John Williams, from the University of Leicester Department of Sociology,  took part in a debate at the French Institute in London.

The conference asked: “At a time when the billionaires of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Russia are treating themselves to some of Europe’s biggest clubs, should football still be viewed as a fully fledged Olympic sport? Is it even a sport at all, or just another business? And has the beautiful game been tainted by this influx of money?”

Williams, who will be returning to the French Institute in April to talk about hooligans in sport, argued that despite its obvious strengths, the British game faced some deep-seated, consequential and debilitating problems – ones rooted in failings in the funding and maintenance of the economic infrastructure of the domestic game itself.

There are a number of key indicators on the scale of the problem, said Williams:

• Since the satellite TV-funded Premier League club breakaway in 1992, on an unprecedented 54 occasions have football clubs in England and Wales been declared effectively bankrupt and placed into administration. In Italy, Spain and elsewhere there are tales of economic problems, but perhaps not on this scale.

• Significantly, the recent impetus for applying potentially fatal pressure on financially failing UK football clubs has come, increasingly, from public as well as private sources. Since 2009 alone the UK tax authorities HMRC have issued 26 winding up petitions against a selection of Football League and one Premier League club. Football clubs seem no longer to be protected from economic realism because of their identities as important ‘community’ assets.

• The financial gap between the Premier League and the Football League has induced middle-range clubs into excessive, short term risk taking – sometimes to near disastrous effect.

Also, according to PFA figures, in 1992 average basic weekly earnings of players in the English top flight were £1,482, compared to £320 a week in the lowest professional tier. By 2009/10 average basic top football wages in England had increased some 15-fold to £22,353: but lower-end wages had only just more than doubled, to a very moderate £747.  Most professional footballers today actually still have more in common – economically and probably culturally too – with skilled manual workers than they do with the huge endorsements, sponsorships and global football celebrities featured on the magazine circuits.

At the top end of the sport in England today, local millionaires and family supporters are gradually being replaced by global multi-millionaires or even billionaires in the boardrooms.  These include heads of state, global capitalists, or faceless corporate investors who hope for a return – psychic or material – on their investments in English football.

“Living, as we do, in what criminologists call the ‘now society’ in which gratification is seldom knowingly deferred, both ‘jam-today’, success-hungry fans and the game’s official guardians, seemingly, must take offers of external benevolence and commitment largely on trust. In straightened times, who can afford to look a deregulated gift horse in the mouth? ” said Williams.

Williams argues that most football supporters in England today display a remarkably resilient and realist acceptance of the game’s new commercial traits: while managing, at the same time, to hold on to their own affective, non-market understanding of their identities as committed sports fans.

At many smaller English football clubs, new patterns of involvement of supporters in running, or even owning, clubs, in the shape of government-backed Supporter Trusts, has produced a potentially progressive new dynamic, with a focus on local community input as an alternative to the conventional commercial football model.

Finally, William argued that there may yet be glimmers of regulatory hope beyond British shores. UEFA’s proposed new licensing regime aimed at producing ‘financial fair play’ by limiting the spending and debt of top European clubs, offers perhaps the most viable prospect of a much needed trans-national form of future ethical football governance, one aimed against financial exploitation and recklessness.

He concludes: “But this also raises the crucial question: can UEFA really afford to eject its star television names from its elite competitions for alleged financial excesses? After all, which football supporter does not what to see his or her club pay out the largest transfer for the best player and hang the wages – and the future? We wait, as they say, to be amazed.”

64 comments
Steve Wales
Steve Wales

I used to be proud to be a supporter of NUFC even through all the dark years but now I'm embarrassed to be a supporter,we are a joke of a Club

David Baty
David Baty

Mate you have to have a buyer for that n there isn't

Paul Nicholson
Paul Nicholson

And also to say supporters don't get a say look at Germany football clubs owned by fans that's the future

David Baty
David Baty

Mate when you pick a club to support you don't get a say if there successful unsuccessful rich poor, premier league or conference, whether they sign good players bad players, have a good owner bad owner , your job as a fan is to support the team on the pitch even if there shite, am sick of fans thinking they deserve something just because they support the club, if fans should of been more careful with club they picked to support of they wanted success because Nufc history isnt dazzling with cups n building title winning teams, when I started supporting the team history told me we won't win much If anything at all n we will sell our best players n so it's proved to be that way

2someitsonlyagame
2someitsonlyagame

Why do i keep getting this sudden urge to hit my head against the nearest brick wall?

joseph7890
joseph7890

im from newcastle. i dont get to choose.

Paul Nicholson
Paul Nicholson

Ffs mate they have said they would spend every summer and they haven't only what they have sold and what they have brought in has been bang average I'll ask you this are you totally happy with the way the club is been run if ya fair enough get ya self along that's your choice but am not I think he's ripping the soul out so I won't be there and might not be back again this season

David Baty
David Baty

Well it won't attract a buyer which is the only way ashly is leaving, and they've already said there gonna spend In the summer so it's not like the boycott can take credit if that happens, plus it's one game ground will be full again next week for Swansea

Peter Nealon
Peter Nealon

Boycott has to be for rest of the season

Mark Brooker
Mark Brooker

When they give 100 % so will we F*%k off ASHLEY. Fatty may have season ticket money but he hasnt got beer money, programme money and food money.. BOYCOTT NOW

Phil Kennedy
Phil Kennedy

Just remember Ashley - this is all down to your refusal to spend money and putting that idiot Carver in for rest of season. Now we're at risk of the drop, and we WON'T get back first time this time

bill black
bill black

I put to bed your remarks earlier, now you come up with 3 other clubs, who are not owned by Ashley do not have 52000 fans and have not seen there owner make over £3 billion pounds in eight years ALL FOR HIMSELF while he takes the mick out of people who have no pride in themselves and buy his tacky shirts.

David Baty
David Baty

Don't think a boycott is gonna work, it's one game one game he's already got the money for, it won't make any difference

newcastle7
newcastle7

Quite right to.None of the other fans in the relegation battle boycotting.How about a mass demonstration at Burnley.Picket lines at Hull or a walk out at West Brom. No chance of that just Newcastle fans alone yet again.

Champion moaners,Champion boycotters no one in the world can touch you.

Get to the game on Sunday and support the team.

2someitsonlyagame
2someitsonlyagame

@newcastle7 None of those clubs you mentioned are owned by Ashley, somebody else making comments about something they obviously don't understand, Support the CLUB, not just the team.

Sickandtiredstill
Sickandtiredstill

@newcastle7 But Simon, didn't you mention Man City in one of your other posts? How protests put off potential buyers? How did their's work out for them?

How did Liverpool's'?

Didn't you protest against McKeag?

Aren't you the guy who keeps banging on about Ashley's money and how he has 'saved' this Club? Didn't he get the Club relegated?

Nowt but a hypocrite and one who is most obviously devoid of any common sense at all.

Ollie Burtons Grandad
Ollie Burtons Grandad

More shite from the resident Ashley employee and lickspittle Newcastle7. How much are you getting paid to post all this crap?

I see you have a few mates today as well; a slow day selling tat at SD then?

FatMan must be getting worried !

Ashley out!

ilullissat
ilullissat

So already the fans can see that merely the mention of a boycott has them scuttling about so just think what a real boycott could achieve 

foggy
foggy

I would like to ask the players --- WHERE WERE YOU AT THE STADIUM OF LIGHT ?. WHERE WERE YOU AT GOODISON? WHERE WERE YOU AT LEICESTER IN THE CUP? WHERE WERE YOU AT SOUTHAMPTON?

We the FANS TURNED UP BUT YOU LOT DIDN'T BOTHER.


SUPPORT THE BOYCOTT----- ASHLEY OUT!

PeterRobson
PeterRobson

@foggy Well said !!! And that´s what some "fans" can´t or won´t get through their thick skulls !!!

failNUFC76
failNUFC76

@Le_Danny0 I agree… if I was a player I be asking the fans to back the team Tbh the stick Abied got on here last night was terrible

ilullissat
ilullissat

@failNUFC76 @Le_Danny0 Yeh I like the bit "we're living a bad situation" Join the club mate!!On thousands of pounds a week,I don't think so 

mickg
mickg

luckily, Ashley doesn't  normally do PR or even that magic word "communication". 

Therefore the recent attempts by his imported London PR man to try some PR on us have been way off target because they have no idea what makes us tick.

It's all so pathetically obvious that most sensible fans are just laughing at it.

So..........

It's time to stand back, remember our love for our unique people, our city, our culture, our heritage and traditions.

Take a deep breath.

It's time to be proud geordies again, stand up for our club and begin to put an end to the slow death which is being visited upon it by a man who is clearly the wrong person to be owning our club.

Cheers

Mick

Wingpaddock
Wingpaddock

50% of our problems are because of "fans" like gary tomo - refusing to accept where the problems really lie suggesting it is because of the press is laughable. Get behind the new campaign. Ashley out.

Porciestreet
Porciestreet

Mike Ashley, you horrible cowardly fool. Get out of Newcastle United. It would be better if we were skint and in the Championship.

MikeAshleyLies
MikeAshleyLies

@Le_Danny0 Look what an older player like Jonas is saying publicly for a more realistic view of how players feel.

PeterRobson
PeterRobson

Actually, I can understand the players coming out and pleading for our support !!!


Week in, week out we get behind the team in our thousands, at the ground, in the pub, on the sofa, but surely there comes a time when even the most die hard fan says "enough is enough".


Well here´s a plea from me to all those overpaid players who pull on the Black and White shirts that encompass our hopes and dreams: "Give us something worthy of our support, give us something worthy of our years of undying loyalty" !!!


Treat us with respect and not like small children to be appeased with promises of an ice lolly if we clean our room !!


Just the fact that Mr Ashley feels the need to trot out (yet again) players to appeal to our loyalty, is indication that maybe, just maybe, we´re starting to get through to those charged with running OUR club !!


Pull the other one Mr Ashley, it´s got bells on it !!!

Le_Danny0
Le_Danny0

@MikeAshleyLies In either case, we can believe what we want, but stating it as fact is what irks me. Abeid's pic, no, I don't believe...

Le_Danny0
Le_Danny0

@MikeAshleyLies Aarons "special moment" pic? Or do you mean Mehdi? And Jonas is a player who's been hard done by recently.

Porciestreet
Porciestreet

@Le_Danny0 @MikeAshleyLies 

Perhaps they should have thought of that before the gutless performances that are now so common in black and white.