English football in danger of deluding itself out of business

by Dr Evelyn Ver Bossity, head of psychology, at the University College of the North Circular Road.

Every day he sits at the window as the 5.15pm bus pulls up outside his house, expecting his wife to get off and give him  smile as she comes in before dutifully washing her hands and getting him his tea.  He might moan and complain about the bus being a couple of minutes late, and him not liking what she’s bought for the evening meal, but well, that’s what married couples do don’t they?  If he lept up and put his arms around her, she’d wonder what on earth was going on and accuse him of having an affair.

So it continues day after day until one day, she doesn’t come back at 5.15pm and he goes up to their bedroom he notices that all her clothes have gone.

But still he can’t believe it.  They were happy weren’t they?  They were alright.  And yes if he bitched and moaned a bit, when that’s normal isn’t it?  What would she have thought if he’d told her how much he loved her every time she’d got him breakfast, and his tea.

Besides it was unfair.  What was he supposed to do now?  He didn’t know how to cook did he?  He was a man after all.  Cooking, that’s women’s work.

As a play or TV drama it’s not a very exciting opening – at least not unless the stupid old codger actually does come up with an incredible idea either for getting the lady wife back or for knocking her off, or maybe making a fortune, because that would show her wouldn’t it?

Which is also why the slow demise of English football isn’t very exciting.  It’s all a bit predictable.  Even if our wonderfully dopey football journalists haven’t quite read the script yet.  The clubs are spending themselves in oblivion, and they are not thinking about their fans.*

The fact is that journalists are so used to making things up they can’t see that there is a real drama happening outside, in front of their very eyes.

And drama it is because one day soon some of these big time clubs are going to realise that they are now actually in debt and the command “come back when the next TV money comes in and we might pay you then,” won’t cut it anymore with their creditors.

For there are rumblings, but English journalists who can’t even see that something is happening when the chief prosecutor in Switzerland is about to lose his job because he has been cozying up to Fifa too much, how Fifa have just been caught in a scheme that involves money laundering including moving $1bn through an Israeli bank, and how Germany is at long last starting to ask where all that money went after it was lent to their manager all those years ago… well, they are not going to tell you what is happening are they?

However if you want to know, here’s the tale.  On the fringes of all the talk about ghost games, there are some Football League clubs that are thinking about legal action against clubs that they think ought to be hit in the latest round of financial fair play investigations.  As things stand Birmingham City, Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday could be knocked down the league because of their dodgy doings.

The latest game is that of a club selling its ground to its owner and then leasing it back, and taking the money to get themselves out of debt and mount a new attack on promotion.  Sheffield Wednesday and Derby are part of that wheeze.

Birmingham are in a different basket.  They’ve broken the spending rules, got done for that, and then broke them again.  They were found not guilty by a group of kangaroos, and now there is an appeal going on.

If they are not dealt with fairly, according to the clubs, there will be a certain amount of anger among those currently due to be relegated, unless some significant points deductions come into play.  Just as there will be if Manchester City get away with their manipulation of the financial rules, followed by threats against Uefa.

Across Europe, those who study the economics of football, and who (unlike in England) have their voices heard, are taking note.  The consensus is that rule-breaking has got to a point where it is endemic and the governing bodies know they must act now, just as Uefa and the law agencies in Europe know they if they don’t act on the Wikileaks documents and bring clubs and authorities down, they will have authorized total law-breaking in all aspects of football.  Which is why Yves Leterme who is in charge of CFCB, Uefa’s club financial control body which oversees the finances of clubs playing in Uefa competitions, has already said that if the reports in Der Spiegel are true, and if Manchester City were found to have deceived Uefa, then the club would receive the maximum punishment.

Also, as we have reported Eurojust has been arranging meetings between the countries involved in unraveling the Wikileaks documents, leading to possible co-operation in future when action starts to be taken against clubs implicated.

The feeling is that once the pack of cards comes falling down it is going to take a very long time to build it up again.


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