One Step Forward…
The great and the good sat in judgement yesterday on The Great Question Of Our Times. WTF to do with the rest of the 2019/20 football season. The collection of Great Panjandrums were faced with one Almighty Conundrum,namely that in the great scheme of things,football truly isn’t a matter of life and death. It really is much less important than that.
UEFA then decided on the only feasible way forward for them. That their flagship competitions,The Champions League and The Europa League,would be played to a finish in August. And that everyone else was free to do as they saw fit with their own domestic competitions,but that any decision made would be subject to UEFA standards on sporting integrity and fairness.
What an abrogation of responsibility this is! I’m all right,Jack and the rest of you had better do the right thing because we will be watching? This is not leadership,not by any standard. People are dying,the experts are clueless on a way out of it,politicians-many of whom will be held to account for their role in underplaying the seriousness of the outbreak and in underfunding treatment and contingency planning-are wringing their hands in despair as all their best laid plans go agley.
And UEFA concern themselves solely with their major source of income by pretending that everything in the garden will be rosy in about six weeks so that players can go back to a full pre-season in order to play out some baubles for one of the most corrupt organisations on the planet. Fuxake,you couldn’t make that up.
Six weeks ago,when I first wrote about the shutdown facing the game,I suggested that we could be good to go again by the middle of May,which would see the season out for the end of June. That UEFA should postpone the Euros till next year or even 2022 and put the beginning of next season on hold till around mid-August. During the intervening period,I’ve obviously became more realistic about the prospects of finishing the season,though I still hold out hopes that the SFA will play the remaining three games of the 2019/20 Scottish Cup. Forlorn hopes admittedly,but heyho. But that’s just me,it’s the type of guy I am. An optimist when it’s possible to be,but a pragmatist when reality boots me in the baws.
Football has had a right good kick in the baws recently,that’s for sure. And there will be more to come as a result.
I was listening to an interview with Daniel Comolli a couple of days ago. He has wide experience in the game,most notably as Director of Football at Spurs and Liverpool amongst others. He reckoned that the next two currently-sanctioned transfer windows will see only three English clubs able to make any significant signings. Most notably,he pointed out that Chelsea-the club which more than any other,turbocharged the money-go-round in the game-will not be one of them. They are fortunate,he said,in having such a well-run and well-stocked Academy,and they will make full use of it. Others,he reckons,are not nearly so fortunate. He used the example of Burnley,whose chairman told us over a month ago that he expected the club to lose well over £50m as a result of this closedown. That figure is likely to have increased with events since. How will Burnley-and a great many others!-finance such a loss?
The obvious one is to cut back on transfer expenditure. Burnley are actually one of the better run clubs in the EPL,and their wage bill reflects that. Sean Dyche said two years ago that no player at the club was on more than £40k per week,so I doubt that any will be on more than £50k per week now. And their spend on transfers is not that great. Yet they say they will lose in excess of £50m? That’s 40% of TV money-inflated turnover,give or take. And as I said,they are one of the better run clubs.
What then of some of the clubs who have really speculated to accumulate,the ones who quite rightly decided that the path to never ending riches lay by ensuring that their club was equipped with the players and managers who would keep them on the EPL gravy train for ever more? Or,indeed,who spent more than they could afford to lose on a quest to get into the EPL from their launchpad in The Championship? Comolli reckons that the next few years will see a lot of lesser talented players taking home considerably less from their next contracts,and that agents will have to become much more realistic in their dealings on behalf of their players. Squad numbers will also be reduced dramatically in the next five years or so as clubs try every weapon in their armoury simply to survive and get their heads above water again. Not all will succeed.
Football will survive but it will be a hugely different game from that seen in the first two decades of the century. A belated and much-needed cold blast of reality will see to that. It could be the best thing that’s ever happened to the game,though it will take a long while for the benefits to be clear.
Meanwhile back at the ranch,what does yesterday’s “decision” mean for the game in Scotland? Well,fair play to the SPFL. It was their question which actually prompted UEFA to wash their hands of the domestic affairs of member countries! And,fair play again,the SPFL had clearly decided earlier than most that the season was most unlikely to be played to a conclusion. They have now been given the all-clear to declare the season over in the top league in much the same way that they have already done in the lower leagues.
They will not prevaricate over this for any length of time. They have already been put on notice by the Scottish government that football,even behind closed doors,will not be permitted. Depending on which side of the bed she got out of that morning,this ban is planned till November or September. I think. Celtic will be declared champions and the European entries will be announced too,based on current placings. I noticed that Cormack,the new Chief Executive of Aberdeen,raised the banner of integrity in any declarations. I feel he is protecting the interests of his employers,the new US-based owners of the club. His comments are aimed at the SPFL/SFA and relate,I believe,to the concept of FFP and the award of European placings. We have nothing to worry about from his comments. Rangers,on the other hand,might be advised to pass the plate round for more lawyers fees.
Above article by BMCUWP. Usual rules apply for anyone wanting to write an Article of the Day. Mail it to Mahe,get your name in lights!