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.”

23 comments
MikeatToonArmyPhila
MikeatToonArmyPhila

Stateside, that would almost ensure empty stands. Ashley really doesn't understand the damage he has done to the brand.

Mark Brooker
Mark Brooker

I'll just wait until next season we'll probably be playing them in the championship.

mrkgw
mrkgw

Just typical.

Fozzyworld
Fozzyworld

@Mike_Ashley_Out. Brilliant move, double whammy. .. Force Season Ticket Holders to renew and reduce the away support in one go. Genious!

wor monga
wor monga

I Love it, Jackie…I really do!…if you think Ashley will sit back and let those who won’t go…don’t go…and never have gone take a lend of him via the internet (the Mag) then it’s about time you got the message…he won’t.


...One way or another those who haven’t renewed (for whatever reason) will get the message that he will use any trick in the book to fill the ground on matchdays…one way or another…by any cheap day deals he can think of, and if he can, hopefully, penalise some who are hoping to coming back, in the process.


...That’s how you make billions of £’s from nothing…and you don’t get that by backing down to any signs of opposition when the ‘natives get restless’.. 

knocky
knocky

Isn't this another way of saying a £5 discount for season ticket holders - seems fair to me. I've committed to pay for a season ticket and as such get  an opportunity to get some tickets cheaper. 

And The Mag should check the facts first before wading in with another anti-newcastle united article

amacdee
amacdee

@knocky Dont get knocky with the Mag. Its people like you, who keep buying ST's, who tell the Fatman he's doing everything OK ! FGS man you'll get a ticket for every home game this season without signing on the dotted line.

knocky
knocky

@amacdee @knocky 7 together? My whole family go, parents, kids and grandkids. We enjoy the day - pub etc, sometimes even the football. I live in hope that we provide our fans with effort and entertainment (as a a bare minimum) and to a some stage get back to competing with the top end of the table (won't hold my breath). But I have mates who are Leeds, York, Plymouth, Rangers fans There's no guarantees in football - we can't all support Man City/Chelsea

philrenner09
philrenner09

This is exactly what Sheff Utd are doing £15 for non season ticket holders and £10 if you are --- they have set the prices, phone Bramall lane and get your facts right. This is a regular thing for Sheff Utd to do for pre season matches

JohnyH
JohnyH

They just don't get it do they.

For a charge that might make them a few quid, they're prepared to p&£@s off the entire supporter community.

He can stick his f@&£&@g tickets right up his f&@£!?g fat a&£e

G Dubz
G Dubz

Dont go- the football is 5hite, the players arent committed, the chairmen is milking us... its not our NUFC anymore and wont be again until he leaves

He will only go if we undermine his brand- the TV money more than offsets the season ticket fall and attendance drop- making Sports Direct look bad is where it hurts him- do that by not going.

foggy
foggy

Just don't F in go, don't buy the shirts, don't buy or renew the season tickets.

Once again its just another slap in the face for the fans from the lying w#nkers who own / run the club, all the while aided and abetted by moncur.


Seventy2
Seventy2

I wonder how long it will take for the Membership price to rise?

Porciestreet
Porciestreet

Didn't you just know the fat 845tard was going to pull strokes like this.  Now's definately the right time to tell him to shove his tickets right into the dark place only his mother would visit.


Wallsendstu
Wallsendstu

Just don't go. I feel sorry for the lad whose testimonial it is as these players know that NUFC supporters travel in their thousands to watch the team. Does the extra £5 go to the guy? I doubt it, so the greedy sods milk off money where ever they can and it makes me sick to my stomach. The fatman and Penfold are just the type to steal from donation boxes as long as they get their grubby paws on another penny, scum. 

maddib
maddib

@Wallsendstu  If the extra fiver per ticket isn't going to Morgan, then surely Ashley is guilty of theft.  It's his testimonial, surely all monies goes to him so he can sort out stewarding/policing costs from the final testimonial amount and then take him/give to charity what is left.

Grrrbby
Grrrbby

There are some absolute morons on here like. This is a non article with yet another dramatic headline that doesn't tell you all the facts. Sheffield set the prices not Newcastle. And even if they did, i'd look at this as a good thing for season ticket holders rather than the other way round. Next ...