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'G-14' still holds the aces

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Matt Slater | 11:11 UK time, Thursday, 8 September 2011

Despite ditching FC Unirea Urziceni and Tampere United, the G-14 became the G-201 this week as it puffed up its chest for its latest attempt to annex football's moral high ground from the likes of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini.

For those surprised to hear football has a moral high ground, don't worry, it's all relative.

You may also be confused by my reference to the G-14. Wasn't that rich clubs' club disbanded three years ago when Uefa roundly defeated it/temporarily bought it off (it's a matter of some debate)?

Erm... yes. And no.

The original G-14 may have had to accept a few new members (187 of them), drop some lawsuits and agree to a rebranding but things aren't so different at the European Club Association (ECA) these days.

Based in Nyon, the organisation has just staged its seventh general assembly. The venue for the two-day gathering was Geneva, just 20 miles down the shoreline, but there was nothing neutral about the conversation: clubs are the most important voice in football, not federations, and there is far too much international football played with players we provide practically free of charge.

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The ECA's new "common position on good governance" sounds a lot like the kind of thing the G-14 talked about, which in itself is no surprise as it is the same people doing most of the talking.

Barca and Real, Liverpool and United, AC and Inter, Juve and Bayern... these were the biggest gorillas in the jungle in 2000 and - give or take a Chelsea or City - they remain that way.

So when it comes time to hear what the ECA thinks about international fixtures, football finance, youth development and so on, it is Barca and Real, Liverpool and United, AC and...you get the idea.

But it wasn't supposed to be this way.

The formation of the ECA was meant to be a defeat for the G-14, which by this time had grown to become an 18-strong lobby group representing teams from seven leagues.

Their concerns were primarily a lack of compensation from the federations for using their players, the absence of insurance against injury on international duty, too many friendlies (stop me if you have heard this before) and not enough say in the game's running.

To get their way the G-14 clubs took legal action and issued veiled threats about taking their ball home and setting up an NFL-style league of their own.

New Uefa president Michel Platini was having none of this, or so he said, and called on the "elitist" G-14 to disband.

But six months later, Fifa and Uefa had agreed to share more of their tournament revenues with the clubs and push the federations to insure the players properly.

Platini even watered down his attempt to democratise access to the Champions League cash machine, which was already the ultimate example of the compromises Uefa has been forced to make with the most powerful clubs.

The quid pro quo was that the G-14 would drop its lawsuits and open itself up to clubs from all 53 nations represented by Uefa. With all those rivals under one umbrella, this looked like a classic divide-and-rule strategy.

So why, three years later, are the clubs back stronger than ever?

The answer was pretty clear at the Hotel President Wilson this week. There are 20 or so clubs (you can probably guess them) who make all the running at the ECA, chair the working groups, sit on the board and communicate the message. Most of the rest look happy just to be invited.

The G-14's power has not been diluted, it now comes with the added punch of the also-rans and aspiring upstarts from two dozen wealthy leagues. And frankly, if they cannot gain a few concessions from a very compromised Fifa they might as go off in a huff and play amongst themselves.

This sounds grim for fans of the international friendly. Derided by clubs and increasingly dismissed by large sections of the media, they are central to the business plans of federations across the globe, including our own Football Association, not to mention integral to preparing teams for tournaments.

But do you need so many of them? And do they have to be scattered throughout the year? Come to think of it, do you need full-time international managers?

Argentina have 21 games this year, including 14 friendlies. Brazil have 15 games, 11 friendlies. Germany play 13 times, Italy 12. England are practically part-timers with a probable nine games this year and one of those was called off.

ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also happens to be chief executive of Bayern Munich, dismisses many of these games as "nonsense" designed only to raise money. His counterpart at Manchester United and fellow ECA board member David Gill agrees. He must get the teas in when this subject comes up at the FA board meetings he also attends.

It is a similar story when we talk about the division of TV and sponsorship money from the World Cup and European Championships, which are hugely lucrative to Fifa and Uefa respectively.

The clubs saw about 1% of the cash that flowed from South Africa 2010, they won't put up with that again. And Uefa's desire to expand the 2016 European Championships in France to 24 teams - and sell the TV rights centrally - will almost certainly result in a bigger TV slice going to the clubs.

So the G-14 clubs are on the march again and the threat of breakaway organisations and ending international competition is the weapon of mass destruction that nobody wants to talk about in public.

Blatter and Platini will have to make concessions but all is not lost for the international game. The ECA's members are in agreement now but that is only because they have not really started to get their heads around the status quo-preserving implications of Uefa's new financial fair play rules. G-14 v the rest could save the friendly.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at http://twitter.com/bbc_matt

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    This is a boring blog. Bring back 606

  • Comment number 2.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 3.

    @1 yes please bring back 606...loved it on matchdays???

    bbc r u listeing?

  • Comment number 4.

    Excellent post Matt, always nice to gain an insight into the political and financial side of football at any level. Good to see some journalism as well instead of the usual opinion only posts of some other blogs.

    Personally I agree that the big clubs can't be allowed to become too powerful (that is if they aren't already) but I think the point about International friendlies being largely a waste of time is a valid one. They should be restricted to a few warm-up games before a tournament.

  • Comment number 5.

    The clubs are going to continue to amass these powers and things are only going to get worse. Players sign a contract with the club that pays them and therefore they will always be influenced to do what is right them (see Wilshere pulling out of the U21s due to fatigue, only to have regained the energy for the Mickey Mouse cup that Arsenal enters itself into). This is not a criticism of the players as such, clubs put them in an impossible position.

    Like English cricket, there needs to be central contracts if there is to be an improvement in the national team. It will never happen of course, the grip of the clubs is just too tight.

  • Comment number 6.

    @2, its not 6 games per year. The ECA want 6 set dates for international games to be played, with double headers being played on each date like we just had for the Euro's, england played friday/tuesday, scotland played saturday/tuesday and such like. So there proposing 12 games maximum which when you read above, if every date and game slot was used, would up being more games for england.

  • Comment number 7.

    Nate - you clearly have no interest in football or the inclination to understand how money and the power it brings is corrupting and rotting away the soul of football and the international game which is meant to be the pinnacle of a fooballers achievement in the sport. 2 words - jog on.

  • Comment number 8.

    gazza11984 (6) - It is six games a year. On average, anyway. Those six double-dates you refer to are over a two-year qualifying period. So for teams in six-nation groups you are talking about 10 qualifying games and just two friendlies, one a year! And it won't be in June or August...which is no great loss to anybody apart from the federations' accountants, to be honest.

  • Comment number 9.

    I suppose the question is what UEFA and FIFA do with the pots of money they make, because they're rolling in it and the clubs are not. If they redistribute it amongst member associations for local reinvestment, then it may be defensible. But if much of it stops at UEFA and FIFA and feeds their grossly over-sized gravy train then big changes could be on the cards.

  • Comment number 10.

    This is the age old problem of two superpowers war against each other but equally cannot justify their existence and status without the other.

    The elite clubs (Man Utd, Bayern, Barca etc.) could not spend the money they do without the lucrative returns from competing in European continental competition. Man Utd may rake in millions each week due to their 75k capacity and high ticket prices, but take away their access to The Champions League and a team with a 30k ground capacity and a spot in the CL could match their income through TV and advertising revenue. You only have to see what happened to clubs like Leeds, Liverpool, Valencia and Dortmund when they had to cope without CL money. Sure, financial mis-management were big factors with these clubs also, but it's much easier to keep the bank onside when you can point to next season's CL revenue.

    Clubs like Bayern and United will tell you players sign for them because they are attracted to the history, status and potential glory the club offers. But you only have to look at the now steady stream of Brazilian/Argentinian footballers heading back to South America whilst still good enough to play for big clubs in Europe. Why? Because South American football can suddenly offer comparable wages! The fact is money talks in football and if you want to be offering the best wages, you have to be in the CL (unless you're Man City or PSG of course!)

    So this brings us to UEFA. They may only have one weapon, but it is, in football the biggest carrot and stick rolled into one. They hand out the tickets to European football. They know that as it is their competition they can rig the rules to suit their agenda (see the new financial fair play rules) and anyone who is denied entry is also denied huge amounts of revenue that could condemn said club to mediocrity. But it's not as simple as UEFA simply saying, we don't like you so you can't play. Their decisions have to be framed in some sense of legality. You also have the issue that a CL without United, or Barca or Milan is worth less to advertisers. If UEFA's new rules mean half of the elite clubs don't quality then UEFA's revenues will fall as sharply as the clubs who aren't allowed in.

    Ultimately UEFA can't do without the clubs, and the clubs know they can't survive without UEFA. So like American and Soviet generals in the cold war, they will constantly criticise each other in public, but secretly hope the other doesn't go away because if that happens.... Everyone's out of a job!

  • Comment number 11.

    Yeah, BRING BACK 606!

    Anyway, apart from the ridiculous allocation of money between the clubs which causes the status quo that can only be broken by a wealthy benefactor, what always puzzles me is what either FIFA or, say, Argentina do with all the money they receive?

    I would like to see what the FA do with all the money they receive as well, apart from splash £6m a year on an unqualified coach.

    Matt, it's all very well raising the same old issues, but us fans want information about solutions and perhaps sight of the 'root and branch' enquiry that the FA promised after the failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

    Any suggestions?

  • Comment number 12.

    It’s a simple cost/ benefit analysis:

    1)
    Club football:
    cost = nothing
    benefit = £20-200K per week (£1.04M -£10.4M per annum)

    2)
    International football:
    cost = risk of injury/ loss of potential revenue/ perceived quality/ hostility of media & fans/ time away from home & family
    benefit = diminished prestige/ possible increase in marketability (as per JT whoring the captaincy off).

    Result = no brainer

  • Comment number 13.

    "Brazil have 15 games, 11 friendlies"

    Isn't this because Brazil are hosting the next world cup and therefore don't have to qualify? They're wanting as many games as they can get between now and then especially after their poor showing in the Copa.

    I concur! Bring back 606!

  • Comment number 14.

    7.At 13:09 8th Sep 2011, BahamasSpurs wrote:
    ----------------------------------------------
    Clearly you sound like a Spurs Supporter... who is languishing in the shadows of the rich clubs like ManUtd, Pool, Chelsea, City etc because of their money and power.

    2 words for you: Uefa Cup.

  • Comment number 15.

    JoeG - but do the clubs REALLY need UEFA? A Champions League of their own doesn't require any sacrifice from the big clubs vis-a-vis their domestic leagues, and simply replaces one extra-curricular pre-existing competition with another.

  • Comment number 16.

    Being a ST holder at a Premier League club outside of London, the only thing I am worried about is whether my teams players come back from international duty uninjured. I'll bet other Premier League clubs supporters feel the same. So more power to the clubs I say, as I have a stake in one of them.

  • Comment number 17.

    This blog hasn't really told me anything than I didn't already know Matt. If you want to write about an interesting blog then I would suggest popping over to Spain where all the clubs in the top division are having a meeting except Real and Barca as those clubs are annoyed about getting very little TV money as the majority goes to the top 2 clubs.

  • Comment number 18.

    3

    no we are not, we just take your money and produce poor non article's that keep you sheep coming, we do as we please and change things as we like disregarding the payer's thought's.

  • Comment number 19.

    A simple rule requiring clubs to field at least on locally born player (say 50 miles within stadium) at all times would make team concentrate more on using local talent and less on buying success or worse snatching talent from smaller club youth teams. It is ridiculous that Juan Matta couldn't get a chance at Real Madrid after they had him in their Youth team for so long for example. This is a simple rule that everyone could understand.

  • Comment number 20.

    If you look at Brazils friendly set up, its a joke.

    I went and watched Brazil v Portugal at the Emirates a few years back, nice to watch it in England. Why was it at the Emirates in England? To make as much money as possible for the people involved.

    I think the Brazil FA sold the rights to their friendlies, in that respect i agree completely with the major clubs although certain ones have way to much power especially Madrid and Barcelona who lord it over the rest of spain with their individual tv rights which just makes the whole duopoly worse every year.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'd prefer to see more internationals than they're proposing, 6 a year sounds a bit low.

    I agree they need to cut out pointless fixtures though, e.g. only allow matches in
    set windows (not summer), and only allow them to be played in the countries involved in the match (to limit money-spinning foreign fixtures).

    In this whole club v country debate, I'd be more interested in hearing what the players themselves would prefer to do; rather than arguments between clubs and various governing bodies.

  • Comment number 22.

    Love the comment Matt about David Gill making the teas whenever thorny issues like this come up at the FA.

    Anyone who knows David Gill knows that he runs with the hounds and runs with the Hares. When is talking with Bayern it's one thing, when he is at the FA it's another.

    No one has more "faces" than Gill if you get my drift.

  • Comment number 23.

    It won't be long however before at least 200 of the clubs in Europe say to *&^% with UEFA and FIFA and then along with the 4 or 5 big associations outside Europe (Brazil, Argentina, USA, China and Japan) just have a go-it-alone club competions and then an alternative World Cup - FIFA will be left with what's left until they all cross over - it'll be like the Darts....

  • Comment number 24.

    Always interesting to hear about behind the scenes football.

    Is it time for football to be governed by the clubs?

    http://off-the-goalpost.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 25.

    this is all boring...
    clubs invest in players, they should not lose out if injured on international duty so G14 were right to press for insurance which benefits all clubs with international players I guess so benefit to all
    having set times to play friendlies makes sense so clubs can plan for well being and fitness of players and the players can know they will have a break during the summer and limiting the number of internationals... was it 21 for Argentina so far... and with double headers there should be a limit on travel distance between the 2. I see no reason to ban teams playing anywhere as it can raise additional cash to teams who couldn't raise it at home and if you look at Australia, it is better if they play friendlies in Europe where their best players are than everyone having to go down under.
    distribution of income from international tournaments should be known to all with the focus on player well being and development with support to federations in countries where there is no money but must be clear that there is no bribery or misuse of the money. Money should go to all federations as there should not be a presumption the wealthy nations federations can cope without and it should cover the costs of each federation taking part.

  • Comment number 26.

    There is no doubt that there is too much meaningless international football.
    Any country that qualify's for the last 16 of the WC or the last 8 of the European Championships should automatically qualify for the next tournement.
    Also the likes of San Marino, Faroe's etc should play their own tournement for the right to play the bigger nations.

    The international weekend just gone was dull, dull, dull. Almost as dull as FA Cup 3rd round weekend. I hated having no Premiership/championship football.

    The clubs pay the wages for these players and can't be blamed for wanting a greater say, even the ultimate say, in when and how they are used.
    Everybody loves the big summer tournements. Me included. But the paths to these tournements needs to be made far less time consuming.

  • Comment number 27.

    I will always back the clubs over an organisation like FIFA. More power to the ECA.

  • Comment number 28.

    The club`s are right, they pay the wages, have their preparations for the next game disrupted and are losing players through injuries sustained while on so called international duty.

    If that duty would hold up in court in someone would challenge it is another question, my guess is not if the player in question doesn`t want to play for his national team.

    There`re fat too many boring and unnessassary internationals played for quite some time and that number has to be reduced dramatically. Not only regarding friendlies, but also the number of qualifying games for World Cups and the Euro Finals must be cut.

    Who on earth is watching the majority of these games anyway, involving small and football wise second, third and fourth rated nations.

    After the World Cup is finished the qualifying games for the the Euro are already starting or the other way round. That is unacceptable.

    Like the qualifying games for the group stages of the Champions and Europa League, the 53 countries should be split into A, B and C qualifying games so there`s less boredom and the the sheer number of games is reduced at the same time. Even better, allowing the top eight from the Eurp finals to enter the next World Cup automatically and the next Euro as well.

    The clubs waited long to call for overdue changes, hopefully the time is right with a weak UEFA and an even weaker FIFA.

  • Comment number 29.

    To heck with 606 and other Social Media... it has no effect on the "Powers That Be." I'm wasting my time here at the moment - so just give me (and everyone else) the address to which we can send thoughts and feelings to the people that matter - such as they are.

  • Comment number 30.

    yeah... should have a qualifying tournament for a b grade world cup for those lower ranked teams and the winners from that get to play the big boys and try to qualify for the main cup... either that or preliminaries like happen at Wimbledon and the other top tennis tournaments
    this would mean the lower ranked teams would have something to enter that they can win which would be good for encouraging support and development in those countries.
    would stop the pointless games where minnows get slaughtered which can't be nice for them, much as what happens in the FA cup here with the bigger teams coming in at later stages with the biggest teams coming in the latest. Less chance of injury of the best players playing against players who aren't good making poor tackles.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's interesting to look at this from the opposite point of view. Instead of just dismissing international football as meaningless how about pointing out that much of the club football that takes place is equally meaningless if not moreso. For example, over the next couple of months the top sides in England will feature in League Cup ties and Champions League group games, as well as facing some of the canon-fodder in the Premiership (not including Arsenal if anyone wonders). Neither of those two cup competitions really gets going until the new year, and the Premiership itself would clearly benefit from being reduced to no more than 18 sides. The facts are that it isn't actually the G14 who oppose a reduction in these meaningless games.

    The argument against the current champions league format simply being a way to maintain and reinforce the status quo is also a bit misleading, given that without the expanded CL there would be another two or three of the best sides in each league in Europe entering the Uefa Cup, thus enhancing the competition's profile and attracting much wider coverage. The expanded Champions League is a decent compromise, and has much to do with the tendencies of many commentators pre-92 to point to the greater competition of the old Uefa cup.

    Basically it's very easy to be cynical about everything, and to make everything fit under the banner of rampant money to money. The reality though includes one or two more subtle vested interests from non-G14 and one or two deeper rooted attempts to attain/retain as level a playing field as possible. In simple footballing terms it's worth noting that the days of repeat and multiple repeat winners of the European Cup are long gone, and that even if Barcelona do retain the trophy this season they will be the first team to do so for two decades. No matter what rule changes are made (I suppose barring forcing players into clubs they don't want to go to and suchlike) there will continue to be the standout clubs in each league, and these will doubtless continue to be pretty much the same clubs as have traditionally dominated football, and there's not too much wrong with traditional norms in football holding good in my opinion as long as teams outside the elite can still rise up now and again (without being ridiculed by modern-day supporters for having done so as say Schalke 04 have been off the back of their dismantling at the hands of Manchester United last season). Describing rules that try to force clubs to operate within their means as simply trying to protect the status quo seems to be missing the point completely to me.

  • Comment number 32.

    Football's greed is relentless. Im slowly weaning myself off it and watching more physical sports like rugby, american football and boxing.

    The game is killing itself.

  • Comment number 33.

    Something that is never mentioned when we discuss compensation for players injured on international duty, is the fact that international caps add £5m at least to a players value which the respective FA's don't see, spread the wealth......

  • Comment number 34.

    "bbc r u listeing?"

    Not to you they're not.

  • Comment number 35.

    they should really bring back 606. People only use blogs as a vague starting point

  • Comment number 36.

    Google; "Fc Barcelona - Mes Que Un Club? You bet." - there's a blog which says what the BBC can't about elitism in football.

  • Comment number 37.

    I laughed at one comment in the oringinal blog: "ECA chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who also happens to be chief executive of Bayern Munich, dismisses many of these games as "nonsense" designed only to raise money. His counterpart at Manchester United and fellow ECA board member David Gill agrees." Yeah, because friendlies and tours to Thailand, the USA, China, Japan and Australia are about preparing clubs for the league and no about manking money...

    I cried at many of the other comments that followed. The sad way that fans of English Premier League clubs seem to think that football is only about the teams in that league, Barcelona, Real Madrid and the Milan clubs is a sad inditement of the state of football. Why should fans of lower league clubs in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales as well as the many amateur, semi-pro and junior clubs want the re-branded G14 to decide how football should be run? And the fans of current "big" clubs better watch out - of current trends continue there will only be about 12-14 teams in 10 years time: 4 or 5 from England, 2 from Spain, 2 or 4 from Italy, 2 or 3 from Russia and possibly 1 or 2 from China. We'll then see if these same posters come back to lament the loss of their club and the football they used to love while the chosen few clubs compete in the breakaway Super League with all the TV money and media attention.

  • Comment number 38.

    tbh I really have no interest in international football. The EPL and UCL are such superior products to international tournaments that i view international breaks as an inconvenient blip in the football schedule. Sad fact is that international tournaments are no longer the pinnacle of the sport

  • Comment number 39.

    Michael Essien - probably the most consistent all round midfielder in the past 10 years. Two bad knee injuries suffered playing for Ghana, which almost certainly contributed to the present long term knee injury. He looked a shadow of himself last year and now is typecast as a serious injury risk. A player who should be worth 30-40 million is now worth a fraction of that, due to injuries suffered on international duty.

  • Comment number 40.

    if ur missing 606 try www.ja606.co.uk

  • Comment number 41.

    I agree that some friendlies are close to pointless. I also agree with the ECA's demands for insurance and a higher cut of the profits. After all, it is the clubs that pay them, treat their injuries and train them. However reducing internationals to 6 per year, and reducing WC/EC qualifying group sizes back down to 4 teams (another one of their aims) is going a little too far.

    Rather, i'd prefer a compromise. Perhaps no more than 9 or 10 international games per year, with a reduction in the size of the top divisions domestic leagues to either 16 or 18 teams.

    Oh and while we're wishing for things, a club wage cap would be nice as well, like the German league so efficiently and sensibly has.

  • Comment number 42.

    To those people who say the top nations should automatically qualify for major comps...well, then we will have more meaningless friendlies in the absence of qualification games...That would be so much worse!

    I think what is needed here is evolution, not revolution...just trim down the friendlies that go on during the course of the football season and play the qualifiers in blocks of 2 like we have just had this last week...

    In terms of big clubs continuating to dominate, surely the problem is that in England, Spain and Italy, 4 clubs can qualify for the champs league...Go back to having no more than 2 clubs from each country being able to play...Then, at least its name would be justified....now, we have the champions plus teams content to finish third/fourth every year like Arsenal.. This would be mean that it would be easier for some top clubs to drop out of Champs league contention and would open up to competition from the rest of the league....It would also benefit the Europa league which whilst it was the Uefa cup used to be a great tourney to win coz there were still plenty of great clubs left in...

    Instead, we have a champs league or bust mentality which is runing football..

  • Comment number 43.

    This was an okay blog, if a little badly constructed. It took me quite a few reads on certain sections to make any sense of it all and to figure out what was your point Matt. Maybe a little more proofreading before submitting the piece would have been more beneficial.

    More than the blog though, I really enjoyed #10 Joe G 's post. Much more informative, well structured and concise.

  • Comment number 44.

    Nothing really changing, the likes of Man U and Barca are demanding more and more money so they can remain super powers and continue to buy titles. As for FIFA and Uefa they do need to pass the money made from the players playing in their competitions down to club level, though i do feel that the monies should be shared across all ninety odd team to promote English grass roots football. A sliding scale would be required as the bigger club do give up their players, but definitely spread the wealth to grow the game

  • Comment number 45.

    I like national team friendlies, but I prefer club football, played with strong squads of players not injured playing friendlies.

  • Comment number 46.

    Bring back 606!!!!

  • Comment number 47.

    Fascinating blogg Matt, equally as disturbing a revelation is the parallel drawn from most of the comments, namely the gripes about internationals are all coming from those who follow the elite clubs of English football. They obviously cannot, for the love of their respective clubs' continued dominance in the PL and an almost guaranteed spot in the CL, see any reason to change the status quo to allow for a more competitive sport. A sport where everyone has a fairer crack of the whip. They won't allow the penny to drop beacuase they're blinded by the £££££ signs!

    I can only reiterate the frustration shown by comments such as #7 BahamasSpurs, the train of thought in comment #19 Tanglefoot Twitch and others like #32 Nav Sandhu and #37 southpar because you've obviously understood the wider implications of this blogg. Most of the others may as well congratulate themselves on supporting a lost cause because if international football tournaments lose their necessary status, which includes allocating friendlies, then it won't be a sport worth following!

    It wasn't that long ago when clubs were restricted to the amount of non-nationals they were permitted to include in their squad. This was deemed a fair decision so that the economically better off couldn't just buy success by gathering the best players on the planet. The power of the ECA though has succeeded through the years to eliminate such restrictions. UEFA and FIFA implement a 'local player' policy whereby a minimum number of nationals are to be included in each squad in order to counter-act elitism once again. So then the ECA reply to any restrictions enforced upon them by increasing their member numbers 20 fold to make a clear statement of intent.

    So the G-14 has now become the G-201, an even larger group of elitists if you like, with seperation from UEFA and FIFA on their agenda and the goal of disrupting international football in order to continue their money-making elitist activities undeterred. Well that's it then isn't it? We may as well all throw our towels in and surrender to the mighty ECA, I think not! Personally I think many will simply lose interest if the situation continues as it is and choose another sport which would subsequently minimise present collosal incomes and ultimately force a collapse. Maybe we need to rip it up and start again.

    Another obvious parallel; those who support clubs who are consistantly at the top of the PL and consistantly competing well in the CL because of the club's billions, being as spoiled as you are, you must be so disappointed as an England fan whe

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm glad you wote this Matt. A pertinent follow up to your recent blog about the transfer window that fanned the flames of the FFP debate. I completely disagree with some posters that say this is of no interest. This is the dark side of football that's not written enough about, not known enough about. The Council of Europe, Tripartite Commission, Bloomberg Group of Football, the antithesis of democracy. Fascism.

    And it looks like it's gaining momentum, and a bigger and bigger threat to UEFA and FIFA. And you have to say, with the behaviour of football's governing bodies, it's hard to feel much sympathy. The reduction in international games and greater slice of the TV revenue pie, but from fewer internationals, just sounds like a natural progression from the TV deals already in place in club football, and guaranteed to widen the gap between the elite and the also-rans. We're heading towards an NFL scenario of the same limited number of teams playing each other year after year, with the natural conclusion, as stated above, that in the end it will just be Barcelona and Real Madrid playing each other.

    The breakaway from FIFA suggested by angry fans after the WC farce doesn't sound so far-fetched now! The problem is, as you suggest in your story, the also- rans want to be the elite trampling on the also-rans. It's a microcosm of the greed of society in general. I'm all right Jack.

    As a Man City fan, I'm happy we've managed to stick our foot in the door that G14 are all there giving it 110% trying to slam shut. People can kid themselves that the FFP's business model is for the good of Football, but actually it's to appease G14, and we know who they are for the good of.

    Welcome to the American world of the franchise. We can applaud the platitudes of football clubs doing things "the right way", but the harsh likelihood is, increasingly, "you're not gonna get in unless you have a sugar daddy!" That's why they're doing their damnedest to plug that hole.

    Don't bring back 606! Unless it would stop being hijacked by life's ***** ups.... A hopeless task.

  • Comment number 49.

    PS Look at the importance of international competition in the NFL, MLB and NBA, and then look at what's happening with club football, and then ask yourself if you see a pattern. As already said, that might be all right to supporters of the new pseudo franchises, but what about the rest of football? Some will betray it and transfer their allegiance to Showtime is what.

  • Comment number 50.

    hi matt,
    did you read this article at goal.com ?
    'The ECA hurricane has blown itself out' - why Fifa & Uefa are not set for Armageddon

    Anyway, for me the proposal of reducing the international matches just to 6 looks like a plan down the road to create another space for some other club matches, like the "37th" game proposed by scrudamore some years back...

    if clubs are so concerned about players fitness why do they have "friendlies" of their own?
    may be i am saying this because i love international tournaments. but, just think of this, how can players "gel" into an international team when they play only "proposed" 6 matches in a year ? This will only reduce the quality of any international team and subsequently those of international championships...

    if they want to reduce international friendlies, i think clubs should lead the way by reducing the club pre-season friendlies and international tour from their calendar.

    if we are so concerned about federations accoutants being busy, we should also be concerned about clubs accounts being busy right. because what i believe is, the revenue at federations disposal will reach the grass roots of the football, whereas the revenues of the clubs will only reach the shareholders pockets... (or those of highly paid stars)

  • Comment number 51.

    Brazil, Germany and Italy all play more friendlies than England.

    These are teams who have won major tournaments in the last 20 years, and regularly make semis and finals of others.

    Maybe the answer for England is more friendlies, not fewer.

    Besides, my view has always been that buying international star players is the preserve of the richer clubs. It is therefore a bit of a leveller that they get called up for international games and the risks involved with that. The clubs they pay for get more sponsorship and coverage as a result of having these star players playing for them. That's only fair.

  • Comment number 52.

    @40

    Cheers! An exact replica, perfect. These BBC blogs are tiresome....

  • Comment number 53.

    Anyone else smell a big compromise coming? The clubs need UEFA and FIFA as much as UEFA and FIFA need the clubs.

    There have already been mumbles that a couple of friendlies might be cut, and if they reduce the average size of qualifying groups down to 4 from the current 5 or 6 in Europe, all will be well.

    The next pressure logically should be on South America to split themselves into two qualifying groups rather than everyone playing the current 18 games, but that is unlikely to happen, as the big European clubs need Brazil and Argentina to keep producing their conveyor belt of talent.

  • Comment number 54.

    2.
    At 12:36 8th Sep 2011, Dan Striker wrote:


    6 International games a year sounds pitiful for fans of International football. How are teams supposed to gel and practice as a team at that level with so few games?

    It all comes down to Real Madrid, Man Utd etc not wanting their players to get injured or tired. As usual it’s the big clubs who call the shots. They get stronger every season and have far too much power.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sorry, I don't agree with this or anyone else who has this opinion.

    Ultimately, it's the clubs that pay the players' wages.

    And they pay the top players exorbitant amounts of money. That comes from money the clubs generate...which comes from the pockets of the fans.

    As a fan are you happy to pay for the wages of your top striker for example if he goes off on international duty for a 'friendly' match and comes back injured for three months?

    The financial issues of modern club football and the investment that these clubs make in their squads- and therefore their fans- means that FAs and Federations can't take the moral high ground, in my opinion. The clubs invest heavily to be successful as their fans demand, and the players are their vital assets. The balance in football between club and international football is heavily weighted for the clubs. That is reality, and something that has to be accepted. The dynamic has been heading that way for decades because first and foremost football fans care about their club sides, the team they support and follow every week.

  • Comment number 55.

    You can't scrap friendlies!
    Never heard something so daft!

    I remember the days when the argument was the other way and people were pushing for more friendlies because players at international level were playing like 'stangers' because they wernt playing enough games together.

    England arged this point after being dumped out of the euros by Sweden and then failing to qualify for USA 94.

    Italy joined in after a poor euro 96.

    Scrapping them altogether would result in some nations never playing one another.
    The 2002 world cup final is a prime example.
    It was the first time Brazil played Germany in a competitive match.
    If it wasn't for previous friendly meeting it would have been there first match ever.
    One of the most entertaing games I've seen was Arg v Eng friendly under Sven finishing 3-2. Cracking game it was.

    DONT SCRAP FRIENDLIES!!

  • Comment number 56.

    The clubs are well within their rights to demand less international matches. They pay the players' wages. Simplez.


    Hopefully this will go further than it did a few years ago, and will bring about the revolution the game needs. By revolution I mean the downfall of Fifa and Blatter and his little toy at UEFA Platini.

    To all the people who say that UEFA can just change the rules to whatever they like as they "own" the Champs League. Well, the clubs could easily make their own tournament and negotiate TV deals without UEFA. Again, the clubs pay the wages NOT UEFA or Fifa

  • Comment number 57.

    Blah blah blah the product this, blah blah blah insurance that.

    Fact is that a player can get injured at any time, in any game, be it a friendly, a cup final or in training. He can go to an international meet and come back injured, or he can go carrying a knock and come back fit. It's just the luck of the draw. Clubs pay a player to play exclusively for them, but only on the understanding that that player is free to play for his national team as and when required. It's not complicated. There is no confusion.

    As for friendlies being meaningless? Well how about we change our attitude and make them mean something? Instead of having a rabid media searching out angles for hype and ludicrous over the top criticism, how about these matches become enjoyable, where the result is less important than the game itself and players are not just free to express themselves but positively encouraged to? How about their place in the side isn't portrayed by the media as being dependent on them not making mistakes, but dependent on them actually being able to play entertaining football, fit for a £50 match ticket or whatever rip-off prices they're set at this season?

  • Comment number 58.

    Welcome to the American world of the franchise. We can applaud the platitudes of football clubs doing things "the right way", but the harsh likelihood is, increasingly, "you're not gonna get in unless you have a sugar daddy!" That's why they're doing their damnedest to plug that hole.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm sure there's a bit of that in there but there's also the ever increasing 'football club's will go bust without a sugar daddy' problem that needs addressing. Look at how much trouble City have had getting rid of the likes of Bridge, Bellamy, Adebayor etc due to the ludicrously high wages they get thanks to the Sheikhs. Even the richest and best run clubs can't compete with that. If 'sugar daddy' clubs can pay someone like Gareth Barry, who is nothing but mediocre, £135'000 a week what will players with talent demand?

  • Comment number 59.

    58 correct, and yet all you hear from ex-pros and the prawn sandwich sky fans is the old "yeah but it's a short career" lies, or the old fashioned "I'd rather the players got the money instead of the suits" line.

    How much money does someone need? Fair enough, one good contract sets a player up for life and I wouldn't begrudge them that at all. But two good contracts? Followed by a mega contract? As season tickets rise through the roof? It's gone way too far.

  • Comment number 60.

    As a Manchester United fan I grow ever more ashamed of my club's involvement in this self-interested muscle flexing. As far as clubs supplying their players to international football for next to nothing when will someone (The FA?) have the guts to say that these players belonged to their countries long before they 'belonged' to the clubs they now play for? Then again, it's not surprising that these people who think only of money can only comprehend the notion of someone 'belonging' to something after a huge transfer fee has been paid.

    As for the idea that countries should compensate the clubs for the players wages whilst on internationl duty and insure them at the also over inflated fees paid by the clubs, surely this would mean that top players from poorer nations would have to retire from international football because their governing bodies could simply not afford this. Is that for the good of the game?

    Not surprisingly it all comes down to money - the one thing they understand. In the end they will put up with the friendlies and tired players so long as they get a bigger slice of the cake. How did we end up with these people having so much power when they have so little interest in the good of the wider game?

  • Comment number 61.

    @NickNak
    "Why was it at the Emirates in England? To make as much money as possible for the people involved."

    I thought it was because the majority of the Brazil team played in Europe so Brazil played their 'home' friendly in a neutral country to save both the Portuguese and the Brazilian team from flying all the way to Brazil. But go ahead and stay cynical.

  • Comment number 62.

    Not surprisingly it all comes down to money - the one thing they understand. In the end they will put up with the friendlies and tired players so long as they get a bigger slice of the cake. How did we end up with these people having so much power when they have so little interest in the good of the wider game?

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I've no doubt the big clubs including my own stand to benefit the most from the new financial rules however if they help stop football from bankrupting itself surely that is for the good of the game? As a season-ticket holder I enjoy watching a lot of the world's best players live each season, however if ticket prices keep going up I won't be able to afford it soon.

    I notice that, despite being the self-titled 'world's richest club', City still felt the need to increase their ticket prices. You'd think of all the clubs that might be exempt it would be them.

  • Comment number 63.

    Anyone trotting out the old: 'the clubs pay the players wages... they should have more say' nonsense needs to remember how the clubs pay those astronomical wages - thanks to TV money and sponsorship/advertising.

    So if Sky, Budweiser, Adidas et al want to see Rooney, Messi and Ronaldo turning out for their countries as well as their clubs then so be it. While there is demand for international football, the supply will continue - and the World Cup continues to be the most-watched sporting event every four years.

  • Comment number 64.

    61.At 13:38 9th Sep 2011, SwissColony wrote:

    Please read the below article regards the international conglomerate which owns the rights to Brazils friendlies and the reasons for this, it is not me being cynical but its called being well informed.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/sam-wallace-samba-for-sale-supporters-priced-out-as-brazil-go-globetrotting-with-friendlies-1817296.html

  • Comment number 65.

    61.At 13:38 9th Sep 2011, SwissColony wrote:

    Please observe one particularly pertinent passage from the Independants article regards the "they are all based in Europe" excuse;

    "It has long been argued that playing friendlies in Europe is more suitable for Brazil's European-based majority of players. But if that is the case then how do you justify two trips to Boston (3,270 miles from London), one to Chicago (4,520 miles from Milan) and one to play Canada in Seattle (5,400 miles from Barcelona)? The answer is: if you pay then Brazil will play, regardless of the air miles their players rack up."

    The Brazil FA sold the rights to their friendlies, its like the FA selling the England friendlies to Sky who then do as they wish to make most commercial revenue, or as i think of it profiteering and ruining football.

  • Comment number 66.

    SwissColony....

    Have you taken your ball home?

  • Comment number 67.

    Hello all, apologies for not entering the debate earlier, I've been away from a computer for a day or so.

    But if you want a slightly different view on this topic, here's the article parag (50) flagged up http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2601/features/2011/09/08/2655962/the-eca-hurricane-has-blown-itself-out-why-fifa-uefa-are-not-set-

    And there was another take in The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2011/sep/07/fifa-football-politics-sepp-blatter

    Cheers, Matt

  • Comment number 68.

    "I'm sure there's a bit of that in there but there's also the ever increasing 'football club's will go bust without a sugar daddy' problem that needs addressing. Look at how much trouble City have had getting rid of the likes of Bridge, Bellamy, Adebayor etc due to the ludicrously high wages they get thanks to the Sheikhs. Even the richest and best run clubs can't compete with that. If 'sugar daddy' clubs can pay someone like Gareth Barry, who is nothing but mediocre, £135'000 a week what will players with talent demand?"

    But surely most of the blame must go to the player? If they are happy to warm the bench or maybe even not make it and play in the reserves for obscene amounts of cash then that is their right. However anyone with an ounce of intergrity wanting to play regularly should take a pay cut. It´s not like dropping from 150,000 a week to 80,000 is suddenly making them poverty stricken

  • Comment number 69.

    Yeah, 606

    It's so much more enlightening to read 327 posts of "your mother wears army boots"

  • Comment number 70.

    I have lost count of the amount of times Blatter has tried to reduce the size of national leagues to protect the players from over playing. Whilst simultaneously increasing the games for top players with cup competitions and meaningless friendlies.

    In theory I have never been a fan of the G14, but in comparison to UEFA and FIFA, they are far more attractive.

  • Comment number 71.

    Financial "Fair" Play is going to cement the bigs clubs dominant position anyway. The end of egalitarianism is nigh.

  • Comment number 72.

    Always love it when people say player should take a pay cut, yeah I am sure if you were on £100,000 a week you would suddenly drop your wages to play regular football. Its like getting paid without having to do your job properly for footballers like Wayne Bridge. Bellamy wanted to play so badly for Cardiff but he wouldn't have his wages dropped (but he is a real Cardiff fan, shows what that means when monies involved). Money talks in the end and always will. Football is the most popular sport in the world hence why advertisers are happy to pay up. It not greed by the players at all, if anyone could earn that type of money and your employer is happy to pay you will. I not saying they deserve to be paid that some of money a week, but people always want more. People trying to find ideological views on how to fix it, UEFA is a business trying to make as much profit as it can.

    There has to be qualifiers for major tournaments even if the majority don't like it, but maybe if it wasn't ranked it could become more interesting for the fans, imagine a group with Germany, Holland and England. But this would never happen. I also think (even though they are terrible) that the likes of San Marino should have to qualify for qualifiers. Imagine being a San Marino player going to Wembley to play England? Even if I lost 20-0 I would much rather do that than play Azerbaijan and win 1-0.

    I think the main issue is that players don't want to play for their country anymore, even players like Rooney have said he would rather win the champions league than the world cup! I don't know how you can rectify this (more money maybe? haha) but something needs to change as international football should be the pinacle of a players career.

  • Comment number 73.

    68

    "But surely most of the blame must go to the player? If they are happy to warm the bench or maybe even not make it and play in the reserves for obscene amounts of cash then that is their right. However anyone with an ounce of intergrity wanting to play regularly should take a pay cut. It´s not like dropping from 150,000 a week to 80,000 is suddenly making them poverty stricken"

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    True, but it's not nearly that simple. Players will still want to play for the traditional top clubs as well as the new breed of wannabes powered by outside money. Top clubs have to [be seen to] pay at or at least near the going rate. That going rate is driven by the new money to a large degree. But it's also driven by Bosman, by agents, by competition prize money and by TV money and the corporate cash cow its exposure realises for all concerned.

    The money in football is obscene, but these vested interests only have eyes for increasing it, not decreasing it. For prime example, the main driver is Sky TV and there's no way in the world that Sky TV would want to lose their virtual monopoly on the 'live' Premiership tv coverage. It certainly is not in their interests at all for players to start taking pay cuts, for football clubs to suddenly find their budgets even slightly less reliant on the Sky deals, and for other broadcasters to come into play as rights become available at lower prices.

  • Comment number 74.

    number 42 i think 13 league titles says arsenal are not and dont finish just 4th dont you,if you know your football ummmmmmm you would not say a stupid comment about english footballs third most successful club would you!

  • Comment number 75.

    The Trawler.

    If it were purely Sky money that dictates then maybe. But clubs are racking up huge debts and still not becoming any more successful for it. These days you have to spend big just to stand still. I don't begrudge City the money they are spending, while their owner has millions/billions to burn, spending seems to be the only viable option to break certain monopolies.
    For someone like Eto'o for example it would make sense to go for the bumper pay-day. He's won just about everything big there is to win in Europe (Premiership aside) so why not go for the Russian cash cow. But someone like Adebayor (hence my response to We All Follow United) is only pricing himself out of a move by insisting he'll only leave Man City for a club who will match his wages. Only a handful of clubs could pay him that so what are his alternatives if even the mighty Real Madrid are unwilling to part with that much salary for him?

    What's going to happen (could be argued already is happening) is the better/bigger clubs (G14) are going to stockpile top class players and be prepared to pay them top whack just knowing having them out of other clubs reaches strengthens their position. Top players, when available, will only circulate around the bigger clubs thus further enhancing their standing in the game.

    jdowling18,

    Like I say it's a question of integrity. £30,000-£40,000 a week less to these guys is peanuts for the satisfaction of playing every game elsewhere. (One would assume...).

    But hey "Greed is good" - right?

 

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