The Mailbox suggests why we should let the big boys have their way over a Super League. Also: double standards over De Zerbi; how Fergie destroyed United; and plenty on City…
Get your views in to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Bring back the ESL
Just hear me out till the end please.
So the idea is, mega rich clubs (who can spend 100mil on a single player) will be playing in a league of their own. They can’t participate in the regional leagues like premier league, la liga etc.
So from premier league – Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, Newcastle (Now that they are owned by Saudis).
From La liga – FC Barcelona,Real Madrid.
From Serie A – Juventus.
From Bundesliga – Bayern Munich
From Ligue 1 – PSG.
Add 4 clubs owned by PIF in Saudi Pro League – We get a league with 16 teams. Like normal league all teams play 30 matches.. or if they are even more money hungry, 45 matches (Thrice against each other) in a season.
Then the normal regional leagues would be so fun to watch.. For the first year, of course you need 7 teams to promote from lower leagues (In case of premier league). But after the 1st year, things will be back to normal.
I would be really excited to watch a league where everyone is almost similar in their financial conditions..
Also: No loan and permanent transfers between different clubs owned by same owner (Multi club model).
(Feel free to add more rules in comment section. I would definitely love to hear your opinions)
RK (Just a normal football fan always backing underdogs)
One rule for one…
So Roberto de Zerbi recently said this:
“I am honest and clear, I don’t like 80% of English referees. That isn’t a new opinion. I don’t like them. I don’t like their behaviour on the pitch.
“England is the only country where when there is VAR, you are not sure that the decision is right. In other countries, you have to be sure 100% that the decision taken is right. In England, no, and I am not able to understand.”
He escapes punishment and gets a mere warning for it. Meanwhile Arteta has been charged for his comments. De Zerbi effectively said he doesn’t believe the refs behave appropriately, that VAR decisions in England can’t be trusted and the FA isn’t interested in charging him.
Could it be that the FA is being selective because Arteta is a more high profile manager involved in a title race and they don’t want the high profile voices muttering things about the refs? Is it because Arteta’s words affect the image and reputation of the league and this worries the sponsors and broadcasters?
There needs to be more focus on this I reckon.
Vish (AFC), Melbourne, Aus
We cheated but who cares?
Nice article from Will Ford, that basically sums up the modern football fan. For the purposes of the article, we’re assuming Chelsea or City are found to guilty. To have deliberately broken the rules they agreed to and hidden this fact from the authorities. Will’s response?. “OK, we’ve been caught cheating, but who cares? We still won didn’t we?”
Pretty much everything that is wrong with the tribalism of football right there. “My club has been found guilty, but I’m going to completely ignore that fact and pretend they haven’t”. Rather than saying “My club was caught cheating. That totally tarnishes the memory of those achievements.” It’s “Who cares? Remember the bantz?”
And his point about other clubs is even more wide of the mark. Would Liverpool have a title parade if they were awarded a title that was stripped from Man City? No. But that’s the point isn’t it? If City cheated, then that cheating denied the fans of that experience. Denied the players that title winning moment. Would it be the same it was done retrospectively? No. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen.
If a sprinter cheats in the Olympics, you don’t say “Oh well, no point in stripping him of the gold. The guy who came second isn’t going to get to stand atop the podium, is he?”. The gold medal gets stripped. And every person who gets their medal upgraded tells of how empty and angry they feel. Because that moment was robbed from them.
If City or Chelsea cheated it would be absolutely fair to strip titles. It would feel empty to the teams that get rewarded them, but that’s what makes the cheating so much worse.
Mike, LFC, Dubai
To all these folks writing in to say that, though there may have been some cheating back in the bad old days, surely Chelsea and Man City have earned what they’ve earned on the field: let me introduce you to the concept of fruit from the poisoned tree.
It goes like this: I steal 10,000 pounds. Then I start a legitimate business with it. Ten years later the business is doing great, and the police show up. Uh oh: I can’t just give the original 10,000 back… everything that comes from that money must also be returned, because it all stems from the original theft. (Also: free trip to prison!)
Likewise for City and Chelsea: once the cheating takes place, EVERYTHING that happens afterwards is the fruit of that poisoned tree. The original acts (115!) are what permit these clubs to recruit better players, develop more lucrative commercial deals, hire better managers, and so on. The idea that Pep would have ended up at a non-cheating Man City, just six years later, as the Brighton-esque management of the club would have led to success anyway — thanks for glimpse into your delusions, Dave from Manchester — is laughable, since, again, it is the very fact of the cheating that allowed Man City to build the commercial structure that allowed it to hire the best talent, not only around the pitch but off it.
The only fair result: tear it all down. Every season since the cheating, Man City and Chelsea should be docked enough points to have finished just above the relegation places. Every title, every cup, is tainted and should be forfeit. The fines they pay should be a significant multiple of the prize money they cheated their way to, and should be distributed to the clubs they cheated out of success. Beyond that, I’d be happy with relegation to the National League. But I care more about the past than the present.
In fact I don’t understand why people aren’t angrier. Much as it pains me to say it (as an Arsenal fan), Tottenham are the rightful winners of the 2016-17 title. They should have had the joy and triumph that came with that achievement — the bus parades, the sheer delight and happiness, the giddiness that would belong not just to the players and the fans but to an entire section of north London and to their global fanbase. Those five or six people (seven counting Daniel Levy) should be effing FURIOUS that all that joy was stolen from them. And so should the Man U fans, the Arsenal fans, the Liverpool fans, who should have been awarded those titles when they happened.
Meanwhile any club relegated or denied a historic cup win by virtue of the results from these cheats has a good claim to legal action against them. I wonder how much money it would take to compensate them?
Final thought: this why you don’t let your teams do financial cheating/doping. There is in the long run no way to account for all the damage done. It threatens to make the entire competition meaningless. The fact that the Premier League leadership has been so soft on this stuff is a sign either of genuine stupidity (it couldn’t be ignorance, since every other professional league in the world understands what I’m saying here) or of their eagerness to drink their fill at the money trough for as long as it was available.
Last time I wrote in it was to claim I got boners from watching Mongolian sports,
…First, all the best to Johnny. I enjoy his content and wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.
Wexford Blue is right to say that success breeds success.
But the asterisk that they were set on that path by unearned wealth will always be there. David Cameron would claim to have worked very hard to become Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, but it will always be true that if he wasn’t a toff who had gone to Eton, no-one would ever have heard of him.
Growing up in the nineties, I didn’t like Fergie and Manchester United’s dominant team. But, begrudgingly, I respected them.
Manchester City will never have my respect the way nineties United did. If Mansour hadn’t come along, they’d still be a championship to prem yo-yo club. They’d still be Sunderland.
City: ruining football for a century
As a response to G, Swansea, I would ask: does he (or she) really think that City are the only team breaking these rules?
One of the charges City are facing seems to be off the books payments. A lot of the arguments from fans of other clubs seem be based on the idea that City are alone in doing this kind of thing. Maybe City did it first or maybe they did it on a bigger scale, which might be true or not. But you can be sure that if City are doing it, other teams are doing it too. Or to put it another way, if an agent knows that City are doing this kind of thing, do they ask the same for their other players at other clubs if they know it’s possible at City?
Again to answer G, yes City probably have broken the rules and are probably being uncooperative. Am I supposed to get into a rage about my team breaking accounting rules though? Or do I hope they get away with it? I want them to get away with it of course. Two things can be true: FFP rules were designed to stop the wrong teams winning trophies and City might very well have broken those rules. G does have a point about denial from City fans. But for all that nobody has their heads buried as deep in the sand as City fans, nobody seems to be more invested in seeing City found guilty than Arsenal, Liverpool and United fans. Lots of dreams of retroactive punishment that would coincidentally hand trophies to their teams.
Arguments about rich owners destroying football off the back of huge “unfair” investment in their teams date back to at least the 1880s, in fact City were accused of exactly this in the early 1900s. So as I see it City are just continuing their long history of more than 100 years of ruining football. City don’t seem to have managed to destroy it yet though.
How it all started
Wexford Blue makes some logical points about the multitude of legitimate revenue streams that City now generates.
But unsurprisingly Wexford Blue also ignores the only reason they are in this position. The foundational success needed to generate these now legitimate revenue streams was only made possible by years of oil-state investment via covert, dodgy routes.
And had Mansour’s dart hit the UK map half a cm to the left, City would likely still be yoyo-ing between the leagues, and PEP would be looking to secure his 4th PL in a row following his historic treble with the mighty Bolton Wanderers.
City and the Prem marking its own homework
I wholeheartedly agree with essentially all of the points made by Mark MCFC in Thursday morning’s Mailbox. I just wanted to comment on one topic which has been floated a few times by MCFC fans recently, which is about how their club voted in favor of the independent regulator while the other PL clubs voted against it. Levenshulme Blue previously brought up the same point, insinuating that the reason other clubs voted against it is that they “have something to hide”, “especially the saintly Americans”.
I don’t think it’s that hard to understand why other PL clubs’ owners are against an independent regulator without viewing it through a conspiratorial lense. A regulator could impact various schemes and strategies that the owners have in mind to profit from their ownership of their clubs. The regulator could lead to restrictions on ticket prices/increases. It could lead to restrictions on which companies are allowed as sponsors. It could lead to restrictions on (or requirements for) stadium redevelopment. It could lead to new regulations on the handling of youth players. It could lead to any number of things which are in the public’s/the sport’s wider interest but contrary to the interests of the owners of the PL clubs, so they voted against it. “Turkeys didn’t vote for Thanksgiving” is the headline here.
These are all things which are concerning to owners who have purchased football clubs with the intent of making money. These are also things which would not be particularly concerning to owners from a sovereign wealth fund. These owners did not purchase football clubs to profit from them (in a straight transactional sense). They also may hope that their outsized political capital will allow them to trump any future football regulator through backchanneling with higher-ups in the UK government. And if we are being uncharitable, if some/all of the charges are true, these owners don’t seem to care about rules one way or another, so having an independent regulator would just be another set of rules for them to acknowledge before ignoring.
From my perspective, this political angle and the presence of sovereign wealth clubs as football club owners is the actual existential threat to football. The amount of money ADUG/QSI/PIF spend is irrelevant; a very wealthy individual billionaire could do the same if they wanted to. But very few (if any) billionaires have the political capital of an actual country, and I’d go so far as to say that no billionaire has the political capital of Saudi actual Arabia. I’m not sure how you effectively regulate a club owned by PIF.
Oliver (still wishing he understood how the time barring thing worked) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
Firstly, I would like to say get well soon to Johnny Nic. Been reading the site well over 15 years and have always enjoyed reading his articles.
With regards to FFP, City, Chelsea and all the whataboutery in the mailbox since the Everton ruling I’d love to ask a question to both sides of the fence.
FFP was introduced to stop clubs overspending and going into liquidation. Fine, it’s a noble reason, we don’t want our cultural history to disappear, I commend that.
If owners leverage massive debts against a club, overspend and go into administration this is obviously a really bad outcome, but, so that the ‘ladder hasn’t been pulled up’ for smaller teams to compete, why can’t a rich owner gift the club money if it’s contracted that these funds aren’t a loan, but a capital injection which has zero liability to be paid back?
This would allow owners to invest in their teams at zero risk to the institution.
Is it really a “fair” playing field if Manchester United have an income of £680m and Bournemouth circa £170m in revenues for the season?
How are those teams competing on a level playing field? (Insert joke about St James’ Park being on a hill here)
If we’re arbitrarily putting asterisks against trophy successes that were bought, then we need ones against 2000’s Chelsea, the 90s Manchester United and Blackburn titles and back through history, right back to the FA cup wins in the 1880s by Preston etc who had rich benefactors supplementing club income to pay for player salaries (“employing” the players in their factories).
Money has always been injected into teams by owners to buy success, if this money is given freely and without burden to a club, why is this a problem… unless you’re a big club with entitled fans and only one way to go, down.
Fergie the destroyer
Not too long ago Manchester United were the biggest most powerful team in the premier League. Trophies galore , a treble even! They were owned in part by two dudes – McManus and Magnier who had overseen United’s period of domination as the two biggest and most visible shareholders.
Squirreled away in a dark corner with about 2% of shares was a family called the glazers, totally irrelevant at the that time.
Fergie (the patron saint of Manchester United) loved horse racing, you might even come to the conclusion he loved it more than Manchester United very soon. He co-owned a very successful horse with magnier called rock of Gibraltar.
When rock of Gibraltar retired his breeding rights, fergie assumed, were 50/50 between him and magnier. They weren’t. When fergie found out he was furious and decided to sue the two biggest shareholders of Manchester United. Lying in their dark corner the glazers sniffed an opportunity and began buying shares increasing their stake.
McManus and magnier noticed the glazers increased buying and decided to up their stake too in order to prevent a hostile takeover, which subdued the glazers for a while. They assumed it could all be worked out with fergie. But the insanely stubborn fergie wouldn’t relent and did not drop the lawsuit. This prompted McManus and magnier to then send a list of 99 financial questions to Manchester United questioning the fiscal responsibility of the club.
Over time they grew tired of arguing with fergie and decided to stick to horse breeding and racing and sold their entire stake to…the glazers. Having close to 70% now the glazers kept buying until a hostile takeover was achieved.
This is the story of how Alex Ferguson drove out the previous owners of Manchester United, opened the door to the glazers and destroyed Manchester United.
If you want to blame someone – it should always be fergie, if he hadn’t been such a stubborn dickhead the glazers would still be in that dark corner with their 2%
Klopp > Fergie?
So Will Ford is making a case for Klopp being the equal or BETTER than Sir Alex! Been reading this site since 2008! Never felt compelled to comment or write in, BUT this is the biggest amount of hogwash clickbait I have ever read! The 13 title negates it! The 2 titles won against City WITHOUT Ronaldo and WITH Cleverley and Anderson in midfield and an aging Rio, Vidic and Evra plus Young and Valencia as wingers!!! You win with the amount of points needed, nothing more, nothing less!!!
What about taking down Jose in 2006/2007 against a machine of a Chelsea team. Fighting tooth and nail against an Henry / Wenger Arsenal team!
Klopp has won 1 FA Cup, 1 League Cup, 1 Champs League! I mean, how is this even a discussion!!!!!
Don’t get me wrong, I think Klopp is a world class manager and I love how his teams play, but he not even in a discussion against the greatest club manger England has ever seen! DO BETTER WILL FORD!
Daryl (Get well soon John N)
Oh dear. After years of posturing, the sanctimonious FA has decided to “stick to football” after all. 🤣 To paraphrase Sir Edward Grey, “the arch is going out over Wembley. We shall not see it lit again in our lifetime”.
Transfer figures and that
There’s quite a strange creature in the comments section that keeps parroting that Klopp has spent £1.2b whilst in charge of Liverpool. Even in football terms, this sounds like quite a lot, so I’ve looked it up on Transfermarkt: Total expenditure: €933,500,000. Which, according to today’s XE.com conversion rate, works out at: £811,639,716.67. (£26.1m average per player). Whilst this is still a huge amount of money, it is roughly two thirds of this oft-repeated figure. That’s quite a significant amount to inflate by; perhaps that guy works in accounting at the Etihad (lolz, amirite etc.)?
For comparison (and nothing other than that because I’m fact finding and not trying to point-score; average cost per player in brackets to 1 decimal place):
Guardiola: €1,477,558,181/ £1,284,683,425.38 (£27.3m)
Arteta:€688,240,000 / £598,202,983.66 (£23.9m)
Postecoglu: €207,600,000/£180,420,662.08 (£21.4m)
Emery: €123,140,000/£107,019,149.18 (£24.6m)
Howe: €439,650,000/£382,135,861.46 (£25.5m)
Good Cristian men
In response to Andy, CAFC, can you imagine if Argentina could clone Romero? A team of Romeros would be absolutely mental. I don’t think a match could be played without a minimum of two ambulances ready pitch-side, but it would definitely be an entertaining one. He’d pop up with a couple headed goals for sure, finish with 8 players, but almost certainly keep a clean sheet, until going down to 8. As a Spurs fan, I love the guy, what a defender/player, but I wish we’d give him some sedatives before every game.
Tiss, Spurs, Guernsey (what a signing VDV was by the way)
Now the interlull is over, and we’ve sampled the first eighteen games of Artetaball in 23/24, here is my fourth Arsenal ladder of 23/24 season.
This is my estimation on the thoughts of Mikel Arteta. Numbers in brackets indicate previous positions.
1 (1) Saliba – This guy is still incredible.
2 (2) Rice – “The Lighthouse” whether he’s a 6 or an 8.
3 (4) Saka – Looks like he’s free of recent niggles.
4 (5) White – Clearly the second most valuable defender in the squad.
5 (10) Martinelli – Another player who looks like he’s free of recent niggles.
6 (9) Raya – The suggestion of two Number 1s is clearly not what Arteta truly believes.
7 (7) Gabriel – Big game defender, but not a distributor against low blocks.
8 (3) Odegaard – Will rise once he overcomes his injury niggles.
9 (16) Jorginho – Started 5 of the last 7 games.
10 (14) Tomiyasu – Started 4 of the last 7 games in a job share with…
11 (8) Zinchenko – Who has also started 4 of the last 7 games.
12 (6) Jesus – Needs to stay fit.
13 (12) Havertz – Injuries have provided him with minutes. Is he making the most of it? Not really.
14 (15) Trossard – Started only 2 of the last 7 games despite injuries.
15 (11) Nketiah – Injury has hampered his recent increased prominence.
16 (18) Vieira – Still on the periphery. Recent red card won’t help his cause.
17 (19) Kiwior – Utilised against low blocks because of his distribution.
18 (17) Ramsdale – Still falling. Poor Rambo.
19 (13) Partey – Superglue doesn’t seem to keep him together.
20 (21) Smith Rowe – Has now started a league game.
21 (20) Nelson – One Carabao Cup start.
22 (22) Elneny – 8 minutes in the Carabao Cup and 1 minute each in the CL & PL.
23 (NE) Cedric – 3 minutes in the Carabao Cup. That’s it.
24 (NE) Sagoe – Unlikely to be seen again this season.
25 (23) Timber – Still very broken.
The test of a good writer…
.. is whether they can still do it on a wet and windy Tuesday night with a stroke. Johnny Nic we salute you!
…Just heard the news about John. I’ve been in the f365 community for a very long time (early forumer, original member of rule one reading). Somehow John and I, through a mutual appreciation of music collection, tshirts, cricket, live radio and football became “Internet friends “. Some very dark clouds descended on me about 7 years ago, and I can’t explain how much John “listening ” and replying to me helped me keep going. Just been reading through our messages and I love the man. Keep on keeping on John.
…One of the sanest (mostly!) contributors to F365, I’ve been enjoying Johnny’s articles for close to 20 years, whether they be driven by humour or more thought provoking.
Heartfelt wishes to Johnny and to his family as he starts his road to recovery – GET WELL SOON Johnny, because we need you.
Paul, Dublin COYS