Financial stability or ambition? Which do fans want?
Easy to answer that: BOTH. Fans want to know that their club can win something, but they don’t want the club to go bust.
Thing is: for many clubs, it mightn’t be possible. Arsenal seemed to manage it, but now it seems that stability has taken precedence rather than short-term ambition.
But it’s a fine, fine line to tread if you’re a Spurs, a Birmingham City, a Stoke City. Just what IS a reasonable ambition?? And what happens if you chase it and fail??
Those are the questions facing football club Boards each May as they set their budgets for the following season. What does it cost to chase 4th spot from 7th? And what is the consequence of failing?? What does it cost for a promoted club to stay up?? And what happens if they go down again??
Currently my answer is this: you almost certainly need to hock potential Champions League income buying players to get you there in the first place. The wages bill of the Premier League is unsustainable in the Championship and if you fail to reach the Champions League position, then you are in real trouble.
It says to me that there needs to be rules about the nature of player contracts in the Premier League. Contingency clauses for going down. Bonuses contingent on finishing fourth or staying up. And contracts with a 24 month termination clause upon relegation, as parachute payments stop at that time.
And it also says to me: is the success of the EPL hastening the day when a new structure for English football needs to emerge, with about 60 clubs in a Premier/Championship north/Championship south structure emerges?
There’s always space for relegation in that. But I think that there comes a time when stability says forward planning needs a minimum certainty of income, which might come if clubs were sure that no further relegation were possible.
I reckon there’s about 50-60 clubs with fan bases and catchment areas sufficient for 15,000+ crowds.
The Cups could still function as the ‘romance of the pyramid’. But the reality is that smaller clubs than that are probably better competing against those of similar size than trying to harbour unsustainable dreams in the League.
The Championship is now genuinely a competition. I wonder if a 20/18N/18S league structure, with money distributed a bit more widely through the media and financial rules put in place, would radically infuse English football with a greater stability?
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow.
But maybe one day??
UNTOLD RUMOUR OF THE DAY
Stories that even the Star doesn’t print
Axylotl Wallet (head of the Olympics Location Committee) and Black Setter (head of the hand behind the back committee of Fifa) have had a secret meeting in Room 28 of the Prince Charles Hotel, Wicklow, to discuss future events.
Wallet and Setter started their chit chat with a raising of glasses to celebrate the huge success of the Greek Olympics. Through recordings made from a hidden microphone Untold Arsenal is able to confirm that Setter congratulated Wallet saying, “It is the first time that the Olympics on its own has ever bankrupted a whole country. Even the EU can’t get out of this one. That will show them for trying to impose the free movement of players on us.”
Wallet replied, “But tell me about South Africa – is their entire economy going to fall because of the World Cup type thing you are doing there?”
“We have hopes,” said Setter taking another drink, “but the best bet is the UK. Your Olympics will leave them with debts that will make their current problems look like child’s play, and if we give them the World Cup, that will totally destroy any final chance of recovery that obstinate country has – with their childish Premier League refusing to play games when we tell them.”
Their drank some more.
“So down to business,” said Wallet. “How much are you charging countries not to give them the World Cup finals?”
“$150 million” said Setter. “And you?”
“$250 million not to get the Olympics,” said Wallet. “If we give them the games it will cost them about ten times as much in building fees and a wrecked economy, so its a good deal.”
There was silence for a long time until Setter said, “I think we should put the price up.”
“That would certainly teach them,” said Wallet.
AND ALL THE STUFF YOU MISSED…
The inside story on the ref’s decision in favour of Porto.
There are more Arsenal fans in Nigeria than England
The funniest book about Arsenal ever written.
There’s more on our great and glorious history on the Woolwich Arsenal web site.
Untold Arsenal is (c) Tony Attwood 2010. Tony is economics correspondent of CBeebies.
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