Time to forget Financial Fair Play!
Reading today that Spurs are one of four top Premiership sides urging the Premier League to fully implement UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules, I have to question whether it will ever work.
I have always believed that there are only three types of owner of a large football club, and they are the profiteer, the egotist or the naive. That might well be a little harsh, but if I am wrong, tell me who is solely in it for the right reasons or would happily reinvest any profits back into the club? The likes of the late Jack Walker are as rare as rocking horse manure, and though some owners run clubs very well, there are major benefits for doing that. Not so long ago, Villa fans were heralding Randy Lerner as the best owner in the Premier league and I don't think they share those feelings anymore.
Daniel Levy has done a great job in developing Tottenham, but for all of his no doubt honest endeavour, we all know that he stands to make a lot of money some day, but he seems to be getting the balance between building and not being rash with the cheque book just about right, but aside from the Chelsea's Man City's and similarly blessed clubs, we are one of the lucky ones to at least appear healthy, if not the most wealthy.
Financial fair play is a very lord-able principle and I am a fan of forcing clubs to only spend what they earn and that one way or another clubs that live beyond their means deserve to be punished. In the long term it is the fans that suffer, even if an owner ends up losing his shirt. Football is a business and like any other, if you play with fire, you have to expect to get burned. Fans live and breathe a football club and any self respecting supporter should feel for the suffering of the likes of Portsmouth fans, as one day you never know, it could be your club.
In reality there has never been a fair and level playing field in the game. How can there ever be when a club like Man United have a massive fan base and an average home attendance of over seventy-five thousand and last season eight of their fellow Prem clubs attracted around a third of that number or even less. Sure wages and other finances are off the scale when compared with the smaller fish, but when even United complain about the likes of Chelsea and City's spending, we know we have a problem.
Perhaps in forcing clubs to balance the books and only spend what they earn, is a recipe to encourage cheating of varying sorts. Allowing sponsorship of training wear or training grounds is a loop-hole around the rules, but we all know it is just one form of 'Bending' those rules to allow for continued spending or at least a way to get around the restrictions. re we better to simply to accept that there will always been clubs/owners that will do whatever it takes to spend what they want but look at things to purely safeguard the clubs short and long term futures.
Now I'm certainly not an accountant. I just have to look at my own spending to realise I am useless with money, but perhaps we should allow clubs to spend what they want to, but force then as owners to personally guarantee the transfer fee, but also the players wages over the life of his contract. Based on that it puts the onus squarely on the owner, who may or may not be happy to take that gamble. Of course half a billion may not be the end of the world for some, but for those who are in it purely for the quick profit, they may think more carefully about acting as a guarantor for a players contract that might cost him 30 million over five years.
Add to this a method that all clubs must break even and have all losses covered at the end of a financial period and in any questionable ownerships or even in the case of any new takeover, there much be a bond given as security to cover expenditure and this would be monitored regularly. Perhaps we could take things one step further for the good of the game as a whole. could there be a small percentage charged for all purchases, which could be put into grass roots development of the game? It isn't uncommon for every window to have around £300m spent. What could the game do with an addition £6m a year to develop the game. Perhaps initially we could be really bold and ask for 2 or 3%. How many 3/4G pitches would that add to communities?
Maybe much of what I am writing is unworkable or just plain dumb, but in an age where the governing bodies are trying to balance the books, but in the knowledge that clubs and owners are finding ingenious ways to get round the rules, we should perhaps attack things from a different angle and at least benefit the game as a whole, whilst looking at ways to secure the clubs at the same time. After all, we can never truly find a level playing field, so lets accept that, and look at other more proactive options, just for once...