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How the EU destroyed European football update.

September 2nd, 2008 · No Comments

A couple of months ago, we wrote a story about the sorry state of European Football, totally dominated by money producing several accumulating effects in which the big clubs in the big leagues become ever more dominant. Football is far from a level playing field. We have a few updates..

You can read our original thesis here. In short, it argued that European football is ever less a level playing field. Effectively, it is becoming a cartel (ManU, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Juve, Liverpool, Bayern Munich once in a while, that’s about it, we’re afraid) because:

  1. Big competitions win disproportionally from tv rights, foreign owners, Championship league income
  2. They use that money to buy up players from clubs elsewhere, increasingly at a very young age, reinforcing the advantage
  3. The clubs from the smaller competition lose three times, less and less income, less and less good players (the best invariably leave), less and less time to keep a team together for the time it takes to become an oiled machine.
  4. The European Union (EU), which should enforce football as a level playing field (competition policy) in fact is the cause of much of this through the Bosman arrest and it’s insistence on the free movement of players.

And after reading it, take the following in, from The Guardian:

  • Manchester City’s new billionaire owners are planning a world-record £135m bid for Cristiano Ronaldo in the January transfer window before turning their sights to, among others, Fernando Torres of Liverpool and Cesc Fábregas of Arsenal. “Ronaldo has said he wants to play for the biggest club in the world, so we will see in January if he is serious,” said Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim, of the Abu Dhabi United Group.
  • Al-Fahim also re-iterated that he would investigate the potential availability of the former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, Valencia’s David Villa and the former Brazil international Ronaldo to join Robinho in a “dream team” that would be able to challenge for the Champions League within two or three years.
  • However, he identified United’s Ronaldo as the biggest challenge for the billionaire tycoons, backed by members of the United Arab Emirates royal family, who have taken control of the club from Thaksin Shinawatra. “Real Madrid were estimating his value at $160m (£90m) but for a player like that, to actually get him, will cost a lot more; I would think $240m (£135m). But why not? We are going to be the biggest club in the world, bigger than both Real Madrid and Manchester United.”

The EU is still resisting a 6+5 rule, forcing teams to field at least 6 home-grown players. As long as there is not some sand in the wheels of this kind of madness, it will continue.

The smaller countries with a rich football history bear the brunt of the way big money rules, but these new realities might have an even more devastating effect on football elsewhere in the world (from Deloitte Latin American football money league:

  • 50% of income for clubs in Latin America comes from selling players abroad
  • Brazil on it’s own experienced the exit of 800 young talented footballers to Europe.

In the first article, we noticed the following:

  • In the first leg of the semi-final of Manchester United against Chelsea, the first had Tevez and Ronaldo on the bench, the latter Sevchenko and Anelka. On the bench! In almost any other team, these players would have been on the pitch, and most other clubs (even big clubs) in Europe wouldn’t even be able to afford these players in the first place.

Get used to it..

Of coarse, once in a while a surprise team (like Zenit) will shine. Invariably, it’s players will be bought up, although in Zenit’s case, this might take a while as there is a lot of oil money behind Russian football.

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