I have been a Tottenham fan for 27 years. One of my first Spurs memories was of Paul Gascoigne almost single handedly dragging us to the FA Cup final in 1991. The mercurial midfielder scored in every round on the way to the final. It was my first year following football and thus my first taste of glory and I was hooked.
Fast forward 27 years and as I write this it’s safest to say that I am for the first time starting to become quite disillusioned with the so called ‘beautiful game’, my thoughts further compounded by Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola claims that mega rich City don’t have the money to pay 22 of the best footballers. It beggars belief.
In 18 months Pep has spent over £300m on transfers, and looks set to spend at least another £60m on Athletic Bilbao’s Aymeric Laporte. City’s Kevin De Bruyne signed a new £280k a week deal just last week.
We go across Manchester to United and they of course signed Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean signing a deal worth allegedly £400k plus a week with a further £20m signing on fee added and £15m “fee” for his agent. The deal will end up costing United north of £150m.
“These are numbers we know what’s your point”:I hear you say.
I do however think now more than ever fans have a big part to play in the future of the game but right now we are also a huge part of the problem. You know, each to their own and that, if you wanna go, continue to shell out thousands a year, or pay the astronomical Sky bills then that is of course up to you, but if we continue to feed the greed it will never change it will just get worse. Hartlepool United are a matter of weeks away from ceasing to exist.
A club that has history, that has been around for 110 years. Yes they might not have dined at the top table or won all around but they are still one of the oldest clubs in England and have a loyal fan base but are just a matter of weeks disappearing into the abyss because of a sum of money that is the average cost of what most Premier League jerseys would set back just 3,333 loyal jersey buying Premier League fans .It is so very very wrong. I don’t actually blame the players with regards salaries, If someone is gonna pay you 400, 4000 or even 400,000 a week then we’d all take it,the big numbers especially if we’ve got to stop working in our late thirties.
The money issue is further compounded by the media attitude to it. Henry Winter of The Times called the Sanchez deal a “good deal”, Ex United defender and Sky pundit Gary Neville tweeted:
“On the Sanchez deal ‘people’ should know that the wages are not important. It’s the cost of the overall package.”
It’s this flippant attitude that is greatly contributing the problem and for me it is hugely irresponsible.To say that £400k a week is “not important” is just wrong.Yes in the grand scheme of the money in today’s football world & United, which is a multi-billion pound machine, it probably isn’t but in reality it is and with respect to Neville he is talking out of his rear end to dismiss it like that.
But when will it all end and who will get affected. At some stage I firmly believe there will be a “Celtic Tiger” affect, the money being spent in the game is so reminiscent of that period of growth here in Ireland where the country spent fortunes it didn’t really have for about 7 years from the mid 90’s and the backside fell out of it in 2002 and mercilessly crashed and we are still feeling the affects of it.It won’t happen now in football but it won’t be long before a massive club will go to the wall.Newcastle perhaps, Aston Villa, Leeds, historic clubs part of the fabric of English football history will sink without a trace. What then? Will the money not matter then?
I’ve said many times I think Football is going beyond the reach of fans that got it to where it is today, we continue to feed it it’ll continue to grow further beyond our reach, it’s no longer a working man’s game, yes because Sky and the like have contributed to it going that way, but ultimately the buck stops with fans. Those of us who buy our season tickets or overpriced match day tickets, who buy the three jerseys every year, who buy the burgers, the warm flat plastic cups of cat wee that’s meant to resemble beer, the scarves, that fawn over a Colombian or Spaniard or a who probably wouldn’t know the difference between Jimmy Greaves and Jimmy Tarbuck, we get nothing in return for our undivided loyalty nowadays, Absolutely nothing bar a big fat hole in our bank accounts.
I firmly believe International football in its current guise will soon be a thing of the past, the bigger teams of the Premier League will just want more cash and I can imagine you’ll have something like the North London Derby taking place in Dubai or the Manchester derby in Hong Kong, it’ll be on pay per view or on Amazon and the fans that spent the entirety of their lives being loyal to the club will be dumped all in the pursuit of cash, with that wealth all being started by those that the game has left behind.
A Football club was the life blood of a lot of communities, it identified with those around it, with the people’s values, hopes and dreams, it was part of who you are. I’m Tottenham till I die, I’m United till I die, I’m City till I die, sadly money is killing the game stone dead and football clubs will die before we do.
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