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Who will be Europe's first major football financial failure?

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Phil Minshull | 16:36 UK time, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

It has become an annual event, almost as eagerly awaited, by a certain group of calculator-wielding fans across Europe at least, as the Champions League final itself. I'm talking about the Deloitte Football Money League.

This is an opportunity for Europe's top clubs to preen themselves, not on their players' ability with a ball but their own off-the-pitch prowess.

And this year's 'Rich List', published last Tuesday, had Real Madrid leading the way again.

Real Madrid's BernabeuReal Madrid topped the football 'Rich List' again but they still have large debts

For the first time since the Money League started in 1998, a club has generated more than €400m in revenue, with the Spanish giants increasing their income by around 10% last season to hit the €401m mark.

Just how much the financial landscape of European club football has changed, and is still changing, can be gauged by the fact that Manchester United topped the League a decade ago with income of £117m, which was then approximately €195m as the euro was not yet in circulation.

Hot on Real's heels this year, just as they currently are in La Liga, are Barcelona. The Catalan club's Champions League triumph and domestic double last season helped them leapfrog United, who slip to third after being in second place for the last two years.

However, the figures, as Deloitte openly admit, only tell one side of the story.

The headlines about the financial mess - there is no other word for it - that United have created for themselves have resonated around the world.

There is considerable money going into the coffers at Old Trafford - they remain one of the world's most popular clubs after all - but it is going out just as rapidly in interest payments on the debts. Without the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo last summer, United would have actually made a trading loss.

United's predicament was certainly well-noted in this part of the world when the scale of their financial difficulties became known in January.

There were plenty of smug headlines about how Spanish clubs had their own home-grown presidents, rather than foreign owners, to thank for their financial stability, conveniently forgetting that several smaller Spanish clubs have gone to the wall in the last 20 years, most notably Malaga and Burgos in the early 1990s.

When Uefa published figures last month that showed 56% of the debts of European clubs belong to the Premier League's 20 teams, plenty of commentators in Spain and Italy were quick to pontificate that English clubs had only themselves to blame for falling into foreign hands.

Some even went as far as to predict that the prominence, if not dominance, of Premier League clubs in the Champions League was soon going to come to an end.

However, the truth is that Real Madrid's financial situation - and that of many other big Spanish clubs, notably Atletico Madrid and Valencia - is scarcely much better than United's, regardless of the gloss Florentino Perez may put on it.

Sources in Spain disagree on how much Real actually owe.

Perez stated at the start of the season that Real were 'only' €327m in the red, a figure he admitted to when he presented his budget for this season.

However, other analysts, who have done a bit of digging through the accounts and talked to banking figures, think the figure may be almost as much as 80% higher.

Whatever view you take, these are big, big numbers.

Back in 2001, during his first stint as president, Perez sold off Real's training ground in the centre of Madrid to clear the club's debts that had been built up by his two predecessors, Ramon Mendoza and Lorenzo Sanz.

The joke going around then was that even though Real Madrid had been technically bankrupt for the best part of a decade, no Spanish bank would ever dare to foreclose on such a national institution and risk such public shame.

However, this was an era when the Spanish economy was buoyant. Now it's in crisis, and the financial institutions here have developed a very different attitude to that which prevailed before.

Profound questions remain, such as how Real's latest debt burden was accumulated - leaving last summer's €260m buying spree to one side for the moment - and is Perez's forecast of how he is going to pay it off realistic.

Real fans, financial rather than footballing, think it is. Others are less convinced, pointing out that a consistent 10% annual growth in income just isn't going to happen in the current climate.

Of course, Spanish clubs aren't alone in being in murky financial waters. Italian clubs are mired in debt as well. Perhaps not to the same scale as Spain or England, but the debts are still there.

Sevilla's Marius StankeviciusMarius Stankevicius has been one of the better winter transfer window signings by a La Liga club

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini said last month that Italian football has nothing to worry about financially compared to its two biggest European rivals. But given the sorry history of Italian football clubs cooking the books, it would be naive to think they are significantly better off.

The European Club Association, which brings together leading clubs from across the continent, last week agreed with Uefa that clubs must soon present balanced accounts. But the postponement of the date by which clubs have to get their finances straight - from 2012 to 2015 - may just be an invitation for some teams to continue living on the never-never.

In my local Madrid watering hole, which I usually refer to as 'my other office', a sweepstake is under way among friends that resembles aspects of the plot of the Dirty Harry movie 'The Dead Pool', in which participants in a game try to predict certain celebrity deaths.

In this case, we are trying to predict which big European club will go to the wall first, and it may not necessarily be an English one.

Q) As a massive Holland fan, I can't understand why Royston Drenthe doesn't seem to get any game time for Real Madrid.
Joshua de Kooke, Guernsey

A) There was talk that Drenthe was going to be sold last summer in the clear-out that followed Florentino Perez's arrival as the Real president.

Milan and Fiorentina were the clubs most regularly mentioned. However, Drenthe made it clear that, despite his frustration at only playing in roughly half of Real's games over the previous two seasons and usually coming on as a late replacement, he was going to stay and fight for a place.

The fact is that Drenthe, despite his speed, seems to have lost out to Marcelo in the contest to become Pellegrini's first choice on the left flank, although he's done well when drafted in as an emergency left-back.

I can only speculate why this is but I don't think that Drenthe is quite as creative as Marcelo. I would imagine that he might be looking for a move this coming summer.

Q) What do you think about my fellow countryman, and Sevilla loanee from Sampdoria, Marius Stankevicius?
Laurynas Lipnickas, Hull but originally from Lithuania

A) Stankevicius has probably been one of the better winter transfer window signings by a La Liga club.

He looks good at right-back and at 1.90m he's been a threat in set-piece positions, although he has yet to score a league goal. He's also got a good long-range shot, as seen a couple of times in the Champions League tie against CSKA Moscow.

However, he did have a few problems when moved inside to the centre of defence against Real Madrid on Saturday. Sevilla coach Manolo Jimenez appears to have a lot of confidence in him as he has started all eight La Liga games that he has been available for.

I also think there is a good chance that the loan deal may become a permanent move in the summer.


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  • 1. At 5:40pm on 09 Mar 2010, Jack wrote:

    I guess it depends on what you class as a big european club (regular Champions' League participant?) but I would say the biggest club so far to go bankrupt was Fiorentina about ten years back. Also Napoli as well (there have been a few in Italy).

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  • 2. At 5:49pm on 09 Mar 2010, L-M-R FC wrote:

    well tell us who you nominate then. good artcile otherwise

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  • 3. At 5:58pm on 09 Mar 2010, Robokopthe3rd wrote:

    Good article Phil. I think that whenever one of the big clubs folds up, that it will start a landslide of other clubs that will collapse. Think of it as the football financial crisis hasn`t happened yet, even though in the real world it has. When the footy crisis happens, then there will be similar situations to what happened in the real world. There it was banks, even very big banks, going to the wall. Here you will see very big clubs like Real, Barca, Chelsea, Man Utd, Liverpool (hope not), the Milan clubs etc possibly going under. What I don`t understand is why can Portsmouth be on the brink of collapse, and Man Utd not, when Portsmouth have a smaller debt? I am no accountant so maybe someone knows the answer to that one. But what do the locals in Madrid think of the excesses spent at Real when they are losing their jobs, houses and everything?

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  • 4. At 6:42pm on 09 Mar 2010, Wiener Student wrote:

    Good article.

    It's not just the big clubs in the big footballing countries that are going down anyway; my home Czech league has been suffering from exactly the same problems over the past few years, although so far only the smallest of the clubs in the highest tier have actually gone bust.

    The problem may aggravate, though, as the local "rich" clubs tend to depend on succesfully selling home-grown players to gain revenue, rather than on gate money or TV rights (some years, selling players may cover as much as half of the club's total budget). If the richer leagues experience more financial trouble, and their willingness to invest in unproven foreign lads drops significantly, well, even our local "big shots" will have nowhere to turn for money.

    And for a Czech club laden with debt, the access to any kind of bail-out money is really, really limited, even if the debt is - measured in Premier league terms - microscopic.

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  • 5. At 6:42pm on 09 Mar 2010, Luis RMCF wrote:

    Quite an interesting article about today's football... however, there are a few things I'd like to point out... Real Madrid's financial accounts are audited every year by an external firm, usually a very big and renown one, so I'd tend to believe FP's claims when he says our debts are 327m. It's quite easy to say the debts are bigger than that without any actual evidence... just by saying they have dug deeper into the accounts.

    Yes, they are big numbers but let's not forget the fact that we're talking about a football club with a capacity to generate money beyond the unthinkable... the brand Real Madrid is pretty much known in every corner of the world, and that means more revenues for the club, that's something FP is clearly exploiting. That's why almost every single business related firm has praised Real Madrid's model because of its sustainability. One thing I do have to admit, generating money doesn't guarantee trophies, and we have seen this history in the past with FP's last 2 years before he resigned...

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  • 6. At 6:53pm on 09 Mar 2010, Jupiter wrote:

    Valencia will probably be first.

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  • 7. At 7:33pm on 09 Mar 2010, diggsgiggs wrote:

    At the end of the day isn't the question whether or not the club's financial structure can be supported by its future revenue? You have to say that the Real Madrid's and Manchester United's of the world really needn't be too concerned, their brand is enormous and who is to say what the limit is- anyone trying to guess that over the past couple of decades would have been quite a soothsayer to get it right.

    Portsmouth is probably an example of the other end of the spectrum- the financial structure isn't supported by the brand and even though 'arry turned them into a winning club, their brand wasn't big enough to be turned into massive marketing dollars nor are their support and grounds large enough to do that.

    The stability of some brands (Liverpool and AC Milan come to mind) even when the clubs aren't necessarily current world beaters is impressive. But it takes a lot of years of winning to get that kind of international following. Once the club is there, though, what other sport- or other product - has that kind of brand loyalty? Not many, especially in this world today.

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  • 8. At 7:37pm on 09 Mar 2010, Qwerty wrote:

    Nice article. We can all guess but I think any club is at the mercy of the people who put the money into it, if the owners of Chelsea or Man City walked away then we all know they would be in big trouble.

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  • 9. At 7:56pm on 09 Mar 2010, GigiBuffon1 wrote:

    I'm disappointed that this is basically another article on Real Madrid. We all know they won't go bankrupt as the goverment will bail them out again if they're in trouble.

    Surely this article should have been discussing clubs like Valencia, or even looking at the recent bankruptcies at Fiorentina and Napoli (Although they were Serie B strugglers at the time).

    Also this blog doesn't even try to answer the question asked in the title.

    Overall a disappointing article which would have been better titled "How much are Real Madrid in debt?"

    Thankfully Juventus is a club which has always spent what it earns. The current incompetent board has thankfully kept that habit from the Triade era.

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  • 10. At 8:51pm on 09 Mar 2010, daphnechez wrote:

    Will Liverpool FC be the next to go with no Champions league place to service the debt increased by Rafael Benitez`s inept transfer dealings & Wild Bill Hicocks medicine show.Then Everton may get thier ground back which was stolen along with the Liver bird emblem which was originally blue,by the way,all those years ago on the Everton crest.EFC original,first & best Meseyside club born in 1878.....Liverpool the afterbirth 1892 or whatever.Now taken over as "CLOGGERS" of the premier league.People say we are Bitter...too right we are!!~Looking forward to the next excuse from Rafa...They are getting to lose originally....just revamped from week to week...OLDBLUEGIT(&proud) IRWT

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  • 11. At 9:04pm on 09 Mar 2010, thelibero wrote:


    Nice article. Interesting to see the common problems shared by two of the worlds biggest clubs, also interesting to see the very different routes that have got them there. I think it's only time until a big club goes under, I think it will be a wake up call for football

    the libero

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  • 12. At 9:33pm on 09 Mar 2010, daphnechez wrote:

    Just back from the OSCARS....Next the nominated clubs in the 1st European financial disaster category...And the winner is LFC!! OBG

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  • 13. At 9:44pm on 09 Mar 2010, Ash wrote:

    even if you kept anfield your team would have won nothing in comparison to liverpool and would still be the small club that they are.

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  • 14. At 9:49pm on 09 Mar 2010, Ghod Bless Neil Lennon wrote:

    It's about time that all these "Sugar Daddies" were stopped form investing ludicrous sums into football clubs. When they leave, what happens to the insurmountable debt the club has?

    The likes of Chelsea & Manchester City etc etc are successful for one reason, MONEY! With Abramovich & the Sheik at Man City, these 2 clubs would be, at best, mid-table. They wouldn't have the squads or finances they currently possess. Who were Chelsea before Roman came? They were, at most, similar to Everton/Villa/Spurs (present).

    Forget the "Fit & Proper Person" reports from the FA, why not just stop clubs from being taken over by people purely motivated by money.

    Considering the recent recession (some may argue, like me, that it's still around, just not as obvious, despite the governments claims) these clubs should be FORCED to work within limited squads & finances, this would end the ludicrous world of transfer fee's & contracts.

    The Rugby League's European Super League & the USA's NFL are superb examples of sporting competitions WITH salary caps! And it certainly doesn't detract from the sport itself, in fact, makes it more exciting as there's a much more level playing field. BUT the best players will always sign for the more reputable clubs (Bradford, Wigan, St. Helens, Leeds).

    Enoug his enough, football needs to brought back down to Earth, and quickly . . .

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  • 15. At 10:00pm on 09 Mar 2010, Jack wrote:

    @Robokopthe3rd: Pompey have smaller debts but also have smaller income. Money coming in is not enough to cover money going out.

    Also I think the debt owed by the two different clubs is different types of debt. Man United's is interest payments whereas Pompey's is outstanding transfer fees to clubs and money owed to Revenue & Customs.

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  • 16. At 10:48pm on 09 Mar 2010, Diem wrote:

    @Robokopthe3rd: to echo Jack's (#15) point, as long as Man Utd keep paying back what they owe, there's no problem. Portsmouth on the other hand fell behind.

    Just like two people with mortgages, as long as you keep up repayments everything's fine. Although if your income drops, then suddenly that big loan doesn't look quite so clever...

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  • 17. At 11:09pm on 09 Mar 2010, gfgf4 wrote:


    A salary cap could not really be implemented in football without it being implemented simultaneously across all the countries that play, otherwise all the top talent would move to the leagues that did not have a salary cap. This is not really a problem in American Football as there is only one large compettion for the sport. In Rugby League there are only a limited number of top leagues, with the Super League, I believe, the only European professional league.

    In Rugby Union, there is a salary cap on clubs in the Guinness Premiership but not the French Top 14. This has led to many players moving to obtain the unrestricted salaries offered by the French clubs.

    If a salary cap were to be implemented that capped the amount spent on wages at a percentage of the clubs income, it may help to prevent clubs massively overspending but would seriously reduce the competitiveness of competitions as the biggest clubs would be able to spend more, helping to entrench any competitive imbalance.

    Most of the debt Manchester United owe is against the club, and is as a result of the leveraged takeover. If it were not for the need to service the debt, the financial position would be enitrely different. Portsmouth have a different problem in that the monthly outgoings are not covered by the money from television contracts and ticket sales etc. To make up the shortfall, players were sold but now there are very few of significant transfer value. Four different owners within one season with little interest in the club cannot help with stability either.

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  • 18. At 11:30pm on 09 Mar 2010, the_voice_of_reason wrote:


    Unfortunately, the only reason that any club is successful these days is down to money whether it is from the "sugar daddies" that you say or by the strength of the brand.

    If we want a truly competitive EPL then there has to be restrictions on player transfers and wages but this will never happen so the premiership winners will continue to come from the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea as has been the case for the last 5 seasons.

    It's getting as boring as watching Rangers and Celtic win the Scottish championship every year.

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  • 19. At 11:45pm on 09 Mar 2010, Erdles - Only One Aaron Ramsey wrote:

    #3 The financial health of different football clubs are nowhere near as interconnected as the fortunes of the big banks, so I disagree that they will all topple at once.

    However one way in which your comparison has some merit is the fact that many big clubs - like the big banks - will be considered too big to fail and will be bailed out. Real Madrid and Manchester United are two such clubs... someone (whether banker or buyer) will always be willing to rescue these clubs because of their reputation & brand.

    What do people think of regulations being brought in to limit the budgets of clubs in different ways based on their turnover? While I think this would ensure the long-term financial health of football, it would also help perpetuate the success of big clubs by enshrining their financial dominance...

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  • 20. At 02:00am on 10 Mar 2010, flaspur wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 21. At 06:55am on 10 Mar 2010, Npd McNpd wrote:

    Profit to debt levels and cash flow over debt service costs are some of the best predicters rather then looking at absolute debt. On these measures, Liverpool look very high up the list of clubs at risk. The next Leeds?

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  • 22. At 07:01am on 10 Mar 2010, The TM wrote:

    Morning Phil, morning everyone.
    Gentlemen, My questions are thus.......
    1. Why do the club owners keep spending so much money from borrowing?
    2. Why would anyone want to lend money after such simingly strong businesses like the Lehmans collapsed when no-one thought they would?
    3. What if the borrower whoever collapses?
    I may sound hash but, generally someone should put a cap on this. The postponement by UEFA to 2015 for clubs to have their books in order could spiral a catastrophic collapse of clubs and/or leagues beond repair, then what for the ordinary fan? I'm an Arsenal supporter and the fact that we have not won the league or anything for the past 5 years is a bother, but as is, I'm looking at the next 5 years and all them teams in financial problems will be at ruins and hopefully we shall be gunning them down on all fronts.

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  • 23. At 08:22am on 10 Mar 2010, ExPat-Kopite wrote:


    Liverpool will be fine. The worse that could happen is that the club are forced to sell a few players.

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  • 24. At 08:45am on 10 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    #10. Thought you Evertom fans knew your history. If that was the case then you'd know that Everton wouldnt actually pay the lease to stay at Anfield, and this bought about the creation of Liverpool FC, not sure how a club that didn't exist at the time stole your ground???

    Although that probably was the last time liverpool were well run!

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  • 25. At 09:00am on 10 Mar 2010, ManUtdFan wrote:

    Hoping somebody can explain to me the Man Utd debt situation to me...I'm not an accounting fundi. How is it that once the Glazers bought Utd the loans became Utd's burden? Is it truely the case being that Man Utd is paying for itself??

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  • 26. At 09:02am on 10 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    I personally think Uefa/Fifa need to step in to try and sort this out, Platini makes comments about banning clubs in debt from the champions league. Well the horse has bolted, its to late making grand gestures in retrospect.

    I think the idea of limiting squad sizes and more home grown players is a positive step, and stimulates competitiveness at international level - however not to controvein european employment laws then youngsters who've been in the country for a few years still count as homegrown!

    A salary cap would also make the league more competitve - this may need to be europe wide to prevent a mass exodus of players. But it would mean players would play for the club/manager they wanted as apposed to whoever gives them the most money.

    Also clubs being owned by fans might be a positive to prevent clubs being rich mens play things.

    Truth be told, I think its to late, since the premier league era, sky telivsion etc. etc. football is more and more about business and less and less about whats on the pitch.

    Its personified in some clubs styles of play, they set up not to lose games because of the financial consequences of relegation. It makes for a dire premier league, the worst thing that happened last season for me was that WBA, a team that tied to play good football, was relegated - a travesty for the game in my opinion.

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  • 27. At 09:03am on 10 Mar 2010, Mikey wrote:

    I think you need to look at the big boys in TV as well as irresponsible owners.. This problem has been built over the last 10 years due to the money and pressure being put on clubs through Champions League and Sky Tv... They throw crazy money at the competitions and then say.. 'you have to spend big to entertain the masses and stay in these competitions' Cue the desperation to avoid relegation/elimination..

    The fact that the big leagues have such large parachute payments for relegation is a sign of how hard it is to fall out the top league and keep players at your club.

    Uefa/Fifa are needing reel in the Tv boys too.. but I suppose we could just do what they are doing the now and wait until some major historic clubs really hit the wall.

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  • 28. At 09:24am on 10 Mar 2010, hitch1983 wrote:

    Why dont they just implement a salary cap for players and managers alike and only allow clubs to spend what they make etc.

    The everyday man doesnt have a wage structure that can rise and rise. We all work to a wage structure of some capacity, why should football be different.

    I guess the hardest bit would be actually setting a scale, because you cant paint the likes of Man Utd and Real Madrid into the same broad brush as Rochdale or Colchester for example.

    But they could set a structure for each league division, based on a average figure.

    Footballers dont deserve to be millionaires for what they do. I understand there career is limited to about 10-15 years as a player but they chose that profession. If we the boot from our job, we just look for another.

    I hope all these clubs collaspe, then maybe a basis can be set to make football a sport again because there sure made a hash of it as a business!

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  • 29. At 10:12am on 10 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    I think youre right Kev. If the premiership salaray cap was set at £50'000 a week for exaple, thats more money than the majority of population earn in a year, and I dont think any supporters would take to kindly to any footballer who moaned about having to cope with such a small weekly wage!

    Outgoings needing to be less than income is a simple notion that children can grasp, so why football clubs managment cant is shocking.

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  • 30. At 10:38am on 10 Mar 2010, Diego-UK wrote:

    Talking an an economist ant not a Real madrid fan now, we have to see the level of debt should be compared to the level of revenue.

    if Real Madrid owe €300m but bill €400m a year 9and that is before the arrival of onaldo and kaka and the expected windfall in cash they'll leave, besides the new contracts with adidas or for friendly games in the summer) then it's not too much to worry about. It's a debt they can handle, same as Barcelona can live in their own debt.

    It's like a person. If you make £20k a year and have a mortgage, 2 loans to pay for £10k and credit cards for another £20k... you'll struggle. If you make £100k and have the same mortgage, loans for £25k and credit cards for £15k, you'll be fine even if your debtis higher.

    That's why you can see the likes of Chester struggling to survive for a few thousand quid. They just can't find them. For big teams it'd be mall change.

    Th advantage the big 2 spanish clubs have over the english sids is they are not PLC (and they won't be) so they are free from speculators. Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic and Osasuna belong to nobody. The members with ight of vote chose a president from within them. The money the president makes goes back to the club, the money the lose comes also from the club.

    Implementing a salary cap will never work. You just need one league to break it, or to have it slightly igher, and they'll take all the players. Why would anyone want to play in England or Spain outside the best clubs? They are in a better league, and it is a better league because they have better players, and you have the bettr players by paying them more.

    The fact is every club has to live within their means and grow steadily. Villarreal in Spain did it; they had no history in the top flights, they always played in lower leagues. But they grew steadily and now they are a team tha are well known in Europe and can reach later stages in competitions.

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  • 31. At 10:49am on 10 Mar 2010, SpursStebz wrote:

    The question for a club like Manchester United is how do they leverage their undoubtedly valuable brand. It's not like buying a cola drink. Merchandise is 1 way but in large tracts of the world people will buy counterfeit goods giving Manchester United nothing. One way would be to move away from the premier league collective agreement on TV rights - would the FA let them? There is a court case right there but even with that, the risk of business models based on media is how transferable it is - think of widespread illegal music downloads. I am not sure what the business model is for United but given in a season where they won the league (and a domestic cup) and got to the final of the champions league United could only return a positive margin thanks to selling their best player for a huge sum, if I was a united fan I would be extremely worried that the vultures might already be circling over my club

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  • 32. At 11:09am on 10 Mar 2010, Stevat wrote:

    Salary capping would never happen. As it is currently, Sky and the Premier League themselves are making millions from selling the world Premier League football, despite doling out plenty of money to each of the clubs involved. That's already a lot of money leaving the game that perhaps should be helping clubs out. Companies like that who have such high earning potential will not allow salary capping to potentially diminish the value of their product. While it would make little difference to viewing figures within the UK, it would be interesting to see whether or not the foreign markets would support our clubs as voraciously as they seem to at present. Would there be thousands of Man U and Liverpool fans in the east if they got hammered by Madrid and Barcelona every year in the Champions League?

    Personally I can see the positives, a more balanced playing field, more English players getting experience of playing abroad and so improving their cultural exposure as well as their footballing talents. I also think that clubs should look to do what they do in the Bundesliga and keep several thousand tickets for each game at a very affordable price. Maybe offer a better in ground experience with decent facilities, beer and food? Won't ever catch on of course, seems our league has lost sight of the fans and has just been chasing money for years.

    The great white elephant that is the Nou Mestalla may be the sinking of a major club. Though I expect Valencia to pull through eventually, hopefully they can do so without having to sell Silva and Villa et al.

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  • 33. At 11:20am on 10 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    I dont know what anyone else thinks, but as #32. eludes to, the game seems to be all about money, not fans, and not football.

    Im really disgruntled by it. Might there come a time when fans stop going to matches, or watching them on TV? Might this encourage the bottom to fall out of the game?

    Ive always said that although players seem greedy, they get paid a fair wage for the industry theyre in, supply and demand. If people stopped watching the game, I think a lot more clubs would be in trouble...

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  • 34. At 11:40am on 10 Mar 2010, BeautifulGame wrote:

    Good insight Phil.

    But i think, the only solution for this is for UEFA to bring a rule that was proposed some time back where each club can have only 5 foreign players or something like that.Not the thing that FP is doing in Real Madrid giving the tag of Galacticos.

    Football has got commercialized which must not be the case and it should be played just for the fun of it.

    Every top club in all the European countries is in deep trouble either with the player salaries or the stadium construction debts.The so called big 4 in EPL, The Milan's in Italy, several clubs in SPAIN and who knows what is the situation in Bundesliga or Superliga or other leagues.

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  • 35. At 11:56am on 10 Mar 2010, Lee Cairney wrote:

    Glasgow Rangers are in the champions league nearly every year. They are £31million in debt and if they don't get someone to takeover at ibrox soon they could be a big club that goes to the wall very soon. Were are they going to generate money from, Scotland only has one team guaranteed an automatic place into the champions league now and both Celtic and Rangers live off that money we make from Champions league football. One team starting from next season has to qualify all the way from the 1st qualifiying section!! Plus we don't make much money from selling our best players or TV deals!!

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  • 36. At 12:12pm on 10 Mar 2010, shevabk2milan wrote:

    At Number 33

    The thing is, people WONT stop watching the game. Its like asking people to stop watching porn. It will never happen. Both industries produce too much money and interest for it to fail.

    What many people dont understand is that football is always growing. Its like an economy within an economy. Its always finding new ways of making money and whilst this happens we will continue to see ridiculous amounts of money being thrown about everywhere. I dont think we will see the total demise of football but its worrying that some clubs are at risk of going under and its the bigger clubs that really matter in this sense.

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  • 37. At 12:15pm on 10 Mar 2010, Dutch Owl wrote:

    It is the smaller leagues where the pain will be felt hardest. In the Netherlands Feyenoord is extremely close to the brink, to such an extent that the director of football, Leo Beenhakker, admits that mid-table might well be the best the fans can expect in the next three years. AZ Alkmaar lost its money man, admittedly it is a small club, but it is likely that they will have to change their entire business model, selling all 'stars' off.

    On top of that the Eredivisie lost another EC place for next year, so less money, again, coming into the league which is bad news for Dutch football. This all follows one of the oldest clubs in the Netherlands disappearing (AFC Haarlem) and several others in the second division struggling (BV Veendam)

    It is time that ALL professional clubs have open books, the FIFA should demand this in exchange for being allowed to take part in its leagues. I think the good thing to come out of Pompey, Newcastle, West Ham etc. is that fans are now VERY wary of investors promising golden mountains and delivering deep coal mines instead. Even at my Sheffield Wednesday (some of) the fans are now accepting that a money-man is not necessarily the right answer.

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  • 38. At 12:16pm on 10 Mar 2010, Sportsfan87 wrote:

    @ #3 simple answer to that is that Portsmouths debt relative to thier stature and turnover is quite severe, although the same can possibly be said with man utd.

    Put it another way if Man utd had portsmouths level of debt (60-70mil) no one would make a fuss about it at all.

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  • 39. At 12:16pm on 10 Mar 2010, ja0005 wrote:

    Introducing a salary cap, or any kind of restriction on spending that is related to income will see ticket prices shoot up across the board, as clubs seek to increase their revenues. Fans already paying too much (£49 for an away ticket to Fulham for God's sake) will be fleeced even more. Beer, pies, programmes, scarves, shirts etc etc will all go up in price. The fan will be fleeced more than ever.

    The lack of competitiveness in the Prem would only get worse as who can realistically compete with utd in terms of income?

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  • 40. At 12:19pm on 10 Mar 2010, Henry wrote:

    I feel the need to point out that:

    1) Most italian clubs that I can think of off the top of my head are actually bank-debt-free.
    - Inter, Juventus, and AC Milan for example, owe a lot of money, but that money is all to their owners. And by that I mean directly, not a bank loan secured by owners or anything.

    - Inter, as a response to Platini (I believe) who criticizied Inter amongst a list of clubs for holding a lot of debt, made the statement on their website that he is welcome to inspect their books, as they are debt free.

    - This is, of course, not saying all Italian clubs are financially well off. There is a decent amount of debt, and clubs have gone bust recently (Parma, Napoli) in recent years. But, most of the clubs in the top flight, off the top of my head, hold the owner-debt structure rather than the bank-debt structure, making them immune to going bankrupt as long as the owner keeps the money going. This is of course in contrast to United where the interest payments are what is killing United, and despite every effort from the Glazers they could quite comfortably theoretically go under.

    - The downside with this is that in Italy the stadia are all council-owned, for the main part. There does need to be quite large investment in stadia, and indeed Inter have recently announced plans of doing so, as I believe several other clubs have, and it would be amazing (Though not IMPOSSIBLE) for these to be owner financed.

    - Clubs like Roma are operating on shoe-string budgets in a bid to keep their debts down. They have a practically non-existent transfer budget (and have done for a while) but will be solvent... The impact that has on the team, though, is for someone else to discuss.

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  • 41. At 12:22pm on 10 Mar 2010, Sportsfan87 wrote:

    @ #31 i see that as being the way forward once the current TV deal expires, i don't know the exact amount man utd generate from the current TV deal but i would imagine it wouldn't be much compared to what they could possible generate from selling the rights themselves. I think there is a rule that 14 of the 20 clubs have to agree to it (would need clarification on that) if man utd were to go it alone, but come 2014 which "i think" is when the tv renewal comes around i wouldn't be surprised to see some of the other clubs wanting to do thier own TV rights aswell.

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  • 42. At 12:38pm on 10 Mar 2010, PepeXabiBarnes wrote:

    #36. Youre absolutely right of course, because as much as I dislike it, I also love it...

    football that is, not porn! haha...

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  • 43. At 12:39pm on 10 Mar 2010, ZimmerBear wrote:

    @ #30

    Agree with all you say however your example of villereal is not a good one.
    They are reportedly £160Million in debt with an income that will not cover this. Basically their whole team is for sale and i believe players haven't been paid for last few months.
    They would be my guess for a major fall like Portsmouth

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  • 44. At 12:42pm on 10 Mar 2010, sfazak1 wrote:

    Whilst a salary cap seems a logical solution, how would it work in practice unless all EU countries aligned their tax policies ?

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  • 45. At 12:49pm on 10 Mar 2010, BigFez wrote:

    re: "Salary capping would never happen"
    Something like a maximum wage might be unworkable, but a restiction on the percentage of turnover a club could spend on salaries would be easy to implement. If there were more stringent financial regulations when applying for a UEFA club license any club wanting to compete in european competions would have to comply.
    This would only apply to the big clubs, but then that's where most of the debt and massive salaries are anyway, and the overall effect would be to depress the market. The main benefit of tackling the problem this way is that it solves the problem of different leagues having to co-operate and agree.

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  • 46. At 1:14pm on 10 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:

    Quick question for anyone for knows:

    If I have a loan/mortgage on a house and I cannot repay it, the house is taken away from me. Correct.

    If the glazer's take a loan/Motgageon Man Utd and can't repay the loan/mortgage, Man Utd go bust. Why?

    It is the Glazer's loan/mortgage. What the hell is wrong with this picture?

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  • 47. At 1:16pm on 10 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:

    Oh, and isn't borrowing money you haven't got to build better teams - CHEATING !!!

    As a Chelsea fan all I can say is well done Arsenal for balancing the books correctly - and congratulations in 3 months time for winning the title.

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  • 48. At 1:18pm on 10 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:

    I thinkI might start watchng/playig Futsal. It is technically superior to football, more goals and no preadonars complaining about MONEY !!!

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  • 49. At 1:18pm on 10 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    AS far as I can tell it's not about how much you owe, it's if you can meet the repayments, so if your tax is only 5 quid and you can't pay it you will be shut down where as if you tax is 50 million but you can pay it, then you are okay. So your debt of 1.75 million for portsmouth is a holiday for man united who have hundred times more debt, but Man Utd meet their repayments and portsmouth apparently don't.
    PS I am no accountant either and I think it's all a magic sleight of hand trick anyway.

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  • 50. At 1:45pm on 10 Mar 2010, mark wrote:

    "The likes of Chelsea & Manchester City etc etc are successful for one reason, MONEY! With Abramovich & the Sheik at Man City, these 2 clubs would be, at best, mid-table. They wouldn't have the squads or finances they currently possess. Who were Chelsea before Roman came? They were, at most, similar to Everton/Villa/Spurs (present)."

    Absolute rubbish - Chelsea won 5 trophies, including 2 in Europe in the late 90's and early noughties and just missed out on winning the premiership.
    They also qualified twice for the champions league before RA, the 2nd time in 2004 without spending a penny in transfer fees that season. Their lowest position for 6 years before RA came was 6th, Everton, Villa and Spurs can only imagine that level of sustained success in recent years.
    Your assertion that they would have been mid table at best is ludicrous.

    As for the people who say that Chelsea would go bankrupt if RA walked away, that is also unlikely. Stamford Bridge is almost certainly the most expensive piece of property in world football, due to it's location in Central London and the fact that Chelsea also own the surrounding properties and a massive tract of land in stockbroker country, where the training ground is. Chelsea are not carrying any debt as RA converted his loan to equity, the big problem would be handling the wage bill if he walked and admitted player sales would be inevitable. The youth academy is finally beginning to bear fruit however.

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  • 51. At 2:01pm on 10 Mar 2010, JokersFinalTrick wrote:

    The way to enforce an equitable salary cap is to set it as net pay. Say £50,000.00 net and it's irrelevent what tax each country pays.

    It's what football now desperately needs as when books have to be balanced, only the bigger merchandising clubs will ever win anything.

    As a MUFC that shouldn't bother me - but hey won't City make it intersting in the next couple of years

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  • 52. At 2:14pm on 10 Mar 2010, mark wrote:

    Henry (#40) it doesn't matter if the clubs are bank debt free under the new EUFA / FIFA proposals. Clubs would have to satisfy certain revenue ctiteria, excluding the income available from a benefactor. They have done this to encourage clubs to balance their books and at present if the newspaper reports are to be believed Chelsea and Man City, along with Liverpool would not be granted a license to compete in the Champions league next year. Incidentally Man Utd would only have qualified for a licence this year thanks to the sale of Ronaldo.
    The big worry is that the privately owned clubs will be allowed to massage their figures, whereas the PLC's will have to be transparent.

    As for TV money Man Utd made £36 m last year and Chelsea weren't far behind. However thanks to their deal with Mediapro Real and Barca will both recieve around £135 m a year. The big difference is that the English money is distributed far more evenly among the 20 Premier clubs, whereas the main proportion of the Spanish money goes to the top 2. English clubs will shortly be able to negotiate their worldwide TV rights (not domestic) which will benefit the top clubs even more.

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  • 53. At 2:40pm on 10 Mar 2010, Stevat wrote:

    Just my personal opinion, so largely irrelevant to the majority of folk on here, but some people seem to have an entirely different mindset when it comes to following their teams. To me it's all about endeavour, being proud of who I am and where I come from, and of the 11 selected to represent me and my city. Success is great (and scarce for most), but is secondary to the effort and honour involved.

    Seems to me that there are more and more people who simply seem to follow what is written in the press and broadcast on TV. Branding definitely works, and people are buying into the big brands of football more and more - to the detriment of the smaller local clubs. I can't see any of the truly big clubs folding, quite the opposite in fact. I would expect to see more small clubs marginalised as people seem desperate to be associated with corporations and their immediate successes. Like I said, people don't seem proud of their roots any more and just seem to support whoever the press tells them to.

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  • 54. At 2:40pm on 10 Mar 2010, Greg wrote:

    You forgot to mention that Arsenal leapfrogged Chelsea in the rich list..

    ...and that Arsenal will win the Prem and the Champions League and be regarded as the best team EVER!! (despite regularly not spending a penny)

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  • 55. At 2:44pm on 10 Mar 2010, sars-strikes-back wrote:


    It's all well and good to write this sort of article but it tends to look speculative and sensationalist unless you actually make justified predictions to back up your claims. So who is top of your club dead pool and similarly for your colleagues - in short, who is the Ariel Sharon of the Champions League

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  • 56. At 2:53pm on 10 Mar 2010, Henry wrote:

    52. At 2:14pm on 10 Mar 2010, greenmarkfo wrote:

    Oh no, I appreciate that. I'm under the impression that Juventus pulled in quite a large operating profit last year, AC Milan pulled in a very low one (but nonetheless profitable), I don't know about Inter ironically enough - being the club I support - but I presume, esp in light of the 40m for Ibrahimovic, that we would be in the same boat.

    All I was saying is that, in the last few years, when for example Berlusconi and Moratti invested very heavily in their teams, it was out of their own pocket anyway.

    I personally believe -> though lack the empirical evidence as our books aren't really public -> that Inter would be granted a license if the ruling was enforced immediately.

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  • 57. At 3:09pm on 10 Mar 2010, Everybody loves Hercule Poirot wrote:

    I'd like to welcome every Premiership team and official to what lower league fans have known since the ITV Digital collapse. What took you so long?

    Chester disappeared today for an unpaid tax bill of just over £25k. The main headline though was Beckham returning to Manchester. When the media start taking it a bit more seriously perhaps teams will too.

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  • 58. At 3:21pm on 10 Mar 2010, Diego-UK wrote:

    #43, if Villarreal are in such a bad situation I'll be happy to emove them as an example. I didn't have he information.

    #45, that i the only way to work out a salary cap. If your income is £80m, then your expenses must be a max of £80m, be it ground maintencnace, tansfer fees or wages. One thing clubs would cut on would be agent fees and commissions, and that would be great.

    There are many legal tricks in accounting for what is an expense and what is not. Ronaldo would not cut £80m of Real Madrid expenses. If he has signed for 5 years, then Real Madrid will have an accounting expense of £16m each year. And that is what every club does. So the financial cost is 316m this year even if the cash flow is £80m...

    #46, It would depend in the terms of the loan. Pompey has been taken over by the guy that loaned the money to the previous owner. On man U case, is it the club that has taken the loan or is it the Glazers? What has been offered as guaantee in case of missing payments?

    Futsal is not that good; and that comes from a Spaniard, the most succesful country in Europe in the sport... but also because Spain has invested mior money and the clubs have professionals which other cuntries do not have. So, in one word, money. Money is needed to back almost everything in port, with the sole exception of the British Davis Cup team.

    #53 I follow my neighbourghood team, but that happens to be Real Madrid. I went to the stadium as a kid before I knew what the league or the european cup were, never mind if we had won any trophies. But small clubs hae always fodled t leave room for thebigger ones. That is where the "United" in english clubs tend to come. Newcastle Utd is the result of the merge of several smaller clubs in the city; I am sure the likes of Man U have the same story behind them.

    But I agree that it is a shame that fans jump into a succesful side and forget the team they used to support, just because someone else is moe succesful. My boss in a former job is a Barcelona fan. As a kid, he used to go with his father to the Espanyol ground, until one day he said "dad, why do we support Espanyol if Barcelona win more often?" and he started to support Barcelona. Just an example, it happens with every other club.

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  • 59. At 3:22pm on 10 Mar 2010, Diego-UK wrote:

    Sorry for my awful typing above - I hope it's readable...

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  • 60. At 3:30pm on 10 Mar 2010, mark wrote:

    Greg (#54) are you sure?
    ."..and that Arsenal will win the Prem and the Champions League and be regarded as the best team EVER!! (despite regularly not spending a penny)"

    Which Arsenal are we talking about the Argentinian one?
    In the past 3 years Arsenal have spent about 12m less than Chelsea which is the equivalent of a distinctly average premier squad player each year.
    Arshavin, Ramsey, Nasri, Bischoff
    Sagna, Fabianski, Diarra, Eduardo.
    Gallas, Denilson, Rosicky
    Walcott, Manone, Song, Vela, Diaby, Kleb, Adabayour.

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  • 61. At 3:38pm on 10 Mar 2010, collie21 wrote:

    given the scale of debt of some clubs, it seem rediculous that chester are wound up for debts of 26K, just ludicrous.

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  • 62. At 3:49pm on 10 Mar 2010, Nick wrote:

    50. At 1:45pm on 10 Mar 2010, greenmarkfo wrote:

    "The likes of Chelsea & Manchester City etc etc are successful for one reason, MONEY! With Abramovich & the Sheik at Man City, these 2 clubs would be, at best, mid-table. They wouldn't have the squads or finances they currently possess. Who were Chelsea before Roman came? They were, at most, similar to Everton/Villa/Spurs (present)."

    Absolute rubbish - Chelsea won 5 trophies, including 2 in Europe in the late 90's and early noughties and just missed out on winning the premiership.
    They also qualified twice for the champions league before RA, the 2nd time in 2004 without spending a penny in transfer fees that season. Their lowest position for 6 years before RA came was 6th, Everton, Villa and Spurs can only imagine that level of sustained success in recent years.
    Your assertion that they would have been mid table at best is ludicrous.

    As for the people who say that Chelsea would go bankrupt if RA walked away, that is also unlikely. Stamford Bridge is almost certainly the most expensive piece of property in world football, due to it's location in Central London and the fact that Chelsea also own the surrounding properties and a massive tract of land in stockbroker country, where the training ground is. Chelsea are not carrying any debt as RA converted his loan to equity, the big problem would be handling the wage bill if he walked and admitted player sales would be inevitable. The youth academy is finally beginning to bear fruit however.
    If RA hadn't had taken over then Chelsea would have been put in to administration. Ken Bates had put so much debt onto Chelsea that they were deep in trouble and were having problems repaying it. RA only paid a few million for the club which was extremely good or bad value depending on where you come from. RA did have to take on the debts that were more than £100 million.

    Chelsea will have trouble getting into the CL soon because they keep losing money. They lost £40million last year and that's the best it has been, so yes Chelsea would become bankrupt without RA or they would have to either sell players and reduce their ridiculous salaries they pay to players.

    I believe that you are also wrong about the Chelsea ground as well. I think RA owns the Stadium but not the pitch which is owned by the supporters trust. A friend that is a Chelsea fan told me that.

    I'm sure with the new rules coming in over the next 5 years that Chelsea will either have to seriously increase their revenue or they will have to reduce the number of star players and their salaries. Paper talk has Chelsea offering Ballack only £60k a week for a new contract even though he's on over £120k. They can't even get Joe Cole to resign as it's to do with money. Chelsea's players were the first mercenaries to think of huge wages and it should be their downfall.

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  • 63. At 4:00pm on 10 Mar 2010, Pete wrote:

    I like the idea of restricted overseas players. It worked fine with cricket and encouraged good youth systems. Obviously they would have to introduce it slowly in football.

    they need a stalin-like 5 year plan...say in 2015 half the side must be home grown, increasing every 5 years....

    then arsenal would have some londoners

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  • 64. At 4:13pm on 10 Mar 2010, Kevin wrote:

    When considering anything EPL-related it's worth considering it a competition that has been ongoing since 1888. In that time the top 10 clubs have clearly proven themselves to be (having played over 3,000 top flight games and amassed over 3,000 points): Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United, Manchester City, Sunderland.

    Currently eight of those teams occupy top 10 places in the Premiership, Sundeland are 13th and Newcastle are more than likely to be there or there abouts next season. In all respects it must be better to be one of these clubs than to not beone of them.

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  • 65. At 4:40pm on 10 Mar 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    There is so much that could have been written on the finances of European club football that I could do an article every week on one particular aspect of it. However, the re-confirmation of Real Madrid's position as the 'richest' club in the world meant that it was appropriate to focus on them.

    Many thanks to all those people who took the time to comment and the compliments are much appreciated. Some critics said that I spent too much time looking just at Real, but I think most people realised that what is happening with their finances is applicable to many, many other clubs.

    The simple truth is that too many football clubs across Europe, big and small, are living beyond their means.

    Rob_LFC_fairbairn: “well tell us who you nominate then...” My nomination in the Finbars 'The Dead (football) Pool' contest is (concurring with murray) Valenica.

    They are about €500,000 in debt and seem to have no way out of it. Qualifying for the Champions League next season may temporarily keep the creditors at bay but they are not paying off any of the capital on the debts. I have a feeling that many of their top players like Villa and Silva will have to go on the market this summer if they are to survive.

    There are also no indications that the local government will bail them out so a private investor would have to come in and take on the debts, most of which are with banks.

    This article is a year old but not much has changed since then apart from the fact that their debts are getting bigger by the day.

    Robokopthe3rd: “but what do the locals in Madrid think of the excesses spent at Real when they are losing their jobs, houses and everything?” Interesting point. I haven't gone out in the streets and done a definitive survey but there appears to be, at the moment, a lot of people who basically are saying “Florentino Perez, well it's his money isn't it.” This begs the question, is it? As the articles say, he's taken out bank loans to help pay for Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka. At the moment, despite the economic situation, my very unscientific impression is that there is actually a lot of support for him. Things may not be the same in May if Real don't win anything this season.

    Paradise_is_east “The Rugby League's European Super League & the USA's NFL are superb examples of sporting competitions WITH salary caps! And it certainly doesn't detract from the sport itself.” Thanks also to ja0005, sfazak1, BigFez for some good input on the issue of salary capping.

    Salary capping is something which UEFA (and national federations) seem to have barely considered despite the potential problems in its implementation. In my opinion, it wouldn't be the complete solution to the debt problems at many clubs but it might stop further middle-ranking clubs e.g. the Portsmouths and Fiorentinas of this world, going bankrupt and also mean that player's salaries would be paid on time. However, as gfgf4 pointed out, such a move would need to be implemented by UEFA across European and I think such a move would be resisted hard by the leading English, Spanish and Italian clubs.

    Erdles – OnlyOne Aaron Ramsey: “What do people think of regulations being brought in to limit the budgets of clubs in different ways based on their turnover?” You've correctly analysed that one of the dangers of the UEFA proposals for 'balanced budgets' is that it will retain the dominance of Europe's big clubs but at the moment that dominance is already there because of their ability to be able to secure huge amounts of credit. I have a feeling that ultimately the new financial regulations may allow some smaller, well-run, clubs to have an impact but it might take eight to 10 years before this happens.

    ManUtdFan: “Hoping somebody can explain to me the Man Utd debt situation to me.” Have a look again at this link.

    Finally, a bit of housekeeping on previous blogs.

    1)Please don't comment on my previous blog that looked at the possibilities of Porto going a long way in this season's Champions League. I think that everything that anybody was going to say went through my mind last night!

    2)Yes, much to my dismay, the Bayer Leverkusen bubble seems to have burst. However, I'm not completely writing off their chances just yet and they play Bayern Munich at home on the second weekend of April, when a win could change things around again.

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  • 66. At 4:44pm on 10 Mar 2010, shevabk2milan wrote:

    Phil, when talking about Valencia, i assume you obviously dont mean 500,000 Euros in debt is a lot of money to be in debt with? As that is what you have put.

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  • 67. At 4:54pm on 10 Mar 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    31 "if I was a united fan I would be extremely worried that the vultures might already be circling over my club"

    Thanks for the concern but you might find that not only have the vultures landed, they are feeding ferociously.

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  • 68. At 4:59pm on 10 Mar 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    "41. At 12:22pm on 10 Mar 2010, Sportsfan87 wrote:
    @ #31 i see that as being the way forward once the current TV deal expires, i don't know the exact amount man utd generate from the current TV deal but i would imagine it wouldn't be much compared to what they could possible generate from selling the rights themselves. I think there is a rule that 14 of the 20 clubs have to agree to it (would need clarification on that) if man utd were to go it alone, but come 2014 which "i think" is when the tv renewal comes around i wouldn't be surprised to see some of the other clubs wanting to do thier own TV rights aswell.

    I hope not. I see that as a surefire way of cutting our own throats. You are I believe right that 14 clubs need to ratify any decision on the broadcast of premiership matches which will stop this happening. United without the premiership would be nothing. There may be some leverage in non-domestic broadcasts but I would surprised if the premiership allowed that to happen either.

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  • 69. At 5:01pm on 10 Mar 2010, United Dreamer wrote:

    "47. At 1:16pm on 10 Mar 2010, David Rolls wrote:
    Oh, and isn't borrowing money you haven't got to build better teams - CHEATING !!!

    I believe they have rephrased it as "buying United".

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  • 70. At 5:09pm on 10 Mar 2010, Greg wrote:

    #60 - Yes I am sure..

    How much have Chelsea spent in the past few years compared to Arsenal?

    How much did all those players you just named actually cost?
    Lets add it up...
    Vermaelen - £10(million)
    Arshavin(£15), Ramsey (£5), Nasri(£12), Bischoff(Free)
    Sagna(£6), Fabianski(£2), Diarra (£2), Eduardo (£7).
    Gallas(Free), Denilson (£3), Rosicky (£4)
    Walcott(£5- up to £12), Manone(£350k), Song(£1), Vela(£125k), Diaby(£2), Hleb(£8), Adabayour.(£3)

    I make that £85.475Million (up to £92.475 for Walcott), Less the sales of Hleb(£15), Adebayor(£25) & Diarra (£5.5) = £39.975Million (up to £46.975 for Walcott)

    Compared to how much Chelsea have spent over a similar period..

    Sturridge(£6.5million), Zhirkov (£18)
    Bosingwa (£16.25), Souza (£7)
    Di Santo (£3.4), Ivanovic (£9), Anelka (£15), Malouda (£13.5), Beletti (£5),
    Mikel (£16!!!), A.Cole(£5 + Gallas)

    Ok so my sources fall a year short but still this adds up to...£114.65Million + William Gallas.

    Plus the fact that Arsenal dont pay any player well over £100,000 a week like Chelsea do... so for Ballack etc who were 'free' - they have huuuuge wages to deal with!

    I think only sales of SWP and Robben have nursed the dents to the CFC bank account...

    As for your 'distinctly average players' remark, I think the fact that those distinctly average players smashed Porto 5-0 last night and are joint on points with Chelsea in the title race (albeit a game ahead) speaks volumes for the work that Wenger has done at the club - whilst spending a lot less than the Russians.

    Oh and kind of off subject but 3 of those players you listed have and will be out for a year or more each due to broken legs? Any return there?? Not really..

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  • 71. At 5:15pm on 10 Mar 2010, blackandblueblade wrote:

    This isn't exactly a new problem and although ideas about wage caps and expenditure caps keep getting talked about, nothing is happening.

    I would also like to see a list of clubs in order, when expressing their total debt as a percentage of their last 12 months' income.

    A list just talking about debt isn't relative, Real can sustain their debt due to massive income and massive assets, Portsmouth are crippled by a much smaller figure.

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  • 72. At 5:32pm on 10 Mar 2010, A young horse named George wrote:

    With regards to the idea of a salary-cap, i've always felt that FIFA should look to implement something similar to that in the NBA whereby Each year a team can spend a certain amount on their squads wages. If something like this were to be implemented in football it would be a little bit like fantasy football where teams could spend masses on 2/3 stars and have the rest of their team made up from lesser players or have a more solid squad with less big names but more depth.

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  • 73. At 5:40pm on 10 Mar 2010, mark wrote:

    Nick you are right to say that Chelsea were around £100m in debt when RA took over, but to say that they would have gone into administration is incorrect.
    The money was manly owed to a Eurobond with staggered payments and having qualified for the Champions league Chelsea were OK financially. You also need to remember why the club got into so much debt in the

    first place. They purchased and rebuilt the dilapidated Stamford Bridge which was a disgrace of a stadium by Premier standards, but gave me many years of pleasure, despite years of failure on the pitch during the 80's and early 90's.

    Ken Bates also built Chelsea Village which was a revolutionary idea at the time to make going to a football match a complete experience. Stay at a hotel by the ground the night before, enjoy a meal next door, go to a nightclub or pub a few yards away and then take a 2 minute walk back to your hotel. Because of its central location the hotel was also the ideal tourist trap. Unfortunately for Chelsea and tragically for the rest of the world the events of 9/11 scuppered that and along with the sad death of Mathew Harding Chelsea were hit by events that no club or business could have foreseen.

    I'd also like to add that Chelsea were not the club responsible for starting the wage spiral, Arsenal were the first club to offer a player £100, 000 a week when they signed Sol Campbell at a time when £60 000 a week was considered excessive.

    You are also correct that the CPA own the pitch and I'm sure it will make a lovely garden for the new residents if the stadium is ever sold.

    As for Chelsea not qualifying for Europe I think they should be applauded for the stand they are taking against Ballack and Joe Cole in particular. If you look at the top 20 paid players in the world, Chelsea's representation is poor compared to a couple of years ago and maybe a sense of reality is beginning to creep in. I hope so because personally I believe the amount of money in football is obscene.

    As for never breaking even in the future, individual tv deals will probably give them enormous financial muscle in the near future. They have also shown a profit of about 15m on transfers over the past 2 seasons and finally have an excellent crop of youngsters coming through. At long last we seem to have the manager that RA wants, so hopefully that will save us another 12 m a year.

    Basically I agree with a lot of your points apart from the one that Chelsea would never have been better than mid table but for RA. But as a lifelong fan I would say that.

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  • 74. At 5:40pm on 10 Mar 2010, Nick wrote:

    Well today it seems that 2 non league clubs have gone completely and Cardiff City in the Championship and Southend in League 1 have both got extra time to pay the HMRC or they will be in administration. Also what will happen to Portsmouth on Monday? Will they still be in administration or will the HMRC have their way and the club be wound up instead!!

    Surely every countries FA will have to make sure that the clubs debt especially to their own tax office is up to debt before allowing them to stay in the division.

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  • 75. At 5:54pm on 10 Mar 2010, Nick wrote:

    greenmarkfo, Arsenal never broke their wage structure and like Ballack for Chelsea got a higher wage because of the free transfer they both did. At the time Arsenal it was still not an enormous amount as other teams were paying more.

    I did not say that they were a mid table team but I do not think they would have risen so far so quickly without RA's money.

    If teams do start to do individual tv deals then it will make the PL worse off and will have more people saying it's only down to 2 or 3 teams each year. I've enjoyed this season immensely due to all the ups and downs. I don't think we want a Spanish or Scottish league where its down to just 2 teams fighting for 1st place and then who cares about the rest.

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  • 76. At 5:59pm on 10 Mar 2010, 21shergar wrote:

    What I find most interesting is that NUFC is so high up the rich list. That being the case, why is the club in the Championship and why has is it had no noteworthy success for over 40 years?

    Don't answer that. As a long suffering Newcastle supporter I know the truth only too well! Visionary leadership and stability should lead to trophies, but as ever, finding the right plutocrat(s) and management personnel is not easy. Good help is always hard to find.

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  • 77. At 6:43pm on 10 Mar 2010, mark wrote:

    Hi Greg
    Think you'll find Essien was signed the year before.
    I'm not suggesting the players Wenger has signed are average, I said that £4m gets you an average premier squad player these days.
    Some people would also argue that having spent almost £100 million on players and having won nothing for 5 years when you already started with an invincible team wasn't too clever.

    Nick I agree entirely about the TV money, but I fear it is coming sooner than later with Man U and Liverpool so indebted they will pressurise and railroad the authorities into it.

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  • 78. At 6:57pm on 10 Mar 2010, Mercianknight wrote:

    Excellent comment. No surprises as to EPL indebtedness given the fans hunger for excellence and success.

    Not sure how the EPL can avoid future casualties unless the FA mandate a fundamental chnge in player remuneration. I'm all for playing and win bonuses, but some of the salaries are just obscene and need to be capped.

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  • 79. At 7:12pm on 10 Mar 2010, flaminhaggis wrote:

    One thing that worries me about the financial state of football is the fact that teams in leagues such as the Scottish leagues, Scandanavian Leagues et al will never ever have represesntation in European football again due to the fact they get little money from broadcaters.

    I know i'll get the usual xenphobes replying stating this is due to the fact that the scottih and scandanavian football is poor-what I would say to that however is these teams have never had the ridiculous sums of Money thrown at them-Enlgish,Spanish,German and Italian football was good, but certainly nowhere near the level it is now, until S%@ invested bags of cash into these leagues-even then it created a massive rich/poor divide-and even at tehn until Arsene Wenger arrived with his signings, United were dominant-then RA took iver Chelsea and allowed Mourinho bags of cash to build a team to dominate the leage for a while.

    It's the same in the Italian,Spanish and German leagues-Real bankrolled, AC and Inter Bankrolled, Bayern Bankrolled-and we all know the common theme these teams have-they all qualify for the Champs League, which gives them more money from TV rights and UEFA.

    Meanwhile the likes of Rangers, Celtic, Ajax, Feyenoord,FC Copenhagen, Malmo, Rosenberg et al struggle to get into the CL, and when they do they can barely compete due to the fact they have no money to invest into their teams and when they do they dont hace the money that the above stated teams do.

    So it's a vicious circle, for the smaller and larger teams-and until this cycle is broken it wont just be teams like Pompey who quite frankly have lived well without their means will be going bust-eventually its only teams in the Prem, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A will survive-and to be honest I dont want to watch a competition that has the same teams week-in week-out, year in, year out, because those in UEFA, and the assocations of the mentioned teams start giving a damn about the other teams and leagues of different countries, and stopped realising that the financial problems in football dont start and end in the so'called 'bigger' leagues!

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  • 80. At 7:18pm on 10 Mar 2010, flaminhaggis wrote:


    Dont mean to be disrepectful, but thats exactly the type of league you have in England!! One of four teams can win the league-not really much better than a one-in-two league when you think about it-as for the ups and downs the only real race you have in the prem is for fourth-and even at that I dont think to many would bet against L'pool eventually getting it.

    Again I dont want to sound too disrepectful, but think the prem has long gone from being a league of surprises, its like most leagues in Europe, ie the ones with the most money are the ones who have the best chance of winning the league, and more importantly getting into the Champions League-apart from Everton getting into the QR's a few years back, when was th last time one of the 'big four' didnt make it into the CL?

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  • 81. At 7:53pm on 10 Mar 2010, yardii_boy wrote:

    But given the sorry history of Italian football clubs cooking the books, it would be naive to think they are significantly better off.
    Phil mate, I've had posts removed from your 606 forums which were less close to the bone than this.
    It seems like a highly speculative thing to say and is reinforcing a bad stereotype.
    I also don't understand the point this blog is trying to make? Are you trying to make English fans feel better about the financial black hole that the Premiership is by making everyone else'e problems seem bigger? "Its ok that your clubs going to collapse because its going to happen to everyone eventually" - its completely missing the point altogether - its NOT ok at all that football has deteriorated to this level yet everyone knew what's been on the horizon for a long time, why act so surprised and panic when it actually comes? I don't think you are telling anyone who has any ounce of footballing sense what they don't already know with this blog. The entire football world is in an absolute mess, its no secret - it hasn't been for well over a decade now. Football is currently eating itself alive and it won't stop until the system itself collapses.
    Absolutely nothing is getting done about it and even though they know exactly what's going on the clubs continue to carry on as if this hasn't been on the horizon for a good long time now.

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  • 82. At 8:14pm on 10 Mar 2010, drew wrote:

    #60 Arsenal cannot be criticised for their transfer spending.

    Wenger has overall practically spent nothing when you take into account the money arsene recoups from player sales. Players like Anelka, Adebayor, Toure, Overmars, Petit, Henry for example were all successful servants and were sold on at astronomical profits in most cases

    I cant find a source online but i read last year that overall in the wenger era, overall arsenal had only spent 2million. Compare that to any of the other big four. Chelsea have spent hundreds of millions on transfers and throw in the silly wages too. I support Liverpool but have great admiration for the arsenal model. And every president/chairman/owner in club football has great admiration for it.

    No wonder Wenger was approached by Real Madrid several times to become manager.

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  • 83. At 10:30pm on 10 Mar 2010, kinglofthouse wrote:

    As a football fan (and United in particular) I can understand the frustrations at Old Trafford at the moment. Had we not been successful in the last two seasons (two CL final appearances aint that bad is it?), where would we have been? Probably bankrupt who knows? To make a marginal profit on the back of that is a scandal and the level of the debt both in football generally and OT in particular is unacceptable and really does threaten the game. Sometimes I envy Arsenal-they really run a tight ship and theirs is the financial one to copy. Scary times and my club are not immune. One bad season and there could be a firesale of players.

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  • 84. At 10:30pm on 10 Mar 2010, inoffapost wrote:

    I like the 5 year Stalin plan from #63

    20 million dead, famine, pogroms, xenaphobic government, gulags. Sounds like a Monty Python sketch - ah! but what did Stalin ever do for us?

    All joking aside maybe football could do with a short sharp shock of this kind of reality and privation. The authorities have it within their power to introduce regulation and enforce it. They could clean up the game over the next 5-10 years. But they won't. Snouts in the trough, vested interests. Sepp Blatter? Don't make me laugh. The game is bent and going to hell on a handcart.

    The fact that we discuss it so openly means its going to happen. Everybody knows it, but do we see the authorities in the game who have a moral responsibility to protect the game do anything about it? No. Just bring on the next cash cow for the Champions league. 120 years of history. Real who? Yeah they were great once. Now, where's my next conference, 5 star hotel, 1st class travel and hot and cold running extra's...........

    Football. Its sick. Don't we just love it!

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  • 85. At 01:35am on 11 Mar 2010, cameron wrote:

    Good article in general Phil, however one major point that you mis-quoted was that the 56% of European debt was for all 20 premiership clubs, but that figure was actually only based on 18 premiership teams. Portsmouth and one other (apologies but can't remember them off the top of my head) were not included in the Uefa findings due to the fact that they were not granted an Uefa licence to play in Europe due to their already dire financial status, and so Uefa did not include them. Given this fact it is likely that the percentage of debt would be much closer, if not over 60% for the premiership.

    One last thing as well, it's one thing to criticise European teams for the levels of debt that they have gathered, but surely an example of success would not go amiss in order to show that clubs CAN be run without debt. A perfect example would be Bayern Munich: state of the art stadium that is sold out every week (as is every ground in Germany), a team that boasts some big name players mixed with youth and sensible buys, the ability to buy further stars if needed, and all of this with NO debt... perfect club business model IMO

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  • 86. At 05:20am on 11 Mar 2010, drew wrote:

    #85 You are certainly right there about bayern. They generate amazing revenue being far and away the most popular german club side

    It amazes me that the german clubs have huge attendence figures at matches and the prices are much more affordable than england. At least a third or even a quarter of the prices in blighty

    A good few years back when in spain, I seen atleti madrid play in la liga at home against zaragoza. Jimmy floyd-haisselbaink was palying up front that day but i was amazed that tickets for me and my brother were less than £11 for the 2. Couple of weeks previous we were going to go see palace at selhurst but it was over £20 each!!

    In england it costs a fortune to go football compared to spain and germany. Not sure bout italy and france but i cant see it costing english prices. So Bayern are doing a wonderful job. I think its similair to the barcelona model. Pay silly wages and top transfers, but they can afford it because of their fanatical fanbase and huge grounds

    It was funny newcastle made the top 20 in the rich list revenue wise. Its such a tragedy. St James' is a massive ground and they have fanatical support. They should be competing with europe's elite instead of barnsley. Hope they can turn it round. They were living beyond their means for quite a few years before ashley the miser bought the club

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  • 87. At 07:45am on 11 Mar 2010, cliveeta wrote:

    Some interesting figures... and the notes in this article just became more relevant with Real out of the Champions League!
    This must be a massive blow to their finances, just as it was/will be to Liverpool.
    I hardly think Real Madrid will go bust but with substantial debts to pay and less income they will not be able to buy any more expensive players. The ones they have must be getting a fortune weekly!
    Man U in the same boat and Liverpool struggling to put a new plan together ( ground, transfers, coach etc) that's leaves the 'mercenary' clubs, Man City and Chelski who are bankrolled with money from who knows where?!?

    Note Arsenal have moved up with a nice increase in income since they moved into their new stadium. They may not have won anything the last few years but they are in better shape to dominate the next few, with new trainng ground and stadium, great young players and manageable debts.
    Very sensible AND they play decent football. you gotta lov'em

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  • 88. At 12:18pm on 11 Mar 2010, BeautifulGame wrote:

    Why is my comment not yet posted ?
    How long does it take for a moderator to moderate ?

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  • 89. At 12:53pm on 12 Mar 2010, saba wrote:

    My pick ... for a club to fail is going to be Livepool. They are not going to make it to the top 4 this year ... that would mean that atleast 1 of their big names would leave this year (they only have 2). They are likely to miss out on top 4 for sometime now and with big TV money gone, combined with high debt, they certainly look in trouble.
    As a united fan, i'm going to miss the rivalry once LP get uncompetive ... although i'm not going to crib abt LP suffering.

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  • 90. At 4:50pm on 12 Mar 2010, SomethingGlorious wrote:

    60. At 3:30pm on 10 Mar 2010, greenmarkfo wrote:

    A load of nonsense…


    So you mention in the last three years yet list Arsenal's signings for the last five years. Is that because taking it back to five years would reveal some of Chelsea's massive spending too? Also, we only spend what money is brought in. So in order to have an accurate reflection of one's transfer activity then the selling of players must be taken into account.

    So, over the last five years taking both incomings and outgoings, I think we can all agree that the chasm between Arsenal and Chelsea's spending is a lot more than the pathetic 12m you offered up.

    It's amazing how some people will manipulate figures to prove a point.

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