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Premier League bids to avoid another Pompey

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Matt Slater | 23:23 UK time, Friday, 13 August 2010

When Premier League chief Richard Scudamore admitted last week to feeling like "a bit of a mug" for believing the lies Portsmouth officials kept telling him last season, I knew what he meant. The various regimes at Fratton Park made mugs us of all and it will be some time before I unreservedly believe anything any club director tells me about his/her team's finances.

Where I have less sympathy with Scudamore, however, is with the idea the Pompey debacle could have been avoided if only people were more honest with each other. Fewer fibs would have helped but too much debt and not enough regulation made Portsmouth a mishap waiting to happen.

Thankfully, Scudamore does not intend to be made a mug of again as the Premier League season starts this weekend with a considerably thicker financial rulebook.

No longer will a club director be able to get away with a verbal assurance to the boss that all is cushty. Proper regulatory checks, financial transparency and paying your taxes on time are the order of the day.

I am fighting the temptation to mention bolting horses and stable doors (and not just because it is a well-worn cliché): the Premier League deserves praise for responding as promptly as it has and nobody can say it is not willing to learn from its mistakes.

Fratton Park

The new rules came about in two waves of legislative activity that can be described as pre- and post-Pompey.

The first tranche of "financial requirements" were announced last September (when Pompey fans were still relatively optimistic about their prospects under the UAE-based "millionaire" Sulaiman Al Fahim) and they markedly increased the amount of financial information the league would know about each of its members.

Independently audited accounts from each club must now arrive at the league's Gloucester Place HQ by 1 March, and concerns flagged up by the auditors have to be highlighted. Liverpool's accounts, for example, have included warnings of "material uncertainty" about the club's debt levels for the last two years.

A plan to tackle this debt is also now required reading at PL Towers, as all clubs must submit "future financial information" by 31 March, the idea being no more unpleasant surprises.

And finally all clubs must demonstrate they have no debts to other members of the football family or HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC).

A good start, then (and certainly a move away from the laissez-faire philosophy of the pre-Credit Crunch years), but Pompey had already plunged into administration by the time those first accounts were due. More warning lights were required if the "EPL" was going to continue to market itself as the world's favourite football league.

So at June's general meeting, three extra provisions were brought in to bolster the rulebook.

First, any prospective new owner of a club will have to show proof of funds and explain their plan for the business. The much criticised "fit and proper person test" has become the "means and abilities test" the league previously shied away from.

Second, the would-be owner will have to do this in person, at the league's offices, within 10 days of a deal to buy the club being agreed in principle.

A face-to-face meeting, a few bank statements and a brief chat about how things might pan out? Sounds simple, doesn't it? But it would have prevented the Al Fahim and Ali Al Faraj interludes at Fratton Park.

The league is currently watching events at Anfield and Ewood Park closely, and whoever it is that ends up buying those institutions will be invited to London for tea and biscuits soon after.

The clubs' final new commitment is to go further in their efforts to avoid confrontations with the taxman. September's promise to clear all tax debts annually has been improved to a clean slate every three months. In fact, the next new deadline for Premier League clubs is 30 September, the first quarterly tax check.

Recent months have seen a depressing number of football chairmen asking judges for more time to pay taxes that the vast majority of us accept as the cost of living in a civilised society. To use that old football favourite, these episodes have done nothing but bring the game into disrepute.

So the attempt to prevent this kind of thing from happening again can only be welcomed. It is also good politics.

HMRC is currently preparing a challenge to English football's controversial insolvency rule that states other clubs and players must be paid first and in full when a team goes bust. Everybody else owed money - the public purse, local traders and even charities - have to make do with what is left over, and that is often a huge write-off.

The Premier League will defend its "football creditors rule" in court if need be but privately hopes the beefed-up "HMRC reporting" requirements might be enough to placate the taxman. Only time will tell if this works but the gesture cannot hurt.

So will all this new regulation prevent another Pompey from tarnishing the Premier League brand? Yes. Probably. I hope so.

I won't make the mistake of saying lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice as there is a tree in my local park that says otherwise, but I think Portsmouth's fall has concentrated minds around the league, as well as at headquarters. I certainly don't think a Premier League club will ever be allowed to get itself into such a hole with HMRC again.

But there is still "material uncertainty" about English football's attitude to cost control.

Quite simply, most clubs still pay wages they cannot afford. Revenues continue to rise, largely thanks to Scudamore's undoubted ability to sell TV rights around the world, but profits are almost non-existent as the money hardly touches the sides, flowing through the clubs and straight into the players' bank accounts.

Soaring wages, worrying amounts of debt and increased exposure to the threat of rising interest rates in the coming years were highlighted in surprisingly lurid tones by Deloitte's Annual Review of Football Finance in June.

"For every £100 that comes into Premier League clubs, £67 goes out on the wage bill - that's too high," said Dan Jones, the report's editor.

"The wage-to-turnover ratio needs to be brought back under control."

Good luck. Clubs, terrified of failing to quality for European competition or being relegated, continue to sanction salaries they cannot sensibly afford.

A more recent survey of club finance directors by the accountancy firm PKF has found that the number of teams spending more than 65% of their turnover on wages has doubled in the last two years.

"The inflexibility of players' salaries is once again the biggest concern," the report states.

The only way this will ever change is when somebody imposes a limit on the clubs but there is no inkling of that in the Premier League's new proposals and even Uefa's much vaunted "Financial Fair Play" regulations fall short of a salary cap.

Until football grasps this nettle it is very difficult to say with real conviction that there won't be "another Pompey" in the Premier League. The new rules are a move in the right direction, though.

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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    English football is going to implode on itself sooner or later, SKY cannot continue to bank roll the league in the way it has and a real financial awaking is in the offing. EPL may have new rule on financial stability and clubs meeting their responsibilities to the taxman, however look through the sports pages today and there are Sheff. Wed and Card. City - just at a glance - in serious trouble. Lessons should have been learnt from the ITV Digital disaster but weren't.

  • Comment number 3.

    You just have to look at the spending in this transfer window to see that clubs are tightening there belts. Manchester City have spent more than the rest of the other 19 clubs put together.

    I would love to see a wage cap brought into the English game, I would think a top salary of 50k a week would be good idea.

  • Comment number 4.

    But how would our hero's survive on 50k a week ?

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    Joking aside a wage cap would be a good idea, but for it to realistically work it has to be world wide.

    If it were not world wide, then another league would just snap up any decent players by offering them stupid money (not that 50k a week is sensible money mind you)

    I would love to see some kind of wage cap, as its getting utterly stupid if you believe some of the reports of wages you read.

  • Comment number 7.

    All this is fine and good. But the Football League (who operate the same test) are currently looking at letting the same owner who put Pompey into administration take the club back, retrieve his secured loan under the CVA and own the club for nothing. How is that a good thing?

    More will less bluster IMO.

  • Comment number 8.

    In fairness he was only the owner by default, he never went into the deal with the intention of owning a football club

  • Comment number 9.

    Jesus the Teddy Bear tells us that Chainrai got involved at Pompey without any intention of owning the football club.

    Matt Slater tells us: "The various regimes at Fratton Park made mugs us of all and it will be some time before I unreservedly believe anything any club director tells me..."

    It would seem reasonable to me, especially if Chainrai ends up as owner of a club that left such big debts unpaid, to think critically about Chainrai's actions and statements, rather than run the old risks of taking everything at face value.

    What I can't quite make out is why, if Chainrai didn't mean to own the club, he doesn't now walk away. His money is safe.

    At what point, assuming he does now go on to become owner, did he change his mind?

    He comes across to me as a very astute business man. Was he realy duped by a previous owner?

  • Comment number 10.

    I don't think a salary cap is the answer. Quite frankly the players aren't to blame for the shocking state of footballs finances, they are just getting what ever they can, and who can blame them? If a salary cap were introduced it would just mean that players would demand a bigger signing on fee, and also, as HMRC have complained about, a percentage of a players salary is paid in "bonuses", which very often is paid into off-shore accounts, or draw a lower rate of taxation than a normal salary. These bonuses would only increase to supplement their salary and we would be losing out in taxes.
    The best way to sort out finances is through clearing up the murky world of agents and the fees they are paid. I know it is only a fraction of the money that actually flows into the leagues, but it is substantial in terms of what ordinary people earn.
    If we want a quality product and brand (I hate those words in relation to football), then we should accept that the players will be earning a massive amount of money. If you dont like it, dont pay for it, support your local team, there are hundreds out there.

  • Comment number 11.

    Of course, Scudamore is no stranger to telling lies, as his pro-Arsenal attitude when Spurs had to play West Ham while ill proved

  • Comment number 12.

    Why oh why doesnt football learn from the NFL? All the teams are making money, all the players earn huge sums of money, the stadia are amongst the best in the world, putting most football clubs to shame, its hihgly competitive (Most leagues now resemble my beloved SPL) and on top of all that its done of a 17 game regular season, not a 50+ marathon then jaunts round the world 10 days before the season starts to raise funds in friendlies!

    Seriously, a draft, with youth schemes devolved to an independent body which all young players are pooled in, with newly promoted sides getting first pick, and being funded by all clubs.

    Then, square off the TV rights money so that the spread is closer than it is between top and bottom. The finally, and most importantly, ap the salaries. NFL sets it at something like $125m a season....and they have 40+ players in their squads. Do the same here.

    It would take probably 10 years but the league would become ultra competitive, just like the NFL!

  • Comment number 13.

    Can people stop going on about wage caps or an NFL system as neither of these will ever happen.

    Yes, both have their advantages and in an ideal world could be a possibility but football is a worldwide game therefore any restrictions like this will have to be applied on a worldwide basis. Football is too far gone to apply either of these.

    I do feel a system like the NFL which encourages education through the game has its benefits but can you imagine your team playing 17 times a season? I can not.

    Wage caps... good idea in principle but I can not imagine Real Madrid or Inter or a Premiership team ever want that system whilst the legal side of things with contracts should not even be approached.

    An idea which has some possibility is a system where you can only spend a certain amount of your income on wages but even this will encourage clubs to find ways around the system and the bigger clubs will remain big whilst the smaller clubs remain small.

    I can not see a solution which can work in the real world! Please may someone come up with a sensible idea?!

  • Comment number 14.


    IM not saying play 17 times a season lol! I used it as example of what can be done despite operating off what is essentially a 4 month season.

    The NFL system works. And thats in the real world too my friend. Just take a look at the worlds biggest sports goes something like this:

    1: Real
    2: Dallas Cowboys
    3: Manu
    4-15 all NFL franchises
    16: Yankees
    17-20 NFL franchises

    Its sobering reading for what on viewing and participation figures compared to football is a minor sport defending a short, winter season in just one coutnry!

  • Comment number 15.

    As many people know we don't have to look at the NFL for ideas as there is a European country who actually does it right , the Bundesliga in Germany . This is without doubt the best league in the world for football fans ( Yes , the ones that actually go to games )

  • Comment number 16.

    @Post 14 - surely part of the success of the NFL has to do also with the size of the American/Canadian market as well as the fact that there is less fragmentation given that there are no 2nd/3rd/4th professional tiers there as there is in England.

    I do agree however that it's all waiting to implode. A salary cap is just the first of many reforms thats necessary. A more equitable distribution of TV money, implementation of the UEFA financial fair play regulations are all necessary.

    Mostly, there has to be an understanding in the community that its unsustainable.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yet again, another comment on football that genuinely proposes salary caps as "the only way" to sort the problem out - of the wage issue. At the same time the article proposes greater transparency in financial dealings.

    Which planet are we on? Salary caps will not solve any problem. Clubs who can only spend so much on players will find other ways to pay them that don't count as "salary". WAGS will be paid, bonuses will go up, clubs will find other ways to pay the players the amount they are worth to the club. Simple economics, and simple mankind.

    Yet somehow, Matt Slater thinks that a salary cap will help sort out the financial problems, half of which are due to subterfuge and other dodgy shenanigans. Just won't happen.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi all,
    Can someone explain to me what is the difference between clubs like Fulham and Liverpool who are carrying enormous debts and Pompey. Pompey had a billionaire owner who was financing the club, his business (or probably his father's) went bust and he pulled the plug leaving Pompey in dire straights. Given the same situation how many teams in the premier league could sustain themselves through revenue generated via brand name and ticket receipts possibly Man U and Arsenal are the only ones I can think of. What would happen if the owners of Man City or Chelsea decided they had enough of their toys how would the clubs survive on their gate receipts and an enormous salary structure? No matter what rules are brought in by the league it will not prevent another Portsmouth because the league is built on greed. Wealthy individuals will still be able to buy a club without risking any of their own personal fortune just remortgage the club for £200mil and slap the debt on the club and this is acceptable to the league. There is a lot of nonesense written about Pompey and that they bought their Trophy but that is exactly what the Liverpool's of the league are attempting to do spending enormous amounts of money on players and their salaries while carrying massive debts exactly the same as Portsmouth were. These clubs they are not living within their means they are speculating with borrowed money. Until the whole structure is overhauled by the league another Portsmouth will happen. Unfortunately while ther real power lies with the Clubs it will never happen.

  • Comment number 19.

    The penalties for administration have to increase. 10 points off when you're comfortable in mid table means nothing, and for that you can get 20 million written off.

    Mandatory relegation should be 1 option, or a ban from the FA Cup and League cup for season.

  • Comment number 20.

    Surely it`s about time that football was treated as any other business. What really rankles with me with the Portsmouth debacle is that creditors will now only get 20p in the pound, spread over 5 years, whilst all football creditors are paid in full. Then the person who took Portsmouth into administration, as it now looks more than likely, is to re-purchase the club.
    Clubs should have to keep to strict budgets and have forecasts that are realistic. This is not just having ago at Portsmouth but all league clubs.

  • Comment number 21.

    #19 hudjer - agreed. Pompey were deducted nine points, but the missing nine points weren't a punishment at all because, as it happened, their overall points total was such that they would have gone down anyway.
    They should have had a further points deduction, applied this season. That would have made it a real punishment, such as the punishments Southampton, Luton, Bournemouth (especially Luton and Bournemouth - no I am not a fan of either club) and others have faced over the past few years.

    Pompey fans may not feel this way but, as others see it, effectively they have got away with it and escaped any real punishment. Relegated? Yes but they were going down anyway. This being the case, what will prevent other clubs doing the same thing as Pompey, seeing it as an easy way out of money problems?

    The whole system needs an overhaul as cases like Pompey's will continue to happen. Wages and transfer fees are getting higher (stupider) and all but the biggest clubs are finding it hard to compete. The PL stopped being competitive a while ago and we're faced with the same situation as the Scottish Premier League, with the same two boring faces swapping the title between them each year. If the only way that other clubs feel they can compete is doing what Pompey did, living beyond their means, borrowing too much and defaulting on loans and taxes then they'll do it.

    I suppose that it would only take the likes of Liverpool or Manchester United, both of whom have massive debts, to go under before the football authorities actually do something to address the problem.

  • Comment number 22.

    ....It's seems pretty obvious that the so called "Premier" League, the FA, AND the HMRC, were or are, all out to make an example of Pompey - just because they were the first club to have to go thro the PL's updated "fit and proper" person test last year. Look how disastrous that turned out to be!
    As the PL have finally admitted that their "f and pp" test was a right failure, they should take FULL responsibility for it! even if having an ex PL club go into admin for the very first time, was a big embarrass-ment to them! N.B. even Pompey FC and all us fans were completely duped by the skint UAE Arabs, with their hollow "promises" etc, and Sacha Gaydamak too!.......

  • Comment number 23.

    My personal opinion on the portsmouth and money situation is summed up in this blog I wrote last season

  • Comment number 24.

    First point is I disagree totally with deducting points when a team is in administration or financial trouble.

    @ 10. Christian Hellicar

    What would happen is signing on bonuses could be prorated evenly over the contract length like in the NFL. Meaning if you take the money up front the club don't get it to spend at a later date. So for example someone signing a 5 year contract worth 5m per season with a 10m signing bonus would actually be charge 7m per season to the salary cap even if 10m was paid in the first season.

    @ 12. & 14. Weezer316

    It seems lost on you that the NFL is operating as a closed shop cartel in a country of 300 million people as the only fully professional league in that sport in the world. If football had a league with those conditions or similar, players would be on 500k a week.

    Anyway on to your points

    1. The draft is for me totally fake and creates arbitrary champions based upon luck of the draw. Football was and is built on identity and bringing local kids through local academies is a perfect statement of that. A talent distribution draft wouldn't help the premier league as it is mostly foreign signed, it's the loss of the bringing players through the ranks culture which has contributed to the creation of the imbalance.

    2. I agree with sharing revenue to a point, but in the NFL each team is huge with a significant fan base, they share revenue because there are no tiddlers not pulling their weight and if there are they get relocated to another city by their owner, it allows them to get stadiums built with tax money as well as other advantages. There has probably never been an season in any open football league in the world where the 20 (or so) biggest clubs in that given country participated in their top flight, this season for instance we have the likes of Blackpool, Blackburn and Wigan who in no way contribute their fair share to premier league revenue, so why would clubs the likes of Spurs or even Sunderland agree to share with them? I'm not saying they shouldn't but why would they basing it on your NFL example.

    3. The NFL has 40+ squads because they have rolling substitutions and rampant specialisation, in reality no team needs more than 22 players in a premier league season. I don't know why you want teams to have huge squads, it's these huge squads which are depriving clubs of a better class of player.

    4. The NFL makes so much money off a 16 game (not 17 game, it's 17 weeks) season because of the economic concept of scarcity. They have the most popular sport in their country, they limit the supply of teams to 32 (in huge metropolitan areas, bar green bay) and supply of home games to 8 (of which 3 of them are always against your biggest “rivals”) meaning each game is a premium and an event, creating ridiculous demand (iirc the New York Giants have a season ticket waiting list of 150,000+) and they can charge huge prices not just for entry to the stadium but to the broadcast media too. It's a pure business with the sport worked in and that's why it makes lots of money.

    5. Your example of richest sports teams (not biggest as you put it) is poor too as each of these NFL franchises has little or no competition in their sport as intimated. For example the top team in your list Real Madrid have to share a much smaller metropolitan area than the one the Dallas Cowboys occupy with Atletico madrid (a sizeable club), Rayo Vallecano, Getafe and Alcocorn, all in the top two divisions in Spain. If Real had Madrid to themselves they would be far richer, just like If United had Manchester, Liverpool had Liverpool or there were only 1-2 teams in London. The fact is that a lot of the NFLs success is to do with the fact it is a cartel and this can be traced back to baseball and the fact that the only way they could create a national league (or as close as possible) in the 1800s was to created exclusive territorities, this differs from most European leagues which were essentially regional competitions that merged into national ones, the point being that too much water is under the bridge to change our set up to an american style one without creating a whole load of new problems.

    6. The USA is a different beast to our small countries in Europe and is more akin to the continent as a whole and the point being a European super league would and could dwarf the NFL in any potential revenues even with the current system, but a European super league is not something anyone bar Real Madrid, Barcelona and the money men want.

    There are things we can learn from the NFL but none of them are what you specifically suggest.

  • Comment number 25.

    @18 - Can't comment on Fulham, but Liverpool's debts are not due to spending on players. I'm amazed there are still football fans in this country who don't know the situation at Liverpool. Failing to understand this leaves your own clubs open to the same breed of parasite that have infested English football's most successful club. That's not something I wish on any supporter of any football team.

    Making wages (including bonus payments or payment in kind of any form) a percentage of club turnover is the only answer that makes any sense and will retain the integrity of the competition.

    There's something else that needs to be said. Football clubs do not need to make profits. They need to give their supporters something to watch and hope about. That's all they need to do.

    Players earn masses of money. Well, yes, they are the ones providing the entertainment, who else should get it?

    Anyone looking to make profit from football should invest in bookmakers.

  • Comment number 26.

    so 67% of money coming in goes towards players wages. Say for example each agent takes a 10% cut, that's 6.7% of all football clubs turnover going to agents. Not really what you want is it?

  • Comment number 27.

    @ 18, my understanding is that it's something along the lines of that Liverpool and Fulham have these debts, but are able to pay them when needed, something which Portsmouth couldn't do.

    Totally agree with post 24, English and American sport are two totally different beasts.

    As much as I'd really like to see agents go out of the game, instead of agents taking advantage of clubs in terms of wages, clubs will start to do the same to young players, who will end up getting paid considerably less in comparison to others, as how are they supposed to know what they should be earning?

  • Comment number 28.

    unmeasured ambition and lust for immediate success is destroying football clubs.clubs should be more down to earth and in my humble opinion,no PL rules would help,unless clubs themselves would really mean to favourably sort things out.there is an urgent need to provoke a wave of mentality change from top to bottom in football to obtain the desired results.The needs for reeducation at all levels is more than pressing.wage cap would be useless,unless clubs really want them.

  • Comment number 29.

    MJ- post 17

    The 'likes of Blackburn'

    Blackburn Rovers have consistently finished in the top half of the league and have reached 6 cup semi finals in 8 years without a benefactor for 10 years

    We have actually won the Premier League, we have a glittering history and last season had a bigger average attendance than around a third of the league- despite being from a small town.

    The club is known within the game for being superbly run and our achievments dwarf many 'big clubs' that would be in front of us in any franchise system.

    The beauty of English football is that any club from any town can achieve, not just clubs they are lucky to be based in large city areas. Long may it continue.

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    Post 27.
    I think you missed the point, Liverpool can only afford to pay because of a huge loan that the RBS are thinking of calling time on in October. If Liverpool are not sold by October 9th you could be watching the demise of a great club.
    The main point I was trying to make is most clubs are reliant on a rich benefactor who normally covers the loans but do not invest their own money, if their business goes under as did the Gaydamak empire(Portsmouth) then the club will go with it. That applies to Fulham and many other premier clubs. There is an incredible amount of hypocracy from clubs and suppporters who are hammering Portsmouth while their own clubs are carrying the same huge debts and in some cases a lot more than Portsmouth.

  • Comment number 32.

    @Mattyblue, I will respond once and once only

    It's pretty embarrassing that you are getting your knickers in a twist about me mentioning Blackburn as one of the smallest clubs in the premier league (which they are), the point was in the NFL teams are expected to pull their financial weight and if we were run like the NFL (which Weezer316 was suggesting) no matter how well run Blackburn are they don't. I wasn't suggesting that we should have a franchise sytem I was explaining why it couldn't, wouldn't and shouldn't happen, but just because Blackburn were mentioned (in your mind) negatively it has prompted you to make that passionate if slightly misguided post.

    Just a few points about your blackburn based chest beating

    1. You mention how great you have perfromed over the last decade, but the debate isn't about whether Blackburn have performed admirally since the Walker money ran out, it's that the Walker money put them in the position in the first place to be able to hang on in their and be run well. The point is without Walker you would be a Burnley type club at best.

    2. Glittering history...? You've got a good history largely predating the modern (pre WW1) game and most of your modern success is firmly tied to jack walker. There is a big gap in between though.

    3. Your average attendance argument is poor as you charge amongst the lowest prices (iirc only wigan lower) in the league. Even then 5 of the 7 clubs who averaged less than you couldn't have averaged more because their stadiums were too small. If Fulham, Hull or Portsmouth had your capacity and your prices each would be far closer to filling their stadiums as they have larger latent support.

    4. The fact you are from a small town means nothing, the East lancashire region has a population of around 400,000, granted you share it with Burnley and Accrington but that's still as sizeable population to draw fans from, and no doubt you draw them from all over lancashire, so stop with the small town rubbish.

    5. Blackburn are "superbly" run by leaching off the sport, it's like calling Arsenal (my team) superbly run because we make a profity. If a club can afford to balance the books and achieve what they want to achieve they will, if not they will gamble as Portsmouth and others have done and will continue to do. The minute Blackburn stop achieving what they want to (premier league survival) they will either drop like a stone or gamble like in vegas to get back. It's the way the money in football is unfairly distributed which makes you well run, nothing else.

    6. And I don't know why you are bringing up achievements as they don't actually mean anything especially considering yours are tied to the fact that you were first lucky enough to have a rich owner and now just because you are in the premier league. Like I said put a lot of other clubs in your situation with your management and they would achieve far more. Your achievements are nothing to do with being blackburn, but the situation you find yourselves.

    7. You say the beauty of English football is not that you are lucky to be from a large city, but how is their beauty in the fact that your success depends on if you are lucky enough to get a wealth backer? That "beauty" as you put it is what won you the league, and it is totally unfair, and it's the beauty of the reliance on benefactors which nearly brought Pompey to their knees and is what the Liverpool fans are desiring to help them compete. It's a poor system which although has been exposed still has you blinded.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    Christ almighty MJ! You wrote a blog about the financial mess in football, well done. Should we have a party in your honour or something. Will the Queen declare tomorrow a bank holiday because of your momentous achievement?

    You then listed, in very specific detail, what you objected to in the comments on this blog. You then responded "once and once only" - please keep it this way in general in the future and stop littering these blogs with your tripe.

  • Comment number 35.

    The EPL could do itself a huge favour and look towards North America (USA)and see what has happened to all the major professional leagues: Baseball; Basketball; Hockey; etc. when it comes to revenue:wages ratio. It has and continue to be a disaster with a well established reality of the "haves" and "have not" clubs.
    A handful of owners awash in money make a mockery of all attempts to bring some common sense to the "wage bill" of any given league with the resulting disparity between clubs and the so-called elite players and the rest of journeymen.
    The New York Yankees are the poster boys, thanks to their ownership, of throwing money by the truckload in order to buy championships but, it does not always work that way as the late George Steinbrenner found out more than once.
    The National Hockey League has been in the news recently when a well know team tried to get away with offering a 17 year, multi-million dollar contract (YES, 17 YEARS)to a player in order to get around the salary cap implemented by the league.
    So now we worry about Red-1 and Red-2 of English football: Liverpool and Man-United that thanks to lax fiscal policies in place at the time fell into the hands of...American millionaires who leveraged the acquisition of the teams debt and...more debt thus bringing the same sickness across the pond and infected English football.
    Easy picking anyone?

  • Comment number 36.

    Journalists should rarely trust their sources completely.

  • Comment number 37.

    This is a good start but maybe we need some out of the box thinking too.
    As we are paying overseas players huge wages, why not pass a special alien football tax, so at least the taxpayer gets to see some benefit. I see no reason why we should take money from hard working British supporters and give it to players from another country, who have paid nothing for the infrastructure that allows such rewards.

  • Comment number 38.

    "fit and proper person" test, "means and abilities" test, do not incorporate the Guardians that "pay all the wages" namely the Fan's. That is where the most effective solution can be policed. Means and Abilites or "Criteria" can be set by the season ticket holders by a democratic process. What better custodians of a clubs well being can there possibly be ? Entrepreneurial Profiteers will always be entrepreneurial in their quest for profit, this process entails risk, chance and complete failure ! "Ongoing Organic Due Diligence"

  • Comment number 39.

    The EPL won't get the HMRC to drop it's case about its "football creditors rule" as the majority of the cases the HMRC bring are against Football League clubs. This rule is from what I can see against the law of the counry and the sooner it is ruled against the better. It would mean that clubs would not accept hugh transfers, wages or large debts to other clubs.

    Why when these new rules have been introduced haven't they outlawed any leverage buy outs like what has happened to Man Utd as this would also seem sensilbe to do.

    I think the ball is about to burst as I read that Chelsea owner RA has stopped big bonus's which has annoyed the big players.

  • Comment number 40.

    Being the director of a football club must be the easiest job in the land, and clearly the normal prerequisites required by someone responsible for the management of a sustainable business do not apply. Witness the fact that Blackpool, having won "the richest game in football" are unable to stomach paying ludicrously inflated wages - let alone transfer fees - for second rate chancers egged on by agents whose only qualification is an ability to gain membership to the old boys network that is the premier league. Because those who are in the club have a vested interest to see it continue...and when it goes t*ts up, they will be alright anyway. Sam Allardice wielding £100M? Great, just what the game needs.
    Clearly the EPL are too stupid to see that they are destroying the brand.

  • Comment number 41.

    We need wage caps in England of around 300,000 pounds a week. If we did this all sorts of teams could win the EPL.
    Not just Man U, Chelsea, Man C. This way teams could buy the EPL. They would have to build a team.
    1. Yes I understand we would do badly in Europem but it might take a few years but we would build great teams that could challenge again.
    2. All sorts of teams could win the league
    3. No more big debts
    4. More English players.
    5. More money for youth facilities.
    6. Higher attendances

  • Comment number 42.

    I propose a "franchise system" with all teams getting the same amount of money in each season to assemble a team. All teams are to stick to the same budget to buy players and pay wages. The budget can be set quite high, e.g. to £50m per club for the first team (i.e. £2m per player per year), and perhaps a further £10m for under 21s (as many as you wish).

    Relegated clubs would lose their players, but also have a right to cancel their contracts. I realise this would make the league uncompetitive with Spain, France and Italy, but it would improve the spectacle and make football truly a game of wits, rather than a demonstration of the power of money.

    I don't like the soft cap proposed by UEFA. It just makes the game a cartel of the biggest clubs. We might as well hand over titles to Man U/Real Madrid for eternity.

  • Comment number 43.

  • Comment number 44.


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