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Promised Land?

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.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: paultsmouth Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday January 30 2010

Time: 8:03PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Similar vein to Rug's I know, I've been building to this for a while, I know a lot won't agree with it, but its an honest and frank admission of my feelings right now
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30/01/2010 20:09:00

I agree with most of this, Paul. I can't claim to be the most fervent Pompey supporter, but coming from Fratton it has always been there for me. Back in the Deacon days, we nearly lost the club, but that seems so straightforward by comparison. I think you're right to point the finger at the agents/accountants/lawyers who live of the back of a footballers skills. It would be nice to have a wage cap, but I suspect the parasites would find a way around that. My passion has certainly waxed and waned because of the PL. Our greatest day was in a FA competition, rather than PL.
Report Abuse
30/01/2010 20:26:00

The short career bull gets my goat! Look at nurse for example, 25,000 a year average over a 40 year career earns a princely Million Quid. A top top footballer earns that career total in just 4 months! You are right to declare football money obscene at the top level.
Report Abuse
30/01/2010 20:38:00

Also agree with the bit about paying off oustanding debt when you sell a player. You buy a car on HP and then choose to sell the car, you dont even get to see the money, the oustanding hp is paid off directly without even giving it you to pass on.
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30/01/2010 20:43:00

Your analogies are great Paul - the best way to express things clearly. I know I sound like a Marxist and I'm not but the point is that football, like everything else, is now predicated on the profit motive and anything goes. The corruption behind the premier league is so rife and so grown into the system it's like bindweed and I can't see how to get rid of it without digging the whole bloody lot up and starting again.
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30/01/2010 20:52:00

Nearly every 1st teamer in the Premiership buys a car of at least 200,000 every other year or so. There are 11 x first teamers and 20 teams so by my reckoning 11 x 20 x 250,000 = 55 million. That's got to be close to settling our debts! Maybe we should start a "Donate your car to Pompey" campaign. Footballers always talk about "giving something back" after all!
Report Abuse
30/01/2010 20:53:00

I meant 250,000 per car! I mean, look at Diouf's motors......... horrendous bling!
Report Abuse
30/01/2010 20:55:00

I just think it is criminal that an average Premiership player can earn in a week what we would love to earn in a year! They should be well paid, but they hardly run countries do they?
Report Abuse
30/01/2010 20:56:00

Really good read that Paultsmouth, especially for us young uns who don't remeber the happenings of 1992. Pastyman...I've gotta confess, I LOVE Diof's motors. Classy bird me!
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30/01/2010 21:31:00

quality stuff paul, great minds and all that as we have both had similar thoughts with your one written before i added mine but before i had seen it - you have expanded quite rightly on the wages, these have been the real curse of football and in the most recent history due to the 'bosman' ruling this has seen them rocket to unbelievable levels!
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30/01/2010 21:43:00

Paul - really great stuff mate that says it all. It is the wages that are killing the game without any doubt. Nobody knows how to control it and sadly it will take a few club to go out of existence before the ruling bodies even think about acting.
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30/01/2010 23:50:00

You make some good points but i think the rot set in earlier when Cloughie paid a million pounds for a, in my opinion very over rated striker called Trevor Francis. I see the point about not having paid for players that have already left the club, but how can you when nobody pays for a player in full to start off with? Even the mega rich clubs spread payments. Lets say for instance that you sign a player for 10 million and spread the payments over 2 years, You then sell that player for 12 million spread over 2 years, you then have a situation where having sold the player you have to find not only the money to pay off your original deal when you won't recieve enough from his new club to cover the outstanding balance, but also to sign a replacement. Just one rule would make the world of difference at the moment, to sign a player you must pay in full. That surely would bring down Transfer fees. crush the huge percentage related signing on bonuses and help take football back towards the real world.
Steve C
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31/01/2010 06:32:00

sorry i missed a bit out I should've said you then sell the player fo 12 million after 1 year. Or in Pompeys case you probably sell him for 5 million.
Steve C
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31/01/2010 06:35:00

Excellent article Paul. You may have understated the role of the agent though. Greedy whatnames who contribute nothing except to push up the s on the transfer fees and wages - and unsettle players for their own gain as well.
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01/02/2010 10:33:00


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