Football: Help, Money May Kill This Beautiful Game

BEFORE moneybags from Eastern Europe and the Arab world came into central Europe with lots of cash, football was mainly enjoyed by fans while the clubs, especially in the English Premier League,
were content with making profits that would keep them afloat. For these clubs, getting a full house on match days was heartwarming, while winning domestic and continental titles were like icing on the cake for them.

But things have changed drastically over the years since Roman Abramovich bought over Chelsea 10 years ago and investing over
£2.8 billions into the club as at the end of last season when it won the UEFA Champions League.

With the cash, Chelsea was able to bring in the hottest manager in football management, Jose Mourinho, who had just won the UEFA Champions League with Porto
against all odds.

Mourinho began the revolution at Stamford Bridge with over £70 million in transfer fees on players such as Tiago (£10 million) from Benfica,
Michael Essien (£24.4million) from Olympique Lyonnais,
Didier Drogba (£24 million) from Olympique de Marseille,
Mateja Kežman (£5.4 million) from PSV, and Porto pair Ricardo Carvalho (£19.8 million) and
Paulo Ferreira (£13.3 million).

With all these players and some he met on ground, Mourinho won Chelsea’s first Premier League trophy in 50 years in 2004/2005 season and retained the title the following season.

He also won the FA and League Cups a couple of time before quitting the club in 2007 after a rift with Abramovich. Kudos should go to the Russian oil Mogul who took over a club that was struggling financially and immediately turned it into a European power.

Under his watch, the club has bought 66 world-class players at a staggering cost.

The transfer fees for those players, according to sports finance expert Daniel King of the Sun Newspaper of London, tallies up at $1.02 billion, more than any other club in the world during that same
eight-season stretch.

Player salaries have been even more
expensive, according to King, with the overall wage bill totaling
$1.8 billion another record-setting figure that helped spiral soccer into a new era of hyper-spending.

Eight managers also came and went in the space of eight years, most of them fired precisely for failing to win the Champions League before Roberto De Mateo won it last season before being fired and replaced with former Liverpool boss, Rafa Benitez, who is struggling presently to earn the club a Champions League place for next season competition.

Manchester City is the latest beneficiaries of the influx of cash into modern day football in the EPL. The club had been struggling in the Premier League and was under the shadows of their more illustrious neighbours, Manchester United.

But all that soon changed when Sheikh Mansour, who headed the Abu Dhabi United Group, bought City and brought in massive investment in 2008 after the The consortium from the UAE quickly made their intentions known with their massive purchase of Robinho from Real Madrid for
£32.5 million, and continued their massive spending by signing Gareth Barry, Roque Santa Cruz, Emmanuel Adebayor, Carlos Tevez, Joleon Lescott, Jerome Boateng,
Yaya Toure, David Silva, Aleksandr
Kolarov, Mario Balotelli, James Milner, Edin Dzeko, Gael Clichy, Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri in subsequent transfer windows.

City, in turn, went from 10th in the EPL to fifth, then third, and finally first last season, beating rivals and neighbours, Manchester United on the last. Unlike Abramovich, Sheikh Mansour showed patience that extra-wealthy football owners rarely show.

When City struggled for consistency in the aftermath of their acquisition of Robinho,
Mansour remained patient.
When City finished fifth in the EPL the following season, and failed to secure any silverware despite a summer outlay in excess of £100
million, Mansour remained patient.

Even last year, when Manchester City looked like it had thrown away the title, and many expected Roberto Mancini to be sacked, Mansour still kept his cool, and declared himself satisfied with the team even if they failed to secure the EPL title.

Winning the title was a big plus for
Man City because Mansour and his backers had laid out a 10-year plan for winning the league but the cash they pumped in brought the title after four seasons, while winning
the FA Cup along the way.

Manchester has now become the hub of football in England as both clubs finished first and second last season and are likely to perform the same feat with Manchester
United on the verge of winning its 20th title since Sir Alex Ferguson became the manager of the most successful club in England in modern era.

Players like Yaya Toure, have recognised his influence on the team, and have strived to please the Mansour and City’s management with positive results. He also signed a new deal that would keep him at the club till 2007 last week.

Beyond the money Mansour brought into City, he has given Mancini and the chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, the right to handle the club’s public image.

He has never once undermined Mancini in the media and he is almost never available for comment on the club’s day-to-day matters.
Even in the Carlos Tevez saga, Mansour was reported to be disappointed with Tevez’s behavior, but never once was he quoted as
taking a particular stance in the case. He dealt with the matter internally, and kept his comments internal, like a good boss.

It may seem as though Sheikh Mansour has had it easy as Manchester City’s owner, and
to an extent, he has. But as much as money has played a big role in City’s success, money alone has not and would not have brought City the success they’ve experienced so far.

Manchester City also made up to £400m under their new sponsorship arrangement with Etihad Airways, making it the largest deal of its kind in sport and reinforcing City’s position as a football club with unprecedented financial power.

The 10-year agreement, which means City’s ground is renamed the Etihad Stadium, will be worth more than twice the previous record, JP Morgan Chase’s $300m (£187m) for the new Madison Square Garden, while simultaneously demonstrating the growing disparity between the top clubs in English football.

 The City deal dwarfs the one
Arsenal struck with Emirates in 2004, which was valued at £90m over 15 years.

United have also spent lots of money over the years to bring in quality players and that has won a record number of title (19) since the advent of the Premier League.

It bought Robin Van Persie for £24 million from Arsenal and he has propelled the team to the top of the Premier League with 19 goals.

However, Malaga has become a good example of Arab ownership gone wrong.

Sheikh Abdullah was warmly received by Malaga fans expecting him to usher in a golden era similar, in at least a few ways, to
the one currently being experienced at Manchester City.

Yet, few years on, there are many
indications that Sheikh Abdullah has grown bored with his project, despite Malaga’s success in La Liga. He recently blasted La Liga’s distribution of television funds, and
is reported (via ESPN) to have put the club up for sale.

Even worse though, Sheikh Abdullah has left the club with many unresolved debts, which he was supposed to have addressed months ago. Santi Cazorla’s transfer fee
was not payed by Malaga until very recently for example. Apparently, Sheikh Abdullah has a reputation for being late in paying his debts, which is bad news for a football club like Malaga where deadlines are crucial.

French Club, Paris Saint-Germian is the latest among clubs that are benefiting from oil money from the Middle East. Qatar
Sports Investments - established in 2005 by son of the Emir and heir to the Qatari throne, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Nasser Al-Khelaifi - bought a 70 per cent
stake in PSG on June 30, 2011 and quickly installed former Inter Milan coach Leonardo as general manager.

Now PSG are threatening to do in France what Manchester City have been doing over the last couple of seasons in England - blow all and sundry out of the water when it
comes to the transfer market.

The club was close to smashing the French transfer record by signing Palermo’s Javier Pastore for 43m euros (£37.4m). Leaving the 22-year-old Argentine playmaker aside,
though, the Parisian club have invested more than £37m on new players this summer three times as much as champions Lille.

The mystery is why it has taken so long for PSG, who last won the title in 1994, to attract serious money. Key to PSG’s appeal is the fact that Paris is unique for a city of its size in having only one professional football club.

They say that money moves to money and in the world of football that sort of phrase often ends with two words: Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Once again, Ibrahimovic moved to PSG from AC Milan with Thiago Silva, the deal for the worth a combined £51.3million with £32m of that being for Ibrahimovic making him the most expensive
footballer in history.

Ezequiel Lavezzi also joined from Napoli for almost £24m, while David Beckham also joined in December to ‘boost’ the club.

The team finished second behind
Montpellier last season and it on course for its first league title in 19 years this season and have a mouth-watering tie against Barcelona in the Champions League this week after the first leg ended 2-2 in Paris.

If they go all the way and win both titles, the investment of Khelaifi may have yielded fruits sooner than expected. In an attempt to check the way money is pumped into football and ensure that clubs don’t go burst, Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) introduced the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, first agreed in principle in September 2009 by the
Financial Control Panel of football’s
governing body in Europe in the 2011/2012.

The control mechanism was brought in to prevent professional football clubs spending more than they earn in the pursuit of success and in so doing getting into financial problems, which might threaten
their long-term survival.
Introduced amid concern at the heavy spending of a number of professional clubs across Europe, it was hoped that the regulations would eventually lead to a more
‘level playing field’ by preventing clubs with very wealthy owners who make substantial cash gifts to their club from gaining an unfair advantage over other clubs who are run on a more sustainable business model, and in so doing encourage lower levels of spending. The FFP Regulations provide for sanctions to be taken against clubs who do
not spend within a set budgetary
framework The ultimate penalty is disqualification from European competitions.

Other possible penalties originally included fines, the withholding of prize money, and transfer bans.
Despite the regulation, other super rich clubs like Real Madrid and Anzhi Makhachkala are still getting ways to lure top layers to their clubs, while the gulf between the top and small clubs grows by the day.

The success recorded in Europe can be replicated in Nigeria if club owners run them the right way and attract sponsors, while the league body ensure they get the right deal that would better the lots of the

 However, most of the clubs in the
country are propaganda tool for state governments, who announce several millions for the clubs that are never fully released or at best they are mismanaged.

Those that are appointed to run the clubs are stooges of the state governors or their officials, thereby placing mediocre to run
clubs that should be under the guidance of technocrats.

Until this is done, football will
remain in comatose in the country, while those who manage the clubs would continue to feed fat on the sweat of the players.

2 Comments, Replies, Suggestions, Yarns:

Noble .J. Ozogbuda said...

Football wahala, very good.

John King said...

I think me i dont too like this football!