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Premier League feels first winds of change

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Matt Slater | 14:15 UK time, Thursday, 1 September 2011

Kaka to Spurs, Adam Johnson to Stoke, Sol Campbell to Southend... there are long stretches of transfer deadline day when the only sane conclusion to make is that it is football's equivalent of Red Nose Day.

After all, what is the "Jim White brings it home" show apart from an extended news readers' skit? Not that I'm knocking it, it's nonsense but it's glorious nonsense. The Johnson "story" had a lifespan shorter than a mayfly's and I am sure I saw its source sniggering behind the reporter with an unusually shaped roll-up.

But amid all the seasonal silliness there was some serious business done this summer and while English football remains curiously "recession-resilient" there is evidence to suggest our leading clubs no longer take that for granted.

On the one hand, you have total summer spending by the Premier League's 20 clubs up 33% on last summer to £485m, only £15m less than the record set in 2008. And the £710m splashed out this calendar year - January's £225m blow-out really was unprecedented - is a new high.

But on the other, the net spend this summer (buys minus sales) was £180m, 10% down on 2010 and 25% less than 2007. In fact, net spend has fallen every year since then apart from 2009 when Real Madrid's shopping spree skewed the market.

There were other encouraging signs that a more sustainable recruitment policy is taking root, one that might actually help the national game and team.

Over a third of the total went on English players (£165m as opposed to 2010's paltry £50m) and 58% of all transfer fees went to English clubs, a huge increase on last year's 28%. Football League clubs, for example, enjoyed a net inflow of £60m against last year's £25m.

Phil Jones in action for Manchester United

Another trend to emerge was the premium placed on youth, particularly English youth. The faith shown in talents like Phil Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Connor Wickham added up to a grand sum of £130m spent on players younger than 21, six times the amount invested in 2009 and double last year's figure.

The reasons for this are so obvious you wonder why it took so long to get there with the home-grown players rule (eight in every 25-man squad and an unlimited number of U21s): young players have more resale value and command lower wages. The right ones tend to be a bit hungrier too.

So I think we can give the home-grown idea a slap on the back but what of that other outrageous restraint of trade/football's last chance to save itself (delete to taste), Uefa's Financial Fair Play initiative?

For a scheme intended to force clubs to live within their means, the 2011 transfer windows would appear to be a giant raspberry towards Michel Platini and his technocrats - a net spend of £180m is still an awful lot more going out than coming in. But even here I detect something is changing.

First, the smart clubs did their spending early to get it on last year's set of accounts - Liverpool and the two Manchester giants were the cutest about this and I was interested to read Damien Comolli's remarks about the "support" he was given by Liverpool's owners to buy first, sell second.

This means that when Uefa comes calling, these clubs won't be able to hide their expenditure but can demonstrate a "positive trend" towards the 2013/14 season, when FFP comes into full effect.

Second, there has been a significant move on clubs' payrolls, particularly in the bloated, out-of-favour, middle tier.

I said a few times yesterday that I thought Liverpool had enjoyed the best summer window mainly because of who they got off their books. But they were given a late run for their money in the clear-out stakes by Harry Redknapp and Arsene Wenger, and Manchester United very calmly went about the same process during the golf and tennis season.

There were also some pretty remarkable examples of individuals agreeing wage cuts to facilitate moves: Mikel Arteta to Arsenal, Craig Bellamy to Liverpool and Cesc Fabregas to Barca. Wages, not transfer fees, are football's real weakness and if FFP is to mean anything, more pressure must be applied here or football's long balancing act will end up in a pile on the floor.

There is another big challenge for Uefa and its well-meaning intention to save football from itself: its own part in the madness.

Five English clubs - the usual suspects - shelled out more than £50m each, accounting for two thirds of the total PL spend. They did that because the only chance they have of meeting the FFP targets is to qualify for the Champions League.

But five into four won't go and that is ignoring the claims of last year's quarter-finalists Spurs. It is a classic arms race and they do not tend to end well.

You also then have the fairly naked challenge to the principle of "fairness" that is the example set by Anzhi Makhachkala, Malaga and Paris St Germain, three seemingly different teams united in their stunning petrodollar-inspired spending. The only way any of these can possibly pass an FFP test is to smash their domestic league rivals out of the transfer-market water.

And what of the unsustainable situation in Spain where two teams gobble 70% of the TV revenues while the rest of the league slides towards bankruptcy? It is Scottish football with better weather, better players and tax breaks.

So there is plenty to talk about when the top clubs assemble in Geneva next week for the annual meeting of the European Club Association, the successor group to the G14 lobby, which is probably a good place to sign off.

Deadline day is done and dusted for another four months, plenty of time for us to forget just how irrelevant 90% of yesterday's business was and allow ourselves to become seduced by the idea that clubs shuffling squad players is an actual story.

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.

    I feel that this may have been the last "big splash" before really concentrating on the fair play issue... City, Utd, Chelsea and even Arsenal needed to spend to compete in the CL and Liverpool did to get back there! I think next season/Jan the likes of City, Utd... will not be spending big (if at all) Should be interesting watching UEFA trying to implement it and see what punishments are given for those failing...

  • Comment number 2.

    Good article. I don't think, though, that net spending is an indication of anything. It just means that more teams are willing to spend the silly amounts being thrown about. A good net amount may mean good financial health now, but the absolute values of buys and sales separately means setting yourself up for a perfect storm situation.

  • Comment number 3.

    We will wait and see if this will be Platini's legacy. Can he force this upon clubs or will this go down some sort of human rights path (as mentioned about losses due to constraints on trade etc)?

    I mean if he forces this through and there is no legal loophole then City are quite frankly screwed. Was it 120% of their revenues spent on wages?? Absolutely absurd. A lack of spending in the next few years will not bring down the inflated wages of these pros.

    The lack of 'big' name movements this summer has been good to see as this should slowly bring an end to players outrageous wage demands. As clubs will simply just refuse to buy them (Schneider to United for example). Now if Inter have a poor season and don't get out of the CL groups will he consider dropping his wage demands next summer??

    We can only hope some form of normalcy will creep back into the game with regards to wage demands

  • Comment number 4.

    All of the big 5 clubs: United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal spent over £50m in the window, but it's clear to see the strategies and actual costs are vastly different.

    For example, while United who have spent £50m +, Liverpool who have spent £60m + and City who have spent £70m +, have all improved their squads. Meanwhile Arsenal who spent £50m this summer have markedly decreased the quality in their squad.

    It pays to take a closer look at the numbers, if we ever want to relate it to Financial Fair Play.

    There are two glaringly contrasting examples out there: namely Liverpool and Manchester City. City for all their riches have only marginally outspent Liverpool this summer, but the actual acounting picture looks very different.

    Liverpool have spent £62m this summer on 7 players, and have recouped about £25m having let 13 first team players go. That's a net spend of about £35m-£40m. However, they've trimmed their squad, and given that the type of players they've brought in: a combination of young and unglamorous types as well as foreign bargains, they haven't added much in terms of wages. However, Liverpool have slashed their wage bill in the process by letting so many players go, saving a conservative £10m a year on the wage bill. The two sums, over 5 year contracts, show an amortised loss of about £7m-£8m per year in transfer fees, while saving £10m a year on wages, showing that they've spent entirely in their means this summer and that the fees paid for players like Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson - criticised as being too much - are only one part of the overall package that they're paying, including wages of course.

    Now Man City on the other hand are still paying extremely high wages. For example, Andy Carroll of Liverpool who cost £35m in fee, earns about £3m per year, while Sergio Aguero who cost £38m in fee, earns about £10m per year. Over the course of a five year contract that's an extra £35m for Aguero that City would have to account for.

    Samir Nasri has taken a £110,000 per week pay hike in joining City, while their wage bill is still absolutely humungous.

    This is one club I can't see ever being able to break even, if the rules of FFP are to be applied.

    Then we come to Arsenal. Yet again, they've made a net profit on transfers. This might make business sense but it is to the detriment to their squad. One day if they continue this policy they will finish outsid

  • Comment number 5.

    ...One day if they continue this policy they will finish outside of the top 4 and frankly, the FFP rules can't come soon enough to kick in for them, as without them, their prudence would never be able to wrestle the league ever again with the likes of City and Chelsea around, and even Manchester United who are naturally financially superior.

    Interesting times lie ahead for the big clubs, and if UEFA take a strong stance on costs and bogus revenues, then I know who my money is on in the next 10 years. And those teams all play in red.

  • Comment number 6.

    wow is 3 post's a record for city bashing in a post not about Manchester city? I doth my cap to you sir ;)

  • Comment number 7.

    @6 As with agreeing with number 4 it's not City bashing, it's just they are the ones that stand out on the topic of overspending with regards to FFP.

    As for talking about the rest of the article if FFP comes in and is seen to work then the model set out by the likes of Malaga and PSG just wont be taken up and will stop distorting these 'smaller' leagues. The issue in Spain looks like it'll only get worse, especially as it seems TV revenues are moving over to South America in a big way - will be very interesting to see what Tim Vickery thinks about the explosion in TV rights in Brazil at the minute and what impact this will have during transfer markets.

  • Comment number 8.

    @7 Will the best of "their" players not be overly concerned with coming to Europe do you think? The likes of the new Tevez, Messi, Ronaldo (old one)....the list is endless, Will we see a more level playing field in World football (the club world cup or whatever it's called might become more of a contest in the future)

  • Comment number 9.

    It seems to me that yesterday was more like a boot sale than a transfer deadline day. Spurs and Manchester City seemed to be very successful in getting rid of their old tat having already been out when the shops were full to buy some new stuff - which presumably will be next year's old tat. The transfer system with its artificial deadlines seems to be the source of ruin for football clubs, presumably at the likes of QPR and Sunderland the accountants have woken up this morning with sore heads and the losses made by Spurs and a few others, including Arsenal whose reaction seemed to be pure desperation will take some time to recover. Okay if you are Man City with a bottomless pit of cash to spend but this surely is no good for football int he long term.

    By the way the Sky commentary seemed to show every footballer leaving their grounds wth a "man bag". What were these? Leaving presents?

  • Comment number 10.

    You are right, the salary is the main problem not really the transfer fees. Sneijder's salary was reportedly about 250k per week AFTER tax. that's incredible.

  • Comment number 11.

    I suspect the buy vs sell numbers for Spurs this year have been affected by the need to finance their new stadium project.

  • Comment number 12.

    I guess that the teams who currently fail the FFP test will be both trying to reduce wage costs and increase revenue over the next 3 years.

    It seems that the teams that will pass the test are Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool (of those who can reasonably expect to qualify for Europe) while Chelsea and Man City would struggle.

    Most recent wage bill information by club (2010)
    Chelsea - £174m (255m) 68%
    Man City - £133m (152m) 88%
    Man Utd - £132m (349m) 38%
    Arsenal - £110m (274m) 40%

    The numbers above are wage bills with revenue in brackets and the % of wages vs revenue.

    Man City at the moment is not a sustainable business and Chelsea are not far behind. I would expect that Chelsea (Torres, Mata, Lukaku, Merieles) and City (Aguero, Nasri) will have increased their bill whereas Utd and Arsenal (along with Liverpool) have reduced theirs. This will have widened the gap.

    City in particular have suffered from not being able to offload costly players such as Tevez and still needing to subsidise the likes of Adebeyour while he plays for someone else. Chelsea has not tried to offload anyone (maybe Anelka) and Utd sold older players on higher wages and brought in young guys. Arsenal just lost their best players and could not attract anyone decent.

    The FFP rules don't seem to be affecting those with the worst habits.. in fact their habits seem to be getting more entrenched.

  • Comment number 13.

    City have actually got rid of 16 players (loan or sold) so I wouldn't say they are simply buying and not "trimming" Let's face it we're a bunch of arm chair critics and not actually running a football club. I'm sure City are run by people who know what the are doing and will get it sorted by the time it needs to be (I include Chelsea in that statement) I'm sure a lot of the loanees will be permanently transferred in the coming seasons and the revenue will increase substantially (assuming we maintain and do OK in the CL)....I would agree that we are the most vulnerable along with Chelsea but are we really going to allow ourselves not to be a part of the joy that is CL football? of course not!

  • Comment number 14.

    "I'm sure City are run by people who know what the are doing "

    Signing Owen Hargreaves (who they do not need) shows that they don't

    The day Man City collapse like a house of cards will be a great one for English football. They are ruining it at the moment.

  • Comment number 15.

    14. At 17:32 1st Sep 2011, Webb of Deceit - Not606 when 606 shuts wrote:

    they signed him for free, he's only tiny wages (more if he plays) and has immense quality and experience... Yes it's a terrible signing! You sir are a pleb!

    Why do you want city to fail? scared of the competition?

  • Comment number 16.

    Fantastic blog, very insightful and informative, found this very interesting

  • Comment number 17.

    TBCH I'm sure the folk at City, Anzhi, PSG all think they've found a way to make everything balance by the end. Whether UEFA agrees with them or not remains to be seen.

    Eventually, UEFA will ban one or more clubs, it's almost a statistical certainty, and UEFA knows the bigger the clubs they can catch the better for their objective...

    What I wonder is, at the end of the day, if City are banned by FFP, is your owner going to wait it out, or sell at a loss and try again somewhere else? He's rich enough to do either, but he's not exactly been the most patient owner either...

  • Comment number 18.

    FYI, this is not Sky, it's the BBC.

    As a licence fee payer, I expect more than the rubbish spewed out on this site yesterday and shall be contacting the BBC Trust forthwith.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Swindonbluearmy #1 & #15
    First of all the FFP punishment for failure has been made pretty clear. No CL.
    If they have the teeth to apply it or not is another question. If they have the teeth to rule that the huge amount of money City took for stadium sponsorship is genuine commercial revenue or not will tell a lot about how strong they are going to be.

    as to your #15
    No, we should not be afraid of the competition but if you are happy to spend money on the like of Hargreaves in his condition when you have a wealth of players that would still start before him (even if fit), if you are happy to have a second team squad earning 50m plus and used as rotation players then fine.
    you enjoy the short lived glory of it, remember how much you hated Chelski when they did it ?
    Remember how much you criticized their fans for relishing the glory after 50 years of waiting for a title and how much you argued that they had bought it.
    Get ready, because you could easily turn into that
    Makes you wonder who is the pleb really doesnt it ?

  • Comment number 21.

    City have their stadium naming "deal", which even the likes of Platini can see is a fiddle. If they let that deal stand, a deal that inflates the Eti...heads income so they can spend over £100 million each off season, then the fair play regulations mean nothing at all.

    That is the litmus test. Will they be brave enough to say the deal is ridiculous, and then ban Citeh from Europe? Of course they won't because they're cowards.

    Either enforce real fair play, or scarp the whole useless fair play charade.

  • Comment number 22.

    @20 Steve

    I don't recall hating Chelsea at all, I recall thinking finally someone to challenge the big 2! Admittedly I was a little green eye'd as I'm only 29 so had never seen a trophy in my entire life!

    Still struggling to see how Hargreaves was a bad acquisition...he was free with no agents fee's and only very small wages unless he plays a lot! What's bad about having depth?

  • Comment number 23.

    @21 HELL YEAH BROTHER!!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Ppfffttt...isn't there a man u forum u can go and love each other in? It's boring now. Same old same old

  • Comment number 25.

    The FFP rules are not fair themselves. This is a rule designed to keep the top clubs with a large support at the top. For example Man Utd are such a big money-making machine that they can continually spend £50million+ every year and continously stay at the top, which leaves middle-ranked clubs like Man City having to stick with mid-table mediocrity because they're not allowed to spend any money. This is just a scheme designed by Uefa to keep the Man Utd's and the Real Madrid's at the top of european football forever.

  • Comment number 26.

    Could not have said it any better myself #25 ! Another fine point if I may.... United are buying up other academy products Jones, young etc. O'Shea and co are shipped out yet they came through their very academy ! But that's okay eh ?

  • Comment number 27.

    Great article, but is that a blog? I mean what are we supposed to answer to what you wrote? I can argue this. United have both bought and sold brilliantly and pretty stupidly over the years. Buying and selling is how you keep your team on top. Barca for instance Won the European cup 2 years ago and bought in the close season. They won it last year and bought in the close season. You cannot blame a club for the players wanting to play for them, but you can blame a club for the players not wanting to play for them, Arteta for example not wanting to play for everton, Barton at Newcastle, Nasri and co at Arsenal... Likewise you must therefore compliment either a club, the manager or the wage structure when players want to go play for them, Barca, United, Chelsea City etc; The bottom line is win something generate income , win something else generate more income. United have or at least seem to be managing where clubs that have won the premiership, Leeds Arsenal Blackburn have failed drastically. ...

  • Comment number 28.

    In terms of FFP... Hopefully this will put an end to individuals owning more than one club? Vladimir Romanov for example is in control of Hearts, Kaunas & MTZ Ripo. Obviously as Hearts won't qualify for the CL anytime soon this is somewhat irrelevant BUT, I'm sure if Sheikh Mansour was hell bent on continually spending he could buy another club (maybe even outside of Europe) and run losses there loaning players to City, buy players from City from inflated prices etc etc. Regardless of FFP rules I think owning multiple clubs presents conflicts of interest so hopefully it will be addressed

  • Comment number 29.

    4. & 5.

    That's all very well and good Gavelaa, but your reasoning only adds up if it is proven that Liverpool's previous level of spending, prior to the transfers made this summer, was fair. Just because the overall package (wages and transfers) shows that Liverpool did not overspend compared to the previous year(s), has little or nothing to do with whether sustaining a comparable or slightly reduced level of spending is ''fair'' according to the FFP standards.

    It was my understanding that FFP was more scaling the spending down and actively reducing the excessive spending (as a proportion of revenue), than maintaining an uneasy status quo. After all, if this is the case, then one has to ask what exactly the point of FFP is if it will have no effect whatsoever?

  • Comment number 30.

    I'm going to hazard a guess and say that Hargreaves is going to Man City to take on the Viera role - he's undoubtedly professional in the way he applies himself, and I assume that Mancini et al hope he will be a good influence on some of the less professional players (I'm looking at you Balotelli).

    I highly doubt he's been bought to start the majority of games. But I do expect him to make sub appearances IF he gets fit. I think that's a big IF though - I think his playing career is effectively over and has been for a few years in reality. He might however still manage 15 minutes to see out a close game when necessary.

    By the time FFP kicks in fully, he'll probably have retired from playing football; whether he stays on in a different role remains to be seen.

    I think City's biggest worry is whether their various sponsorship deals are deemed to be at fair market value or not. Other than that I expect another couple of big clear outs before FFP kicks in and once a preferred squad has crystallised. The out of favour players presumably will be let go for peanuts to get them off the books and lots of contracts won't be renewed - at least not without a big wage cut.

  • Comment number 31.

    FFP is a very clever and subtle move by the larger European clubs to cement their places at the top table forever.

    No club can now join that elite as it is not possible unless they already have Champions League income and exposure or are allowed to source funding from outside fooball. Under FFP that is not allowed.

    Under FFP clubs currently outside the cartel cannot get enough international exposure to increase the value of their brands and therefore cannot generate enough football related income to compete with the income of those teams already in the Champions League.

    Medium size clubs such as such as English examples Everton and Aston Villa will forever now be in the second tier.

    When is a journalist who can think outside the box going to flag this up rather than give Platini and his acolytes such an easy ride?

  • Comment number 32.

    When it comes to FFP rules, I think we will see 18 out of the 20 clubs following this. The other two will buy ideas to conform, ie Stadium renaming or Oilwell found on Club Training ground.
    I much preferred when the oil tycoons were not there, your team challenged for the title from the first game to when it wasnt possible, not written off because they didnt pay 250 million on a pack of Galitico players. I doubt the Barons will play fair. :(
    Also, what happens to the clubs when their master gets bored, big contracts. Food for thought.....

  • Comment number 33.

    swindonbluearmy
    If you enjoyed what Chelsea did, it's probably because your hatred of Manchester United blinded to the extent that you would shake the devil's hand to see someone else winning trophies. No offense to Chelsea or City supporters, they are great clubs with great traditions and heritage but I find it hard to see how anyone of them can argue that the money injection they've benifited from over the last decade is not the right way to do things. I fail to see how their supporters would take any pleasure from it to be honest. Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United simply earned their money, you might argue it's unfair since they benifited from their name and status but they earned it nontheless, it's theirs. Manchester City and Chelsea are the Paris Hilton of football, by that mean, they got lucky.

    Hargreaves by the way looks like a good signing in the best case scenario, and a no harm done in the worst case scenario. Safe gamble which is good in my books.

  • Comment number 34.

    Let's be honest although the whole concept of the Champions League is a bit silly when you can enter finishing fourth, the idea that Man City or Chelsea could win the league and not be allowed to enter just isn't viable. The idea that Barca and Real Madrid could also be excluded just isn't going to happen.
    Financial fair play is a good thing but it needs to be implemented in a way that is fair to all clubs, not just the ones with big support who think that allows them to spend more. It should also reward youth players and protect them from the big clubs coming in and buying them which as we've seen all the big clubs are guilty of.

  • Comment number 35.

    I'm not at all surprised to see another article about football finances that sinks into another vitriolic attack on Manchester City, the would-be new-kids-on-the-block. However, so much of what has been written is very simplistic, more so than usual. To respond to varioue erroneous points:

    City have reduced their wage bill since May, by way of selling, releasing and loaning out players. This year the saving will be about £5 million;

    The nett spend since May is about £50 million (£75 million outgoings, £25 million income). This level of spending will not be necessary in future windows;

    If UEFA only accept HALF of the new sponsorship deal(s) and City fail to get past the first knock out round of the Champions League, City's turnover should still be around the £200 million mark, an increase of one third over last year.

    Asthers have said before me, City's executives and accountants know far more than I about the FFP rules. I'm confident there won't be any problem.

    With regard to the finances of other Premier League teams, I couldn't care less. I suggest the rest of you find another drum to beat, cos the noisy neighbours are trying to sleep.

  • Comment number 36.

    This is what I see happening with the result of the fair play rules.

    1- Nothing will change, UEFA wont be able to suitably punish those breaking the rules and it will be a joke. Man Citys flouting of the rules with their sponsorship deal, Real Madrids infamous training ground scam.

    2- UEFA do get tough do force clubs out of the Champions League making tough examples of Man City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona. With weaker teams the competition goes down hill TV money goes down. The G18 or whatever it is now break away from UEFA and form their own European Super League.

    Its been quiet for a number of years now because of the sucess of The Champions league but with the Insane TV money, Player wages the only sustainable way for football to move forward at the top level will be a European Super League. And then how long before its a Global Super League. Since the invention of the Champions league. (the Expanded format 3-4 teams from top leagues) The gap has widened between the haves and the have nots.

    I said many many years ago at the age of about 12 when the champions league came about, this is the end of football as we know it. And I've been right. The enjoyment out of football has gotten less and less each year as money has sucked the life out of the game I loved.

  • Comment number 37.

    @36 - Don't you enjoy watching Premier League football now that all the world's top players want to come here and perform, if only for the money?

    And you can still go down the local park and watch a minor team match, or even play yourself. I do.

    Money isn't killing football. Miserable pessimists aren't helping though.

  • Comment number 38.

    Spain's new TV distribution framework will even things out when it finally arrives. Not by much, but its a start at least.

    With regards to City and FFP, they will have found a way to comply with the rules e.g the training ground/leisure complex sponsorship. Prolonged presence in Europe is important for City right now and the management and legal teams won't let that happen.

    @36 - To blame football's moral/social decline on the Champions League is probably a bit unfair. In my opinion its a combination of Sky, the Premier League, the CL, all-seater stadiums, the internet and player-agents have gone a long way to removing the culture from the game.

  • Comment number 39.

    FFP, derided by Chelsea and Man City fans, loved by Spurs, Man Utd and Liverpool.

    Sounds simple.

    Except, Chelsea and Man City are distorting the market, not in terms of transfer fee but wages.

    They will argue that it is okay, that they need to do this to close the gap. But the simple fact is that the going rate affects all clubs beneath them, the going rate for average/poor players goes up too.

    You look at several recent clubs to flirt with administration, Portsmouth and Hull. They go in the Premier League they have to pay Premier League wages, but those wages just are not sustainable.

    Wage are a trickle down effect, if they are reduced at the top, they are reduced at the bottom, is someone at the top is paying over the odds the lower down teams have to pay over the odds for average to poor players.

    Clubs at the top think it's all about them, it really isn't.

  • Comment number 40.

    "So I think we can give the home-grown idea a slap on the back but what of that other outrageous restraint of trade/football's last chance to save itself (delete to taste), Uefa's Financial Fair Play initiative?"

    This argument fascinates me. The "outrageous restraint of trade" made be true in terms of European business but isn't it the sport of football that always argues that it is different to other businesses.

    An example of this is when an assault is committed on the pitch by a player. Rarely, I can only think of the Joey Barton example off hand, is a player investigated for a criminal offence. Tthink back to Rooney's vicious elbow against that Wigan(?) player. No action from the police there. It is no excuse in law to say the player didn't want to press charges as it would not be his choice.
    Now imagine you go to a rival business and elbow an employee in the back of the head with everyone watching. I doubt the outcome would be the same.

    In situations such as these football is happy to be treated differently from everyone else and regulate themselves.

    My point here really is it seems football as a sport wants its cake and wants to eat it too. Can they really have it both ways, choosing which ever suits their situation best?

  • Comment number 41.

    @37 and @38
    Good Input.

    I still enjoy football I always will but not as much as I used too. The players don't enjoy it anymore so why should we. Where are your Matt Le Tissiers and your Alan Shearers? Its all about one thing and one thing only not losing. Its about bigger better stronger. Teams like Arsenal who i've gained respect for after there 8-2 drubbing because they never abandoned their passing attacking beliefs despite being hammered teams like Blackpool, West Brom who came into the premier league and didnt abandon their philosphies.

    The players play for money and nothing else these days they are happy to sit on the bench and not play for their 100K a week and get a medal at the end of it. If they loved football they would want to play every week some clearly don't. All you here is they want to play champions league football why its not because its the best standard of football its because teams in it will pay them the most. Who plays for their country now out of passion, pride and honour, no one they would rather retire from international football because they aren't getting paid for it.

    I didnt blame Champions League for the moral/social decline I blame it for making money the pinnacle of success.

  • Comment number 42.

    @Webb of Deceit

    'The day Man City collapse like a house of cards will be a great one for English football. They are ruining it at the moment.'

    Can you explain how they are ruining English Football? For years people have been moaning that the Premier League was just like Scotland but with four dominant teams over two. Of course Everton and Spurs have had their season in the sun but long term how else was a club going to break this monopoly? Man City aren't doing anything much different from Chelsea. Did they ruin football in England? Has the fact that Man Utd can just click their fingers for any British player to come running ruined it?

    Why is it City in particular? At the start of last season all of a sudden there were six clubs trying to get four places. We had a competition. Now this year we have overhyped Liverpool and written off Arsenal and Spurs but once again, in reality, there will be competition at the top of the table.

    Seems like English Football is having a resurgence to me.

  • Comment number 43.

    Great blog and an interesting read.

    It will be interesting to see the true impact of the changes. It did appear that most clubs were making a ‘final big splash’ in the transfer market hence inflating the prices. There also seemed to be a trend towards English youth which is hardly surprising given the nature of the changes.

    Also several club seemed to be trimming their squads and therefore their wage bill which also seems unsurprising.

    What will be interesting if the severity of the regulation of the changes. I personally think that you cannot police for example Man City’s stadium naming sponsorship as it will open up a ‘semantic can of worms’. This, therefore, may actually create an avenue for the super-rich to actually dominate more under the revised rules; the direct opposite effect to what they are intended to do.

  • Comment number 44.

    I pretty sure that the clubs that are likely to be most affected by the fair play rules will manage to 'cook the books' enough to get through without any penalty. I totally agree with the principle of the initiative but cannot see it coming into full effect.
    Citeh, the club in this country most likely to have problems with the fair play initiative due to their obscene wage structure and reckless spendning have just garnered millions by renaming their stadium, and there has to be other ways around it.

  • Comment number 45.

    re the article by Matt Slater 'winds of change' ?- not really.

    ManU paying big money but getting what they need to compete. (Liverpool in that group too) Rotating the squad.
    Arsenal paying 12 mill and less ( mostly on youth) and getting some deals, some not.
    City spending whatever it takes, whatever it costs ( this has been going on for 2 or more years now)
    Mid-table clubs messing with a bunch of transfers ( Villa, Sunderland, Stoke, Blackburn and interesting to see QPR now in this group) in an attempt to get up top.
    Clubs without sugar daddies having to sell to stay afloat ( Everton, Wigan)
    The only change I see is Chelsea who have put the Russian checkbook in a safe place ( except for Torres)
    Upstarts with some hope based on out-of-their-skin performances ( Norwich, Swansea, Spurs, WBA)
    and of course you cant forget Newcastle who , with some of the best fan income, have managed to remain absolutely static.

    Same as it ever was.

  • Comment number 46.

    Just like the oxymoron that is Financial Fair Play, the arguments from some posters on here is nothing to do with fair play, and everything to do with maintaining the status quo. If Platini wanted Fair Play, he would abolish the Champions League. And it's interesting that accusations on here of City wangling FFP are in the same breath as United and Liverpool 'getting round' the rules by buying early and selling late, Matt. So 'wangling' is not all right, but 'getting around' something is. That tells us all we need to know. And further evidence of this is the hammering away at the Etihad deal, but there's not one mention on here of the United 40m first training kit sponsorship, for what it is, arguably on a much grander scale than the Etihad one, and I would suggest tacit recognition by United that City's deal has been/will be approved by UEFA, and that it opens up numerous opportunities. You could argue it's in United's financial interests for there to be a strong City. Both clubs must have seen the market opportunities from the FA Cup SF and Community Shield. Take this into Europe and you have the new El Classico, but all in one city, and simply defined by colour, red or blue. It looks good for Manchester.

    There is a presumption that City's Etihad deal will not be considered as revenue by UEFA, but they are treading into very dangerous legal waters if they decide a company cannot sponsor a club for as much as they like because someone in that company is related. How do you prove it was for family, and not commercial reasons, while at the same time not considering the possibility that somebody at DHL might be a United fan? Many people are overlooking the fact that Gary Cook is on the the UEFA Finance Committee. If people on here know more than him about FFP then City really are in trouble!

    In the meantime, I'm looking forward to some even more lucrative training kit sponsorships at City! And I don't think we'll be alone! Not to mention other possibilities already mentioned. Also as said above, City look to have stocked up for a few seasons to come, so don't expect anything like the spending we've seen since Sheikh Mansour arrived for a few more years now. With opposing fans/the media determined to magnify City's spending and understate income, you might not know that City signed 6 players in the summer, but, in addition to Patrick Vieira's retirement, released one player, sold 5, and loaned out 9.

    From hereonin, even if you ignore the Etihad injection, City can look forward to the stimulus of%2

  • Comment number 47.

    I find it very interesting when Manu (s....) fans complain about other clubs spending to win titles. I dont understand how they can complain when they themselves did the same thing in the past (and are still doing it more than 17 other clubs in the PL). They might not have spent as much as Chelsea and Man City simply because they didnt have to. Whatever they are spending now is enough to keep them in the title hunt. The money spent in the past was enough to make a name for themselves and make sure that their annual reveneues are enough to make generate money for future. It is just their good luck that they had the money to spend at the right time. Any other argument given by man u (si...) fans is just a hogwash.

    I am sure people who complain about teams buying titles are just scared of the monoply they had over the PL. They dont want other clubs to give them a fight for the PL title and a place in the CL. I might have felt the same way had I been a man u fan (which fortunately I am not).

    Man U (si..y) fans sometime go to the extent of mentioning Barcelona in the group of clubs spending money to win title. I think barcelona has produced more home grown players than a certain manu. And if man u fans think they rely on their acamedies and not money to win titles then why they had to spend a lot on ferdinend, vidic, rooney, hargreaves, veron, berbatop, jones, young, de gea and many others.

  • Comment number 48.

    46 (cont)..

    From hereonin, even if you ignore the Etihad injection, City can look forward to the stimulus of CL money and exponentially increasing sponsorship. Along with United, Chelsea and Liverpool, City have appreciated the importance of the CL. Tottenham have also, but aren't currently capable of competing. Arsenal have taken the CL for granted in thinking revenue from it would pay for the new greater revenue raisng stadium, which in time would give them the financial edge. Wenger has a job on his hands to arrest the threat to their CL tenancy.

    What about everybody else? They're s*****d. Who's to blame? UEFA, with the CL, not City. They have abandoned most of the clubs in history who have built the foundations the big clubs have prospered from, only now to be consigned to the dustbin now they are surplus to requirements. Welcome to the new Super League. And as an afterthought, the English Pub League Pyramid. Sink or swim!

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 51.

    I find it very interesting when Manu (s....) fans complain about other clubs spending to win titles. I dont understand how they can complain when they themselves did the same thing in the past (and are still doing it more than 17 other clubs in the PL).


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

    when will people learn the difference of spending money you have earned compared to money your just given? united have spent in the last 20years no doubt but all that money has b een down to what the club has earned through success on the pitch. Personally i dnt have a problem with teams spending more than their club produces as eventually imo it will catch up with them unless they have a constant flow of success(look at leeds, 1 bad season and look what happened). A team like united or liverpool could/can afford to finish outside the top 4 for a year or 2 and still be back, teams like chelsea and city would be finished if they missed 4th place now

  • Comment number 52.

    Interesting points, particularly regarding Liverpool's strategy.

    As a Spurs fan, I have to say that the large number of outs were partly due to reducing the wage bill, but also partly down to the fact that we had too many players to fit into the 25 man squad rules. Players had to go, otherwise several highly paid senior players would have been illegible for the league.

    Anyway Matt, at the other end of the spectrum I follow Shrewsbury. Been following the trials and tribulations at plymouth over the summer - a week or so i thought it was all over and they were being taken over, now it seems senior players are going on strike. What on earth is happening there??? Any chance of a blog on that, where a club seems to be in major trouble of closing and the 20 or so players being unemployed?

  • Comment number 53.

    When people say city have reduced their wage bill (altho I'm yet to be convinced of this seeing as they have signed up more players on bigger salaries then any players that have left) does this then count as a loss seeing as they are loaning players out but still paying the bulk of that players wages but are getting no benefit from that player anymore ?

    And any players that have been sold have been sold at less then half the price they were bought for, hence making a big loss on player trading.

    Have they got 3 years to cover up these losses ?

  • Comment number 54.

    #51; I would have to pull you up on that one I'm afraid. I've stood on the terraces at Old Trafford in front of 34k in 1989 in a time which the club had only minor success but were still competing for the best players around for the largest sums of money. The summer of 1989 Man Utd bought Neil Webb, Mike Phelan, Gary Pallister and Paul Ince; the following season they bought Denis Irwin and Andrey Kanchelskis and years before this they were buying Bryan Robson, Brian McClair and Mark Hughes.
    These were big signings comparitively at the time and Manchester Utd were not that successful. That side that won 4 of the first 5 Premier League titles was pretty much bought without any success.

    http://thethoughtsofphil.wordpress.com/

  • Comment number 55.

    @54 i'll have to pull you up on that as well. Since 1964(ish) we've been in the top 2 of average attendances for the country (even when we went down). Therefore when you are talking about 'comparative' signings back in 1989 then remember we were the biggest supported club in the country and therefore had larger revenue streams than any other club in the country and therefore had the right to buy the best players from around the country.

    We had the best attendances due to our style of play and our history, if this then produces the largest fan base in the country then these fans deserve to see the best playersi in the league as well. Also as you well know our youth development around that time was second to none and can't simply be forgotten

  • Comment number 56.

    So effectively what you are saying is only "big" clubs have the right to be in the CL... City are considered a "small club" because of what? smaller fan base, lack of trophies? How the hell is anyone supposed to compete without spending money?

    And the revenue Man U create from playing (and doing very well) in the CL creates money to buy better players and get back in to the CL (and do well) and earn more money and buy even better players and do even better in the CL and make even more money....see where this is going? Simply stating than Man U have earned their money may technically be correct but if clubs like City and Chelsea don't spend the money to catch up football will be boring and not worth watching (the PL anyway)

    For years people were saying oh it's boring the same teams winning all the time...now someone challenges and it's not acceptable!

  • Comment number 57.

    I am not opposing City's new found wealth, i am merely rebuking this 'United bought success' lines that always come back.

    I agree it is a very good arguement that how else do you break the stranglehold at the top. I completely diagree with the way City are going around buying whoever they want at whatever price they want and paying them hugely inflated prices.

    But then i don't begrudge you of the fact that this may be the only way to challenge at the top. Very hypocritical statement but that's football fans for you.

    I do hope the FFP comes in though as it is a great idea but it may remove the chance to break the top clubs hold. Only time will tell. Maybe you can't stop the transfer fees being paid but i really dislike the wages all the top clubs are dishing out, hopefully this rule will at least bring that down to some sort of normalcy

  • Comment number 58.

    #55 My point is that often you have to speculate to accumulate. This is just my opinion; I don't like stating my view as fact.

    My view is that in the wake of the failed takeover bid with the ball-juggling Michael Knighton, Martin Edwards and his colleagues on the Manchester Utd board were very clever in taking many of Knighton's aims in terms of turning the club into a global brand and floating it on the stock market. At the same time, Manchester Utd were one of the leading players behind the 'Super League' concept which ultimately resulted in the English Premier League as we know today funded through BSkyB. I don't know enough about the detail to say whether this was fortune or incredibly well calculated, but in my opnion, this allowed Manchester Utd, the ability to push on to new financial heights (and success) that had never been witnessed before.

    Again, my own view, but people didn't flock to see Manchester Utd because of the style of their play in the late Eighties. Lee Martin, Mike Duxbury, Russell Beardsmore and Mal Donaghy were not exactly key to free-flowing attacking football.

    I'm not going to get into an argument about the validity of clubs spending money to achieve success; I think it's part and parcel of the game. My problem is that too many people have an issue with clubs trying to inflitrate the elite; and in my opinion, one of the only ways to do that is by spending money. Teams may buy cheap or develop their own raw talent; but as soon as they become competitive, the elite clubs have the money to knock them back down.

  • Comment number 59.

    thoughtfulphil

    i think u totally missed my point mate, i said we have earnt the money weve spent, evan in the 80's we didnt spend past our means(regards to our income) we had big attendences and that money and other revenue was put back into the team(transfers etc)which is the way it should be, unlike arsenal who up to recently have had millions to spend but most of their profit went to shareholders and never on major transfers, hence the mad dash on wednesday to sign anyone left in the transfer market

    i didnt say u had to be challenging to to spend money on good players

  • Comment number 60.

    58. At 11:06 2nd Sep 2011, thoughtfulphil wrote:

    It's a very good point. Technically a team (any team) could get lucky and produce a Barca' through their ranks...but as soon as it becomes apparent that they have real quality players they are snapped up by the "elite" (and yes even by the disgraceful Manchester city now they have the cash) It has now become literally impossible to compete with the elite without spending lot's and lot's of money! Yes a Milwall or a Cardiff or a Birmingham could get to a final or win a cup but compete properly? impossible.

  • Comment number 61.

    55, and wirral, I'm afraid I'll have to pull you up on yours too. Another for who history is selective (usually 20 or 30 years), goes backwards, and only coincides with "success". United and Liverpool may be self-financing now, from time to time, but to get in that position, they have relied on sugar daddies in the past, and to say otherwise is ignorance of the facts, or rewriting of history, to put it politely. Not to mention once in their current position, they have done everything in their power to deprive rival clubs of the same opportunities availed to them.

  • Comment number 62.

    United and Liverpool may be self-financing now, from time to time, but to get in that position, they have relied on sugar daddies in the past

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

    care to name some of these sugar dadies?

  • Comment number 63.

    I am a Chelsea fan, so I may be biased, but I can't believe we are being put in the same boat as City !!! When Abramovich turned up, we bought players to play, not to be put on the bench. City buy players because they can, we did because we needed to.

    To #33 who said that Chelsea are the " Paris Hilton of football " is a tad unfair. See, people seem to forget that we were already in the champions league when he turned up!! Yes , the money helped to get us to stay there, but the hardest had been done.

    I will never regret the money imput from Roman. If it hadn't come, we wouldn't have had the success we have. The thing that annoys me most is all those hypocrites, of which there are a few on here, who say that having all this money is terrible for the game and so on, but if they came into that money, they wouldn't say no.

  • Comment number 64.

    @46.At 08:15 2nd sep 2011, Drooper_ wrote:

    "Just like the oxymoron that is Financial Fair Play, the arguments from some posters on here is nothing to do with fair play, and everything to do with maintaining the status quo. If Platini wanted Fair Play, he would abolish the Champions League".

    Yes, this really gets to core of it. The whole FFF thing is a sham, a charade. For a start off, how is all of this going to be audited? Most clubs are not public companies so the first problem will be to accurately verify their accounts. It may not be too difficult to check costs but when a club like Chelsea or Man City has a benefactor with almost unlimited wealth, how do you know where the club's revenue is actually coming from? They could easily for example buy millions of pounds worth of merchandising and include it as sales.

    if the situation is a bit unfair in England, it looks positively democratic compared with Spain. Real Madrid and Barcelona cream off more TV revenue than all the other Spanish clubs put together. Is this FFF and what are Platini's plans for dealing with it?

    And as Drooper points out, why does the elitist CL hand out so much money to a handful of already very rich clubs. €75 m to Barça for winning CL - only serves to consolidate the status quo.

    FFF? It's not going to happen.

  • Comment number 65.

    I for one love the Prem at the moment, brilliant players & brilliant teams, I'd way rather have it now with City and Chelsea challenging as well, rather than just Man Utd/ Arsenal of earlier Prem years. Without other teams getting this new investment, you just have the self-perpetuating cycle of the biggest teams forever staying at the top ie. Man Utd. I know that Chelsea/City just basically adds to that list of top teams but it's got to be better than just having two!

    Although I like the idea of a more even playing field, I just don't see how it can happen, if financial fair play is spending a set percentage of what you earn, that might level out the challengers better, but it will lock in Man Utd's supremacy cos nobody can match their revenues. An American drafting system might be the only way, but that would never work here anyway, and I don't think anyone would want it (inc me) So we'll just have to take it how it is!

    Oh and well done Fielding getting into England squad! Can't remember ever having a rams player in there!

  • Comment number 66.

    Gavelaa, great points re wages not transfer fees is the key issue. The one flaw in your argument though was trying to suggest that Carrol at £35m was better value than Aguero!. Trust me, if Aguero only costs twice as much as Carrol over 5 years then City have got a bargain. Seems to me that the Carrol deal in particular is a prime example of all that's wrong with the transfer market.


    Swindonblue thingy, it's getting very tedious already that the only response City fans have to people pointing at their sugar-daddy spending as obscene is this line about "scared of the competition". Give it a rest. Guess what pal, there's always been competition at the top of football, and there's always been the odd new kid on the block to take on. It's a bit of a travesty for the teams like Wigan, Preston, Bolton etc that a club they can usually compete with like City can suddenly throw a billion quid around like confetti and buy a seat at the top table. But City can still only put XI players out onto the pitch. It's highly unlikely they'll ever find XI much better than Barcelona, United, Real Madrid etc can put out, so I don't think they'll be particularly scared of the new competition, do you.

  • Comment number 67.

    61 who was United's post-war sugar-daddy then?

  • Comment number 68.

    66. At 12:15 2nd Sep 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    I don't think that's the only response from City fans. Most of us are fed up of finally having something to smile about after a long long time only to be battered by all quarters for anything they can think of! What is really tedious is the constant Man U are the best and if anyone challenges them they must be cheats or have sugar daddies or are dodgy in some way or another!

  • Comment number 69.

    To all deluded and disillusioned fans of an arrogant club, I can only sympathise with you. You thought that PL was meant only for you and no other club had the right to fight for the title. I bet that you would be as happy as any other club if an investor like Shaikh Mansoor or Abrahomovic comes to your club. Then I am sure you will come up with some other excuse to justify the money coming in to buy new players.

    The only way to address this issue is to abolish the transfer policy and make it compulsory for all clubs to rely only on their home grown players. Players should be allowed to join the club of their choice before a certain age (8 years maybe?) Clubs should not be allowed to buy players after the cut-off age.

  • Comment number 70.

    #66 "It's a bit of a travesty for the teams like Wigan, Preston, Bolton etc that a club they can usually compete with like City can suddenly throw a billion quid"; that's a little childish/petty isn't it?

    The argument about creating a self-sustaining financial model in top-flight English football is very difficult. In my opinion, there will never be one, so to be so precise in your attack on Manchester City is highly conceited. By referencing their impending snatching of a "seat at the top table"... the problem is in my view that this whole discussion is, and supporters of teams in the elite, are being tarnished by obsecenely arrogant views such as this.

    Does every other club need to make a reservation for a place at the top table and what sort of dress code is preferred?

  • Comment number 71.

    united_kaz, and the trawler,
    John Henry Davis, W Gibson, Moores, not to mention where the money the Edwards bankrolled United with came from. And trawler, as I said in my earlier post, history doesn't start and finish at select points in time.

  • Comment number 72.

    I have it on good authority Man City have installed a drinks machine under Sheikh Mansour’s private seat which charges 1 million per can of pop!

  • Comment number 73.

    What i have come to understand is that platini is one of the biggest hypocrytes. I will not be surprised to find out that he is on the payroll of any of the g14 clubs (or whatever it is). all he is trying to achieve here i to maintain the supremecy of the elite and disqualify any one who wants to challenge the status quo.

    I think if he is actually worried about financial stability and about competition, he can do the following.

    1) the clubs in the champions league should not be given a penny from the tv revenues.. hence reducing the need to actually spend millions to get to the champions league.

    2) this money should be given to various boards around europe and it should be made necessary that this money is equally distributed amongst the nations teams (not only the epl for egland but the lower tiers as well) this way everyone can have a slice of the riches earned by a tournament only made succesful after years and years of hardwork by many teams and notthe ones currently playing there.


    3) put a cap of 100 Million pounds of spending a year on everything football related. ok this mite seem inapropraite as it is more than most teams spend but look at the briter side y would teams want to spend more now if they can not earn the tv revenue of champ league while still leaving the clubs prone to sugar daddies which i believe pump new life every now and then and keep the old gaurd on thier toes. (again this cap is the idea and it can be decided by the boards etc of respective countries to suit their local demands)

    i think the above are far better solutions than the current solution loved by the elite clubs and platini.. these will create a greater competition and more financial viability for running a football club

  • Comment number 74.

    As a Newcastle fan, I have seen us overspend on sometimes really horrible players in an effort to challenge at the top of the league. We must be top of the table for most money spent on useless players. In the end we finished 2nd a couple of times, blowing our infamous 12 point lead at one stage, an a couple of cup finals which we lost.

    Where has it got us all now? An owner in Mike Ashley that no geordie can stand, a season where we got relegated with probably the highest wage bill of any team to go down (and think of the players in that team - owen, martins, nolan etc), and now we do not have the financial clout to bring in any massive players and our best ones have all left!!

    It's not like you haven't seen it before either. Leeds, West Ham, Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday. The likes of Man City have been through it before too. Spurs should be on the look out for it as well. Spending lots doesn't always get you what you want. I'm a Newcastle fan. I know.

  • Comment number 75.

    Some genuinely interesting posts, but unfortunately I get bored and disappointed very quickly when the City haters start their rants whenever money is part of the discussion. To all those people I say....
    1. If your club suddenly attracted the same sort of investment and you would continue to support it then just be quiet.
    2. City fans have the good reputation they have because they support their club with the same passion even when they're playing in the 3rd tier (lets see how many non-Manchester based MU supporters would do that)
    3. City fans will be enjoying the exciting successes for the foreseable future (I know I will be) and if it only lasts a few years like the nay-sayers suggest then we will still continue to love and support our club.

  • Comment number 76.

    .....oh yeah, and can United please give City all their money (not including the debts) because I recall my old man telling me that once upon a time City gave MU money to stop the club collapsing and disappearing off the face of the earth.

  • Comment number 77.

    Financial Fair Play? It’s all something of a joke really. The vast majority of the resources earned by football are already horded over to an increasingly small number of clubs. Whether we should allow one or two other teams, bank rolled by billionaires, to “join the club” feels … well who cares (other than supporters of those clubs)?

    Here are the clubs that finished in the top 3 during the final 10 years of the old Division 1 (before the launch of the Premier League).

    Arsenal
    Aston Villa
    Crystal Palace
    Everton
    Leeds United
    Liverpool
    Manchester United
    Nottingham Forest
    Sheffield Wednesday
    Southampton
    Tottenham Hotspur
    Watford
    West Ham United

    And here are the clubs with top 3 finishes in the last 10 years of the Premier League.

    Arsenal
    Chelsea
    Liverpool
    Manchester City
    Manchester United
    Newcastle United

    Before the massive concentration of wealth it was possible for any medium to large club to contemplate challenging for the league, at least finishing high up the table. It might have been a rare occurrence for any single club outside of the big boys, but there was always someone somewhere putting together a squad that could have a go.

    Does anybody think that someone other than Man Utd or Chelsea might win the league this year? Or next year? Oh yes, Man City might. But that's just as dull. Their challenge will hardly come as a surprise, given the huge resources sunk in the club. Its just further proof of the point that nobody outside the moneyed few has anything to play for.

    Despite the endless “Best League in the World” hype, if you ask me it’s dull. However, I’m clearly in the minority – apparently it’s great and very exciting.

  • Comment number 78.

    70 not at all. One minute Wigan and Bolton are well run clubs competing well with the likes of City, next minute City have bought a seat at the top table and left them behind. It's not just about considering the gap City are closing above them, it's the gap they are leaving behind them as well.

    71 post-war I said. There is all sorts of history of sharp practice and dodgy dealings pre-war, including the bribery scandal at City at the turn of the last century that United capitalised on. It's not really relevant to what's happened post-WWII when there was pretty much a blank canvas. Without getting into the pros and cons of the meat industry, the oil industry and the aluminium/ahem, money lending industry, suffice it to say that the Edwards family were and still are Reds.

  • Comment number 79.

    Obviously there is a lot of negative feeling about Manchester City, but not necessarily from United supporters since United have always risen to the challenge, first from Abramovich and now from the vast wealth of Abu Dhabi.

    What UEFA will be looking at is how the clubs get their income and the clubs with the largest supporter base will be able to spend the most in future. So all of the jokes from City supporters about the enormous level of support for United from around the world will come back to bite them.

    With United, Liverpool and Arsenal having the highest levels of support, and their US ownership bringing in high levels of sponsorship and growing support in the US the position of City and Chelsea will be questionable if they do not grow their supporter base. Only time will tell

  • Comment number 80.

    47.
    At 08:17 2nd Sep 2011, beneficiary wrote:


    I find it very interesting when Manu (s....) fans complain about other clubs spending to win titles. I dont understand how they can complain when they themselves did the same thing in the past (and are still doing it more than 17 other clubs in the PL). They might not have spent as much as Chelsea and Man City simply because they didnt have to. Whatever they are spending now is enough to keep them in the title hunt. The money spent in the past was enough to make a name for themselves and make sure that their annual reveneues are enough to make generate money for future. It is just their good luck that they had the money to spend at the right time. Any other argument given by man u (si...) fans is just a hogwash.

    I am sure people who complain about teams buying titles are just scared of the monoply they had over the PL. They dont want other clubs to give them a fight for the PL title and a place in the CL. I might have felt the same way had I been a man u fan (which fortunately I am not).

    Man U (si..y) fans sometime go to the extent of mentioning Barcelona in the group of clubs spending money to win title. I think barcelona has produced more home grown players than a certain manu. And if man u fans think they rely on their acamedies and not money to win titles then why they had to spend a lot on ferdinend, vidic, rooney, hargreaves, veron, berbatop, jones, young, de gea and many others.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    It's sad that an interesting blog descends into a tit-for-tat between Man City and Man Utd fans about whose success is most 'deserved'

    A view from a neutral.

    It's pointless going back to 1989 and arguing that Man Utd's spending generated their first 1993 Premiership success. For a start, the likes of Neil Webb, Danny Wallace and Jim Leighton were not key parts of Utd's success later. The other point I'd like to make is that at the time clubs like Tottenham and Liverpool were breaking transfer records for the likes of Paul Gascoigne, and John Barnes. Man Utd never dominated the transfer market to the extent that Chelsea and Manchester City have done in recent years. Even in the 1990s, Blackburn bought Shearer for the transfer record, Newcastle then paid £15m for Shearer in 1996, Liverpool bought Stan Collymore for £8.5m, Jurgen Klinsmann at Spurs, to name a few examples.

    Everyone (well Man Utd critics) loves to quote the £30m money paid for Veron, Ferdinand, Rooney and Berbatov...the Veron deal was ten years ago, Ferdinand was in 2002, Rooney in 2004 and Berbatov in 2008. What's that got to with the here and now? Those were the days that Man Utd spending £30m on one big signing in a summer made people gasp, now Chelsea and Man City have spent total fees of £150m in single summers. It's uncomparable, it's effectively buying a new team out of nowhere- which is the point.

    The argument against is not that you spend money- the argument is that with an artificial colossal injection of it you can create a completely new team in a short space of time. It's not difficult at all, is it?

    And as for the tedious and constant references to Barcelona trying to make a point which I just don't get, going back over their success over the past five or six years- the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Ronaldinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Daniel Alves, Eric Abidal, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, David Villa and Yaya Toure to name but a few did not come through their youth system. They've spent money too when they needed to, and big money on world class players. But they do it the way most teams do it- youth products blended with buys.

  • Comment number 81.

    oh and 75 spinc, United have and always had, bar the odd season, the highest average attendance home and away for decades, including 1974/75. The City is yours, 20,000 empty seats don't lie.

  • Comment number 82.

    80 precisely. For some reason people still like to push the myth that City are doing nothing new. In reality their net spend on transfers in the last 5 years is more than double what Ferguson has spent in his entire 25 years, and more than 10 times what United have spent in the last 5 years themselves. And that's without even beginning to factor in what these oil people have been bribing players with in terms of signing on fees, contract pay-offs and weekly wages.

    Personally I view City's spending in the context that United's spending on wages and transfers was already obscene enough.

  • Comment number 83.

    71, that's exactly the point trawler,"what you said", selective history.

    In 80 years time, now will be 80 years ago, and no doubt someone will come along and say, but that was then but this is now.

  • Comment number 84.

    #80 - A Neutral! REALLY

  • Comment number 85.

    For a football fan arguably the championship is the best league in world, it is certainly in my books. it’s a wide open league where anyone including the minnows have a chance a victory or promotion. I honestly feel that EPL fans do not know what they are missing.

    This season my side (Swansea) will be lucky to stay in the EPL, last season we were the second poorest club in the championship and expected to struggle in the relegation battle, this season we are the poorest club in the EPL by some margin with quite a few championship sides spending more on players than ourselves its no wonder we are expected to go down.

    The battle to avoid the drop will be enjoyable I admit and this is why

    facing the likes of the top teams who have players worth more than our stadium and who earn more than our squad combined is something to be remembered. If we get a result against one of them it will be a day to be celebrated by all the fans and for those who were there something to tell the grand kids.

    Playing the smaller teams is in many ways bigger still, these are the games where you will be biting your nails over the prospect of victory and defeat and how its going to affect our chances of staying up, which is realistically the prize we fight for.

    But in the long run ( assuming there is one) what is there to look forward too? The thrill of not being relegated must wear thin after a couple of seasons? Maybe a cup run here or there may spice things up but I should imagine it would get rather dull?

    Living outside the UK for 90% of my life I can tell you that every foreign football channel shows EPL games in the same order big club vs. big club, big club vs. other club, other club vs. other club. Without the Chelsea’s and man cities, globally there would be a lot less demand for the EPL and as a result a lot less money. All those from the old guard teams complaining about the new money teams are forgetting that their competition is helping to bring in the audiences globally and as a result is giving them the TV money, shirt sales, sponsorship deals ect which is making them the teams they are today.

    what makes the championship the best league IMO for the fans to follow is that so many teams have a chance at the title/promotion/playoffs, and every game is far from certain. What makes the EPL dull in many respects is the predictability of it all, having more teams in the mix can only makes things better. The playoffs is%2

  • Comment number 86.

    what success are city fans evening talking about?one fa cup in 30 years?for a billion pounds lol...

  • Comment number 87.

    I was just wondering, why can we not take into account the sugar daddies preww1 for utd?

    Anyway, One post earlier about mid to large clubs challenging summed it up for me. Was more craic when anyone could win, now it is dull as dishwater.

    As for man city's empty seats, two or three pl titles will fill them right up, plenty of glory hunters wearing manc red only too happy to swap when the going is good.

    Up the SRFC, we'll have the spurs, no sweat lol oj oj

  • Comment number 88.

    The answer to all this is simple. An equal salary cap for all teams in the division. People who say it can't work are talking rubbish. In Australia, both Rugby League and Australian Rules leagues have one and it is vigorously enforced with large fines and points deductions. It works, no one or two teams dominate for more than a season or two. Those teams finishing at the bottom have first choice the following season from a pool of players up for transfer. It's time the bureaucrats in the "best league in the world" got their heads out of the sand and took a long hard look at what is going on elsewhere in the world.

  • Comment number 89.

    In addition to the FFP rules, the FA need to introduce some form of financial handicap system, because otherwise it will simply be much of the same again, but just the clubs with the large revenues that dominate. So Man Utd will continue as before despite FFP (the only brake at the moment is the interest on their debts, which is on its way down and will probably be gone in 5 years). Chelsea and Manchester City may suffer, particularly City who's revenues are under-developed for a top four club.

    The financial handicap would have to involve a scale similar to income tax whereby the higher the income the higher the rate of contribution to the grass roots and development of (English?) football/England team. Too much money currently goes in wages and transfer fees outside England, mostly from the top clubs.

  • Comment number 90.

    Matt, very interesting.

    May I ask you how you've dealt with the fairly large proportion of transfer fees which are 'undisclosed'? One in three-ish, many of them huge.

    May I also ask whether, when the FFP rules come into play, these fees will HAVE to be disclosed?

  • Comment number 91.

    I'll be hones; The Chelsea Team that won acclaim was there already. Cech, Terry, Lampard ect. Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal DID all earn their money. City have paid and at what price? I don't think that the real big three would benefit from this as they would move away from their young blood culture. And yes man utd did buy other clubs youth talent as did liverpool and arsenal, but they provide the right enviroment for these players to grow. No one complains that hernandez was stolen talent so who cares if its from the prem, those players dream of big clubs why should they're talent not be rewarded why stay at Blackburn to be relegated at the end of the year.

    As for City you will forever be noisy neighbours and will never have the dominance that liverpool or Man u have had and eventually you will realise that money will only buy you closer and that door to greatness will never open. FOREVER KNOCKING!

  • Comment number 92.

    I agree with Tores critics of slowness in Chelsea former players stile of play. We Fans has been complaining about this before especially when they are one goal up. I have one example look at their last match, they had an opotunity to increase goals when Mata had the ball on the left side was climbing fast instead of Anelka in the middle to go faster up to expect a crossed he slowed back and we lost the chance of making another goal. You can't see that with Man Utd. More goals has advantage at the end but this fomer guys are too slow. They will even change Mata to start playing the same if the Coach does not do something about it fast. I'm afraid they might even want him to dance to their tone. I remember some players refused to come to Chelsea because of the enfluence this guys have in the Club, why?. I think we have to be objective here for the interest of the club not individuals.

 

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