They think it’s all over… It will be soon!
Football is spiralling out of control. Another January transfer has passed and more excessive wages have been dished out to players in the ever inflating world of football. There are two major areas of concern with football; how it functions as a viable business and the footballers themselves and the behaviour that is associated with this. You may be thinking that these concerns do not leave any other areas of football to talk positively about, you are right.
As a business, football appears to live in a dream world where money and consequences are of no concern. Unfortunately this does not last as the fortunes of clubs like Leeds and Portsmouth have illustrated. Man City last season spent 114% of their total revenue on their player’s wages. Their Middle Eastern owners made up the rest of the bill. In no other sector of business would this approach even be considered and yet many clubs around the world are increasingly turning to foreign ownership in order to ‘progress’ in the game. Parallels can be drawn with the gambling nature that led to the global financial crisis and as a business, football needs to adapt or face collapse.
Harry Redknapp recently spoke of the behaviour of player’s agents resembling that of ‘gang warfare’ and when players are holding clubs to ransom over £100,000 wages per week, it also seems to resemble an old spaghetti western. The power that agents appear to wield over both players and clubs is hugely out of proportion and needs to change. On a recent Radio 5 Live discussion current player Jason Roberts attempted to defend players wages claiming anybody would do the same in their position. I do not feel this is the case and is another example of the bubble the football currently lives in. It is becoming out of touch with reality and if everyone in society were to demand extortionate salaries for minimal effort; it would be a world I would not like to inhabit. There appears to be a distinct lack of morality surrounding the countries national sport, and that is a worrying situation. The news coverage will swap from the latest recession we appear to find ourselves in to discussing the transfer saga of a player demanding millions of pounds over a year. This paradox is grotesque; with so many struggling, how can so few live so richly?
When discussing the behaviour of footballers, the picture does not become any brighter. In recent years there is a strong current of openly promoting cheating from players, managers and even commentators on the game. For a sport that inspires so many young people this cannot continue. Furthermore there is a very obvious lack of respect between team mates, opponents, officials and team management. Now this may seem trivial compared to cuts to social welfare and invasions into foreign lands, but as a country, we have to discuss the issues that are negatively impacting upon society. The influence of football, and the way it conducts itself is beginning to have such an effect. The behaviour of certain footballers off the pitch does not get any better and again this disregard for the consequences of their actions does not promote a positive message to our young people. There is a sense that certain individuals that are playing the game feel untouchable, and the salary’s they are paid only help to fuel this thought. Even the fans of football are split apart and cannot be trusted to sit together. This has been the case for a long time within the game, and yet it seems so unusual that most other sports are able to be civil with each other whilst supporting their teams.
When you are young you copy your idols, whether that’s attempting the new trick they performed on Saturday or copying their hairstyles or fashion. Currently within society there appears to be a blame culture which is surrounded by a lack of respect and a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’. This is the case within football and as it is the nation’s favourite sport I think there is a strong link between these two situations. Being continually confronted by players harassing officials, frequent incidents of players cheating, and a lack of respect between all involved, cannot have a positive effect on our young. And yet with all these problems fans continue to support and going to pour their money into the clubs they support, whether that be through tickets at games or paying for television subscriptions in order to watch the match. Are the fans to blame? Is a football revolution in order to change the current situation? Perhaps, but the reality of this happening is incredibly slim. We need to be encouraging our young to compete fairly, to lose graciously and to learn the virtues of honesty, integrity and most importantly to value the social justice we prize so highly in this country. The football industry currently fails to achieve these aims. Football is on a slippery slope, and in the current economic climate is way out of distortion with the rest of the world. If the global financial crisis is anything to go by, this will not continue and football will crash. Perhaps this may be exactly what we’re looking for.