It's not surprising recently to see journalism waving its virtuous hand at the UK's most treasured sport, with bitter discontent and judgment. But truthfully it has every right too - at least till we see football making some radical changes in the right direction. Notably in the last three or four years we have seen the beautiful game changing rapidly, moving forward in a digital age with it's constant demands for money, entertainment and globalisation. However, recent events this season have highlighted the perils of the modern game more than ever before.
So how do we view football now as an entertainment spectacle? How has it become such a money-obsessed culture?
Each week I'll be highlighting a few things that I think are tarnishing footballs wellbeing.
Financial Fair Play
FFP (Financial fair play) has been a major talking point recently. European clubs are being penalised for over spending when buying players and lashing out on player's wages. Yet clubs are forever finding loopholes in the transfer market that abuse the system. MLS franchise New York City, a subsidiary to Manchester City who are both owned by the Arabic-Anglo company 'The City Football Group', had famously purchased ex-Chelsea star Frank Lampard (Pictured) last summer only for him to be loaned out to Man City on a free transfer, making him fully eligible for City in all competitions. Not only was he loaned out, but he also extended his loan spell to the end of the season. Suspicions were raised as to whether Lampard had any intention of actually playing for New York City, or whether this was a testing ground for many more illegitimate transfer manoeuvres from the Man City owners. One can only hope the FA will crack down on such dubious transfer dealings, before other franchises begin to follow suit and turn the game into a tragic sporting monopoly. Loopholes will be viewed as a prerogative for clubs like Manchester City though, who are slowly running out of options.
Chelsea were notably the first Premier League outfit to be viewed as a 'nouveau riche' football club after they were bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich in 2003, who invested large sums of money in transfer dealings. Not far after Manchester city followed suit, followed by PSG. The transfer market has since become what seems like a limitless trading platform.
Currently, the consequences for breaching FFP rules are not severe enough however. Both French Ligue 1 club Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City were sanctioned with the same fine at the end of the 2013/2014 season, as a result of over spending revenues on players and player's wages. Both clubs received a €60m fine, of which €40m is suspended, with their Champions League squads having to be reduced to 21 players. Both clubs also received individual transfer spending restrictions and 2 year squad salary restrictions - Might I add that despite these sanctions, both Paris Saint Germain and Man City are still in the last sixteen of the Champions League and are still competing for their domestic league titles. A further sanction means City can only spend £49m on players this summer, as well as any transfer fees they receive. I struggle to understand how a transfer cap of £49m can be classified as a punishment for breaking a clear set of rules and regulations, put in place by the governing body of football? In the current transfer market, £49m can buy you a couple of world-class players. Titles can still be won. Meaning these current FFP sanctions will have a very mild effect on team's silverware credentials.
It will be difficult to prevent these clubs from overspending, especially as the entire footballing establishment is built on money and that will in turn benefit it's governing body's, but perhaps Uefa, FIFA and the FA need to together work on tougher sanctions that will at least limit clubs transfer activity.
A call for scraping the January transfer window has been an ongoing suggestion and I have no doubt this will be something that will come up again in the next window, at the end of the season.