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The 10 ways football is changing as a result of the virus: part two – Chelsea / Kroenke

by Tony Attwood

In part one of this series The 10 ways football is changing as a result of the virus: part one. – we looked at salary caps and the notion that clubs could turn on Manchester City and their endless supply of capital.

Now here are a couple more ways in which football could change.

3: Chelsea’s farming model overthrown

Chelsea’s plan was rather clever in that it appeared to be within the vaguely written rules about recruiting children and teenagers to the club.

It had three strands.   First, sign up vast numbers of young players every summer; have arrangements with a few clubs in Europe who would be willing to take a few of these players on each year and play them in their team; and finally, if any of the kiddies turn out to be any good either flog them at a profit or bring them to Chelsea.

The plan of growing young footballers as others grow potatoes, worked rather well for a while, although positive returns were lower than expected until Fifa had enough and announced the process involved year after year of breaking the rules concerning young players; rules which were there to guard against exploitation.

The rules were, it must be said, very clear – no signing of under 18-year-olds from other countries unless the parents had moved countries for reasons not connected with football, or the club doing the signing is within 50km of the border (which Chelsea isn’t unless Boris’ latest plan is to shift England south for reasons that are not quite clear at this time.  He is after all a bit of a bridge fanatic).

That didn’t apply for 16 to 18-year-olds within EU states (which the UK isn’t any more) but even with that get-out Chelsea managed to break the rules over 25 times.  So it got the ban and a fine (which the owner probably paid out of petty cash).

The FA was also fined for failing to notice and/or failing to do anything about it.  They all appealed.

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But there was a further consequence to all this: clubs and parents began to realise that just because Chelsea said it was ok, that didn’t mean it was actually ok.  The failure rate of the children thus recruited was very high, the fine of the FA suggested there was no proper scrutiny.  Plus the fact that Liverpool also got into very serious trouble over the hiring and abandoning of children with left the parents in that case with a huge debt, made some parents look more carefully.

Slowly the image of Chelsea was tarnished, and with their owner’s residency visa running out in 2018, and then the abandonment of the building of the new stadium (the planning permission runs out this week and has not been renewed) suddenly, the image of Chelsea in Europe was damaged.

Of course many people in Europe will still sell their children to Chelsea, but maybe a smaller number than before.  And with England out of the EU, that availability of 16 to 18 year olds will vanish.

Chelsea did appeal and as virtually every club has done, won the appeal and got their Fifa transfer ban reduced by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which has become known as the Court of Cutting Punishments in Half.   Also it reduced the fine from 600,000 to 300,000; exactly as expected.

Does the owner want to be part of this?  It is unclear – especially as the BIG project of the new stadium has been abandoned, and Uefa, however weakly, has rapped him over the knuckles.   He hardly attended any games this season.  Is he bothered?  If not, he could sell, but these are not good times to sell.

4: Kroenke re-thinks the notion of football as profit

According to Forbes magazine Kronenke is the owner of the biggest sports empire in the world.

His empire, like others on the scene, uses sport as link point as they buy into media, property, stadium operations, and special tax deals.

The Supreme Leader’s sports domain, Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, is worth $8.4 billion.  It includes NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NFL’s Rams (that’s the one he moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles.  In football he owns Colorado Rapids and Arsenal.  Plus Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League, the regional sports network Altitude Sports & Entertainment and a pair of esports franchises (which I gather is something to do with computerised games).

The total value to $8.4 billion.  The aim is simple: to make profit.  Kroenke owns a sports and entertainment complex and stadia and American Airlines has agreed to pay $9 million a year for 10 years to sponsor a plaza in front of the stadium.

Profit and exploitation of space and names is what it is all about.  The only reason Kroenke would ever pull out of Arsenal would be if it didn’t deliver.   Winning titles and trophies isn’t what it’s about, as Kroenke’s franchises rarely win anything.  Profit is everything.  If it doesn’t work, he picks up the club, moves it somewhere else, and makes a profit out of selling to stadium for housing.

Given the current state of affairs, Arsenal is unlikely to be making much profit for a while.  He could move the club and do something else with the stadium, or he could use the stadium as a base for other sporting activities.  But if Uefa started to reform clubs in the light of the current crisis, that might not suit the owner.  On the other hand a salary cap could be exactly what he is looking for, in order to clip Chelsea’s and Manchester City’s wings.

More anon.

4 comments to The 10 ways football is changing as a result of the virus: part two – Chelsea / Kroenke

  • porter

    The salary cap was discussed at league level some time ago and I believe the only teams in favour were American owned . The objection put up was that overseas players would not hang around if they were offered more to play elsewhere. If it does come in, and following this virus , now would be an ideal time to do so , it would have to be pan European or even world wide .
    Whether this would be enough to even the field I don’t know but it probably would restore the trade in high performance cars or even light aircraft again as I am sure that incentives will be found to get round it.

  • Gord

    I believe within the last week, there was yet another story of that construction magnate sniffing around. Kroehnke could easily sell out to him. He is apparently enamoured of “1-nill to the Arsenal”. He will probably try to clone George Graham, sell all the skilled players, sell the academy, close the women’s team. I suspect attendance will plummet, and he’ll move us to a smaller stadium. Probably get a “tough” sponsor (Caterpillar? Komatsu?) to sponsor us.

    But, by that point I won’t care, because I’ll be gone.

  • Gord

    OT: Arsenal Women

    One of our goalkeepers, Pauline Peyraud-Magnin is positive for COVID-19.

    Get well soon Pauline.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Am not sure how this will all end. But the fans can start by cheering on their teams , and save money on posters and airplanes bearing “Spend some more fucking money !”, slogans.

    And tv companies can save money by sacking those dolts the call experts .

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