Greedy owners the only winners if you curb these players' wages
23:30 GMT, 18 November 2012
Nobody has ever bought a ticket to watch a bloke in a suit balance the books. Not that it wouldn’t be interesting.
Whoever managed to juggle Chelsea’s numbers so they bought the best part of a new team and still turned a 1.4million profit over the last financial year On paper, that must have been one hell of a show.
Same with the Arsenal board meeting in which chief executive Ivan Gazidis explained why he was worth a 24 per cent pay rise for selling Arsene Wenger’s captain at the end of every season. Now there is a world-class performer at the top of his game.
They're not here for you, Arsene: Ivan Gazidis and his equivalents across the land bring in the big bucks
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Sadly, the fans don’t agree. Players. That’s what they like. How quaintly retro of them. They don’t get that football’s modern world is all about leveraging the brand and maximising revenue streams, economic reality and financial fair play.
A paying fan wouldn’t have written the newspaper headline that described Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy as a genius at the weekend. Gareth Bale against Inter Milan two seasons ago. That was genius.
So when the Premier League chairmen sat down last week to consider next season’s 5billion television windfall, they wanted to prioritise the people who really deserved it.
Not players. Good lord, not sweaty old players. Having built the self-styled greatest league in the world on the talent of men such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry, the owners have decided enough is enough.
They fear players will recognise some correlation between increased TV revenue and the stars the people are tuning in to watch. How presumptuous.
It would be like David Letterman thinking that what made the David Letterman Show special was David Letterman, and asking to be paid accordingly. Get real, Dave. Do you seriously think they’re watching it for you
Chairmen aren’t brave enough to explain this leap in logic to the players’ representatives. So what they will do is hide behind new rules.
We’d like to give you the money, they will say, but we can’t, you see. It’s the law. If it was up to us, well of course. There’s nothing we’d enjoy more than sharing our bounty with your client. But our hands are tied. We can’t even invest any of our own money these days. It’s just not allowed. Damn these rules. Damn these silly, silly rules. I don’t know why we voted for them.
Worth a pay rise Player of the year candidates Robin van Persie and Juan Mata won’t get a cut of TV cash
So who reaps the dividend Not you, that’s for certain. To date, there is no record of an owner saying he will use the double whammy of proposed spending restrictions and hugely increased revenue to suppress admission charges, cut prices in the club shop or end the tyranny of the new strip released every year. You still pay. They now don’t.
There are some very clever operators behind this, and a fair few dopes, too. The shrewd cookies are the elite clubs who have worked out that, far from benefiting all grades of the game, those at the top stand to profit greatly if spending is linked to income.
An existing club in the Champions League will have at least 30m more than a rival whose ambition it is to enter the top four.
It is no surprise that Manchester United and Arsenal are driving this proposal: the biggest grounds, the most consistent Champions League performers, they are as good as enshrining their right to have the most to spend.
The dopes would include those supporting the rule change at, for instance, West Ham or Tottenham. Why are clubs that are looking to grow limiting the ability to do so
We don’t want another Portsmouth or Leeds United, the mediocre minds insist. But why are the options competitive torpor or going skint Why can’t a club expand with optimism, ambition and calculated risk, without throwing the lot on red
At last week’s Premier League meeting, 16 of 20 clubs asked chief executive Richard Scudamore to press ahead with detailed proposals for financial restrictions. They can’t be trusted to simply show restraint; it has to be placed upon them by force.
Everyone's invited: As TV money tots up, still the stadiums are filled with expensive tickets
'We are looking at financial fair play rules and introducing them for the good of everyone in the Premier League and for the good of the game,’ said Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins, who would obviously know what was best for the Premier League having been part of it for a mighty 18 months.
The real brains trust proposal comes from Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who wishes to limit annual increases to the wage bill, as a means of depressing salaries. So each club would only be able to increase wages by, say, five per cent each season.
Fine for Manchester United as five per cent of quite a lot is quite a lot more. And fine if you’ve already been throwing money up the wall like Chelsea, as you could continue to do so incrementally.
Yet what of the well-run club that had lived within their means, suddenly experienced a degree of success, and wanted to take a leap forward
Suppose West Bromwich Albion got into Europe and wished to invest in a bigger squad. They would be pegged at growth of five per cent. All Short is proposing is a way of saying ‘no’ to agents without getting into a heated argument.
The alternative is to grow a pair and pay only what you can afford, while respecting the right of all clubs to embrace ascent to the next level.
Resisting all this nonsense, bless them, are Fulham, Everton, West Brom and Manchester City, although Randy Lerner of Aston Villa has serious reservations, too, as do Chelsea, unless they can tailor the proposal to a way that leaves them unaffected.
Reaping rewards: West Brom's break-even model is perhaps the Premier League's most sensible
City and Fulham rely on rich benefactors, while limits on owner investment would make Everton considerably less attractive to potential buyers. West Brom have a break-even model, and a damn good one, but chairman Jeremy Peace simply believes each club should run their business as they see fit. Like grown-ups.
‘It is not trying to restrict teams competing for players,’ said Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. No, it’s just trying to guarantee that, when they do, they’ve got less money than you.
‘We are trying to impose some parameters, so we don’t end up with a lot of clubs making annual and regular losses,’ added the man from the club who are 359.7m in debt, and based in the Cayman Islands.
So if fans aren’t due a rebate and the players don’t deserve a rise, who does
Step forward: Gazidis, Roman Abramovich, the Glazer family, Mike Ashley.
It’s Super Sunday, folks, live from the offices of PricewaterhouseCoopers. That’s entertainment.
Overcrowding in the old Globe
Louis Burton, a French sailor competing in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world yacht race, collided with a trawler 460 miles off the coast of Lisbon.
His accident came a day after compatriot Kito de Pavant was forced to retire after a trawler damaged his boat 80 miles from the Portuguese port of Cascais.
The Vendee Globe is a uniquely challenging event that makes incredible physical and mental demands of its competitors. Even so, not exactly Piccadilly Circus out there, is it
Memo to Stuart Lancaster and all at the RFU: if we can’t play like England’s rugby team, at least try to look like England’s rugby team.
AND WHILE WE'RE AT ITIt's the winning just by taking part
One of the important things in life is to know when you’ve won. The day AFC Wimbledon entered the Football League, having progressed through the pyramid system from their beginnings in the Combined Counties League, they won.
They overcame the idiocy of the Football Association commission that had branded their phoenix club not in the wider interests of football.
More importantly, they exposed the great lie at the heart of Peter Winkelman’s theft of the original Wimbledon. They proved that Milton Keynes could, after all, have earned its League club the legitimate way, with promotion through the many tiers of English football.
The right way: After Peter Winkelman stole their club, AFC Wimbledon rose from the ashes
Winkelman did not have to steal Wimbledon and spirit it north as Milton Keynes Dons. With investment in Milton Keynes City of the Spartan South Midlands Premier Division, he could have grown his hometown club organically. He could have tried it the proper way, as AFC Wimbledon did.
And Wimbledon are still winning. When they play Milton Keynes Dons, as equals, in the FA Cup second round on December 2, that will be a small victory, too. As is the fact that every neutral fan in the country wants them to overturn big odds and win.
A decade ago, interest was scarce but now everyone seems to know the story of English football’s greatest injustice.
Wimbledon directors are not going into the boardroom at stadiummk, supporters have discussed taking food and printing an independent match programme to avoid giving the club they call Franchise FC money. Others will boycott the tie entirely.
All fine acts of protest. Wimbledon remain unshakeably atop the moral high ground. But they should know when they’ve won. Goodwill is easily surrendered if justified grievance becomes spiteful venom. Foul chants and abuse, collateral damage.
What the FA allowed to happen to their club should never be forgotten; but there are some good people at MK Dons now, too.
Dan Micciche, who runs the academy, is one of the most imaginative youth coaches in the country, and anyone below a certain age in the crowd will simply have grown up supporting the local team, not comprehending their horrible history. They were simply too young to appreciate the controversy surrounding Winkelman’s creation.
What is it boxing referees require A good, clean fight That is what the supporters of AFC Wimbledon must provide next month. Keep it dignified, keep it civilised.
They have considerably more to lose than a Cup tie, if they forget that this was their victory long ago, regardless of the result of a single match.
Not losing may not be enough for Rio, Roy
And very quietly, as we entered the winter hiatus, Montenegro took a two-point lead at the top of World Cup qualification Group H, as expected, by beating San Marino.
England are second on eight points. If Poland win their game in hand, they will have eight points, too.
/11/18/article-2234863-16079D7A000005DC-881_634x419.jpg” width=”634″ height=”419″ alt=”Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014″ class=”blkBorder” />
Exposed: England are in a fight to secure a place at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014
Put like that, trailing Montenegro, having won two games in four and even then only against San Marino and Moldova, doesn’t seem so hot.
Roy Hodgson is still unbeaten in competitive matches but this was always going to be his problem. Being good at not losing only gets a team and a manager so far and cannot be mistaken for winning.
England have gone out of World Cups unbeaten previously; technically, Hodgson was unbeaten at the 2012 European Championship, too.
Nobody is allowed to utter the name Harry Redknapp, because football’s confederation of bogus clever dicks are still pretending that England and Tottenham Hotspur are better off without him (and didn’t they look it on Saturday, when Emmanuel Adebayor got sent off and Andre Villas-Boas looked at his little book of brilliant tactical plans for 20 minutes as Arsenal scored three goals).
But the fact is that Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s hat-trick was the least of England’s problems last week.
Second place could bring a play-off against the likes of Israel, Norway or Bulgaria but equally Portugal, Sweden, France or Belgium.
Meanwhile, the troublesome visit to Montenegrin capital Podgorica is two competitive games away. England improve under Hodgson in the second half of this season or their World Cup campaign ails, perhaps fatally.