Morning all. Tuesday in week three of my work from home lockdown and as you can tell already I’m only really posting when something pops into my mind at the moment. The lack of time on the tube to compile my thoughts, as well as the lack of any football news, is all contributing. But my work from home has also intensified as businesses like mine have to go into overdrive to stay afloat and keep generating new business. It’s tough out there so I’m wishing you and your friends/family all the best at this difficult time.
And at this difficult time football really will learn just how reliant it is on others because right now it’s feeling like a luxury. But we’re also going to find out just how many of the football community lives in the real world and whether or not it’s going to shoot itself in the foot. A bit like what some employers are doing with their mass redundancies, or banks that are trying to push their own products rather than the loans from the government, this kind of global crisis will ensure that people’s memories are all still very fresh when things go back to normal. And unless football has shown the same level of compassion and understanding like so many other industries are showing then people will remember.
I say ‘football’, but my footballing bubble is very focused on the Premier League and that, being the richest league in the world, is the one that many people are focusing a sharp eye on. We’ve already seen the Germans leading the way with Dortmund and Bayern players taking a pay cut. Hearts in Scotland have taken a pay cut, although that probably has more to do with the lack of financial power the club has, which is fair enough. Even Barcelona players are talking about it right now.
There will be plenty of people at this stage thinking “too bloody right, they’re all millionaires anyway” and I both understand and support this in the main, but taking the pay cut should not only be something that comes into effect now, it should also be just one element of how the Premier League can support. They should be using their vast wealth and resources to help the smaller clubs out, because there will be teams across the land who will be Furloughing all of their staff as we speak, looking at the lack of income and wondering whether or not their club will be in existence in a year’s time.
If they will it will be because the local communities around them have banded together like Bury’s group of fans who worked to try to keep their club alive. But the bigger clubs can play their part too and I hope we see some announcements from the Premier League too.
If we – as a collective of passionate football fans – don’t see that, I do wonder just how the footballing fan community reacts. As I said above, the responses of the banks – being bailed out just 11 years ago by the public in the UK, let’s not forget – continue with their approach to slowing down funding, then we’re going to see a lot of unhappy public opinion sway against them. If the big clubs don’t act to show empathy for the plight of all smaller football clubs but also fans too, then we could be about to witness a step change in the way in which fans support clubs.
There’s talk of rebates for games behind closed doors, but whilst that is a given, players giving up their wages should have not even been a question. I can assure you if I had more than a million pound in my bank account i’d be looking at ways in which I could help my community.
And then, when things do get back to normal, unless we do see some kind of radical change in football, then we’re in for a dark future, especially when it comes to the financially doped clubs. City, Chelski, PSG and to a lesser extent Man United, have the financial muscle to essentially dominate unless something is done. Think about it; football clubs are going to be smashed for revenue whilst their costs will remain high, meaning transfer fees and inflated wages just won’t be on the cards for so many clubs. That means we’ll either see the financially doped clubs clean up on player acquisition in terms of the best players in the world, or we’ll just see a general climb down in terms of the money spent, the fees commanded by agents, the wages by players.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe this horrible global pandemic has also had a profound impact on the football bubble being burst? Maybe for the Premier League anyway.
And maybe that is what is needed to happen. Because football couldn’t keep sailing off into the distance in terms of connection to the average fan. Perhaps it’s time for a mass step change and this force of nature in the form of a tiny virus is it.