“Yes, no, obviously”. Kane on the move, and that big question: “Why?”



Is football really simple?

by Tony Attwood

On the issue of the forthcoming Kane transfer the Telegraph has an entertaining line: the transfer, rather like Kane himself (the man quoted in the headline above), is not very interesting.  Or at least not as interesting as the legal case being mounted against Tottenham’s owner for manipulating the financial markets.

At the moment however no one is really wondering how Tottenham will cope either without Kane, or with the forthcoming legal case against their owner.  But on the Kane front there is an interesting question, since last season Tottenham scored 70 goals.  Indeed they were the fifth top-scoring club in the league and 30 of the goals were from Harry Kane.   

But of course they want some money.  For as the website Sqaf points out Tottenham have often not made the most of their not inconsiderable resources.   “The most recent example of this transfer trouble is the recent departure of Lucas Moura who was allowed to leave the club for no fee as his contract expired in June 2023. Tottenham bought the Brazilian winger for £30 million…”

And that issue points to the problem that they have of maintaining the hard-to-deal-with image.  It can lead to losing out on deals, and can make them look like a little club trying to play big.

Although that perhaps is unfair on Tottenham.  But it is certainly the case for Wolverhampton who as the Telegraph points out, really do have significant FFP problems.

FFP is of course based not on what a club spends, but what a club spends in relation to its income, (which is the point of the case against Manchester City – that its income has been artificially enhanced to allow it to spend more).  Wolverhampton’s income is modest enough that the owners also have to keep putting in money to keep the club running.  And in Julen Lopetegui they have a manager who claims he was never told that his transfer budget would be as small as it is.

Interestingly, after we debated Wolverhampton here previously, their fans who wrote in argued their problem was referees (although unlike Untold they seemed to have no statistics to back this up).  But the real problem seems to be that despite bringing in £90m from player sales in the last year they still need to sell more before they can buy without being clobbered by FFP, due to spending £175m last season.

Meanwhile, the Guardian is telling us that next season referees will add on time for time wasting and will aim to increase the amount of time the ball is in play.  Currently, the average is just under 55 minutes.

This season the actual time spent in celebrating a goal, and that taken for substitutions and injuries, will be added on, rather than a notional minute or two.   Time-wasting, and a refusal to move back the needed 10 yards from a free kick will be bookable offenses.

Elsewhere, I was intrigued by the comments made by some Manchester City supporters in claiming that the club has no case to answer in the current 100+ cases being brought against them.  One typical comment was “there is nothing illegal in the amount of money an individual invists in his business, however in an effort to keep entitiled clubs like MUFC Arsenal Liverpool at the top of the game, FFP was introduced.”

It is an interesting viewpoint that suggests the 19 clubs taking on Manchester City, have a case that can be dismissed in just a couple of lines on one simple fact.  Could it really be that one supporter without recourse to the evidence could dismiss in a few words a case brought by 19 clubs and which lawyers are expected to be battling over for several years?

Presumably, the answer from some of the people who wrote in is “yes”.   But then if it were that simple, why would the 19 other clubs take on Manchester City in a very long and expensive case which they are certain to lose, and which will make them all look incredibly stupid?

Clearly the case itself is not causing Manchester City any difficulty – far from it in fact since they won three trophies last season.  So why do it when defeat is obvious?

This position is one that often seems to arise in football debates – the view that the answer is very simple and the writer can explain it in a few words.   It is a similar position to that taken by journalists who feel they are able to tell clubs exactly what they need by way of transfers in order to rise up the league, and yet continue their job as journalists rather than take up a position in a football club – even a small football club.

But that is the point we seem to have got to – that simple question: if the solutions are that simple, why is no one implementing then, but is instead pouring £m into doing everything else?

11 Replies to ““Yes, no, obviously”. Kane on the move, and that big question: “Why?””

  1. Is that “a big ques” – why? He’s leaving Spurs, for pete’s sake! It’s like leaving Las Vegas.

  2. If FFP or budget limits were not introduced one club would always win making for a boring league. Who in the world would want to watch such a thing? Oh…Germans.

  3. I took a stopwatch to a match some years ago & found the time the ball was in actual play was only 45 minutes. And yet many fans are against the American system of
    teams playing the allocated time, in football that being 90 minutes. They complain it would lead to injuries if footballers were made to actively play 90 minutes. But on the other hand it would eliminate players feigning injury, wasting time at throw ins & corner kicks & taking ages to walk off the pitch when being substituted. But of all the major sports football has always been way behind in introducing innovation to improve the game compared to tennis, cricket & rugby in the UK

    I’m surprised Harry Hotspur is contemplating going abroad as I was, like many others, under the impression his main aim was beating Alan Shearer’s record of goals scored in the PL

  4. Adrian,

    There are major debates in the cricket world with most teams failing to complete the numbers of overs required to be bowled each day. At the moment I believe that fines are applied but they are certainly not sufficient to be an effective deterrent.

    My only answer in football is to have a separate timekeeper coupled with clearcut rules about when the ball is actually in play. For example when is the ball in play from a throw, is it when the ball leaves the thrower’s hands, when it is touched by the first player on the pitch, or some other time? Not necessarily simple.

    Referees could certainly do more than they do now by booking players for all kinds of timewasting, how often do we see keepers who have been wasting time from the first minute get a yellow with 5 minutes or so to go

  5. Andrew Crawshaw,

    Great idea! Don’t know how the refs would take it. Of course the timekeeper would have to be PGMOL so it might not work.

  6. Andrew– might be best, like in NBA basketball, the clock doesn’t start until a ball is touched on the court. That would negate time-wasting on throw-ins.

  7. I have the answer, just leave it to hell alone, it’s been like this forever. This is what happens when we have an influx of American owners and the multi-national cronies to pacify, we starts having VAR’s and talks of timers and “all star games”, mandatory water-breaks and all kind of implementations to “improve” the game. Of course it may improve some aspects of the game, but we could end up ruining the beautiful game that we know and love.

  8. @mike,

    The german situation has nothing to do with FFP. But with the fact that Bayern have been managed like no other club in Germany and have been better managed. german clubs, except 3 or 4, are fan owned (at least 50 % + one share). The whole structure of the Bundesliga is thus unique.

    That said, yes, the Budesliga has been a one club league. But because of the merits of one club, not because of financial cheating…which is kind of the opposite of the result that many are looking for when wanting to apply somme FFP.

  9. In general, I am for an independent time keeper and a clock that means something. The clock would stop when the ball goes into touch or when the referee blows the whistle and the length of the match could be 60 or 70 minutes. I don’t think this is American interference. Many of us are fed up with opaque decision making by the referees.

  10. Dawud Abdullah-Muhammad – So you don’t mind paying full price & only receiving half of what you paid for? It’s the same as buying a pint of beer & being given half a pint or delivering half a pizza after paying for a full one. With the prices they are charging fans they need to see they are giving them value for the money charged.

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