The changing face of football and money
It’s been said that footballers these days are more interested in money than the fans, their clubs or the game itself and that it’s all about the Benjamins now rather than the beautiful game. But how true is this and if it’s true, why have we allowed football to change? This piece will look at this phenomenon and give you some reasons why football and money don’t mix so well any more.
Perhaps it’s telling that, amid all of its financial problems in recent years, FIFA hasn’t awarded a men’s World Cup to North America. But if you think that U.S. Soccer is just waiting for FIFA to put out its hand, think again. The United States will never lose sight of what it takes to get where no nation has gone before—and it won’t sacrifice long-term success for short-term gain by handing over millions to hosts who show up with a checkbook and then play like they did in Qatar two years ago . . . or three decades ago in Colombia. In fact, when you consider how much money is at stake (nearly $8 billion between 2011–2022), U.S.
Players own their teams
Players, like David Beckham, have started to buy their own teams. This is a strong indication that football players see themselves as entrepreneurs and want to take more ownership in what they do. The future for soccer is clear: a world in which players control their careers, not just how they play it. And if that’s not big enough news, allow me to quote Michael Jordan on why soccer will soon become America’s number one sport: I know I can sell ice cream with my name on it at any time, he said; right now is when I want to start selling furniture. That should tell you everything you need to know about our nation’s new favorite pastime.
Why should clubs be in debt?
Clubs in debt are now common place. It is almost accepted that for a club to compete at the top level, it needs to be heavily in debt. This has lead to some very strange situations where clubs with smaller fan bases can out bid those with larger ones. Clubs with no history in a particular competition can become Champions League regulars before those who have been around for decades.
The cost of modern stadiums
No one is saying that building a new stadium is easy. Often cities must raise local taxes to fund it, which can be an arduous process, especially since there are other needs for tax dollars (hello, local schools). It’s also expensive to build these parks — just look at Minnesota United FC’s new home in St. Paul . When it opens next year, their $200 million Allianz Field will be the most ambitious soccer-specific stadium project in Major League Soccer history. Costing twice as much as Target Field (home of baseball’s Minnesota Twins), construction on Allianz Field has delayed MNUFC’s arrival to MLS by two years. The costs don’t stop there.
Real Madrid’s transfer-fee record was broken twice in one week. Barcelona broke its own record by paying Liverpool $145 million for Brazil’s Philippe Coutinho. Earlier in January, Paris Saint-Germain set a new high with its $166 million purchase of France forward Neymar from Barcelona. UEFA has started an investigation into PSG’s deal for possible violations of financial fair play rules designed to keep teams from spending more than they earn. But some big clubs are getting around such rules by leveraging non-football revenue streams—which could make it harder for smaller clubs to compete on equal footing with their richer rivals in Europe or elsewhere. The small revenue pool will likely widen even further as other leagues reach broadcast deals that dwarf those made by English clubs so far.
Financial fair play rules are tough but necessary
As fans we like to think our clubs are run with a ‘can do’ attitude, but in reality modern football is a business. Every action has consequences; every penny spent needs to be accounted for. Football is at its best when there’s a great deal of competition between teams, but if everyone starts spending irresponsibly then that competitive edge becomes harder to maintain. By enforcing financial regulations on clubs, Uefa are helping to ensure football remains competitive by preventing clubs from overspending.