We’ll remember this day for three reasons.
First and most pointlessly, because today I was proven right on the transfer market for the third time in a row. I called Nasri, Arshavin and now Vermaelen correctly, all weeks before the actual transfer. Clever me. I feel rather chuffed.
Much more to the point is the Vermaelen deal itself – done before the transfer window even creaks on its hinges. And an important strengthening of the squad. Normally Liverpool and Manchester have signed six players each for £23m a time. This time, errr, well, nuffink.
But finally, and the real reason we will remember this day (unless of course Vermaelen turns out to be Adams II), is the fact that Setanta lost its contract. It didn’t pay the £10m, so it is out and dead.
It is the start of the end of the end. As it were. It might seem like a little thing, but I really think this is it. Big time.
Sky can buy one of the two packages of live football that Setanta owned for the coming season, but in doing so it knows it will have no real rival. So it won’t bid much.
And under EU law it can’t buy the other package (the one where Blackburn play out a 0-0 with Bolton on a monday night). ESPN will get that. Setanta paid £130m for the rights to both packages for 09/10. That was when prices were at a premium and they were trying to rival Sky. What are they worth now?
Since that bid capitalism has been more or less destroyed by our friendly bank managers at RBS/Nat West, there is an EU court ruling which could allow pubs to show games that are available in Europe but not in the UK, legally on their TVs, and Sky doesn’t have a real rival.
EPSN the most likely bidder is jogging around quite happily showing Match of the Day games from the 80s (Liverpool to score an offside winner in front of the cop in the final minute of injury time anyone?) They’ll take the final package, but they’re not really bothered.
So from £130m down to… what? One analyst said, shock horror, £100m. But why? Sky might pay £50m for its package if it thinks that there’s someone else watching, but still I ask why? Audience numbers are dropping. Pub numbers are dropping. EU rules are around the corner. Make that £40m – no, lets say £30m, well, let’s cut it to. £25m. Just to be fair.
That’s package five. But what of pack six where it can’t bid. Who gets that? EPSN. £5m? Maybe.
Of course I may well be missing a trick somewhere, but I would not be astounded if the income turns out to be £30m instead of £130m.
Let’s just say it is, for the sake of argument. That cuts the income per club by £5m. Except the big clubs get more – a lot more – than the diddly widdly Blackburn’s and Notlob’s playing with 11 behind the ball. Arsenal’s income could go down by £10m. Bad news. As could Manchester IOU – very bad news. Same for Liverpool Insolvency. Disaster.
And as our friends at RBS/NatWest arise from their cocaine infested fantasy fueled slumbers, ready to maraud around the streets of industrial Britain, stealing our money and destroying our businesses, they might think, “My goodness me – if Liverpool goes bust, I might lose £1m off my bonus. Better call that loan in.”
Of course it may not be quite like that – but there are issues on the horizon. I remember my colleagues at university doing maths and stats who analysed situations (mostly drunken parties with semi naked women in them) in which things happened. Using probability theory they worked the situations back to their point of origin, and invariably it was one small act which set off a whole train of events. That’s how it goes.
(Actually one of my mates wrote a hilarious thesis which started, “In a little known and unpublished analysis, I argued that…” The analysis was a record of every party he’d been to in the past 3 years while doing his doctorate. Rumour is that his prof said he’d recommend the PhD if the student gave him his address book.)
Remember the date. 19th June. Start of the end of the end.
(c) Tony Attwood 2009.
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- What the media won’t tell you about football 5: Fifa lends money to Switzerland
- What the media won’t tell you about football, part 4 – referee variations
- The final transfer rumours: 3 new names to make 66 players tipped for Arsenal