Date:Saturday January 30 2010
My club Pompey are spiralling out of control towards oblivion, I know people can look from afar and think someone will step in at the last minute, but the reality is that they could be the first club in the top flight ever to just go out of business overnight.
So how did it come to this?
I could point an accusing finger in many a direction, but for me football is broken, it hasn't happened overnight, it has been building since the early nineties, 20/2/1992 to be exact, this was when football in this country decided to sell its soul, this is the date the culmination of the Premiership began as we know it, the elite cut themselves off from the majority and money became the master.
This theory could of course be blown out of the water, many reading it will scoff, but hear me out.
Before this, football in this country has managed to muddle along quite nicely for a hundred years or so, the 4 divisions had its big boys and minnows for sure, but every now and then one of these minnows would rise up and storm through the divisions, take 1974, after the first month of the season Carlisle United topped the first division, between 1978 and 1981 Swansea city rose from the fourth to first division, Wimbledon only gained entry to the football league in 1978, 9 years later they were in the top flight and on the road to an epic FA cup win.
The point I am making is that football has become very much like the feudal system of the middle ages, at the top are your money men or in football's case those in the Champion's league, then your Lord's, those in other European competition, then the landowners or Squires/Premiership teams, then there are the rest, all the way down to the upstarts in what was the old 4th division, today's serfs.
Football is ruled by money and television, both are hand in hand, the players have more power than the people who supposedly own them, their wages at the top level are more than obscene, absolutely offensive to the poor old fans who turn up to watch them. I know a players response is "it's only a short career" that statement is correct, but who gives them the divine right to never have to work again after turning 32?
Jimmy Hill campaigned for the abolition of the maximum wage in 1961, this was done with all the right motives, players were paid little more than a manager of a betting shop at the time, but he could not have foretold the amazing rise that would culminate in footballing millionaires by the age of 21 in only 30 years time.
Jean-Marc Bosman was another who had an invisible hand in the shift of power from club to player and agent, in 1990 he took his club to court to be able leave them whilst out of contract, he won and got his move to the "mighty" Dunkerque.
The players now called the shots, as no transfer fees were needed for a player whose contract had expired, they could walk free from their clubs and negotiate higher wages with a new club, this in turn drove up wages across the board as players obviously banged on the managers door to gain parity with any new signing, the more meeker player's got their agents to do the talking and get them a better deal, Mr 10% got his cut and away you go, the rot was in spreading like the plague.
Football used to "belong" to the fans, sure there have always been clubs richer than others, but that used to be a reflection of people through the turnstiles more than who had the bigger overdraft, Pompey are victims of chasing a dream, it has come crashing around their ears with the vultures picking at a rotten corpse of a club, no matter what happens next at fratton park, there is a cancer eating from within.
Pompey however won't be the last to fall victim of "the dream" Crystal Palace have slipped into administration after years as a "yo-yo" club, Hull have allegedly had to put up the full first team squad up for auction, and the so-called giants that are Liverpool and Manchester United have debts that if were called in could wipe both off of the face of the Earth.
So what went so wrong with the promised land of the Premiership?
Being a Pompey fan I am more than familiar of the "Fit and proper person" rule, this is supposed to vet any person proposing to buy or hold the controlling interest in a Premiership club, thing is if you have pulse you are deemed fit, if you have a nose on your face that seems to deem you proper, Pompey have a convicted fraudster pulling the strings at Fratton park, he is banned from practicing in his native country, but is allowed to call the shots behind the scenes in one of the Premierships own clubs because he didn't have to go through a stringent test, a faceless man has been able to pass, so that is enough for Scudamore and all.
Pompey have been allowed to have their embargo lifted even though we cannot afford to pay the staff, it would never happen in another walk of life, so why football?
If you can't afford a house, you can't buy it, why football, if you want to be able to buy a new car, you have to own fully the one you are selling, so why not football?
The reality has gone now, and only drastic changes from the top level can change it, no club should be allowed a debt more than 2 or 3 times than their income, then if it goes pear shaped when you benefactor or bank pulls out, the fallout isn't as far reaching.
No player should be allowed to be sold without the fee paying off a previous club, how a club be allowed to owe another for a player that has departed 18 months ago baffles me.
Football is broken, the rot is spreading fast, unless there is action it may change as we know it, a level playing field it is not, the rewards of top flight football are too great in the short term, Champion's league qualification means far too much income to allow parity at a domestic level, players need to work for their livelihood once more, the multi-millionaires should be in the director's and executive boxes, not on the pitch.
Read this, feel free to rip my analogies and rantings to bits, I am not a journalist, I am a fan who is sick of the game I love.
Date:Saturday January 30 2010
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