I have no respect for Manchester City and even less for Chelsea – their achievements being bought and paid for by foreign billionaires, transforming them from a pair of also-rans to Premiership superpowers.
This really came home to me a couple of years ago in two contrasting events. The first was during the closed season a couple of years ago. Chelsea were having one of their regular managerless moments (by the way, they do say that within 15 years everyone will be standing no more than 300 yards from a former Chelsea manager), yet, despite having no one at the helm Chelsea mounted a #40 million bid for Luca Modric . Clearly it was Roman Abramovich himself who had decided to buy him. What a rich man’s plaything Chelsea is.
The next event happened in the ensuring season during the Man City match at WHL. Whilst City’s bunch of overpriced mercenaries were turning us over, their fans forsook their only song (‘Blue Moon’) in favour of the repeated chanting of Sheikh Mansour’s name. In over 50 years of supporting Tottenham, I have never heard an owner’s name chanted. Clearly their fans recognised where their win was coming from. Never mind the players, let’s thank the money! I watched all their fans’ wild celebrations and regarded their win as hollow and meaningless. For all the money the Club had spent, they should be much better than us. (Although I have to admit it did make our 3-1 against them last season all the more pleasurable).
So now the Premiership is sharply divided between the haves and have-nots – with the rich clubs cherry-picking the talent from around the world and the other teams left to fight for the leftovers. The platinum chequebooks wielded by billionaire foreign investors has pushed player prices and wages into the stratosphere – making even average players unaffordable to those team without a Sugar Daddy. No wonder Daniel Levy hesitates over risking big money on players who are unproven in tough competitive leagues.
I know I sound like one of those wingeing old farts who sit behind you and rambles on and on about how the game used to be, but I find the whole situation immensely sad. The playing field is no longer level and it’s football that is the sufferer. Winning is everything and entertainment is a bonus if you’re lucky.
A friend of mine Colin Shindler, a lifelong Skyblues fan and a terrific writer, wrote a best selling book about his beloved City titled ‘Manchester United Ruined My Life’. He is deeply saddened by how his Club has sold out. His follow up book is called ‘Manchester City Ruined My Life’.
I once ‘phoned into TalkSport radio to air to talk about this subject and Stan Collymore said “If Roman Abramovitch took all his money out of Chelsea and put it into Spurs, would that make you happy?” My reply was that I thought it tragic that we should even have to talk in those terms – that if you haven’t got a big old wad of foreign investment, you can’t play in the same back yard as the rich kids.
So here is my question to you: If some billionaire did indeed buy Spurs and gave the manager an open chequebook, would that make you thrilled or would you feel it would belittle any resulting achievements ? Does having the respect of the footballing world count for anything these days? I’d be interested to hear where you stand.
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