This article is about relationships. (For details of Ashley Cole’s arrest, which is also about relationships, please see the second article near the end of this post.)
The relationship between organisations like FIFA, the FA and the EPL and their relationships with the clubs and each other. Plus relationships between clubs and fans. And relationships between the media and football.
In the end, it is all about relationships.
To try and make my point I am going to take in four totally diverse situations: Manchester United, Mansfield Town, Chester City and football in Argentina. I’ve made these connections because these examples seem to hold up to the light the problems we are facing.
Manchester United first: not the famous £750m debt, but the fact that supporters are turning against the owners of their club with the “green and gold” campaign. The latest story to come out of Very Old Trafford is that the club is trying to stop the use of these flags and their web site has said that the green and gold flags may not be allowed in the future.
They have also recently sacked one of their long-serving stewards after he tried to return a banner (which had been removed) to fans after a game.
This complete lack of relationship between the club and the fans has been going on for some time – some people at the Ems don’t like the stewards and the standing policy, but the problems we have are nothing compared with those in Manchester.
The clubs (including ones that even I know about like Boca Juniors and River Plate) blamed the recession in Europe because European clubs are not paying so much to buy Argentine players, (although Boca themselves are now considered one of the few well run clubs and I believe are not in debt.)
Another part of the problem is that in the past the Argentine FA has bailed out clubs in trouble. This is an interesting point, because the bail outs have made the clubs more and more reckless – and yet putting money aside to help clubs in the tough times is the grand scheme of that jolly old fella Lord Sugar of the Tiny Totts. Interesting to see that it doesn’t always work.
Another possible reason for the chaos – and one we should note with interest – is that because the clubs are owned by members who elect the directors, the directors of clubs change all the time, and so there is no stable policy. Mismanagement is rife, no one is ever held to account and most teams would have vanished into liquidation years back if any sort of financial regulations used in business had applied. (I suspect Real Madrid might be much the same – and it is the downside of clubs being owned by fans).
But there is another issue: the “Barra Bravas” – an equivalent to the Ultras. They also have an “ownership” within the clubs – in that they demand money from the clubs in return for their support! Now how do you deal with that when you are in debt? (I told you this was all about relationships).
In Argentina it seems you don’t although the clubs say that the Argentine FA should deal with the matter. The Argentine FA says the clubs should work within their budgets. Players in the Argentine are paid in dollars, because no one trusts the local currency.
But they have found a radical solution and it goes like this.
The TV rights for football in Argentina have been held by Televisión Satelital Codificada for years and years. TSC had a monopoly, being owned by TyC (the biggest sports channel in the country), and Grupo Clarín, (the largest media group).
The monopoly has been felt to be a “bad thing”, despite bringing in huge amounts of money, so a law was passed this season ending the deal part way through the contract, and making all football free to air for any TV station that wanted it!
To make sense of this we have to consider Julio Grondona who has run the Argentine FA since 1979 and who is FIFA’s senior vice-president and head of its finance committee (you knew FIFA were going to come into this somewhere didn’t you!) Let’s be clear – here is the man who has almost total control of a Football Association that is financially an absolute and total wreck and who is head of the finance committee of FIFA. Got that? Right, let’s get on…
When club directors went to the FA for money to pay players Grondona went to TSC and demanded cash up front for future TV contracts. (I think we should note this, and in three years time nod knowingly when the EPL turn to Sky in the same way). Grondona then said he would distribute the cash to the clubs. Personally.
TSC offered £7m in advance, but the clubs said they wanted a “better and more permanent solution”, and demanded over £42m.
Grondona then asked the government wipe out the clubs’ tax debts. (Portsmouth, Cardiff, Southend, everyone – are you reading this?)
The government then came in with its “everybody has a right to watch football” slogan, and made football a human right (the government really doesn’t like Clarín and sees it as running the opposition).
So the government seized football and gave it back to the people. (But the tax debts still exist, and players are not being paid on time.)
Of course I am not saying all this will happen here, but there are just so many links with what is happening in the UK, that it makes you think…. And then you read what three guys who love Mansfield have done for their club, and know, it doesn’t all have to be like this. Compare Chester, Mansfield and Man United – and then throw in Argentina and FIFA.
In reality football and economics are totally mixed, and any discussion of Arsenal, Wenger, or football in general, which does not include the economics is ultimately pointless. To solve the mess you need a will, and intelligence. It is all about relationships
And now, a new regular Untold Arsenal feature…
RUMOUR OF THE DAY
Ashley Cole is under arrest, charged with having an illicit relationship with a shoe box (according to the Daily Screwdriver). Mr Cole, who is unable to drive because of a congenital inability to tell “50” from “120” denied the charge. Inspector Letz Makeiteasysson in charge of the case said the shoe box (for size 12 loafers) had not yet been found.
- Arsenal 100 years ago – read the rather amusing and quite adventurous MAKING THE ARSENAL novel click here
- Being paranoid helps when supporting Arsenal
- Arsenal prepare to meet Blackburn Rovers 100 years ago.
- Arsenal and the Cult of Personality – read it here
- Want to write for Untold Arsenal? Send in your idea or your piece to Tony@hamilton-house.com. Please send as a word document, include your name as you want it to appear in the article, and please assert that the article has not appeared and is not on offer anywhere else. Articles must be in keeping with the style, wisdom and general elegance of this site.
Tony “I know football makes sense but I haven’t quite worked it out yet” Attwood
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