Football Business – How The Markets Are Breaking The Beautiful Game
by Tsjalle Van Der Burg
Published by Infinite Ideas
Football is used to warnings about its future. It is particularly adept at ignoring them as well. The natural arrogance which comes with running a successful industry lends itself to the latter, especially when those who perceive themselves as more powerful act in a way that is for your ultimate benefit.
When UEFA brought in its FFP regulations, the likes of Richard Scudamore probably rubbed his hands together with glee. The Premier League’s position as the strongest brand in world football was cemented with the concept of that acronym. Far from ensuring that the English clubs were reined in, Michel Platini ushered in a set of rules that will maintain their financial dominance.
But football is not just about the English and not just about the Premier League, as Tsjalle Van Der Burg, Professor of Economics at the University of Twente discusses in this book. The notion of splitting the chapters into smaller segments works well, stopping the ideas and details becoming lost in a mass of words. It’s a crowded marketplace for literature on football and business so it’s to the Professor’s credit that his prose is so readily understandable and with the numbers involved, whilst staggering, are carefully interpreted as are the implications.
Using history as the basis, football’s journey against a shifting landscape of personal fiefdoms is tracked. From the butchers, the bakers and candlestickmakers, to today’s oligarchs and bankers, the numbers are immense. On the back of a summer where record sums have once more been spent and debt levels rising accordingly, there is merit in curbing the excesses with the notion of a 10% levy being channelled back into society for projects which benefit their communities. They pay precious little in taxes despite being profitable so, for me as well as many others around the world, the idea gets wholehearted backing and endorsements.
Clubs and governing bodies would no doubt react with violent words, proclaiming their own endeavours for charity. It’s not enough when you look at the money involved. The MLS has published its salary list for the coming season. The players are well paid but compared to some of the European game’s highest earnings. Well, lets just put it this way, I calculate that Wayne Rooney earns more in one week than 95% of the US-based players earn in a year. It’s relative of course and compared to the wages of the average man in the street, the sums are still mind-boggling.
If Van Der Burg’s vision of a European Super League takes shape, it is quite a bleak future. The prospect of Arsenal being locked in combat with five other English teams, Dutch, Finnish, Scot opposition makes the Europa League seem quite attractive. At the heart of the theory is how unappealing for everyone but the money men the prospect of that competition is. Mind you, for Arsenal fans, the whole of the book makes desperate reading in how despite the money, economically we are doomed to stagnate on the playing field.
It’s a book that will provoke argument as it should, economics in particular does so. Put ten economists in a room, they won’t agree but will come up with twenty alternative theories. Add football into the mix..
You can buy Football Business: How Markets are Breaking the Beautiful Game here.