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Man City’s illegal transfer move, Rangers collapse: we’re approaching the end of football

The image of the band playing on the Titanic while the iceberg joined in with the percussion is so hackneyed that I always try and avoid it, but after half an hour of sitting here I can’t find anything better to describe the news swirling around football.

While most of the media focusses on the day’s events (and nothing wrong with that – I’ll be doing a little piece myself in the Observer this weekend on saturday’s game – a very little piece I must add) the whole liner, uncontrolled by an out-of-touch set of organisations (EPL, FA, UEFA, FIFA) sinks.

Only in five years time when the whole football scene is utterly different in every regard from that which we see today, will people sit up and think: blimey, what happened?

I’ve rambled on so often about Manchester Bankrupt and the rest that I’d like to try and pick up a couple of bits and pieces from elsewhere, just to show how huge the problems are.

And I would add, these stories are not the result of detailed searching through obscure Peruivian monthly reviews of local sport – they come from publications you’ll know, all currently available.  The stories are there – it is just that most of us (and that certainly includes me) are generally so focussed on our own clubs, that we often don’t notice.

Manchester Money: there’s a brilliant piece on the Guardian site today showing how the agent Kia Joorabchian, who fixed the Argentine loan deal which is still bringing down West Iceland Utd was deeply and illegally involved in the attempts by Manchester to get Kakakakak.

The rules broken in this scenario are so widespread that in any other world the club would be already under detailed investigation – but no, not a word, no one moves.   Presumably because Arab money is all that is keeping football afloat, so what do rules matter now?   It’s fine to dock Luton Town loads of points (actually I think it IS fine to do that) but we had better not look too closely at a club from Manchester.

Then there’s Rangers.   A piece in Scotland on Sunday  showing how incredibly close to the edge that club is. They have gone beyond the cover-up stage of Manchester Bankrupt, they are way beyond rescue by Sheik Yermoney, they are now on the fire sale stage, with an utterly wrecked financial structure and not the slightest chance of borrowing a penny.

To people like me who have probably only ever seen a dozen matches in Scotland in a lifetime of football, it might seem like just another club going down, but this is one of the only two real big-time clubs in the country.  Without Rangers there will be no serious competition at all (not that there is much anyway).   Worse, the owner has fallen out big time with the supporters who have formed the “We Deserve Better” campaign.  Everything is in ruins.

So, Manchester City flagrantly breaking the rules that have led West Ham into the ruins, and 50% of the giant teams in Scotland about to go down…  Is that a crisis?

Yes, because it adds to the problems with Manchester United, West Ham, Liverpool, Chelsea…   What it shows is that the system we have had for years of clubs being able to survive roughly within the rules of the game have gone.

Italy went into near meltdown over the fact that so many matches were fixed – and the game in Italy is now only a shadow of what it was in the 1990s.  Such a collapse, only on a larger scale, is about to happen here, simply because you can only fudge and apply sticking plaster for so long.

The cause of the problem is that old-fashioned vision that so many of the people in football have that the rules don’t apply to me.   We may be very happy that the Lord Wenger knows all the rules, and applies them all, but in most places this is not the case.

English football has been here before – there aren’t too many books around on the subject but between 1910 and 1915 football league matches were reguarly fixed – and prime fixers were Manchester United and Liverpool.

Indeed when Henry Norris arranged for Arsenal to come out of the second division into the first in 1919, despite the club not having finished in a promotion spot, a significant part of his argument was that unless Arsenal were allowed up he would start court proceedings against Liverpool and Manchester United and bring the whole of the football edifice down.

Norris was a dealer, not a man looking for justice, and he got what he wanted: Arsenal in the first division.  The Football League took the warning and started (slowly) to clean up the game.   This time, I fear, the disaster is already too far advanced, and the problems too deep.

This is really my argument against people who want success for Arsenal now, at any price.  We are on the edge, and much of what we take to be normal, is about to fall apart.  When the dust settles I want Arsenal still to be there, because we never got on the Titanic.   I don’t want to be supporting one of fifty clubs that is existing from a lifeboat.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009.

11 comments to Man City’s illegal transfer move, Rangers collapse: we’re approaching the end of football

  • would be dissaster for football in scotland if Rangers went down(of course I hate them), Celtic needs them..anyway, did you hear about Robinho sex attack?? pretty funny

  • BoyNextDoor

    Hi Tony,

    Many thanks for the post today. I feel I’m learning about reading your post. Keep up the good work!

  • SuperBobbyPires

    With Villa continuing to pick up points against tricky teams, well they are still winning whilst i type, it seems Arsenal need to follow them home but we are scraping through games at the minute. The sad thing is though, Villa are buying players this month to maintain there charge and we are messing around playing games with Zenit. If you ask me, and im the biggest Arsenal fan you can get Arsenal have been asking for this for some time, we have been skating on thin ice as far as champions league qualification is concerned and it is only a matter of time before a team beats us to it, Villa may just well this year. Man Uts, chelsea and Liverpool have strengthened, Villa are strengthening and we are loytaring with ordinary players. If Arsenal fail to qualify for CL this season it will be deserved. Arsenal need a huge rocket up thier arse and now.

  • Flint McCullough

    I take it you don’t agree with Tony, SBP?

    This blog is an education. Many thanks.

    I have no idea if you are right or wrong about these issues but I do feel that all is not right in the football world, at the moment.

    Rather glad that AFC do appear to be doing the right thing.

    I am certainly enjoying “Lord” bringing this young squad through. The pain is that so many cannot see beyond today.

  • Marc

    The only problem with your opinions Tony is that not enough people are aware of what a basket case football is becoming. I see a lot of similarities between the Premier League and the UK economy for the last decade or so. Everything’s great and anyone pointing out the realities is just a doom monger then it collapses and everyone wonders how did that happen. Of course it’s always someone else’s fault.

  • NYmarcus

    It doesn’t apply to what’s happening in the UK, but it’s just another example of what’s generally going on in Europe’s big leagues: One of Spain’s big clubs, Valencia, too are seriously strapped for cash and are on the edge of being wiped out financially. They’re barely holding on to their players. I’ve read some reports in Spain saying Valencia may not even be around as a club next season.

  • Jimmy

    Good call as ever Tony – I must say I pretty much agree with you, i think Lord Wenger knows it too – I dont think football qualifies to be a special case in this recession. its going to bite at all levels and I too would much rather that when it all settles down the fiscal prudence of AFC has set us up to endure and not crash and burn (Leeds Utd anyone?!)
    Saying that I have come to the conclusion that the Lord Wenger is not all perfect – not that I think we should kow-tow to Zenit/Arshavin/AA’s agents seemingly ridiculous money demands – but I think Wenger is too generous and kind in terms of allowing players to leave the club. Thats his sole failing as far as I’m concerned – I was watching the arsenal channel last night before I went to bed, and they showed the highlights of the 7-0 drubbing of Everton just 4 years ago and thinking of the quality players we’d allowed to leave who could still do a job in a top team – think of Edu, think of Flamini, Diarra, arguably Sol campbell etc – they’d have added some sorely needed experience this time round.
    Still, I’d rather be Arsenal than Villa – SBP you say they’re strengthening? Heskey? hmmm… and going back to Tonys original point – O’Neill (who i actually rate as pretty astute manager) has spent about £85million in the 3 seasons he’s been there (got back about £18m in fees received)
    without a sugar daddy spend like theres no tomorrow approach they’d be a completetly different team – and is that sustainable?!

  • Mak (Arsenal fan)

    Todays game is probably the most important one wenger’s managership, we lose today and it’s 6 points behind them…….maybe sometimes in life you need a slap to wake you up.these days I’m thinking is there life after wenger…..well there was after Graham, so there will be after wenger and let’s face it we wouldn’t be short of some really big names wanting to manage us

  • BoyNextDoor

    @Mak (Arsenal fan),

    “let’s face it we wouldn’t be short of some really big names wanting to manage us”

    No way with our transfer kitty!

  • Ravi

    You all need a reality check. Wenger is not in charge of club finances! neither does he control how much people earn. We have had a wage structure we have never broken even before Wenger was there! He has infact enabled us to offer more money than the board would like to share. The board have said on numerous occasions that we have money available but a month later they come out saying we dont have any money! Yes Wenger has made his mistakes with not signing certain players but that i can assure is the boards fault. truth of the matter is the board are to blame for players not being signed. Weneger is to blame for some poor tactical decisions and team choices but thats it.

  • CanYerLendMeAQuid

    While I agree with your summation of the situation, it’s only a matter of time, I have a comment. It’s fine to analyze what the problems are but what is going to be done about it.
    The notion of free trade within the EU appears to dominate football. When recent moves by UEFA have been made they’re typically aimed against the dominant league in the association, namely the Premier League so I think an independent body should be responsible for applying some regulation that can be enforced. Maybe, and this is merely a thought, there should be a central valuation registry based on some pre-determined criteria that clubs can use for transfer purposes.
    I know, what a fanciful bunch of rubbish. But the main point is, something has to be done so football can stabilize, otherwise it’s the fans that suffer, not only the clubs and players. Not to mention the various football bodies in Europe.