By Tony Attwood
I’m not sure how much reporting there would have been concerning Uli Hoeness, president of Bayern Munich, and his admission of tax fraud had we not been playing in Munich.
But even with that spotlight, it just got a mention in most of the media and was then passed over as some sort of minor indiscretion. The fact that he had stolen more than most of us would earn not just in one lifetime but in half a dozen life times seems to have passed the British media by.
It is always the way when the media in the UK handle football finance. Take Queens Park Rangers, who lost £64.5m last season – which is more than any of us is likely to earn in over 30 life times. It gets a mention, and then is old news. But it is worth a second look because QPR are currently engaged in a fight with the Football League and are threatening legal action against the League over the FFP regulations that the League is imposing and which the vast majority of clubs voted for.
Of course most of us could see it coming once Harry Redknapp was given the managerial job – but even so, to spend £17m more on salaries than the club’s entire income is careless to say the least. The League’s FFP limit for a loss this season is £8m.
What’s more, the QPR chairman’s introductory commentary on the accounts (which of course must be published by law) did not make any mention of the figures (bizarre when you think about it) but just said it had been a difficult year. QPR has a net debt of £177m.
If QPR don’t go up this season they will get a long transfer embargo. But I suppose that doesn’t matter since they signed Andrew Johnson, Julio Cesar, Samba Diakite, Robert Green, Stephane Mbia, Park Ji-Sung, Estaban Granero, Junior Hoilett, Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Nelsen, Christopher Samba, Loic Remy, Yun Suk-Young, Jermaine Jenas and Tal Ben Haim last season. If QPR do go up they will be fined £47m by the Football League for breaches of regulations. The money goes to charity – not the league (the Premier League didn’t want smaller clubs benefiting from the insanity of the larger league clubs).
Even allowing for the behind the scenes property activities which will see QPR move out of the ground and sell it for development, it still doesn’t make much sense to bring in Arry and spend all the loot..So that’s two sides of footballing financial insanity. Uli Hoeness, who had everything, risking 10 years inside to have yet more, QPR risking massive fines and transfer embargoes in the vague hope that Arry will bring promotion. That’s as bad as it gets..Well no, not quite..Not quite because you wait for years for any story to come out of Romanian football (well, maybe you don’t) and then two come out at once. And they are both, sort of, odd.
Eight football officials and players including the former Tottenham defender Gheorghe Popescu for are going to prison for tax evasion and money laundering. Pop got 3 years and one month with no appeal.
He played for his country 115 times, was Romanian player of the year six times, and was lined up to be the President of the Romanian FA.
OK, that’s one story from eastern Europe. It’s a story but not a major story for the west (except perhaps in Tottenham). But now add in this:
The Romanian league has said it is negotiating a new TV deal for its Liga 1 which it says is in the region of €100 million for three seasons. years. Honest, £100m.
Now that to me seems a lot of cash for a league that is currently broadcast by local TV stations. There are 18 clubs in Liga 1, and 24 Liga 2 and both leagues are included in the deal.
The only problem is that just as that deal is going through Steaua Bucharest’s general manager Mihai Stoica, the former Rapid Bucharest owner George Copos, and the former Dinamo Bucharest owner Cristian Borcea all got non-appealable jail sentences along with their ex-Tottenham colleague.
Three separate cases. Two where officials fall foul of the financial laws of the land, one where a club (just one among many) is coming unstuck over FFP regulations. Plus one where the media feed the monster by pumping more money that it doesn’t actually have into football.
It will all end in tears, you mark my words.
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