Footballers vs Bankers: Fight!

Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt has drawn attention to the problems faced by EFL clubs by highlighting the unsustainable largesse of finances in the Premier League.

Unfortunately, this is not a situation that is exclusive to football.  The vast division that exists between the top teams in the Premier League and many of the smaller clubs, that habitually play their football in the lower professional leagues, is a mirror to the wealth divide, which exists in the country as a whole.

Since Brian Clough first signed Trevor Francis for Nottingham Forest in 1979, making him the world’s first million pound footballer, football’s top flight has become irrevocably linked with big money.  It is perhaps no coincidence that 1979 also saw the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister and, under her Conservative government, a relaxation of banking regulations, which established the conditions that eventually led to the Financial Crisis of  2007-8.

During this period of economic upheaval in the late Noughties, bankers were universally reviled for their apparent greed and irresponsibility: it is a lesson for the Premier League’s top earners to heed.

Of course, there is also another side to this argument.  In the same way that it can be argued that the top 5% of earners in this country pay roughly 50% of all income tax and as such make a massive contribution to the government purse, so it can be said that it is chiefly the Premier League, which represents UK football’s primary earner, particularly when it comes to overseas revenues.

So, will the situation change?  Will the Premier League make its own decisions of self-governance in order to create a league structure which is more sustainable?  Probably not.  But that is not how these things work.  More often than not it requires a crisis to force a change in such circumstances.

And that crisis is already here.  In the form of the Chinese Super League and the mega-bucks that Chinese teams are able to offer in terms of payments to players, agents and sponsorships.  The Premier League will not change; China will eat it first.

© Donnie Blake


Football writer, Donnie Blake, takes a big boot at big money.

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