculous money being spent on Footballers. Okay there are revenues like the Banks, how do the tax players benefit from Mancity overspending. Sorry, I am being carried away.

    Thanks Tony once more. You nailed this one.

  • Manc Al

    Man City fan in peace!
    Well written article and I agree with most of the points. The one thing though that frustrates me about Arsenal fans and the ‘we’re the only club in the world being run well’ is this… The massive financial benefits of being in London.
    For years London clubs have been able to charge London prices (great seat at City £650 per year, same seat at the Emirates into the 1000s). You might generate a much bigger income, but it is always at the expense of the fans. When you moved you were able to redevelop Highbury in expensive North London and earn millions from it, how much do you think our scrap of land in Moss Side was worth in comparison?
    It’s never been a level playing field and unfortunately it never will be.
    Oh and by the way, let’s not forget that our owners are currently ploughing about £200 million into east Manchester around the ground. The money is going into things like colleges as well as the training grounds! In fairness though, for every Sheik Mansour their is a also a couple of Venkys.

  • mike collins

    Tony
    You are the Jane Austen of football. ‘Sense and Sesibility’
    MC

  • udehsam

    great Article, great mind!! In my little corner of the world, I tell everyone who cares to listen that Arsenal’s next dominance will not last for only a decade. I draw inspiration from this site! keep up the good work Senior Gooner!!

  • Ong Bing

    League table never lies (obviously, sometimes it lies). Six in the table tell you that you going down. If you don’t react well you will hard to going up again, Pool is good example.

    Sack the manager is not the answers, it was gambling, you can get worse, again Pool is the example. (but sacking manager every year is very very crazy)

    I am not following football as long as Tony, I just 40, my first touch with football was with Serie A, because that time in Indonesia you can only watch Serie A.

    That time is the era of AC Milan, AC Milan Dream Team period (the Holland trio era). In that glory time, Serie A clubs not thinking the future (I think), since that time until now, only Juve has own stadium, the others only rent from year to year. Now they make not much money from tickets. Some of tickets money going to pay the rent.

    So, in my opinion, the best thing that Arsene give us is new modern stadium! Stadium that give us money for next many years, good times when you watch game inside it. That was a new home that we can proud for many many years to come.

    We suffer for don’t have money to sign players, for not give wages as high as the crazy club, but it worth it!

    We must makes Arsene statue on our stadium, we owe him a lot.

    In oiks we trust!

  • nicolas

    To Tony:
    Great article Tony! I would like to take your attention to an other topic, the possible ”marquee” signing that has been on the rumors. It is said that If Arsenal is to loose RvP it would be wise to bring a name to fill the void. I believe that this will be done when/if RvP gets his wish, just to show that Arsenal is not a ”feeder-club”.

    One of the most persistent rumors at the moment seems to be Santi Gazorla to Arsenal with the transfer price of 20M-25M€ depending on the article. What do you think about this? Soon to be 28, who is 168 tall. In the EPL where being short and to getting use to the leagues tempo normally takes it toll. I see it as a very big gamble. Especially, when we already have for example Theo, Gervinho, Ox, Santos, Podolski(albeit the manager said might play centrally) and Arshavin (might be leaving) etc.

    First of all how do you see Arsenals spending, and if you would what kind a player/which position you would see ideal?

  • Chris

    I’ve never put a comment on a Arsenal blog before but this is the most truely, honest and rational description of todays transfer policy I have ever read. I totally agree with you and have admit that I will see Mr. Wengers decisions in bit different light in the future. Maybe he was wrong to be so quiet last year and maybe he will change that a bit this year. But on long-terms it is the only way to survive the upcoming collapse of the price-policy. So, thank you for this description, I’ve enjoyed every word reading it.!

    Best Regards from Germany (and Arsenal 4 life!)
    Chris

  • arseternity

    A FOOL AND HIS MONEY SOON PARTED GO SOON ROBIN WE WANT5 TO MOVE ON

  • Gunner

    Interesting piece, as ever.

    I note that there was a report a couple of weeks ago which stated that total transfer spend across the globe had dropped by one third in just one year! That is a pretty huge drop. Had to look far to find the report though, Sky sports news didn’t want that kind of reporting to undermine their ‘product’

  • Timmy

    Good Observation, Sir Tony

    It is always a treat to read what you had to say – W.S.

    It is only a matter of time till we see the economic side of football experience a nose dive. Let’s just keep fingers cross.

  • bob

    Gunner,
    Would you try to get a link to that article for us all?
    It’s very important in light of Tony’s great piece and the uncommon sense it displays amidst the zillionaire-ego drivenness of run-amok players and owners. Maybe it’ll all soon go to private gladiatorial combat on the decks of zillionaire yachts fought by millionaire players. Ready for that yet Robin? Cesc? Samir? Buy-your? Cashley?

  • bob

    p.d. sorry: now, Rob-em, x-Cesc, $amir, Buy-your and Cashley?

  • BobbyD

    Word, to your mother! Well thought out and well-written. Had this discussion/argument with a mate the other day. When you have a player like Adebayor on £175K/week and with 2 more contract years, why on earth would he give up £100K a week, i.e. £10M to move to Spurs? Answer, he wouldn’t and he won’t until/unless he is paid off to move on. Nor will the likes of Bridge (especially), Santa Cruz, Dzeko, Kolarov or any of their other “fringe” players. What City are now experiencing is the inevitable bottleneck in terms of ins and outs; players they no longer want/need but who are too well paid to go. Personally, I love it; I’m just waiting for the day it all comes crashing sown around their ears and they’re dreaming of being able to afford players of the calibre of Paul Dickov, Darius Vassell and George Samaras!

  • Mandy Dodd

    Some great points in here. Seems like now there are some absolutely amazing players out there in the five to fifteen million bracket. Could these prices fall even further?

  • Alphie_Izzett

    I was interesting to read your comment about transfer prices in the late 19th Century Tony, that data must have been hard to find 🙂

    I think your analysis is sound but just so long as FFP does not collapse. If it does all of your club’s best efforts will have come to little; probably struggling to get a CL place as those with money continue to spend and reap the CL & TV money. FFP is flawed in that it punishes owners willing to invest their own money in their club but ignores those like the American owners of Liverpool and ManU who cheat the fans by buying the club with borrowed money and loading the debt on the club, thus stripping huge amounts of revenue from the clubs who now fund debt instead of players. Clubs like City and Chelsea, which are debt free, will not do a Rangers or Pompey, but the Old Trafford and Anfield models when followed by lesser entities easily go belly up.

    You are right, prices and exectations are falling. Spurs, having tested Adebayor out and decided that 17 goals and near that amount of assists makes him worth signing seem to be suggesting that they’ll have him as long as it’s for nothing. Mind you that’s the same Chairman who wants £40m for Modric!

    ManCity have 4 strikers in their PL and CL Squads, these are Aguero, Tevez, Balotelli and Dzeko, probably in that order. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Adbayor and Santa Cruz are relevant in anything except financial outgoings. These are historic mistakes who will never be in a City squad again. Santa is a decent guy and honourable, always gave of his best but has been injury prone. He was never worth £19m tag, that was a piece of Hughes madness. In fairness to Hughes he had to overspend to get the quality of player needed to lift a poor side to a position in which it could attract better players. He made some good buys, these were not two of them

    It seems that the ManCity owners do have a plan and that it is sane and timescaled. Yes, they have paid out nearly £750m to buy the club, fund players and vover income shortfalls but they are nearing breakeven and are investing heavily in infrastructure. This includes nearly £200m in 90 acres of industrial wasteland by the Etihad Stadium, building a club HQ, 17 all weather and PL standard grass pitches, indoor pitches,Academy modelled on Barca wityh its own 7000 seat stadium, and state of the arts medical and training facilities for the whole playing staff, including up to 400 youngsters of which up to 70 will be accomodated on site and educated as well as coached. This is investment for the future and is imaginative in that it also involves building an education facility to be used by local youngsters as well as Academy lads and provision of community football coaching and community pitches.

    They no longer need to pay top dollar for good but less than world class players and are declining to do so. There are a lot of clubs that need to sell and who have been making a lot of noise saying City, United, Chelsea, Arsenal can’t have their players unless they pay XXXXXX and it seems to me that as you suggest, very few clubs are paying up.

    The last week of the transfer Window should be interesting.

  • another Chris

    This article needs to be on a plaque somewhere at the Emirates.

  • Shakabula Gooner

    Great piece Tony. A minor point: You didn’t mention the ongoing correction in the European economy and banks(esp. in Spain, Greece and Italy). I think this merits a mention as a 7th reason. However, elsewhere in the piece, you referred to Spain’s financial woes.

    In view of these factors, can we hazard that this market softness will be with us for more than this season?

    Lastly, I am very impressed with the increasing hits from rival clubs’ fans and graual recognition of this blog as one that discusses serious football issues rationally but with no less passion and unabashed gooner bias.

    Now, don’t go changing on us in order to attract more crossovers!!

  • Alphie_Izzett

    I think you’ll find the crossovers come because the blog is listed on NewsNow so is displayed on the sites of clubs that get a substantial mention.

    Some such sites are absolute rubbish, this clearly isn’t. It was a good read and made many good points.

  • Gunz

    @Bob
    @Gunner

    Football transfer numbers and costs in global fall
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18733738

    Great stuff tony.

  • durban blue moon

    a good read and some good points but…… whilst mentioning the frugality of the club and Mr Wenger you ignored the fact that he is frugal enough to command the highest salary (coach or manager) in the EPL

  • Mandy Dodd

    On the subject of transfers, today is the deadline for Malaga to pay their debts…..or face the consequences, and we have yet to announce the signing of mr Santi cazorla.. Wenger out! Sack the board, and stan, even if he does own the club!

  • bob

    City and its Midas Touch: King Midas couldn’t survive at a certain point literally because everything he’d touched had turned to gold. He finally begged the gods to relieve him of his wish and they did, finally, after suffering and madness. A clear case of being very careful what one wishes for; for then one may get it.

  • Sav from Australia

    Brilliant article Tony! Always a smile, lol, even if it is 5am Sydney time.

  • Strus

    Many clubs have big debts nowadays. For years the spent more that they earned. It was financed by benefector’s cash injections or by loans from banks.
    In longer period both ways lead to trouble.
    If benefactor dies/ lose interest (Nothingam Forest, Malaga etc) suddenly a huge amount of money is not there. Club go to administration and/or lose best players.
    If the debt is too big the banks will at least take command to recover invested money. So no coslty transfer available and players get sold(Everton etc). Or banks get in trouble and then club will sink even before them.

  • GoingGoingGooner

    One thing that intrigues me is that sites like this openly doubt whether FFP will be fairly applied. It is difficult to believe that UEFA is unaware of the high level of scepticism that is out there in this regard. As such, their lack of proactivity to assure not only the fans but ultimately the clubs, that FFP will be fairly applied, is, I find, curious. If is fairlyl common in most governmental ministries to send out detailed information regarding new laws and such so that constituents are fully appraised at how it affects them. UEFA is governance body and they haven’t done much. Curiouser and Curiouser.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    Tony…as always a very thought-provoking article and salient arguments supporting your ideas. there is a distinct likelihood that the entire Euro monetary and commercial framework, which has contributed to Europe’s riches and success is beginning to eat itself alive. we have financially weak nations in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, trying to join the EU and we have corrupt, ill-governed and ridiculously narcissistic and self-centred nations like Spain, Greece and Italy beginning to fall off the financial cliff, and probably dragging the entire EU system with them.
    Football is caught right in the middle with Spain and Italy’s leagues’ survival seriously threatened by mismanaged and very questionable administrative shenanigans fueled by a false sense of Bank or State support.
    We have corruption, officiating and gambling linked, players leaving top teams because they can no longer be afforded and match-fixing, mafia involvement and political incompetency all combining to make a perfect storm!
    The UK is right in the sights of the next disaster, regardless of whether they have the Euro or not. Rangers and Portsmouth are just the tip of the iceberg. When the big financial fail hits, the oilygarchs and sheiks, princes or billionaire playboys will run for cover,leaving their previous playthings gathering dust in the cupboard…..this will hurt everyone,including the Arsenal.

  • Aussie Jack

    Anyone of average intelligence who has lived long enough can only but agree with you Tony. If you need to condense your
    observation further it is called `greed` and history has taught us the falibility of this disease.

  • Johan Greening

    Everthing looks good now but lets wait for the time when Kreonke can slip the loans he took out to buy Arsenal into the books.

  • Manc Al – I would 100% accept that Arsenal get huge benefits from being in London. Although the story about Arsenal’s ticket prices being the most expensive are not true, there is no doubt that the huge income that arises from Club Level and the boxes comes because the club is in London.

    There are other accidents of history too – the new book we’ve just done which is advertised all the time on this site (Woolwich Arsenal – the club that changed football) looks at the fact that in the early days of the club it was the most famous club in the world. And yet it never won anything; it was entirely by the fact that the servicemen of the British Empire adopted the club as its club (because its name was associated with the making of the weapons that kept them alive).

    The accidents of history – agree with you totally.

  • Going Going Gooner – my doubts come from an AISA meeting a couple of years back where we had Platini’s right hand man as a guest speaker. I asked him if Uefa had an array of lawyers and accountants ready to take on the clubs who tried to weave their way around FFP, and he said no.

    That is why I am nervous. Given Uefa is happy to hand out fines of £20k for racism at games, a fine of £15k is quite possible for breaking the FFP rules.

  • Votre source numéro 1 en direct download de dvrip

    Very good write-up. I absolutely appreciate this website.
    Continue the good work!

  • C4

    @Tony
    Seems like you’re collecting plenty of praise for your excellent article(s). So while you’re at it, here’s a blogger that appreciates your work. You’re getting famouser and famouser.

  • C4

    And this isn’t on topic, but ever since the Media Watch series begun here, I’ve noticed other blogs gradually joining in and keeping an eye on the media, pointing out suspicious stories. Please keep it up, I think it’s helping lift the wool off the eyes of many fans, and corroding the AAA’s numbers.

  • I.C.O

    Great article. Its amazing how people are seeing entire countries (Spain, Greece and even France and Italy to an extent) literally going broke but somehow think football will not be affected.

  • C4 – thank you for your kindness and enthusiasm. One of the things that I do, as the overall editor of the show, is keep a close eye on the number of times our site is visited – and that is going up and up. Numbers are not everything, and I would still want to publish the referee figures even if we only had 1000 readers (if Walter and Dogface would do it for such a small audience). But when we see magic numbers like 500,000, and then this month 750,000 visits a month, you have to think: this is what some people have been looking for.

    I’m not trying to suggest we are the biggest thing in the football world – but I do think we are meeting a need, and that there are many readers who, having found Untold, do us the great honour of coming back each day and having a look at what we are up to.

  • critic

    Who’s gonna pay the debt that premier league clubs are in? supposedly at 2-3 billion(a guess, i think i read that figure somewhere). How’s that billions of debt gonna affect england’s economy? Will it?

  • critic

    Upgrade the site tony upgrade the site.

  • A. Stewart

    Interesting read.. However, one thing that struck me as ironic is when you said this..”The trouble is, when a player gets used to £4 million a year plus bonuses, he can find it hard to take less. Santa Cruz cost £18m and is on goodness knows what of a salary, so who wants to match his salary even if Man C give him away? No one really – and for two reasons. One is he isn’t that good..”

    Ironic because while there is difference in terms of scale, there is little difference in terms of theory as applied to many of our players. In an attempt to bring salaries closer in line (under the theory of promoting harmony) we have in some/many cases overpaid on wages for young players based purely on potential and also for what can be described as average squad players, and underpaid the true difference makes to make it balance (plus our wage bill has almost doubled since we last one a trophy, the pros on our books have increased by a net of 30+, and yet it is hard to argue against that there is lower general quality of the squad since those days)..

    So as a result we have the same situation (albeit at different scales of money) as you describe with City. In that we have quite a bit of players that contribute very little to nothing that can’t be moved, because like you say, no-one wants them at those wages, and in many cases like as you say with City players, they just aren’t that good (especially for the wages they get), that’s part of the problem that pays based on potential and not proven, because it’s a tossup as to whether potential is ever realized (in the vast majority cases in our youth project years it isn’t being realized).

    Our situation is no different from the one you describe above for City’s in terms of the tangible outcome, not being able to move poor players because their wages are too high. And the harmony that was touted by bringing salaries closer together has materialized because the top players want to leave for the money they could command elsewhere and also the silverware on offer elsewhere, and ironically, even poorer players want to leave in some cases like Denilson and Bendtner, and Wenger even said half of his dressing room wanted to leave the season before last. The theory about bringing wages close together simply hasn’t worked at all, and has resulted along with disharmony in a bloated squad (the biggest first team in the entire league) with not many players who are true elite difference makers.

    Good write-up but I really find that bit about not being able to move players on because of high wages not matching how good they are (or rather are not) highly ironic. It’s one of the biggest problems we currently face under our model post 2005.

  • A. Stewart

    Should have read….

    “And the harmony that was touted by bringing salaries closer together has NOT materialized…”

  • insideright

    Tony – the other thing that is having an impact (which you don’t mention) is the 25 man squad rule. It’s not just the FFP restricted budget that is a barrier to squad expansion it’s the need to keep squad size to a limit. All the rotation in the world still won’t give a club the flexibility to have 30 squad players on their books. And if you happen to pay them kings ransoms putting them out on loan still means that your have to subsidise their pay because no lending club can deal with it within their budget.
    Chelsea have, to a certain extent, got round the problem by simply releasing players such as Bosingwa and Kalou who cost them a combined fee of c£25m and who, in theory at least, still had value in the market. But that was the old market and the current one is very different.

  • Pad Gooner

    This is an excellent article and by the way I agree with you Tony that UEFA could impose a 15k fine for breaking FFP rules. When a stadium full of racist fans could get away with a 20k or 40k fine, anything could happen.

    What If UEFA indeed impose such a fine and Chelsea or MANC pay in advance for the next five years.

  • colario

    This post needs updating. As it stands its past its sell by date.