“Transparency lies in an unmarked grave”

Jesus Christ people, get a grip.

I listen to the Beeb on the radio every morning because, well, because I get up at 4am and there’s nothing else to listen to at that hour. Besides which it’s a habit and human beings are creatures of habit.

Human beings are also, apparently, herd animals and European human beings are, apparently, easily spooked herd animals. Because according to the Beeb, you folks are going nuts over this “credit crisis” over there and it’s starting to creep into my enjoyment of football.

I’m not saying that the world isn’t in a financial mess, a mess caused by greed (the world over, not just in the USA) but what I am saying is “DON’T PANIC!” Do you know what the “credit crisis” comes down to?


If we believe it, so it is.

The facts are that every penny, pence, cent, ruble, yen, and yuan is essentially a belief instrument. The herd believes that this stuff is worth more or less and, et viola, it is. Same thing with credit. Sure, we have all these complicated formulas that we use to try to “predict” stuff, but by and large credit is a belief system: I loan you money on the belief that you’ll pay it back.

So, banks believe that Arsenal will pay back their $600m in loans because, well, because Arsenal has shown them that they can by presenting an argument based on what they call “income” (ticket sales, player transfers, television revenues, Gunnersaurus lunchboxes, tee-shirts, concessions, etc) and by agreeing that if they don’t then the bank can take what creditors call “assets” (players, stadiums, managers, and fans — well, they can’t have me!).

See, football teams couldn’t get these loans if the banks didn’t believe that they would get their money back. If a team, like United, does fail to pay back their loans then the bank takes their assets and well, you know the rest. It would be a horrible thing to have happen to your team and I will feel a tremendous sadness and loss when Chelsea are sold off and relegated to the Third division.

But what we don’t want is a corrupt organization like UEFA or the FA mucking around in the finances of football teams in order to determine who is taking on good debt or bad debt: make no doubt about it, that is exactly what they want to do. Why? Because, ostensibly they want to ensure “stability” in football and “fair play.”

UEFA’s David Taylor now believes it is his job to ensure that Man U are a stable organization.


He also wants to ensure that football teams have “fair play” in terms of teams taking on debt in order to build themselves up and thus win trophies.


Debt is only one source of instability in the football market. Obviously, a team like Tottenham has a problem that’s bigger than just their debt. They continuously overpay for overrated players, does UEFA want to regulate that as well? Honestly, I think they would. The more they can get their greedy little fingers into the pie the happier they will be.

And what about “fairness?” Are they going to force Real Madrid to limit seat sales? Set ticket prices? Put caps on the number of tee-shirts Arsenal can sell? Because, and here’s something for Davie to consider, big teams are always going to have a bigger fan base and thus generate more revenue and thus have an “advantage” monetarily over little teams. If you strike down borrowing, Man U will still have the largest revenue stream in the UK and second largest in the world. They will always have an advantage over the Everton’s of the world.

I say all this as a supporter of a team which essentially is doing all the right things: they have a self imposed salary cap, a prudent business plan, an international fan base, jaw-droppingly beautiful football, and a great youth program to keep feeding the pipeline. My club is going to do just fine, regardless of the draconian rules UEFA impose in the name of “fairness” and “stability.”

In the end, I think UEFA and the FA should concentrate on footballing matters; making sure their refs aren’t on the take, stamping out racism, and getting calls right. Leave the financials to the banks, because from what I can tell the herd has slaked its thirst at the lake of easy credit and is bolting as fast as it possibly can toward a long winter’s sleep. And if that’s the case, the market will take care of itself and no amount of ex-post-facto regulation is going to stop the bubble from bursting.

In fact, all this mucking around in club finances could only make things worse.


6 Responses to ““Transparency lies in an unmarked grave””

  1. 1 Stu
    October 8, 2008 at 9:32 am

    I agree with your point about racism especially.

    Why are they so fussed about debt but don’t mind at all when eastern european teams, the Spanish, Christ a shit load of countries actively allow hooliganism on a very serious level and racist chants.

    Fifa are always talking their opinions on Arsenal (they’re not payed to have opinions on our transfer policy) and are so wrapped up in that they forgot to actually regulate the things which matter.

    Why the fuck should Sol Campbell have to report the abuse he got from Spurs fans the other day? Why aren’t Fifa, Uefa and the FA all jumping in to instantly punish the supporters/club duely?

    They say they want racism out but they don’t do shit when the spanish national fans chant against the english black players and after his racist remarks Luis Aragones was still spanish manager I mean come on for fucks sake.

    If I was Fifa I would be imposing massive penalties on anyone caught doing such things. If as is probably the case with Spurs you can’t tell exactly who was saying it and punish them, you punish the club with a serious points deduction. National teams should have entire results thrown as a punishment, like the team with the large number of racist chanting fans gets the game over-written as 5-0 to the opposition. We’d soon see those idiots who do it scared of costing their team and shut their mouths.

  2. 2 Stu
    October 8, 2008 at 9:34 am

    I can’t believe Newcastle got away with huge numbers of people chanting that Mido was an egyptian terrorist last season. Such things should have seen them deducted points if they can’t catch the culprits.

  3. October 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Truly, racism is like the one thing that they can do something about.

    The fact that a racist ass club like Zenit St. Petersburg (WHO REFUSE TO HIRE BLACKS)can win the UEFA cup should be a source of the greatest shame and yet here they are trying to pry into the insane financial machinations of Man U?

    This whole thing stinks.

  4. 4 keith
    October 8, 2008 at 10:02 am

    Beacuse Mido is an egyptian terrorist Stu

  5. October 9, 2008 at 1:51 am

    I think the transfer system IS FIFA’s responsibility. It’s been clear for a few years that it’s breaking down, ever since they realised footballing is a job, and should be treated (legally) as one. It’ll crumble even further once players start buying out their contracts. The fact that billionaires are buying clubs as their playthings isn’t much new – remember how Jack Walker’s Blackburn bought the Premier league about fifteen years ago? Point is, there have always been sugar daddies around, and the only difference now is the scale, both financially and geographically.

    Anyway, about that idea of letting the market correct itself – it’ll lead to a lot of pain. You have half the Premier League going bankrupt. You’ll lose a LOT fans, the media interest will die, TV revenues will drop… it’ll be a cataclysmic event. I’d like to see FIFA do something about it before the shit hits the fan. Otherwise, they’ll be bailing out clubs like the governments are bailing out over-extended banks. It’s all very well to act smug and schaundefraude-ish about the collapse of Chelsea and Man Utd, but please take a moment and think of the children. Unless you want them running around in a post-apopcalyptic world where apes such as Bolton and Blackburn rule the Premier League and Wenger kneeling on the beach in front of a devasted Emirates in the sea crying “you maniacs, you blew it up! Damn you all, damn you all to hell!”, you’ll agree that prevention is better than the cure.

  6. October 9, 2008 at 3:18 am

    Arsenal and Wenger understand absolutely everything about the future of football – including how to make it beautiful. I only wish that in the present season they understood they need a hardman in the mid-field and one proper centreback. This team that – as a neutral – I love so much – does not look even close to trophy material today.

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