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Monday, October 24, 2005

"Football today, it's like a game of chess. It's all about money."

As some of you may have read, Sepp Blatter of FIFA says there's too much money in football. The players' salaries are too high, says Sepp. Well, how does he propose to get the money out of football?

Pay the players less, and that's just more money for the owners. Besides, in order to enforce a low-salary regime, there'd have to be some sort of collusion between clubs - which would contravene European Union competition directives. Or, if FIFA stepped in with salary caps, the players would probably go on strike. Does Sepp really want to sacrifice an entire season on the altar of salaries? Baseball did in 1994, and it took years to recover its audience.

The real money in football comes from television and merchandising. To take the money out of the game - meaning there's less for clubs to spend on players - you'd have to get rid of these cash cows. But seriously, Sepp, take football off the telly? Tell the Toon Army they can no longer buy a new shirt every year? (Or three, if you remember the chairman...) I don't think so.

What Sepp may really be complaining about, of course, is Mr. Roman Abramovich's immense spending spree at Chelsea. The problem is, it's Roman's money and he can do whatever he wants with it. Perhaps Sepp would like to make a rule that clubs can't spend any more than they borrow or earn in revenue - i.e., no tapping of personal fortunes. But then, it's hard to distinguish between personal money and club money in cases like the Glazer takeover of Manure.

And more importantly, there'd be no great stories like Dave Whelan (cripes - he's got a blog, too) and Wigan. Sepp, do you really think the people of Wigan preferred to see their team playing in the old third division? Oh yes, and don't you think there are rather a lot of neutrals who enjoy watching Chelsea play? They may just like the fact that Manure's dour frowners have been supplanted by a team that seems to enjoy its football.

Finally, Sepp, perhaps you ought to realize that it's a nice thing that a few guys from poor countries can make it big in European (or South American) football. Take the money away, and you wouldn't see as many of them. More often than not, these guys try to use their riches to do something good for their compatriots. Perhaps before this Sepp Blast goes any further, he should have a chat with a certain Mr. Weah.


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