As the premier league gains momentum, talks of the January transfer window seem set to begin, managers are given their budgets to spend on players that may be interested in joining new or in some cases leaving their respected clubs. Many teams splash their cash on potential youngsters and current world superstars. But once we put it into perspective, the amount of money spent by Premier League clubs and many others around the world has blown out of proportion, spiralled out of control and has been caught in a vicious circle that can no longer be escaped.
In the summer (2015), Premier League clubs spent a record £870million on players alone. This record breaking summer saw global superstars flock to big clubs, some for sky-high prices that seem unjustified. The transfer of Kevin de Bruyne cost Manchester City £55M alone to lure him away from Wolfsburg. So the question we must ask is why FIFA, and the FA allow such absurd deals to occur. The answer lies in many things and one of those is sponsorships.
Whether it’s sponsorships for individual players, entire teams or simply down to the jerseys players wear on the pitch, the money in sponsors is so huge that spending £100million on one for a team like Liverpool is simply pocket money for them. Fans who spend money on their team’s jersey are not only supporting their team but are also helping to advertise the company on the front of the shirt. In most cases, the sponsor’s name is far bigger than the club’s name on the jersey, in fact many young fans identify ‘authentic’ club shirts by the correct sponsor’s name even more than the team itself. But what the sponsor’s name does best is advertise the company when the players take to the pitch. The millions of fans who watched the 2015 Champion’s League final between Barcelona and Juventus spent over 90 minutes staring at ‘Qatar Airways’ and ’Jeep’. In 2014, Barcelona earned almost as much from merchandising as from ticket money. Their teams could play in an empty stadium and still make millions of pounds worth of profit.
Barcelona FC, one of the world’s finest clubs has historically bypassed the opportunity of putting corporate sponsors on their shirts. Barcelona has in fact taken a higher road in the past by donating the front of their shirts to UNICEF, in a deal that paid the UN’s charity over £100million annually. In 2013, Barcelona donated the front of the jersey to Qatar Foundation, another charitable foundation that gives its time to improving education, science and research. Although both charitable organisations, Barca received £232million over the course of two years from the Qatar Foundation. Barcelona could have taken higher moral ground by taking advantage the money that was potentially at stake. However, in today’s game, with clubs trying to make as much money as possible, moral standing doesn’t compete against the gravity of the almighty euro. Today, Barcelona appear to be running in parallel with most other top flight clubs by migrating to a large multi-national in the form of Qatar Airways. Although I have only scraped the surface of money through sponsorships, one can’t forget the importance these days of having a rich owner that essentially funds the majority of the club.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is reportedly worth £13.7billion, a man with such wealth that buying Chelsea seemed like nothing more than a past time to keep him occupied while he looks through the latest yacht catalogue. His extreme wealth saw him buy players for Chelsea that other clubs could only dream of. Just major flop Fernando Torres alone cost the Russian over £50million. This kind of behaviour of owners is not rare amongst Premier League clubs. Rich owners buying the club and funding it with tens of millions of pounds to spend on players is becoming ever more frequent. Not long ago, Manchester City were only a decent side that hardly ever got into the top 4. Now, with thanks to new Arab owners, the club has gained Champion’s League spots almost every year since, and have won the Premier League twice in the last four seasons and could be set to potentially finish as champions this coming May. This bankruptcy in my opinion ruins the game and exploits the fact that in today’s world of football, only the richest teams can to do the best. And as the richer clubs become richer, the poorer clubs seem to be becoming even poorer, and it becomes ever easier to predict the teams to finish in the top 5 at the end of the season.
While money does play quite a large role in today’s football, in the end, the game itself is still at the forefront of the sport. Many of the teams could very well play to an empty stadium and still make money, there is indeed a reason why football is so profitable. Money may be the god to footballs religion, but it’s the fans who are the followers and if there’s isn’t any faith in the game, then there is no money to be made. So all in all, it’s the game itself that really matters.
This was written by our guest of the week: J.Stack (twitter: @Footy_Poll)