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Surely it's in their own hands

By Jay Harris :  05/09/2008 :  Comments (21) :
Just as an aside to the questions about EFC's board, Desolation Kirkby, the transfer fund, the manager's contract etc etc. I thought it was fairly topical to ask what can be done about the increasingly monopolistic state of the Premier League and the top 4, Sky 4, Rich 4 etc and almost to a man quote the same 4 teams (Man U, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool) whose futures are being self-financed by the Champions League? Instead of fans, managers, chairmen moaning about it, what can be done?

Well for a start lets look at the voting structure of the Premier League. The Premier League is operated as a corporation that is owned by the 20 member clubs. Each club is considered a shareholder with one vote each on such issues as rule changes and contracts. The clubs elect a Chairman, Chief Executive, and Board of Directors to oversee the daily operations of the league. The Football Association is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, but has veto power as a special shareholder during the election of the Chairman and Chief Executive and when new rules are adopted by the league.

With one vote per club, surely the non-top-4 would have the ability to out-vote the top 4 on financial or structural issues? For example, what if they could vote that 50% of Champions League monies had to be redistributed into the Premier League pot? What if they voted for a cap on the amount a club can spend on transfer fees in one season or cap the total wage bill a club has to operate with?

Alternatively what if a club had to contribute a percentage of its income into a marketing fund for the Premier League to promote itself ? all clubs, not just the top 4 ? and by the nature of that, the biggest earners would be contributing more? What if teams in the CL were barred from the FA and League Cups?

Why is it even called the Champions League when 3 of the English 4 are NOT Champions??? However, I can't see Premier League chairmen pushing for a change in that rule.

I'm sure posters can think of other ideas or point out why some of these won't work and I'm certain the top 4 would not be happy about it but without the other teams there would be no Premier League and I am sure most chairmen realise that we cannot carry on with the current situation which is destroying the meaning of the word 'competition'.

Reader Comments

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Jamie Rowland
1   Posted 05/09/2008 at 13:57:33

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I am all for salary and transfer caps. It would help bring football back to grass roots and possibly even re-introduce loyalty into the game.

Unfortunately I don?t think that its viable (even if they did vote and pass it) because other nations would not and we would see such massive player movement away from our league. Players would just move to pastures new and places offering bumper salaries.

I also agree that the champions league should be for Champions - league winners and cup winners. Not the ?other 3? because they will feel left out and very underfunded.

I also think that the money clubs can take from that competition without even winning it is a disgrace. The shite took, reportedly, ~£21m last year from that comp, yet parts of Anfield and the city are falling down...sports facilities aren?t the best and kids roam the street with knives! That money should be pumped back into society (not just the football league) to encourage kids (especially obese ones) to play sport.

good, thought provoking article even if it never amounts to anything!
Kevin Tully
2   Posted 05/09/2008 at 14:13:26

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There is no doubt that the C.L. gravy train contributes to revenue, merchandising,gate receipts etc. but I believe that the numbers are overstated,and do not make you an automatic choice for a top four spot.

If you reach the knock-out stages, the club is guaranteed I.R.O. 15mill. As we know ,this only enables the purchase of one good player in the current market. Now take a look at City and the cash they are going to invest, they will never actually make a profit ,even if they win the C.L. for the next five years. Would we want to share our profits if we were one of the big four ? I agree with your sentiment,but sadly, there is no sentiment in business.
Perry Umbown
3   Posted 05/09/2008 at 14:21:44

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How about salary capping players across the whole football league? Also fuck sky off as they only encourage kids to support the same teams

Results = reduced ticket prices, locally supported teams, more even playing field
Joe Clitherow
4   Posted 05/09/2008 at 14:20:59

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Wistful rubbish.

One club one vote? How about looking at where the money stacks up and then you’ll have an idea where the power lies.

If it was in the financial interest of the Top 4 to break away from the Premier League they would not hesitate for a second.

Why should they contribute to a fund for other clubs? What’s in it for them? Altruism?

Get real
Dan McKie
5   Posted 05/09/2008 at 14:31:58

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I agree that something could be done with things like spending caps on wages and purchasing of players, but its not just down to the Premier League! It would have to be a European or worldwide structure. If England had spending caps and no other country did, then the players would just stop coming here!
David Jones
6   Posted 05/09/2008 at 15:35:37

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And while we are at it... unilateral disarmament would be a good thing too.

Honestly one part of me agrees with all this, and another part lives in the real world and knows that the system will not change for a long old time.

Oh well, at least there are no actual wars, poverty and crime to worry about before bemoaning the sorry state of football and how to do more than cling by the fingernails to the cliff face.

I hereby give up worrying about Everton and their half arsed attempts to make it in the EPL via any other method than the football they play. If only if it was that easy huh?
Dave Randles
7   Posted 05/09/2008 at 15:29:00

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All great idea Jay and I agree wholeheartedly something has simply got to change before football eats itself.

I recall Michel Platini suggested doing something to break the monopoly (was it FA Cup winners into the CL?) and he was laughed out of town.

Man City’s recent buyout will in time, I believe, prove to be a watershed in terms of European if not world football. As someone on this board has posted previously, with effect from next season, one of the now ’Sky 5’ will start missing out on a CL place. How long are they going to put up with that for? Especially of it’s the European Club Association (formerly G14) teams.

We all saw what happened in 2005 when the rules were changed mid-competition to suit the dark side. (I actually agreed with the principal - it was a ridiculous rule, but changing it mid-competition was tantamount to cheating) The influence of the ?bigger? teams is massive and I fear, unbreakable.

The remainder of Premier League clubs I reckon are fully aware of what?s going on, but what can they do about it? Pushing too hard for a redistribution of wealth would result in the ?Sky 5? pushing for a European league. This would then deprive the other teams of big gate receipts when playing the ?Sky 5?. So, fucked if they do and fucked if they don?t!

Everything about football is set up for the big teams to prosper and for the poorer teams to scrap for the scraps.

Football is booting its own back door in and I don?t think there?s very much that anybody can or will do about it until someone like Abramovich or Abu Dhabi Utd take a big club to the wall by walking away. Only then will the powers that be decide that something needs to be done.
Kev Wainwright
8   Posted 05/09/2008 at 16:00:05

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Sounds great. However, it has no basis in the real world. I am sure that the fans and chairmen of those four soon to be five clubs would say there is nothing without them, rather than your spin on it. Lets see get rid of Man Utd and replace them with say Derby. That will have the crowds coming.

Jay, why don’t you do what some Wimbledon and Man U fans have done and start your own team. Call it Everton AFC, buy Goodison when and if we leave and heypresto you will have 40,000 fans ready made.

You really need to move out of your make believe world and into the real one, which I suspect might be a little scary for you.
Keith Glazzard
9   Posted 05/09/2008 at 16:11:11

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The Middle Eastlands situation tells the shite, arse and the others that they can be outbought, and possibly kicked off the gravy train. Even then, there wouldn’t seem to be much they could do about it.

Uefa could - by only letting what they regard as properly financed clubs into their competitions. Platini and co have been making these noises for a while now - there is no other threat which can shake up our ’domestic’ game.
Kevin Gillen
10   Posted 05/09/2008 at 16:19:10

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Good article. I agree with Dave Randles, the Man City takeover will be a massive test of the integrity of the Champions League honeypot. I also do think that football is eating itself and I think this is what BK is referring to. Evertonians like myself will not go on supporting a sport that basically allows us to play Man Unt cast offs whilst a failing Liverpool team gets £24 million in prize money for coming 4th and beating the likes of SK Brann in the qualifying stages of the CL. not continuing to support football is not about loyalty to Everton, I am as nostalgic as the next Evertonian, it is part of my identity, something I’m truly proud of, to be a blue. It is simply that football is not sustainable the way it is currently structured. The rules around player transfers, particularly the transfer of young players all play into the hands of the financially rich clubs. Man City go from a club who ten years ago were in Division three (I saw them play against Huddersfield and get beat with Michael Brown in the midfield as their star guy when everyone thought Dave Watson might be on his way to be player manager of them) to being the richest club in the world through no effort on their part. Success is all so arbitrary, it is not a meritocracy. No doubt the product is better (I watched Norwich v Southampton on ESPN classics from 1984 the other night - god has it improved!) but the current divide between the Sky 4 and the rest of the league is unsustainable. The people will only take Eufa Cup qualification for the remaining sixteen clubs as the ultimate prize for so long. There are plenty of other sports out there and ways of spending the £50 it costs to go the match. Sadly I suppose I wouldn’t be saying this if Robinho was turning out for us next Saturday and I’m sure I’d be one of those with my hands outstretched for another cup of Soma like all the other addicts and hypocrites hooked on the wonders of modern football.
Dave Randles
11   Posted 05/09/2008 at 17:05:52

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Kev Gillen,

It’s funny that. I’ve also considered what my reaction would be were Everton to be taken over in similar terms to Man City. And you know what, I’m not at all sure I would be happy even then.

Winning would be shallow, like it must be for Chelsea. Surely a soul-less club if ever there was one, no history to speak of and where they are as a consequence of one thing and one thing only. CASH!!!! At least Liverpool, Man U and Arsenal were the three most successful English clubs before Sky invented football.

The events of the past week or so have got me to thinking that perhaps I don’t have so much of an issue with Bill Kenwright as I thought I did. Sure he bullshits beyond reason and he hasn’t helped himself one bit and I’m certain that the club could be managed far better at Board level. But, and here?s the thing ? I think I?m falling out of love with football ? not Everton, football.

Maybe this is the way the modern game needs to be ? isn?t that what living in a capitalist world is all about? If it is, I?m not sure it?s of any interest to me.
Carl Roper
12   Posted 05/09/2008 at 18:29:33

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Paul Wilson had the best idea in Sundays Observer. Reduce the Champs League places to two and beef up the Uefa Cup.

Whilst at first sight this may reduce even further the chances of breaking into the elite, it would mean that at least two of the current top four could no longer rely on virtually guaranteed income from the CL.

Not a perfect solution but it has its merits...
Steve Taylor
13   Posted 05/09/2008 at 19:44:31

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The PL will never self regulate - the Sky 4 may have only one vote a piece but they’ve got all the power & would never vote for anything that would alter the status quo.

They’d threaten to break away, have individual TV deals etc etc - won’t happen mate.

However, I completely agree with the principle of what your suggesting. The PL will self destruct if it carries on down the path it’s currently taking.

The only body that can enforce real change is UEFA in my opinion - if they brought in a rule that any club that consistently posted huge operating losses on their yearly accounts - would be excluded from European competition, if they did say 2 or 3 years running - it would have a dramatic effect. e.g. Chelsea - they’ve posted losses averaging around £100M pa since Abramovich took over - which he then covers with an interest free loan - the £100M is huge %age of their total turnover - UEFA could set the allowed limit of losses at a set %age of the clubs total turnover -say 20% max.

This would preclude Chelsea & Man City (in the future) from competitng in Europe if they failed to start attempting to run their businesses, like businesses!
Steve Williams
14   Posted 05/09/2008 at 19:48:40

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Good wishful thinking, but in practice a non-starter.

Because the rich clubs are so rich they naturally have a position of power. If they were in danger of losing those riches or that power, they would just leave the PL and set up a European League with their other (foreign) CL buddies.

The times to structure English football for the genuine benefit of all clubs was when the PL was formed and again when the CL was created, but those opportunities were lost.

I agree that the only hope is for UEFA to beef up the UEFA Cup and remove some of the jam from the CL. This could even out the riches at little. Let’s hope that Platini has a bite as big as his bark.
Kevin Gillen
15   Posted 05/09/2008 at 20:32:02

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Dave Randles, it is exactly about living in a capitalist society and as a dedicated trade unionist and marxist it becomes increasingly hard to remain an Evertonian except in a vicarious sense, watching it on the telly and pursuing the many other things rational people can do that avoid the worst exploitations of the rat race. Amen to that mate.
Tony O'Brien
16   Posted 05/09/2008 at 21:03:19

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For me the real power lies with the G14 or whatever they are called these days.

They rely on the greed of the best players in the world (who can blame them if they can get it?) and they manipulate the rules to virtually ensure they are guaranteed massive slices of the financial pie year on year.

The CL is the biggest culprit. Pointless qualifying rounds, followed by seeded draws for the group stages and even then a safety net of dropping into the Uefa cup for failing in that. And if that isn?t enough, the odd rule change and corrupt referee (alleged) to keep them all happy. For me it all borders on corruption.

Now with the Man City becoming the latest fashion accessory for some rich bloke, the rules will no doubt change to make sure that Arsenal and our offspring friends continue to eat at the top trough. The G14 will become the G15 and the CL places will become 5.

The problem with all of this, is that the real football fans are becoming disillusioned. I know I am, and came within hours of not renewing this season because golf is a more attractive, less expensive and lets be honest, better for my health option.

The real pleasure in sport comes from the competition, and if the competition becomes a monopoly of one or two it becomes boring. Look at the Scottish premier league for an example.

Lets hope the rich kids get bored with their subbuteo sets, and real life championship manager game, and football can come back from the brink.
Neil Quinn
17   Posted 05/09/2008 at 22:24:41

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Just been having a similar conversation with a couple of kopite mates in the pub (yes - know I shouldn’t fraternise but there you go).

We all agreed that the game will implode soon. They don’t like the idea of DIC taking over, any more than they like the Yanks being at the helm. Personally I’d prefer the Arabs to Hicks /Gillettes/Glazier etc. because they have no debt & won’t use the football club as a vehicle to rehash these debts.

I think it runs much deeper. The likes of Chelsea... & now Man City, will never see a youngster come through the ranks & feel a sense of pride as we did with Rooney. The likes of Tranmere & Crewe will no longer survive by selling their best player to one of the big guys (Coppell - Tranmere to Man U & Ashton - Crewe to W Ham for example). That’s how the little clubs have survived down the years. Why will the big teams need scouts,when they can just write a cheque to Madrid or Milan?

I fear for the future of the game, I really do.
Steve Carter
18   Posted 06/09/2008 at 03:04:56

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I know that it is frowned upon, but I did have a peek at The Sun online today. There is an article attributed to Jimmy Greaves in which he foresees that English football will go the way of the franchise model that applies in the American NFL, NBA, MBL etc., in which teams move around and play from whatever area is perceived to be the most marketable/profitable etc.

Regardless of the form that such takes (Euro super league, remaining with an EPL or whatever), I respectfully share his view. In my humble opinion, it is a question of when, not if. It is an inexorable process to that end once outside money men with no affiliation for the team, game or area take over. It is the case in all major sports in the US. It is the case in Australia for rugby league and with southern hemisphere ?Super? rugby (where, incidentally, Murdoch essentially owns both competitions).

If it is to remain as a major football team, then Everton has to be first or at least amongst the first to wake up and smell this rose. Call it dog shit, if you like ? it doesn?t matter, it?s going to happen; indeed, it?s on the doorstep. I have suggested it on this site previously ? to the mirth of some of you ? but, in my view, if Everton is to remain anything like a significant force even in the reasonably immediate future it needs to get in first and repackage itself on a franchise model ? and that includes a clear message to the market that it is not bound to its location in the Merseyside area.

I don?t see a future for our club in that area in the brave new world ? unless, perhaps, the shite go broke sometime soon. Moving to Kirkby is just insane from that perspective: who in our globalised world is going to be interested in a team from an outlying suburb that nobody?s heard of somewhere in northwest England?

My suggestion has been to look at Dublin. There are many reasons why that?s a better location than being located on Merseyside alongside Liverpool in the new football world that?s on the doorstep ? too many to go into at the moment. I realise that the mere suggestion offends some of you. I appreciate that having your team close by to watch live every second Saturday is a big part of your lives and it won?t be ?Everton? if that?s not the case. However, the fact is that thousands of scousers have seen fit to leave Liverpool over the past century or so to better their fortunes. Why not Everton?

If we don?t wake up, smell and pluck this ?rose?, we?ll be singing ?if yer know yer history?, cos that?s all we?ll be.

Ste Kenny
19   Posted 06/09/2008 at 09:28:01

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Lets go and play in Dublin then. Sounds like a typical armchair shout to me!!!!!!!!!!

Fucking grow up and stop posting this utter shite!!! Have you seen how much trouble moving to Kirkby has caused. Even KW/BK couldn't make that sound like a good idea and they?ve had plenty of practice.

Let's say we move to Dublin win the League and Cup: where do we parade the trophies? Around fucking Ireland!?!
Brian Towers
20   Posted 06/09/2008 at 12:26:02

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This is a good debate and not spoiled by the thoughtless abuse of a few. Now we are discussing the wider implications of the Manchester City developments and their implications for the game as a whole.

Some of us remember the days of the ?famous five? when The two big London and Liverpool clubs and Manchester United were the dominant and richest members of the old First Division but were not immune from relegation and other clubs fairly regularly won the league and FA Cup competitions and the Cup winners even occasionally came from the Second Division. So winning trophies was always possible for most teams and competition was real.

Though there are real gains for football as a spectacle from the emergence of the Premier League, and the free movement laws of the EU which favour it, competition is now restricted to a small minority of clubs who also then benefit, exclusively, from the Champions League flow of money. In economics it is known as an ?oligopoly?, an ugly though apt word. Another, though wider implication is the now astonishing price of tickets which is destroying the traditional fan base, in terms of age distribution and social class.

As some have pointed out, it is yet another consequence of the corrosive impact of capitalism on culture and tradition ? which people do value, not least football supporters. Historical experience tells us that leaving any ?industry? almost entirely to the market and self-regulation is always a mistake (note the present mortgage and energy crises and the conduct of the banks and energy industry). Football now seems to have reached that point and supporters should now be pressing for a public enquiry on the lines of the post-Hillsborough developments and the Taylor Report.

I, too ?fear for the game?. American baseball lost a good part of its soul in 1955 when the pride of working class Brooklyn, the Dodgers, was taken by its new owners to Los Angeles. MK Dons were a small beginning over here and London is a permanent attraction for foreign, billionaire owners and increasingly, money-driven, celebrity players.

Mark Browne
21   Posted 06/09/2008 at 13:25:10

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Dave Randles said

I recall Michel Platini suggested doing something to break the monopoly (was it FA Cup winners into the CL?) and he was laughed out of town.

With Man City entering the media titled "Sky 5", do you think that Uefa are going to sit on their hands and let English teams dominate the CL year after year! No, this may be the straw to break the camel's back regarding the CL structure.

Uefa are the only ones who can change to CL competition, possibly reducing the number of teams per country, but increasing the Uefa Cup allocation. Then maybe, the top teams will look back to the English game, and realise that without this revenue stream of the CL, the gravy train will shrink for the overseas players, with oversized wage demands, and the game may start to return to some form of sanity.

We can only dream!!

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