Yesterday I wrote about the Newcastle takeover as it was about to happen and then later on in the day we saw the confirmation that one of the richest ‘consortiums’ in the world had bought Newcastle. So here we go again. Another sports washing exercise (it entirely IS that despite what Amanda Staveley said in an exceedingly disingenuous way in her BBC interview aired last night) and another team who will pump billions in to another Premier League club. Another club who has won the football lottery and within the next five years another club who will probably be able to field two sides for every competition because they have assembled some of the most highly paid and highly sought after players from across the globe.
Would I like my club to be able to compete at the top by buying all of the world’s top talent? Of course. So it is in that regard that this isn’t aimed at Newcastle United fans at all. They have won that lottery as I said and now they will see the fruits of that after start-after-star comes to the North East to explain how it was always his dream to play for such a ‘project’ in England.
Football is now more about whether or not you managed to find a cheat code for your club than it is about sound governance and sensible running across multiple parts of a club that lead it to the culmination of trophies and success. Those days are dead now. We are now in the era of football ‘haves’ and football ‘have nots’ and those that are the ‘haves’ have the ability to do the equivalent of sifting through a ‘Top Trumps’ packet and plucking out that one card that basically beats every other card in the deck. You know, the one that has 99 for every single attribute but one, in some vein attempt at giving some kind of jeopardy to the card when in fact there is little.
That is football now and it’s depressing. The Super League was rightly and roundly condemned. But the motives for condemnation were very different depending on which group you sat in. If you were a fan like you or I, your motives were pure; you wanted no part of it because it removed competition, it meant a closed money-making shop and that’s why you couldn’t possibly stand behind it. If you were a member of the media you probably wanted no part of it because it might impact your organisations revenue. If you were one of the broadcasters like Sky you wanted to see it die because it would mean that big cash cow of the Premier League that gives you your millions, would have lost 90% of its value as soon as the Super League started. If you were part of UEFA it would basically render your competitions – and the potential to make shedloads of money – redundant, so you needed to do something about this. There we motives from all sides and they came together to defeat the Super League.
But what we have here with this latest Billionaire financially doped club is the Super League by stealth. Manchester City, Chelski, Newcastle United and perhaps Man United by the sheer size of their commercial operations. Four clubs who will perennially fight for the top of the title as others try to pick up what is left. The Super League was a closed shop. The top of the Premier League will be that within five years. The only difference is that – just like that one attribute in the Top Trumps card that is really low (in Marvel it is Spider Man, who smashes everyone else in everything except ‘Cunning’, in which he only ranks five out of 20), there is the ‘outside chance’ that another team can gather together a ‘perfect storm’ of players who all come together at the right time, have the right manager, then can develop the right style. I mentioned Liverpool yesterday and they had that cycle, but unless Klopp can rebuild with a whole new set of unearthed gems in the next few years, Liverpool will soon join the rest of us looking up at those clubs who just use their financial muscle to wade in amongst everyone else.
Again, I feel I should reiterate, in case a Newcastle fan is reading this and takes afront; this isn’t about Newcastle, it’s about football, it’s about competition, it’s about greed and avarice, it’s about ‘looking the other way’ for those in charge of running the game. Because these people are taking the quick buck in an effort to maintain the Premier League’s status as what I believe will essentially become a Super League within a league. Super League by stealth.
In four of the last five seasons the league has been won by a team who has been financially doped. That outlier was that Liverpool side I mentioned. In six of the last eight seasons it has been won by a financially doped club. That was the ‘once in a lifetime’ Leicester City Premier League. The arrival of Newcastle – surely not the last club to get that football lottery ticket now the doors have been open – will ensure that the top spot in the division can only be won by a team who has means so far beyond what they could realistically self generate. In ten years time it wouldn’t surprise me to see six teams with billionaires who sports wash and pump money in to the clubs. And if that happens the top of the Premier League will effectively become a closed shop. It will be an elite division within a division because although there is the illusion of competition and the ‘outside chance’ another club could break in to it, the reality – as the list of Premier League winners has shown – is that it is a ‘stars must align’ type event that will enable any other club to stand a chance.
This won’t be football any more. It won’t be competition. The Premier League have made their move to counter the chance of a Super League. By building it within its own structure.
Catch you all tomorrow.