Barcelona: breaking the labour laws and being poor at transfers

When Untold started using the phrase “Football Betrayed” it was with one meaning in mind.  That the journalists who are instrumental in shaping opinion – particularly of those who don’t make it to many matches – have fallen short of their duty of investigating what is going on in football.

Too often they just do standard reporting, throwing in the regular standard commentary, and then leaving it at that.

Whereas their colleagues who look at political matters do on occasion question what is going on, in a meaningful and sometimes forthright manner, this doesn’t happen with football journalists.  Indeed I suspect if they had been writing the political commentary at the time of Blair’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction” fiasco we’d never have known where the report of those weapons had come from, and why none were ever found.

Taking what people with power say as being truthful is never very clever, but this is what we get: hand outs and a bit of sneering.   When their are stories they are cobbled together and repeated from journalist to journalist.

We noticed this when in the early days of Wenger all the papers would quote the “fact” that Arsenal had had 25 red cards (or whatever number was made up by one and reported by the others) since the new manager had arrived.   No one bothered to quote how many cards any other team had got.  No one bothered to ask.

A similar game was played with “It’s been x years since Arsenal won a trophy,” without ever referring to how many years it had been since any other team had won a trophy.  One person said it, everyone copied, and on it went without any thought.

I thought of all when reading a few reports of late about Barcelona.  I commented the other day on how everyone had re-run the story about Barcelona having more of their youngsters playing top football than any other team, while not reminding readers that the club was banned from signing anyone for a year, because of their flagrant disregard of the youth transfer policy, which, as far as I know everyone else was working within.  Such journalism was just a straightforward celebration of cheating and awful behaviour.

Likewise there was no criticism that I found of Barcelona’s obvious abuse of the appeals system, in which they appealed the penalty imposed by Fifa without actually having any evidence that the earlier process was flawed, or any new evidence to put to the tribunal.  They appealed simply to be able to buy anyone and everyone during the summer, in an attempt to have it see them through the 12 months ahead.

However the mood changes sometimes and there has been a bit of a change in the way Barcelona are treated by the press, for although the notion that they have been totally breaking the child labour laws is too much for most of the media to swallow (given the hype they have always used in reporting Barcelona), they have at least started to realise that a lot of the Barcelona dealings with Arsenal have been to our advantage not theirs.

So although we might all know that Barcelona got a pretty poor deal in buying players from Hleb to Song, the media has been slow to pick on this until now.  For now not even the most blinkered journalist can’t ignore the fact that Alexis Sanchez’ transfer was a hell of a good  move to Arsenal this summer, and a bad move for them.  And that’s before we consider that he cost Arsenal around half what Barcelona paid for a centre forward with a very dodgy temperament.

Also no one at Barcelona is quite sure how they ended up with Vermaelen, who has not yet  played for the club.

And while the Independent has indeed considered the bit of business Arsenal did in buying Sanchez for what now looks a low price, and selling Vermaelen for what looks a high price, the Guardian has started saying that for Barcelona it has been downhill all the way since 2011.

At that point, says the Guardian, “With a long-established philosophy and much-admired academy, they seemed to have the ideal platform for success…. Academies cannot be relied on: some generations will always be better than others.”  Yes indeed – especially when they break every single rule in the book to get the kids in, in the first place.

But the problem has been that Barcelona has for a long time failed to sign the right guys at the right price and so have relied on bring in youngsters illegally.

Not just Hleb, but Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, Keirrison, Henrique… Even Henry struggled to fit in.

But the problem for Barcelona is the same as the problem of Real Madrid.  They can’t have off spells.  They can’t have seasons where they slip out of the Champions League.  They are currently expanding their stadium on the basis of their new friends from Qatar.  They represent a nation in waiting.  They can’t screw up.

But just as we thought we’d seen it all with Barcelona being banned from transfer activity for a year, we find that that is not all, for their former president José Nuñez has just lost his final appeal (and how this club loves to appeal) against a two years two month prison sentence for bribing tax inspectors.

Nuñez is 83 but despite his age must enter prison this week.  His latest idea was to ask the court to let him stay out of prison until the government hears his pardon request.  The court, a bit like the people at Fifa for once, had had enough of this, and said quite clearly, “a request for pardon … does not carry an automatic right to suspend the carrying out of a sentence”.

So the mighty edifice of Barcelona starts to slip.  Last time I looked they were third in the league – not that far off the top, but still not in the sort of position they expect to be.

The Qatar money will keep them moving for quite a while yet, but I rather doubt that the youth academy will re-establish itself in a hurry.  And with their lack of an eye for a good deal in the transfer market, they could be slipping for a little while yet.

he books

21 Replies to “Barcelona: breaking the labour laws and being poor at transfers”

  1. Excellent, let them suffer…just like we at Archway metal works are making the spuds suffer.

    Up The Arsenal 😉

  2. Good, while they’re at it, how about lending support to the other eighteen teams in the league who want their fair share of the television revenue.

  3. Quincy I’d agree. Mind you I would also agree to Spain allowing them an official vote for independence, and then when they vote again as they just have, the club can leave and join the Catalan league.

  4. So true about a club riddled with corrupt and dirty methods…they deserve every bit of this and much more!!!

  5. One of the pundits on ESPN actually said it has been 11 years without a title this past week. Clearly the have forgotten the FA Cup won in May 2014. It was clear Anti-Arsenal rhetoric!

    A lot of signings for Barc are part of the club president elections and have little to do with football.

  6. Such backdoor influences in football nowadays reminds of how much the Mafia had influence in American politics, economics and societies in the beginning of last century. I wonder sometimes how the world is gonna be a century from now.

  7. Football is cyclical, just ask any United fan. Barca’s star was very high under Guardiola and Real Mad’s was in a funk. Now it is in reverse. Likewise here United were(mostly) triumphant under SAF but the skids came off. Suddenly with new leadership (off the pitch and on it) they floundered and can’t sign anyone decent. They have tried to address this.

    Liverpool have struggled to sign the right players recently, and we have also had issues in bringing players to London. WE know the role that our AAA fans play in this, and the role that the media and refs have in putting players off. Is this perhaps the case for Liverpool and Barca (and other clubs) too? Or is it all down to money> Or to poor negotiating teams? After all greta players come and go, so do great coaches, so is it any surprise that some of those acting behind the scenes (directors, scouts, chief execs etc) should vary in quality too?

    So Barca’s situation – bad as it undoubtedly is – may be temporary. They will continue to finish top 3 in Spain (and qualify for the CL) and with Suarez back playing they may do better than that (so long as he keeps his fangs to himself). As for TV5 well I just hope he is enjoying the medical room in Catalonia as much as he did the one in N5

  8. The sad truth is, everyone loves a winner.

    Chelsea/Man City are reported to be better than Arsenal but not one reporter mentions the shocking levels of debt it took for them to “win”. They just love a winner.

  9. Your recent posts have avoided the debacle against Swansea in a fashion that would be expected in north Korea.
    Does your silence tell us you are wavering in your worship of the master.

  10. I am pro arsenal. Football club first. Wenger is destroying his own legacy and is facilitated by mindless support. If this was a political party the men in grey suits would have paid a visit 5 years ago. He has been allowed to become a narcissist because of the blind faith. His tactics are very poor and his transfer dealings have been terrible. Two centrebacks left with no replacement whilst the manager met the pope. We only got welbeck because giroud got injured before deadline day. This is about what’s best for the club. I hate to see his time finish like this. Go now with dignity and respect for the sake of the legacy. He has been an amazing servent. Let’s remember him that way. I do not want to see him discrace himself again in the way in which he spoke about merson, another loyal arsenal man. He is a loose cannon now.

  11. pat The master Wenger still rules. He has had a bad set of results but he rules. Wenger does not react to bad officiating because he will get punished big time. THe FA, media & PGMOL have an agenda that is basically to humiliate his great success. They control the vision the public get to see. Wenger has to work with his team despite the horrendous slaughter his players have to suffer. He will overcome. I will stay faithful to his methods.

  12. When I was growing up and supporting Arsenal back in the 70’s I used to have to defend Arsenal against the stick we would get from rival fans.
    Nowadays it seems that we need to defend Arsenal against our own ‘fans’ more than rival ones (who incidentally, appear more knowledeable – or at least appreciable – about Arsenal most of the time).

  13. Another advantage that Barcelona has is that they and their friends in the Spanish capital have completely cornered the market in Latin America. I was there this past week and the front page of the major newspapers in El Salvador had the scores of the Real Madrid and Barcelona games.

  14. Micko, I too grew up in the 70’s and have spent my whole life devoted to AFC. Your use of the word ‘fans’ in your post is typically condescending to supporters who question the running of the club. I am standing up for arsenal football club. I do not take pleasure in seeing a once great man fall. He must go.
    Quincy . Fair dues I missed the article. Having read it, it only reinforces my opinion. You all have your heads in the sand.
    Will, I would go for someone like Koeman.

  15. @ Pat

    Just remind us about what professional coaching qualifications you have; what your experience is of managing a top football club; how manay transfers of top players you arranged; what you’re inside knowledge of the Boardroom or the dressing room is…….

    You have an opinion………….nothing more nothing less. You have the right to that opinion, I have no problem with that. It doesn’t happen to agree with my opinion but the difference is I don’t try and pretend that I’m an expert and know better than Wenger or the Board how to run a football club…….I don’t have the skills, knowledge or experience.

  16. No idea – the answer is in the analyses on this site and on the Referee Decisions site. We have been analysing the activities of referees in relation to all Premier League teams for several years and publishing them on this site.

    The reviews are undertaken by fully qualified referees who work or have worked at the highest levels.

  17. Mike
    I am not looking for a management job at arsenal. That does not mean that my opinion is baseless.
    The real problem is that any questions aimed at the management are dismissed without ever assessing their merit.
    Your approach is to go to a match sit back and take whatever happens. Last season we shipped 6 at Chelsea, 3 at Everton, 5 at Liverpool and 6 at MAN city. We picked up 6 points from 24 against the top 5. We are also rans in the champions league.
    All this for a club which are the 5th wealthiest in the world with a wage bill to match Chelsea. Fabregas is not good enough for us apparently.
    face the facts. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it is probably a f***** duck.
    Wake up Wenger must go for the good of the club.

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