Greed is (not) good

Don’t make me angry

If you were looking for an angry rant then you’ve come to the right place. I am in a real ‘fowler’ today. Why? I don’t want to go into it. But it’s a good thing because I’ve become a bit sick and tired of the greed and capitalism that has turned football into a circus act over the last couple of seasons. And it will get worse before it gets better.

How much!!?

The foreign invasion of English shores has happened for one main reason – the inflated transfer market. The foreign assault really began in 1994 when Spurs signed Jurgen Klinsmann. At the time he was one of the biggest stars in the world and the thought that he would sign for a mid-table (albeit fashionable) English league club really opened the eyes of Premiership managers. But players like Klinsmann are the cream of the crop and many of the players who followed him were sub-standard.

Why would managers sign mediocre players? Well what would you choose – a bargain price for a capable player like Samassi Abou or £2.5m for an untried youngster from the lower leagues? Domestic benchmarks have been set over the years (£3.5m for Shearer, £5m for Sutton, £7m for Cole, £8.5m for Collymore, £15m for Shearer). Look at the Dwight Yorke situation. Aston Villa claim that Dwight Yorke is worth £16m when in reality he is worth no more than £7m. The result of these ridiculous prices? Alex Ferguson is forced to go abroad and pick up average players like Jesper Blomqvist, Karel Poborsky and Jordi Cruyff.

Question – how can Kevin Davies be worth ten times what he was 12 months previously?

I know the argument. If a player is under contract then managers can ask what they want and if other clubs are daft enough to pay it then that’s their business. Fair enough but the off-shot of this is damaging. The top international players will not play in the Premiership therefore what’s left is the over-the-hill ex-Internationals and the cast-offs who weren’t good enough for the top European leagues. There are a few exceptions but overall the pattern is clear.

Lack of intelligence

The recent transfer speculation has been intriguing and none more so than the Patrick Kluivert situation. In Holland, Kluivert was a superb player but a lack of self-discipline and control cost him dearly as his off the pitch troubles affected his club form. He moved to AC Milan and flopped miserably in Serie A. This of course was the ideal criteria for a move to the Premiership and several clubs including Arsenal and Manchester United were interested in bringing him to England.

Kluivert spoke of how he would love to join either of the clubs and he was so keen on the move that he demanded that both clubs pay him in excess of £40,000 pounds a week. Neither club wished to break their pay structure and Kluivert had succeed in cutting off his nose to spite his face.

The greed of the modern player is phenomenal. I can understand that it is a short career and you have to make as much money as possible but to refuse your dream move because you are only going to earn £25,000 a week is just plain stupid.

But Kluivert is not the only one. I mean how dumb are the De Boer twins? They are quite happy to sign a 6 year deal with Ajax only to proclaim twelve months later that they will ‘never play for Ajax again’ and that they should be allowed leave the club. On what basis? ‘Erm, because we are Dutch and we think we’re great’. Once again a case of a contract not being worth the paper it’s written on to a player.

Pierre Van Hooijdonk is the latest player to refuse to fulfill his contract saying about his club, Nottingham Forest, that he will ‘never play for them again’. His four year deal is inconsequential to him.

Players like him should be sued to the hilt and banned from playing football again. Would Bobby Moore or Kevin Keegan acted in such a fashion if they had a disagreement with their club? Of course not. They would have settled their differences in private and if they could not be sorted then a dignified stance would be put on matters.

Selfish, egotistical, glory-hunting, arrogant, self-important, over-rated prima-donnas. The sooner we ‘ween’ them out of the domestic game, the better.

But then there is the clubs

The European Super League has been touted for many years. One can remember playing Commodore 64 games like ‘Super League Manager’. They were great fun at the time but the idea in the real world is less enticing.

What would a Super League be like? It would probably be a two-tier 32-strong competition with games being played during the week. It would be played supplementary to domestic leagues.

Would it work? No, I don’t think so. It would result in the dismantling of the Premiership as we know it. Clubs like Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea would be likely to be invited to play in the Super League. The benefits for them would be many-fold – television deals, massive sponsorship and gate receipts from 16 extra home games a year.

But how would Manchester United line out for a Saturday afternoon game against Coventry? Probably something like this: Van Der Gouw, Irwin, Clegg, May, Brown, Butt, Johnsen, Blomvqist, Greening, Sheringham, Nevland. Not very enticing is it? This would result in reduced Premiership attendances, less sponsorship, less money in the game, the loss of all the big name players whose wage demands could not be met and football would return to the level it was at 10 years ago but without its biggest players.

In addition, the Champions League would not exist any longer and all the European competitions outside of the Super League would be played between second-rate clubs which would reduce interest in them considerably. Football would be destroyed by the fragmentation that has made boxing and darts farcical.

If the bigger (richer?) Premiership clubs decide to join for the Super League then I would think the best thing would be to threaten to ban them from all domestic competitions for good. The FA may need the money that these big clubs generate but they can’t be held to ransom by people who think they are bigger than the long-standing traditions in the domestic game. When the current football boom ends (which, by the laws of Economics, it must) we’ll see who has made the right decisions. Football fans are like elephants – they never forget and they would long resent the greed and selfishness shown by certain people in this industry.

And finally…

I’m off to the United States for a well deserved 3 week break next week so it will be a while before my brash opinions grace your monitor again. I realise that it is a big country but I’m really hoping that I bump into Monica Lewinsky while I’m there. Let’s hope she is wearing enough lipstick so I can pick her out of the crowd. So here is a predictable ‘American’ joke for you all. What game is most commonly played in the White House? Swallow the Leader!! Yes, hilarious!

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