January 1, 2010

Backwards Pass: Get Money, New Years Edition

Though money rules the world, not everything in life is all business. Sport, for example, is an industry built by media moguls and millionaires looking to use the machine to turn profits, but is founded in the free idea of fair play. A game between Chelsea and Barcelona has the same basic rules as a Sunday pickup game, the only difference is that one can provide the joy and exhilaration of football for free. However, in recent years, football has been infected by the same quick-buck mentality that fueled the recent worldwide financial meltdown. Short-sighted and selfish, it's owners like these who expect the purity of football to follow the simplicity of an economic equation. Money does not equal success. It never will. Just as in life, success comes with many other things.

Most people don't throw the word "love" around too easily, especially amongst the male Sunday pub demographic. But ask any club or country fan, and they can go on infinitely about love of the game, and love of football. From a physical perspective, money is the furthest thing from love, but would you not want to spend every penny you had for a show of appreciation for someone you love? There is a reason why wedding rings are typically diamond and gold. So shouldn't Roman Abramovich's recent decision to personally re-finance the £340m ($546m) debt be seen as a show of love? Obviously any Pooltard, Manc, or hatedMillwallLion will scrunch their noses and scowl, for without Sugar Daddy's bottomless purse, Chelsea would still be failing to achieve last year's new years resolution of breaking even. Of course it was an ambitious goal, for a club as large as Chelsea to be fully sustainable, but it is an admirable goal.

Regardless, it should be obviously known of Abramovich's love of Chelsea. Billions of his own money in the club. Unlike Sheikhwhoever, Abramovich has actually been spotted at matches. Youth and reserve team matches, mind you. He set up cameras at Cobham training ground to watch his team practice while he travels, and has been known to walk in random pubs to watch his team play.

It's odd then that average fans still don't understand. The media will understandably dislike Abramovich, especially after this court statement.
Posted on: Sun 18 Jan 2009
Defamation proceedings will be commenced tomorrow (Monday) in London by Roman Abramovich against the publishers of The Sunday Times. 
This follows the publication by them of false claims that he wants to sell his interest in Chelsea FC. Mr Abramovich has already made quite clear, through the directors of Chelsea, that he has no intention of doing so and that neither he nor anyone upon his behalf has been pursuing any such course of action.                          

I remember reading the one or two dumb articles saying how Chelsea would be up for sale, but as a Chels fan myself I knew them to be bogus and a waste of e-ink. It was typical drumming up of unfounded hatred. So it's unsurprising now that the media does not know how to handle Abramovich coming out to support UEFA's new Fair Play rules. Not many blogs have got this out yet, but this one handles it pretty well. The WSJ also explains the new rules set to be used by 2012, which would require that in order to participate in the Champions League, all clubs must be financially stable and sustainable. This is designed to prevent clubs from racking up large debts in search of success. Though Chelsea managed to reduce their losses this year by £22 million, £12.5m of which was the payoff for Phil Scolari, it stands in contrast to the increase in total debt of the winning champions in 10 European leagues by some £50m, with a total combined debt of all clubs of over £3.8 billion.

Let me repeat that. Europe's overall debt increased this year, while Chelsea lowered their standing debt. Further, most of Chelsea's debt went into equity investment, with construction of the training ground completed this year. So their debt shouldn't even really count as debt. Meanwhile, Chelsea are five points clear in the league, with no plans to buy or sell this January window, with a manager looking to finally utilize the talent and youth of the academy (Kakuta, Sturridge, and Borini, here's your chance to shine). My sweet lord, it is a good time to be wearing blue.

But not if your Pompey. With a precedent already  of a team being kicked from the Belgian Juliper League, Portsmouth merely have one month (Feb 23) to show that they won't fall under. It doesn't help then that other managers and chairmen are calling for Pompey heads. RC Lens chief Gervais Martel has already called for Portsmouth to be kicked for the league, saying that he feels cheated after they failed to receive money for the Belhadj and Dindane transfers. It's starting to look like Avram Grant will be forced to sell players in order to pay them the three-months owed wages, but it quickly will become a deadly slippery slope to League One a-la Leeds United.

So when did money become such an important part of sport? The better question to ask is why, but there may not be a clear reason if Barca knock Chelsea out of the Champions League again. After 5 years and billions of personal money, Abramovich may yet destroy everything he's dreamed of. Ironically, for Chelsea to win the Champions League would be a dream come true for millions of Chelsea fans, myself included. To see John Terry lift the cup over his head would be the greatest moment in club history, hand down. But if Chelsea do ever win that cursed and pedestaled trophy, it would spawn more Sheikh Mansours and Sulaiman al-Fahims. It would sadly reaffirm that equations can be created, that football is just another industry to be modeled, and that dreams can be bought. I wonder then if the sport could ever retain the purity it has now, or had long ago.

Anyways, my New Years resolution is to continue to play Football Manager 2010 and to try and take Blue Square South minnows Eastleigh FC all the way to the top and win the Champions League. Only this time without cheating and editing the pre-game data for a little extra cash...

1 comment:

  1. It will be great to watch Chelsea FC, i have bought tickets from
    http://ticketfront.com/event/Chelsea_FC-tickets looking forward to it.