For quite a while now, the enormous amounts of money at the top of the game is slowly killing football as we know it. Smaller clubs in the lower leagues have struggled to survive with a large amount of clubs entering administration more than ever, in the past 5 years or so. The Premier League has become so uneven in recent years in two ways.
The first is that it is miles ahead of any other League in England, which didn’t use to be the case before its inception in 1992. Clubs like Nottingham Forrest and Derby in the 1970s had won England’s top Division almost immediately after being promoted, suggesting a much more even playing field back in those days. The same happened with Leeds just before the inception of the Premier League, who were promoted to the top tier, Division One in 1990 and won in just two years later.
The second way is how teams such as Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and to some extent Liverpool have completely dominated the league in the past 15 years or so. It is no coincidence considering they have been far and away the biggest spenders in this time frame.
It is clear then that inadvertently the creation of the Premier League and all the television revenue generated by clubs since then, has made the beautiful game all about money. Underdogs like Coventry and Wimbledon used to perform well above expectations, with both clubs winning the FA Cup in the late 1980s. Wimbledon went from Non-League to FA Cup winners in just 10 years, which would be a distant dream in today’s climate where money can only buy you success.
Since Cristiano Ronaldo went to Real Madrid for a then record of £80 million in 2009, 10 players have moved for over £50 million. Before 2009, Zidane was the record transfer at £46 million. This proves how much money has influenced the game more than ever, in the past 5 years.
Financial fair play (FFP) has since been brought in just a couple of years ago. The plan here was to see a more even playing field among clubs, to prevent clubs spending more than they earn otherwise face penalties. Man City have already failed this last season and were hit with small penalties by their standard. Their summer transfer budget was reduced to under £50 million and they were hit with a £49 million fine. This is not sufficient enough to change the game because this is a fine they can easily pay off and £50 million is hardly a small amount of money.
Sports lawyer Faye Bargery states that FFP has the potential to turn world football into an even more uneven playing field. This is because he suggests smaller clubs with restricted income will struggle to compete against the bigger clubs as they can only spend what they make, which will pale in comparison to the amount of money a Real Madrid makes. Also with FFP, the chances of a Roman Abramovich pumping millions into a club are now very unlikely due to the money that will be lost from over spending; only the clubs with the biggest revenue can hope of competing at the very top. FFP will essentially create an oligopoly instead of an even playing field, with football becoming increasingly dominated by a small number of top clubs.
Until something is done about clubs like Man Utd and Man City spending over £150 million in a single transfer window as they have done in recent years, and a limit on player wages then football will slowly die a painful death, lower down the ladder. Clubs at the lower end of the scale will be killed off one by one by the uneven distribution of money and the knowledge that they can never make it to the Promised Land.
With the way things are going, sooner rather than later we will see the first player to be worth over £100 million and the first £1 million pound a week footballer. This is certainly a bleak picture indeed. Long are the days where a club can get promoted to the top division, win it in their first season and by two years time have already won back-to-back European trophies, as Nottingham Forest did well over 30 years ago. No longer can a smaller clubs dream turn into reality.