28 August 2009

Football Learns from Politics

As a Manchester City supporter and somebody who has always been disdainful of Michel Platini's apparent one man crusade against English football, it won't be too much of a surprise to learn that I'm not exactly keen on Platini's latest proposal to restrict club spending. Out of the confused incoherent mess of suggestions and issues (essentially, we need to cut the amount of debt in the game, but it's not the clubs with the debt that are the major concern, it's the ones with no debt), one statement from Platini stood out like a steaming pile of manure:

"It's mainly the owners that asked us to do something - Roman Abramovich, (AC Milan's) Silvio Berlusconi, (Inter Milan's) Massimo Moratti. They do not want to fork out from their pockets any more."

So, a group of men who used their wealth to fund successful football clubs want to close ranks and pull up the ladder now they see somebody threatening to out-do them at their own game - that's nothing but a cartel attempting to block competition. The fact that Platini is more than happy to act as a vehicle for this arrangement, well, I can think of no other way of describing it than Mandelson-esque.

It's one of the worst features of politics transferred to football - a special interest group colluding with a power broker in order to skew the rules in their favour. I don't know whether the comparative shameless openness about the situation in football makes it better or worse.

As a supporter, I'm fairly confident that anything Platini comes up with will be effectively useless. Any focus on club debt is going to impact on clubs such as Real Madrid most heavily and I'm fairly confident that he doesn't want that, given his apparent preference for defending the status quo and reserving his ire for the English game. That then leaves absolute spending limits (again, unlikely for the same reason) and limits on spending as a proportion of revenue, which could be circumvented very easily by owners putting money in through stadium naming rights purchases or executive box auctions.

I look forward to this plan falling flat on its face.

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