“The Premier League is so big and powerful and there is so much money around that the clubs try and chase it. Something has to be done so we will support these measures.” – Wigan Chairman Dave Whelan
The phrases “Barclays Premier League” and “financial fair play” are not usually uttered in the same breath—at least, not without a scoffing smirk. And yet, club managers met earlier today in London to discuss reigning in the invisible hand of the football market. They are considering new rules to control escalating player wages, perhaps in anticipation of the deluge of cash expected from television deals in 2013-16 and the increasingly alarming trend of mega-clubs racking up treasuries larger than those of entire nations.
Potential rules presented to the clubs by chief executive Richard Scudamore included measures to cap players’ salaries and penalize clubs for out-of-control spending. Insolvency is a growing threat for many clubs trying to compete in the money-soaked jungle. Just to put things in perspective, the Guardian reported today that “Despite massive commercial growth and the Premier League’s growing popularity abroad, only eight of the 20 clubs made a profit in 2010-11.”
Any rule change requires the support of 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs in order to move forward. Strangely, United and Arsenal are already on board (it was reported that United actually initiated this meeting, perhaps due to the egg they’re laying watching City and Chelsea deficit-spend like ‘80s movie-villain tycoons). Many in the league, including the aforementioned clubs, are calling for football’s governing bodies to force clubs to end each season with balanced books, meaning that they can only spend what they take in.
Others, though, are not so sure. City is likely to oppose the measure for obvious reasons. In addition, Fulham, Tottenham, and Everton are among those questioning the proposed regulations in the Prem. I’m honestly not sure why they would oppose measures that would help level the playing field (get it?), but maybe they want their own pieces of the pie, or maybe they just can’t bring themselves to agree with United, even if it’s a reasonable proposal.
Of course, none of these views really matter because the only opinion that counts is that of Sith Lord José Mourinho, who commented on UEFA’s regulations by decreeing that “clubs that live exclusively on the funds of their owners won’t find life so easy, because they don’t have the structure of the historic clubs. And that’s why Financial Fair Play will be good for football.”
Well there you have it. Everyone can go home now.