There are few sports left where rampant commercialism and profit making is not the driving force at the top level.
Sport, over the last 30 years, has been sucked into the orbit of the global makers of profit, and its image as an innocent, healthy competitive pastime, combining strength, skill and artistry with fairness and teamwork at its heart, has taken a serious knock.
Take Premier League football in
The total wages bill for the clubs came to £1.4bn accounting for nearly 70% of their income. The combined debts of the clubs is a staggering £2.5bn. This fantasy world of finance in the Premiership is further distorted by the huge sums (over £2bn) “loaned” to the clubs by the billionaires, oligarchs and sheiks that now own many of them.
Hardly any of this money has gone into anything tangible for the fans, who are traditionally the bedrock of the game. The stadiums were already built (with the help of public money in some cases) when the billionaires arrived on the scene. Their money has simply been swallowed up by the spiralling wage bills of the players and the fabulous transfer fees for the top players and their agents.
The Premiership exists in a free-floating capitalist bubble that sucks many of the best players from
The three biggest spenders in England, Manchester City (with oil money via Sheikh Mansour), Chelsea (with funds from property dealing in the former Soviet Union) and Manchester United (which are able to spend because of their size, despite debts of £600m and despite the owners, the Glazer family from the US, actually taking money out of the club) are able to dominate the market and attract the best players.
Other clubs, in
Financial Fair Play rules drawn up by Europe’s governing body UEFA are an attempt to force clubs to spend within their means and to stop the new owners, particularly in
But these new regulations are unlikely to impose the necessary sanity on what is, after all, a capitalist market-place in which “global brands” control most of the business. There are many anomalies and loop-holes in the rules
It may be some time before new clubs such as Wimbledon AFC, United FC of
These clubs do not pay dividends as there are no shareholders, and are not run for profit. The unsustainable debt-ridden, market-driven football clubs in the Premiership, many of them the playthings of the super-rich like