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Own Goals

Singer and song writer, Roy Harper sent Vital Manchester City the following.

I think UEFA's proposed investigation into whether City's Stadium naming deal with Etihad contravenes the new financial fair play rules is a non-starter. Every time I think about it, another hole appears in it. It's like a sieve. Of course, UEFA will now have to bluster, and make noises to try to contain the sniffling and carping of such great philosophers as the eminent Karl-Heinz Rumminigger.

To start with, 'value' is nearly always subjective. For instance, how much would my mother's heart be worth, to me? Unless UEFA have a watertight case in law, which I doubt, and which will have to be based on business precedent, or at least existing law, then they will surely have to stump up the cash to fight Abu Dhabi. That should be good, UEFA v Abu Dhabi, to the death in the European Court, and if necessary, on to the Court Of Human Rights and beyond. It'll never happen.

I'm not in favour of 'financial doping', as Arsene Wenger calls it, but neither can you reverse a hundred years of history. Football had been a business for decades before City were forced to sell Billy Meredith, the most famous footballer of his day in 1907, to United, over an alleged match fixing incident. There was big money in football in 1907. The fact that it hadn't yet filtered down to the players is irrelevant to this article. That was just a matter of time. This was 47 years before UEFA was formed...

The clubs with the most financial muscle could break away from UEFA, and FIFA, and set up their own international league. There are a few precedents for this, i.e., Kerry Packer's breakaway cricket league, which eventually forced international cricket federations to reward international cricketers more sufficiently. But none of us want to form new football federations. The way forward is inclusive, not exclusive.

And that's the point. What we want is for everyone to have a chance at the big time. Whether that's because of a rich uncle or the emergence of a great team who want, and have the will, to play together. Admittedly, it's going to be extremely difficult in 2011 for any team to be so gifted, so self-willed and at the same time so intelligent that they will be able to progress solely under their own steam to the top of the tree. In fact, that would be a remarkable if not altruistic freak of nature.

Seemingly super rich uncles are a social phenomenon of early 21st Century football. Some of them really are rich, but many are just fronts for other activities. Crawley Town springs to mind, and perhaps should be the subject of another UEFA 'probe', but perhaps casting too many aspersions is futile. After all, fingers were meant to point in every direction.

Having said all that, the present system does provide that, by luck, fate, hard work or however you care to name it, the chance does still exist to join the elite. UEFA would scrap this.. and make it so that Leeds United could never again hope to get to where they were in 2003. That clubs in cities with populations of less than 100,000, like Burnley, Luton and yes, Blackburn, were forever doomed to being unable to compete at the highest level.

This means that the capital cities and great metropolitan centres of Europe will forever be the only competitors in the Champions League. In other words, if you don't have the critical population to fill a 60,000 seat arena every 2 weeks, you won`t make it; plus.. any new money coming into the game will be banned. Rubbish! Or as they used to say, 'As like as if'. Financial fair play is all well and good, but stopping money from coming into football from new sources is going to be an own goal that not even UEFA is capable of scoring.

As most of us who would like a level playing field would concede, and have been saying for years, what we really need is a draft system similar to US sport, but the spoke in wheel will be getting all the clubs in Europe, and for that matter in the rest of FIFA world, to agree to establish one. Seeing that FIFA always moves at the pace of the slowest, that`ll be at least a decade or three after goal-line technology reaches Papua New Guinea then...




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The journalist

Writer: Roy Harper Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Tuesday July 12 2011

Time: 7:54PM

Your Comments

Good to see a Roy Harper article on here again, it's been too long since the last one. I await with bated breath UEFA's findings on City's sponsorship deal, the likelihood is they will attempt to use precedent to determine 'fair value', the only problem there being there is no precedent for this, so ultimately UEFA have nothing to compare this to.
Bluedub
Great article! My take on matters is that the hierarchy at our club have consulted with UEFA every step of the way with regards to the naming rights deal and have been given the go-ahead with UEFA's explicit blessing. For them to turn around and veto our sponsorship after such close consultation would be neither practical nor legal. I suspect Prattini and his henchmen will filed a large number of calls from disgruntled chairmen of other clubs who either cannot negotiate something similar (Henry, Gill) due to the "History" associated with their grounds, or the poor deals they've already arrived at such as the $4m per annum collected by Arsenal for the rights to the Emirates. Ultimately UEFA will have to stage some kind of show trial to appease our jelaous rivals, but unless it turns into some kind of kangaroo court we should be more than safe.
fifthcolumnblue
Its obvious to me that over the odds are being paid to get more cash in to the club etc etc, but no one can do anything about it so whats the point. Money is slowly ruining football with extortionate wages paid, ticket prices etc. The cheapest season ticket at Arsenal is 1k, pricing the working class out of the sport they love.
paul_ownz
It's funny that Arsenal are the fifth highest revenue earners in world football (partially by pricing their own supporters out of watching the games), yet Mr Magoo seems pathologically unable to spend any of his own club's money, whilst living up to his voyeur tag (courtesy J Mourinho) by repeatedly sticking his nostrils into the affairs of Manchester City in particular. I find the whole situation rather Gauling (see what I did there?)
fifthcolumnblue
Paul - no figures have been released on this deal so how is overpaying obvious?
Bluedub
It depends on exactly who you believe, but 400 million is a number that is being thrown around for a 10 year deal. If that is or around the figure then it seems huge compared to any other similar deals including the renaming of Big US stadiums.
paul_ownz
I've heard differing figures but the 400 mil is the one everyone in the press seem to be taking as gospel. The thing is it's not just a stadium naming rights deal, it involves an improved shirt sponsor deal as well as sponsorship of the proposed campus being built around the stadium.
Bluedub
The whole deal is worth 400m over ten years. But the press don't let facts gets in the way of riling up the public, we all know that.
PhillyBlueMoon
 

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