By Walter Broeckx
As I am not from England I have a bit of a handicap in some things. Even though we can see some channels over here in Belgium we don’t get all the UK channels. So I couldn’t see the Dispatches programme about “buying a football club”.
And as I could find out from the comments of our readers the most worrying thing about this whole programme was the deafening silence the day after. Now if I can compare this with the upset we had in Belgium when in our local “Panorama” we had an undercover report about the Chinese gambling syndicates and the way they operated in our league it gets even more strange. Because in my country the papers had to order extra paper to write it all down. Every self respecting weekly wrote several articles about it. Even the local advertising magazine of Lidl covered it. Okay maybe this last one not – but virtually everyone else.
But now nobody in the press seems interested in this story. Not a word to be found. And this is something that scares me. This is something that really frightens me. You could say that there is a big difference between “buying a team” and “buying players in order to buy a result”. And yes at first sight there is a big difference. If you don’t pay attention you could say what is the relevance of this. Why could this be important?
Now I don’t know where the Panorama programme stopped but I would sure like to add a few things about what could happen after a team has been bought. And for this I will have to tell you a few things on how it went in Belgium.
The pivotal figure in the match fixing scandal was Ye, a Chinese business man. He went to clubs who were in financial problems. And at first he presented himself as an investor and offered to buy the club and help it pay off the debts. Of course some clubs were interested in this way out of trouble. What they didn’t know at that time was that they would be used for match fixing. And after first giving some money to the club and trying to buy it to get full control the match fixing started.
Until it all came out after some time and he had to run to China where he still is. The Belgium justice department still has an international arrest warrant against Ye but he is never seen again over here.
So what we have now is: a definite link between buying a club and match fixing. It has happened in Belgium. But it also has happened in Finland with the now bankrupt club Allianssi. Again Ye bought the club in financial troubles and then after a while the strange results came out. But the Finnish justice department could not prove anything. Maybe because he had left the country just in time? Or because no involved player was brave/stupid enough to risk his life to break the silence?
So now it seems rather easy to buy a club in England. But then comes the question : why do they want to buy it? You only need one crook in the system to start it. Just imagine two of those in one league…
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So I really cannot understand why the press in England doesn’t make this well known link between “buying a club” and “buying results”. If they would make the link and warn the public and say: now look, this is what happened in other countries so we have to be on the lookout for strange things. We have to keep an eye open if the owners really are who they pretend to be. Certainly if they come from China or other parts of the world where there is a lot of illegal gambling on football games. (Don’t get me wrong as I have nothing against Chinese people at all. I even had a very good Chinese friend in my schooldays and believe it or not his name was Yu – with an U and not with an E …)
It looks as if the press sticks their collective heads in the sand and don’t want to look up for a possible danger. They just don’t want to mention it. I’m not saying it is happening, or has happened but can anyone tell me it will surely not happen in England?
Now of course it could be that the press in England is lazy. Maybe they spend so much time inventing transfer rumours that making such links is a bit too difficult for many journalists?
But believe me when the ownership of a team goes in other hands it is well worth of having a closer look at the new person( s) in charge. Before you know it they not only own the club but also the private life of some players in order to buy some results. Players have to fear for their lives or the lives of their relatives as happened in Belgium. In fact one of the involved clubs is the closest Jupiler League team from my home. It’s only some 10-15 minutes away from my home. Who would have thought that it would happen to this rather nice and friendly club.
But the fact that the media don’t touch those subjects is very strange. And frightening. Well at least over here we have warned you for what can happen if you get the wrong people on board of a club.
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