Anxious that football team owners with deep pockets are widening the gap between the richest and poorest football clubs, UEFA are introducing new rules to restrict the expenditure of football teams. From 2015 clubs will only be able to spend relative to the income they generate and the hope is that this move will give the sport a more even financial playing field, but will the new regulations achieve their goal?
The past few years has seen several super wealthy individuals and organisations take over football clubs and inject huge amounts of their personal wealth into the teams in an attempt to buy success on the pitch. The impact of such activity can be seen in the success of English Premier League clubs Chelsea and Manchester City who have both risen from relative obscurity to winning the league and, in Chelsea’s case, the Champions League. These clubs had a huge financial advantage over many of their competitors with enormous gulfs appearing between the richest and poorest clubs but will the new regulations do anything to narrow the gap?
The truth is that the big name clubs will always have an advantage over the rest no matter what rules UEFA choose to impose. The best players want to perform in the Champions League and so will choose teams which have qualified for that competition over other clubs even if the wages offered are similar. Those teams which are currently in the Champions League gain huge revenues from their appearances thus automatically maintaining their positions at the top of the game. These clubs also attract the biggest sponsorship deals and have more opportunities to sell such deals and advertising as they have a greater number of big matches to compete in. They even have Champions League specific kits to sell and gain sponsorship for. Whatever the financial rules there is no way that the smaller clubs can compete with this situation.
The big name clubs also have an advantage with merchandising. These organisations are huge global brands with the ability to sell their products worldwide to a massive fan base. Manchester United shirts sell in their millions in the Far East but how many can Norwich City or Swansea City sell? The biggest clubs have already established their names and brands over many decades of success or recent high profile achievements and once up there, they will be difficult to shift.
Many clubs have the advantage of excellent new stadia which offer excellent additional revenue making opportunities. The grounds include extensive hospitality facilities generating additional income on match days and throughout the year via function rooms and executive boxes. The big clubs are hastily upgrading their facilities in advance of the new rules to ensure they create the best earning potential from their grounds. Elegant new suites are appearing as are some interesting new money making initiatives. Manchester City are even going as far as introducing branded Executive boxes with EA Sports and Harvey Nicholls already on board and Hugo Boss Set to follow. The biggest names in the sport can command the highest prices the use of their facilities as it is a fact that there is a much higher demand for an executive box at Manchester United than there is at Bolton. Not to mention the higher demand for match day tickets. By the time the new regulations come in to force in 2015 the big clubs will be all set up to yield massive incomes from their facilities leaving the rest behind. There is also the not inconsiderable issue of stadium sponsorship where the biggest clubs also have a huge advantage.
The new financial regulations may or may not succeed in restricting clubs to out-laying only what they earn but with the big name institutions in a position to generate vastly more income than the rest it is difficult to see how any equality will ever be achieved. The rich simply appear to be getting richer with or without the hand-outs of their wealthy benefactors.
Sally S is a lifelong supporter of Liverpool FC and believer that excess money has ruined the game. An experienced blog writer, Sally writes for sports, travel and music blogs on varied subjects. You can find out more about Sally Stacey via her Google+ profile.