SCwatch


‘SUSTAINABILITY CRISIS’ EXAMPLE:ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUBS

As most football (or ‘soccer’ as it is referred to nowadays) fans acknowledge, the English Premier League is keenly followed throughout the world. According to sources, world interest picked up after England World Cup win in 1966 and then followed by Manchester United’s win in the European Cup in 1968 whose players include the likes of George Best ..idolised in the Beatles-mania era!

Notwithstanding the cult following of these clubs in the years that followed, the leading clubs then like Mancheter United, Liverpool, Arsenal and Spurs could never match their European counterparts in Italy (Inter Milan, Juventus) and Spain (Real Madrid, Barcelona) in terms of spending power, prestige and winning honors were concerned.

It was then that corporate wizards were drafted in to change the whole face of English football. They began by leveraging on the strength of its ‘brand’ … the name of the clubs …. Manchester United (Red Devils), Liverpool (Reds), Newcastle (Magpies), Tottenham (Spurs), Arsenal (Gunners).

Then, investors with deep pockets were invited to own these clubs … Glazers (Manchester United), Thaksin and then Sheikh Mansour  (Manchester City), Americans Gillette & Hicks (Liverpool), Roman Abramovic (Chelsea) to finance acquisition of players to challenge for major honors.

After that, some decided on selling the name of their stadiums for huge amounts of fees e.g. Arsenal’s relatively new 60,000 capacity stadium is called Emirates after its deal with the same named airlines …. I would still prefer ‘Highbury’. Even Newcastle owner, Mike Ashley proposed to do like-wise but opposition is strong ….. this non-Geordie just doesn’t know the DNA of a North Easterner of England! Tottenham are considering like-wise for their new stadium.

Of course, live TV coverage of the games …. on ESPN, Star Sports just added to the euphoria and glamour of English football….. somehow I feel that the sex scandals of the likes of John Terry and Ashley Cole have been given high profile in order to ‘keep English football in the news’!

All this, in my view, are tell tale signs of an industry on the way to a major crisis ….. unless of course serious steps are taken to avert it. We have seen the likes of Leeds United, under David O’Leary, storming into the semi finals of the European Cup in 2001 before losing. Where are they now? They were relegated down to League 1 (after imploding financially) …. that’s Division 3 in the old days …. why? They were over-geared i.e. the income was much, much less than the expenditure, expenditure that could not be sustained!

The latest Premier League club to be hit is Portsmouth (click HERE) with its players not getting their wages on time and now 85 employees have been laid off by the Administrator!

Another Premier League club under the radar is West Ham. The commonality is that these clubs risked everything to gain fame as soon as possible ….. so silly money was paid to get players, manager and honors. And when they don’t achieve it (like Leeds), they go under …. and get docked 10 points along the way! Even Manchester United is beginning to show signs of stress!

Sustainability is key. IN ORDER TO FINISH FIRST, YOU NEED TO FIRST FINISH.

This principle applies to so many things in life, doesn’t it?

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