American soccer, “Don’t make the European football mistakes!”
If you have never seen football-soccer games like Celtic against Rangers, or Barcelona against Real Madrid, or A.C.Milan against Inter Milan, or Manchester United against Manchester City, or Liverpool against Everton, or Chelsea against Arsenal, or Bayer Leverkusen against Bayern Munich and other dozens of games of this caliber, I strongly suggest to stop reading now because you won’t know what I’m talking about so, don’t waste your time!
But, if you have seen at least a few of them you know what I’m talking about so, please continue.
All of these clubs, not only share a ’glorious past’ but, except for a few exceptions, they also share a catastrophic amount of………………… DEBTS!!!
This is provoked by the fact that all these Clubs and their fans, consider the winning of the above games, two times a season, more important than winning the League or any other trophies. And the reason is simple: by winning that game, possibly both, it means getting 6 points against a team that could be the principal obstacle to win the League!
These Clubs will invest any amount of money in order to achieve that goal.
And here starts the problem.
In the past decade, the spending to sign the top players in the world, in order to have instantaneous good results, instead of growing champions in their academies, reached an outrageous level that brought almost all the Clubs to the border of……………………BANCKRUPCY!!!!!!
And, as I will explain after, not only the top ones, but also the middle and the lower levels, in order not to be relegated!
These debts are a cancer that spreads without control and can’t be just cured anymore. The only possible cure, supposing that we are still in time, is a deep surgery!
If any of us spends more money than what we make, after relying on credit cards for a little while, we go inevitably bankrupted. Any business company in the world, that invests more money than what they make, after having used all the money that the banks keep giving them, inevitably will go bankrupted.
There is no way to escape this mechanism unless…………………………….you own a football-soccer club in Europe!
In this case, during the past decade, you were illegally allowed to go on for years, until you came to a situation that could be solved only with a football……………… miracle!
And because the football-soccer god clearly exist, miracles, sometimes, happened and the name of those miracles were………… INVESTORS!
There are 3 kinds of investors (miracles). The first 2 kinds, with almost unlimited economical power are:
billionaires that are sitting on top of oil that could be in the Middle East or in Russia.
Americans who, instead of developing soccer here in the US, keep it in England by investing there! (got it???)
Both of them could properly take care of the problems by:
* buying the clubs at a correct price
* extinguishing past debts
* paying the stipends
* investing money to engage new top players
* building a new stadium
How many times has it happened in the past decade?
A few rare times! (like miracles are, of course!)
All the other times, the third kind of investors, financial SHARKS!!!, who are interested in only one thing, which is to make money no matter what, come in!!! So, they come in, show a little money just to fool the ‘believers’ and after a little while sell the club to another shark , who comes in like the other one as a ‘new savior’. Pays the stipends for a few months, and keeps the promise to invest, extinguishes debts, builds a new stadium, buys players with outrageous evaluations and after a while…………………..sells the club, bringing back a little more money than what he had invested and, much worse, leaves the club with more debts than before he arrived!
The perfect crime and he walks away as a saint!
The other main reason that brought football-soccer almost to its end, is TV.
Besides playing football-soccer, and now coaching and teaching it, I worked for decades in advertising so, I know what I’m talking about.
Any product in the world, in order to be sold needs to be seen!! So, it needs……………VISIBILITY! Magazines, news papers or street bill boards are great but, TV is the real thing!
The problem is that people (which means ‘us’), even if we’re stupid, we’re not that stupid to watch TV just for the great pleasure of seeing products and buying them.
Actually, on a second thought, a few of us are really that stupid!
But, anyway, talking in general, the TV networks have to give us something more. And that ‘more’ is great movies, shows (even the garbage ones !!!) and top sports. And because there are pauses during American games, they are the perfect spots to put advertising which will be seen by millions of people for hours and they will never, EVER, change the channel!
Do you have even a vague idea how much it costs for a 30 seconds commercial during the American Super Bowl?
Half million $$$$$$$ !!!!!
Yes, you read correctly. And for a commercial of 1 minute it’s more than 1 million $$$$$. Do a little math and see what happens with hundreds of commercials during that day and the rest of the season. This means a mountain of money for the NFL teams. They can survive without any problem and if they win, much better. To this add the NBA and MLB. Same good business for everybody.
As a quick consideration, this is not just outrageous, but also immoral! But this is the society in which we live and it seems that we like it.
Coming back to football-soccer, even if the amount of money can’t be like that because there are no pauses during the games (except for half time), to simply show on TV to billions of people in the whole world the advertising on the jerseys, the advertising around the fields plus halftime talking alternated with commercials, and not forgetting the merchandise connected with every club, it’s still a gold mine.
But, there is a but.
In the NFL, the NBA and MLB, there are a lot of famous teams that through the years can go up and down in their performances but, NEVER be relegated! So, a lower level team still plays with the good ones that year and still has a good TV coverage. Even if they keep loosing games, they still have a slice of TV income and survive decently.
So, the ‘but’ is this: as long as a football-soccer Club plays in the Premier League, la Liga, in Serie A or Bundesliga, and also at the end of the season arrives in the first few spots so they are in the Champions League, that’s great and great money comes from the TVs.
But if they are out of the Champions League or, much worse, they are relegated (just the word makes me shiver!!!), they will disappear from TVs and that will be an economic massacre!!!
Now, what will we pay the debts with if, instantaneously, 60 or 80 millions of $$$$$$$$ a year ………….disappear?????
What’s the solution? The solution is that, teams that might lose this kind of money if they are relegated, will spend the same amount of money during the season not to be relegated!!! They will put themselves in more big debts in order to survive and stay in the top Leagues.
If they survive, they’re still in big debt but maybe next year it could be better (it never happened to anyone that survived, yet!). If relegated, they have to sell all the top players to cover in part the debts, and maybe try to survive in Second Division and maybe, again, be promoted in 4 or 5 years. If not, keep going down to Third Division and probably never come back!
As you can see, one by one, the cancer infected all the teams and many of them are almost……………terminal!
Of course, there are different ways to try to not die.
At the beginning of this season, A.C.Milan, had a debt of 67 million EUROS (more than 100 million $$$$$). They could have kept digging in Berlusconi’s wallet or let Kaka go to Real Madrid for 75 million EUROS, break even and also put a little money in their pocket. They chose to sell Kaka. Now they are in the second place in Serie A and keep going to the Champions League!!!
Other teams, like Real Madrid, dig their graves deeper spending hundreds of millions that they DON’T HAVE for Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo and company, hoping to finally defeat Barcelona and be at least the top team in Spain and make more money.
Or Manchester City who is one of the few clubs, even with debts, that could spend hundreds of millions because it happens that their owner has UNLIMITED economic possibilities so, what ever happens, they still dream that he will cover the loss and in a few years, maybe, becoming one of the tops teams in the world, could also make money. What a dream. They will wake up soon when the sheik gets tired of this toy and wants to play with something else!!!
Anyway, much better than Manchester United who, even being one of the top clubs in the world, has accumulated a dept of 700 million pounds. Which is much more than 1 billion $$$$$.
In conclusion, to save European football-soccer from the cancer, 6 things should happen:
* FIFA, UEFA and Leagues have to put an end to this crazy spending. A Club in deep debt should not be allowed to engage new players.
* Even at the cost of selling their top player/s, Clubs have to get out of big debts!
* All the clubs should improve their youth academies and at least 4 players coming from the Academy should play in any game, not just be on the rosters.
* the TV networks, in order to promote the products that they want to sell us, have to pay more to buy the product that they need (football-soccer!!!), and they have the money to do that!!!!
* the clubs have to allow fans to become part of the management, investing their money by buying shares of the clubs.
* Clubs CAN’T spend more that what they make!
A great example is Barcelona.
They don’t have a single owner. They have 147 thousand supporters that own the club and the management is elected by them. Everyday they clearly say: ”don’t mess with our money or our club!!!”
Also, Barcelona has the best youth soccer academy in the world. It isn’t for nothing that 7 of the actual starters, who are among the 100 top players in the world (and few in the top 10!!!) came from their academy so, they create champions for themselves and for the other clubs, saving and making a lot of money.
In fact, they have so much money that, to the contrary of all the other top football-soccer teams in the world that ask between 10 and 20 million a year to have the name of the sponsor on the jerseys, they can give that space for free to UNICEF!!!
This is the correct way so I hope that American soccer will not make the same mistakes as European football.
P.S. By the way, besides Europe, maybe you don’t know that the last football-soccer season in Argentina was postponed because ALL the teams, were bankrupted and couldn’t afford a new season. Only an economical intervention from the Argentine government allowed the season to start.
As the Roman politicians clearly knew more than 2000 years ago, in order to govern people, give them “panem and circenses’!!! Give the people, bread (food) and games!!!
Nothing has changed in the last 2000 years!!!
Posted on 16 Mar 2010 by coachgianni