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July 2021

Why bother with international matches when countries can now own clubs?


 Ordinary is Pointless

By Tony Attwood

Looking at a league table after one match is rather like looking at a chest of drawers where only the knobs that help you open each drawer has delivered.  Not much clue to what the overall picture is going to be.

In France however, unhampered by the Olympiks, the Ligue 1 football season has delivered two games, and even before it got going the title had already been awarded.  Everyone agreed Paris St Germain would win the league this season, next, the one after, the one after and so on.

And that’s interesting because I remember a commentator saying exactly the same thing as that when Chelsea first got their billions.  Chelsea would win this year, next year, the year after, and everyone would stop going.

In fact the links between PSG and Chelsea are stronger than one might imagine.  PSG was an artificially created club which was set up by pushing two little clubs together, to fill a stadium.  Chelsea was created in 1905 as a club to occupy an unused stadium.  In fact Chelsea applied to join the league in 1905 without there being a club, a team, a supporter, or anything.   There was just an idea of a football club in the stadium – and the League gave them a place in the second division.   “No history” is the common phrase, I believe.

So, what of PSG?  Well, here’s the league table thus far (with two knobs on, as it were)…


1  Olympique Lyonnais 2 2 0 0 5 1 +4 6
2 Olympique de Marseille 2 2 0 0 3 0 +3 6
3 SC Bastia 2 2 0 0 5 3 +2 6
4 Girondins de Bordeaux 2 2 0 0 4 2 +2 6
5 FC Lorient 2 1 1 0 4 3 +1 4
6 LOSC Lille 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
7 Toulouse FC 2 1 1 0 3 2 +1 4
8 AS Nancy Lorraine 2 1 1 0 2 1 +1 4
9 Valenciennes FC 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1 4
10 Stade Brestois 29 2 1 0 1 1 1 0 3
11 AC Ajaccio 2 1 1 0 1 0 +1 2
12 Paris Saint-Germain 2 0 2 0 2 2 0 2
13 Montpellier Hérault SC 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1
14 OGC Nice 2 0 1 1 0 1 -1 1
15 AS Saint-Etienne 2 0 0 2 2 4 -2 0
16 Evian TG FC 2 0 0 2 2 4 -2 0
17 Stade de Reims 2 0 0 2 1 3 -2 0
18 Stade Rennais FC 2 0 0 2 0 2 -2 0
19 FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 2 0 0 2 2 5 -3 0
20 ESTAC Troyes 2 0 0 2 1 5 -4 0

And rather amusingly top dog at the moment is  Olympique Lyonnais which is managed by our old pal Remi Garde – the first man Arsene Wenger signed (although to be fair most books now say that Remi and Patrick Vieira were signed on the same day, following a phone call from Mr Wenger in Japan).

Of course only two games are gone, but even so, quite amusing to see PSG so far down the league.

Paris is not London of course, not least because against our 12 league teams (or is it 11, sorry I lost count half way through) PSG is the only Parisian club.

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So whereas the crises in London are shared around all the problems in Parisian football hit PSG.   They have spent €200m+ on transfers in the past year alone bringing in names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Thiago Motta and helping clubs like Milan balance their books.

Now the French know what the English league feels like – where one player’s salary can be more than the entire income even of  Bordeaux, said to be the fifth-richest French club.

So Paris Saint-Germain, not Man City, are now the richest club in the world – owned a they are by Qatar Sport Investment, which is part owned by the Qatari government and part by the Qatari Olympic Committee, which is a novel notion.

In reality PSG is, I think, the first big club in the world to be owned by a country – in this case Qatar itself , rather than by a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.  It opens up a whole new can of worms as we should now ask, why bother with internationals when countries can own clubs?

Already there is much gnashing of teeth as coaches of various teams say that coming second in the league will be as good as winning it, since there is no chance of beating a club this rich.

With Leonardo is the director of football of PSG, Carlo Ancelotti is the coach and the player list is stunning although they are talking of taking on Man City, Real Mad and Chelsea in the next round of transfers.

One part of the plan is to make French TV rights more attractive, rather than something sold to little filler channels like ESPN.  But to do that the French will have to follow the Spanish model and create a two team league, and then hype up the question of which of the two will win.  If you don’t fall for the hype it is a yawn.

Al-Jazeera TV, owned by the same country as owns PSG now has a French sports channel, which owns the rights to Ligue 1 and also to the Champions League matches.  As for the country itself, it is buying publicity ahead of the 2022 World Cup.  So PSG know they are probably safe for 10 years – but after that?

As for PSG itself, it is extraordinary that they are still not instantly dominating.  I thought they were going to win the league last season, but once Ancelotti came in part way through the season, things slipped away.

What is interesting though is that as far as I can see, virtually all Man C fans like the money that allowed them to get their trophy last season.  I don’t think the same is true in Paris.   Rich men and rich countries that own clubs tend to keep their distance from the people who merely turn up to watch football at the ground.  (Apparently the management of the crowd at PSG is so great that even the Mexican Waves are orchestrated by the club).
But it is interesting to look back to the early days of Mr Wenger at Arsenal at which time one hardly saw a French player in the league.  Now we think it odd because we only had one player of ours playing for France in the Euros.  But the high profile players are still emerging from France – as Olivier Giroud shows.

If it is certain that PSG will win the league, despite their average start, then they will join two other leagues where things are fairly sorted before the beginning.  One of course is Scotland where Celtic ought to win the treble (although they have hardly got off to a flying start either), and the other is the classic two horse race in Spain.
But Spain does take us once again to Malaga from whom we got Santi Cazorla, and whose billionaire owner seems to have deserted them.   Still, its not all bad for Malaga.   Sixteen-year-old Fabrice Olinga made history on Saturday when he became the youngest ever player to score in La Liga, scoring the winning goal against  Celta Vigo.


24 comments to Why bother with international matches when countries can now own clubs?

  • Jayjay

    Am I first?
    Untold and theories; shouldn’t the site’s name be changed to something more scientific?
    Oopps! Whats more scientific than Untold?
    Always a great blog that reports much more than just Arsenal matters…. Thats sure what keeps me coming back. Well work @ admin.
    Keep em coming….

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think in Spain the clubs own the government a lot of money so
    the government owns all the clubs in a way of speaking 😉

    The French league doesn’t appeal that much to me but I sure was a silent supporter of Montpellier last year. Love it when the money kings go crashing down

  • Jimin

    Sorry to dev but in line wit d untold spirit. Did we noticed how chelsea got 3pts yest. That cant be human error. When ll such officiatin b investigated in england? I dont want arsenal to win matches dat way but how can we win trop if other club win dis way. It sad n i notice commentators said little ab it. If it was arsenal, hmmm u know the rest

  • WalterBroeckx

    Our ref reviewing team will get on to it Jimin. Don’t worry

  • ARSENAL 13

    question about spain…..

    Are they paying LOW taxes or NO taxes????…

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I thought Lorient was our second team?

  • Giddy- Nairobi Kenya

    Top Top notch article. You articulate issues the way they are and oooh yes this is my most favourable blog on this site. Keep it up. I looking forward to read refs review on chelsea’s game against reading. Keep the faith

  • rusty

    Do we have anyone on loan (or mooted to go) to Ligue 1 this year? Joel Campbell is in Spain…

  • elkieno

    good read for sure…
    why did chelsea play so early and where they good?

  • nicky

    To revert to the title “Why bother with international matches” am I alone in having little interest in the doings of our national team?
    On the day of a fixture, I will scour the team list and if there is an Arsenal connection I will watch the game(on TV).
    Otherwise I won’t bother.
    Now, it hasn’t always been like that. I recall the days when an international match on TV was a must. So what has changed?
    I suspect it has a lot to do with the heavy publicity surrounding Club football, the transfers, the progress and the gradual introduction of more European games.
    While Wembley Stadium will always have a full house, I wonder whether this is a misleading statistic when considering support for the national team.
    I repeat, am I alone in taking massive interest only in the news coming out of the Emirates?

  • Stevie E

    You’re not alone mate, I can hardly be bothered with any other football news there days. Don’t even watch MOTD, can’t be arsed with all the bias and idiots telling me the shit I’m seeing isn’t actually happening. It’s the blogs and arsenalplayer for me nowdays.

  • Gouresh

    @Nicky: Me too, i watch the internationals only if our player is playing.

  • Matt Clarke

    I too have no interest in internationals and little interest in anything other than The Arsenal.
    I blame cheating and corruption – they started spoiling those matches years ago (for me).
    I think that the last international I really enjoyed was Scotland v Netherlands (the 1724 World Cup finals?) when Archie Gemill played so bravely and scored a truly great goal.

    regarding the bigger question…

    I thought that the article might touch on the likes of Russia, where it seems that the state buys/sponsors clubs to aid the national team. I have trouble seeing what motivates Qatar to buy PSG (that’s me admitting to being dim on the subject, so do fill me in as necessary). Is it to promote the WC there? Is it to make money?

  • aztecgunner

    How does AC Ajaccio only have two points…^_^

  • Adam
    Zenit st petersburg (I think) is the richest club in the world as it is owned by Gazprom which in turn is owned by the Russian state. Chelsea are even link via a sponsorship deal with Gazprom.

  • Football rather than thriving is in fact dying – being replaced by a money making machine drawing in criminals and greedy business men like moths to a flame.

    The fans lost the game a few years back, and it will take a complete collapse financially in the game to win it back.

    Till then we will have to put up with cash spoiling the game for the fans.

  • nicky

    I hate to say this but I think you’re right.
    The amount of money being paid to footballers, being charged for tickets, being paid by broadcasters and advertising agencies…. the sale of two types of shirts per many clubs every year. Even the high cost of limited catering in many grounds. Money is being milked from every source.
    A global financial collapse is probably the only answer in order to see a return to football sanity.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I too have lost intrest in international games and like Nicky will watch if there is an Arsenal connection and more in hope that don’t get injured .I used to worry about RIP(you
    know ,the guy who likes ManUre !) getting injured but no longer – I sleep better now !
    I’ve yet to form any sense of attachment(or belonging) to the “Malaysian ” teams in the English Leagues ,but was quite suprised to see many QPR shirts around .Is Air Asia or the Tune group giving them away for free ?
    As for the err..Red Dragons -zilch !!! I’ve always loved Blue Birds anyway !
    What that you say ? What about Shebby Singh at Blackburn ? He
    has always amazed me with his comments – he articulates them well even though he has both feet in his mouth ! Now if he can juggle while standing (?) on his head – I’ll be suitably impressed !
    Malaysia Boleh !(Which means Malaysia Can or Can do it ).

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Ooops ,sorry – What’s that..

  • GodWoreTen

    As usual I agree with most of what you say.
    But … I thought a global financial collapse was what was happening now. The trouble with financial collapses is that the poor pay for them by getting poorer, or in some cases destitute, while the obscenely rich get comparitively richer. Mr Usmanov has no problems feeding himself, by the look of him. Now we have Russian and Middle Eastern money totally distorting what was a beautiful game. Just wait until the Chinese get more involved…

  • nicky

    @ Godwore Ten,
    After I’d shaved and showered this a.m., I dried myself with my Egyptian towel. Then I put on my socks from India, boxers from Indonesia, shorts from the United Arab Emirates, Tshirt from Peru and slippers from China, who also provided the breakfast crockery.
    They’ve all got it in for us!!

  • Red-Man


    I didn’t see the game, but my guess is that Chel$ki played on Wednesday is because as CL “winners”, [SPIT] they will shortly have to play in the European Super Cup…

  • iniez

    Sorry for this being so off topic but I felt this should be shared, I read this off but don’t want to give them more traffic, the article goes as follows

    [The FA Board have named Manchester United chief executive David Gill as their candidate to join next year’s Uefa Executive Committee.

    The move comes after news that Geoff Thompson, who has represented the FA in the role since 2009, will step down next May.

    Eight seats are up for grabs on the committee, with president Michel Platini at the helm.

    A statement on the governing body’s official website read: “The FA Board on Thursday agreed to nominate David Gill as its candidate for the upcoming UEFA Executive Committee membership election.

    “Gill, Chief Executive of Manchester United Football Club and an FA Board member, has been proposed ahead of next year’s elections at UEFA Congress in London.

    Geoff Thompson, who has represented The FA on UEFA’s Executive Committee since 2000, steps down in May leaving a vacant position for an elected representative.”]

    Further, the UEFA executive committee is:

    So we get on the FA and united move up into uefa

  • iniez

    Should have read *potentially move up into uefa