Date: 12th July 2011 at 7:55pm
Written by:

Singer and song writer, Roy Harper sent Vital Manchester City the following.

I think UEFA’s proposed investigation into whether City’s Stadium naming deal with Etihad contravenes the new financial fair play rules is a non-starter. Every time I think about it, another hole appears in it. It’s like a sieve. Of course, UEFA will now have to bluster, and make noises to try to contain the sniffling and carping of such great philosophers as the eminent Karl-Heinz Rumminigger.

To start with, ‘value’ is nearly always subjective. For instance, how much would my mother’s heart be worth, to me? Unless UEFA have a watertight case in law, which I doubt, and which will have to be based on business precedent, or at least existing law, then they will surely have to stump up the cash to fight Abu Dhabi. That should be good, UEFA v Abu Dhabi, to the death in the European Court, and if necessary, on to the Court Of Human Rights and beyond. It’ll never happen.

I’m not in favour of ‘financial doping’, as Arsene Wenger calls it, but neither can you reverse a hundred years of history. Football had been a business for decades before City were forced to sell Billy Meredith, the most famous footballer of his day in 1907, to United, over an alleged match fixing incident. There was big money in football in 1907. The fact that it hadn’t yet filtered down to the players is irrelevant to this article. That was just a matter of time. This was 47 years before UEFA was formed…

The clubs with the most financial muscle could break away from UEFA, and FIFA, and set up their own international league. There are a few precedents for this, i.e., Kerry Packer’s breakaway cricket league, which eventually forced international cricket federations to reward international cricketers more sufficiently. But none of us want to form new football federations. The way forward is inclusive, not exclusive.

And that’s the point. What we want is for everyone to have a chance at the big time. Whether that’s because of a rich uncle or the emergence of a great team who want, and have the will, to play together. Admittedly, it’s going to be extremely difficult in 2011 for any team to be so gifted, so self-willed and at the same time so intelligent that they will be able to progress solely under their own steam to the top of the tree. In fact, that would be a remarkable if not altruistic freak of nature.

Seemingly super rich uncles are a social phenomenon of early 21st Century football. Some of them really are rich, but many are just fronts for other activities. Crawley Town springs to mind, and perhaps should be the subject of another UEFA ‘probe’, but perhaps casting too many aspersions is futile. After all, fingers were meant to point in every direction.

Having said all that, the present system does provide that, by luck, fate, hard work or however you care to name it, the chance does still exist to join the elite. UEFA would scrap this.. and make it so that Leeds United could never again hope to get to where they were in 2003. That clubs in cities with populations of less than 100,000, like Burnley, Luton and yes, Blackburn, were forever doomed to being unable to compete at the highest level.

This means that the capital cities and great metropolitan centres of Europe will forever be the only competitors in the Champions League. In other words, if you don’t have the critical population to fill a 60,000 seat arena every 2 weeks, you won`t make it; plus.. any new money coming into the game will be banned. Rubbish! Or as they used to say, ‘As like as if’. Financial fair play is all well and good, but stopping money from coming into football from new sources is going to be an own goal that not even UEFA is capable of scoring.

As most of us who would like a level playing field would concede, and have been saying for years, what we really need is a draft system similar to US sport, but the spoke in wheel will be getting all the clubs in Europe, and for that matter in the rest of FIFA world, to agree to establish one. Seeing that FIFA always moves at the pace of the slowest, that`ll be at least a decade or three after goal-line technology reaches Papua New Guinea then…

 

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