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.”

14 comments
TonnekToon
TonnekToon

Looks like he may be getting the chance to break his brother's longevity record , it must be something to do with the name Ameobi

toon tony
toon tony

Great news. !!!! It'll be more money in the FCB ' s war chest when he goes on his spending spree. !!!

Roberts Grey Pants
Roberts Grey Pants

You make it sound like wanting to get money for him rather than nothing is a bad thing?? What makes that even funnier is the people criticising this are the ones who probably want to see Sammy out of the door anyway.


I actually think he gets a lot of unfair stick and whilst I won't lose much sleep if he goes I think he is certainly worth having as a squad player.


He is contributed more to the club this season than the likes of Cabella for starters.

wor monga
wor monga

So what if money is the reason…they offer him a contract, and it’s up to him if he wants to stay or go…why give him away for nowt?… 


...when he’s already shown he has some good football ability, and is young enough to improve somewhere.

nufcslf
nufcslf

@wor monga You seem to like watching overpaid Cashley arse licking headless chickens. Good for you!!!

Kevin Halliday
Kevin Halliday

Surely he will cost more in wages than we will recoup because we won't play him enough to put him in the shop window.

TimBoddy
TimBoddy

I don't think there is anything massively controversial about giving a relatively young player a couple of extra years, nor do I think it's overly cynical to do that just to ensure that the club gets some form of return from a player they have spent money developing. Just reasonable business sense to me.  If he comes good in his first few games next season, great. If not, sell him on for as close to break even as possible.

JLawls91
JLawls91

Does that principle not go out the window if he signs for a club abroad though?

toonterrier
toonterrier

If he is being offered a deal no matter how poor it is he will snap it up as I cant see any other half decent club will want to take him on. Don't they watch him on the pitch running for ten yards then stopping for a rest. He's not a kid but a twenty three year old who should have proven his worth by now. What will the club say next, He's a late developer and should come good over the next few years. Worse player than Obertan and as much use as his brother. If we keep him it will show us how much ambition the club has. Get shot of him and the other dozen players who aren't up to the job.

Porciestreet
Porciestreet

@toonterrier He will always be needing a breather because he is asthmatic and can only work in short bursts anyway. It's a great shame. He went to school with my Godson and was always a standout player but alas, was never going to go much further than he has . A pity also because he has enormous talent but circustances won't allow him to release it.