Transatlantic Sports Dispatches

Our American-based correspondent, earlier

Our American-based correspondent, earlier

It’s been a big, bad week in the world of sport. Yesterday’s details of drugs and organised crime in Australia sport followed hot on the heels of the accusations of similar misdemeanors across European football (which itself prompted this Ball Control article).

Today, the Premier League announced plans to prevent “another Portsmouth”, by introducing what appear to be a watered down version of Uefa’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

Ball Control’s editor caught up with its United States correspondent to digest this news, and lament the passing of the ‘golden age’ of football.

USC: [Re FFP] I think that a lot of the non-footballing ownership is trying to ensure that the ‘franchisees’ make a certain level of profit, like the NFL. It is a way of putting in a salary cap without the EU stepping in. Jimmy Hill will not be happy with this.

BC Ed: I’m a big fan of FFP and I agree with Wenger about ‘financial doping’. May be an old fashioned view but Germany’s system of fan ownership, reasonable ticket prices and safe standing stadia makes me green with jealousy when I look at the Premier League.

USC: The Prem is the world’s first superleague and it will soon guarantee a profitable return for owners which will ensure that the world’s richest will invest. It will just be interesting to see how fans will react to an owner making 50% profit and not ‘wasting’ it on talent if they are struggling.

The salary cap in the major US sports ensures a delay in action every 4-5 years which is both frustrating and annoying as the players and owners try to divide up the pot.

We may have witnessed football in its golden age e.g. the early 90s.

BC Ed: I think we’re seeing the beginning of a backlash. Fans are increasingly disgruntled with and unsympathetic towards their own teams.

Look at West Brom. Really, they’ve had a great season but people are only interested in the last six games. It’s a mix of ‘old’ fans disenfranchised in the new regime, ‘new’ fans who are fed the diet of instant gratification and the 24 hour media addicted to hyperbole. Non-league attendances are at record levels.

If fans came together and pressurised the Premier League into making changes (along German lines) then we might see some action.  Too much tribalism in football makes the likes of the Football Supporters Federation toothless.

USC: I just want to get back to the days when a team could build a really good core of young players and would have a shot of rising through the divisions and having a shot at the title.

There are examples of how this has (sort of) happened recently, but not like a Derby County or Forest in the 80s / 90s. The best young players are sold for exorbitant amounts before they have had a chance to change a smaller team’s fortunes.

Maybe those days are gone and we are looking at franchise football. Good job we support one of those franchises [Tottenham] I guess.

BC Ed: Long live Swansea. Sustainable business model and have replaced the likes of Joe Allen (£15m to Liverpool) with Michu (£2m from Vallecano). They’ll never win the league, of course, but could/should lift a trophy this season.

FFP won’t solve this problem – arguably it’ll exacerbate it – but the current model certainly won’t either. A sheikh buying an underachieving club like Man City doesn’t count.

If a club is well managed, FFP could give someone like Newcastle a big boost. Huge support but need to tap properly into commercial revenue. I’m just afraid that Arsenal will be interchangeable with Man Utd at the top of the league. Hail to the parasitic owners at the Emirates!

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