A wage cap is the only way to keep UEFA’s ‘product’ exciting

Date published: Tuesday 12th May 2020 2:27

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Keep your mails coming to theeditor@football365.com…


Wage cap
The recent F365 feature – ‘Only Ronaldo and oligarch class will survive football’s reset’ made interesting and sobering reading.

It is difficult to disagree with any of the points made, and as such it does throw up a genuinely worrying possibility of a small number of clubs becoming increasingly dominant with no possibility of clubs realistically challenging the billion petro dollar bank balances of the PSGs and Man Citys of this world.

The potential of leagues becoming increasingly less competitive is a real possibility, and maybe now is the opportunity for UEFA to accept the reality that they will have to change and a wage cap is the only way to keep their ‘product’ exciting.

Despite the vast wealth of American football franchises such as the Dallas Cowboys there is no danger of a club ‘buying’ the Superbowl year on year, and whether you like the sport or not it does not hide the fact that every season is an open contest that does make for good viewing.

Everybody agrees that football as we know it will have to change – this is the time to act to ensure whatever the game morph into can actually be a more attractive and exciting product than it is now.
MARK (London)


To be honest, I got a little lost reading Seb Stafford-Bloor’s latest sermon. But there was one thing he said that made me realize that he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“Shirt sales are a bit of a myth – the manufacturer typically benefits from those sales far more than the club …”

I’d like to politely point out that is complete bollocks. The club grants multiple licensees the rights to merchandise product in return for an advance on the deal (money up front) , a minimum guarantee for each market or each year (we’ll pay you this even if we don’t sell a single thing), and a royalty share on every unit sold. In other words, zero risk to the club.The licensee assumes all the risk, and deals with the entire supply chain, including the business of screwing the manufacturers to the smallest unit price on every shirt/mug/calendar/whatever sold.

The club takes the lion’s share of the revenue, irrespective of how well the product performed at market.

How do I know? This is what I do.

So, Seb, as my old Dad told me once – when Ford published a list of items which will be taken care of at each service, which ends with “clean the windscreen” and he picks up his car and the windscreen is as dirty as when he took it in, he began to wonder. If they didn’t clean the windscreen, did they really check the brakes? Adjust the timing? Refill the clutch fluid? He can’t see that, but he could sure as hell can check that the windscreen was cleaned.

When you write a piece and one of the paragraphs is complete bollocks, how do I trust the rest of what you’re telling me? Do some research.
Steve, (I’m sure this will get lost in the “Restart” debate), Los Angeles


Playoff proposal
I read Adonis Stevenson’s post this morning with interest, as I’ve been mulling over a similar(ish) playoff type proposal, which looks like this:

First up, a six team round-robin between Chelsea, Man United, Wolves, Sheffield United, Tottenham and Arsenal to determine the final finishing positions between 4th and 9th and the relevant European qualification spots.

Points accrued in this mini-league will be added on to their existing points tallies – so, Chelsea in 4th effectively start with an 8pt “headstart” over Arsenal in 9th. (Although Arsenal and Sheffield United’s existing game in hand would be used as a tiebreaker if needed at the end)

That gives us five rounds of three fixtures which could be played as triple headers (1pm/4pm/8pm, for example) in under a fortnight, allowing for two days rest between each round – let’s say Sunday, Wednesday, Saturday, Tuesday and a glittering finale under Friday night lights.

Then, a six team round-robin between Norwich, Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham and Brighton to determine the final finishing positions between 15th and 20th and the three relegation spots. Same as the above, points accrued in the Premier League “proper” carry through, so Norwich start the campaign six points from safety.

Again, five triple headers, with two day rest periods, played on the off days of the European qualification pool – Saturday, Tuesday, Friday, Monday, Thursday.

So, that’s a two week feast of football set up and, even played behind closed doors in neutral, sterile settings, the fact that every fixture would be a proverbial six-pointer should help to make up for the lack of atmosphere.

Finally, Liverpool, as we know, currently need just two more wins to clinch the title, so let’s give them three games to hit that mark – their next three fixtures, against Everton, Palace and Man City. No points at stake for those three clubs, just the opportunity to prevent Liverpool winning the league – if they fail to get the two wins they need, they still finish first, but the title is declared vacant.

All other finishing positions are set in stone as at the current standings, so aside from Everton, Palace and City’s one-off games against Liverpool, there’s no more football in 2019/20 for them, Leicester, Burnley, Newcastle and Southampton.

As a Saints fan desperate to get back to St Mary’s that’s the fly in the ointment, but hey, needs must – all done and dusted in a couple of weeks or so, lots of big (big) match ups and all important matters resolved.

What do other mailboxers think of this faintly ridiculous and almost certainly unworkable plan?
Luke Nuckley


Higher ticket prices……if crowds even return
Levenshulme Blue,

For smaller clubs who have trouble filling their stadium, you might have a point, there will be more pressure for them to attract people in bad economic and unhealthy times, forcing lower prices.

For big clubs that have years long waiting lists though? I don’t think they will have an issue. Especially if seat capacity will be drastically reduced in the next few years due to the pandemic safety measures. Argubly this may even push HIGHER prices on fans cos clubs need each fan to pay more per entry to get closer to their old revenue and waiting lists might get longer too.

This may even be an issue moreso in the Championship and below as matchday is a bigger percentage of their revenue, so they have little choice but to go the maximizing revenue route. The EPL can always rely on television to loss lead lower matchday money a little if they need to.

Even including the national economic damage and the lower demand of stadium football due to dangers, the bigger EPL teams should have no issues getting their seats filled. Their surplus waiting lists are ridiculously long.

Of course, this all assumes crowd football is even a thing. Frankly theres a chance it  may be too dangerous for anything but behind closed doors for the next few years. If that happens, it will utterly destroy the leagues below the EPL due to their reliance in matchday revenue.
Yaru, Malaysia


Changing opinions
Really enjoyed the piece by Seb Stafford-Bloor this morning, excellent (as always) from the F365 team.

Now I apologise if this is a bit lacking in clarity, but I’m running on fumes given an incredibly disrupted night of sleep followed by extensive statistical modelling in the morning, however…

Darren Fletcher! Now there is a player who massively won me over given time, and changed my opinion from workhouse to top (top (is that still a thing?! Also did we ever figure out what happened to Conor Bryne?)) player. The infamous Keane interview is probably the best example of how he was initially viewed, but he gradually improved, became a mainstay of the team (to the point that I was gutted he had to miss the 2009 Champions League final), won almost everything he could with United, got voted in to the team of the year (I think?) and generally became a very good player. He had a horrible time with injuries in his last few years at the club, but that shouldn’t detract from how good he was for a fair few years. I honestly don’t know how well he did or didn’t play for Scotland, but Wikipedia tells me he won 80 caps and was the youngest captain for over a century. So yeah, feels like that went OK as well.

This is essentially just an ode to a player I grew to really appreciate, having initially written him off. I actually think that the article raised a really interesting point about how set in our ways we become when judging a player, and it was a real pleasure to have Fletcher win me over through consistently high quality performances.

Any other suggestions from the mailbox about players who won you over?
Jack (Ordered more than one replica shirt during lockdown, currently sat in a tasty Fiorentina number) Manchester


Football postponed indefinitely
Eirik from Norway has said what I – and I believe others quiet heretofore – have feared for a while now.

Football may be off a while yet. What saddens me from a sports perspective (I appreciate and acknowledge there are more important things in the World at the moment) is we may never see Messi and Ronaldo do it again if your worst fears are to hold.

I have missed lots of football these past 10 or so years. Lots of catching up with players I recognise / remember to do yet.


Nice to see…
It was nice to see a comprehensive, considered and yet humble mail from Andy MUFC this morning as opposed to the usual “it can’t be played, end of..” approach (I’m looking at you Richard MCFC!).There are a lot of things to consider.  We may have opinions but we really shouldn’t put as much value in them as to claim ours is the only correct opinion.  There are plenty of people discussing this, with far more info and direct insight than us, so can we just step away from the virtue signalling hyperbole that’s been taking over the mailbox.

Everyone cares about the deaths, everyone reading this site cares about football, every club has their own best interests at the forefront when it comes to making a decision on how Project Restart will pan out, these cares are not mutually exclusive.
Paul, The Wirral


As covid still dominates mailbox and having read various well thought and some not that coherent mails about it, thought I would try to bring one more dimension into it. I agree with Andy, (MUFC) and would like to apply his logic bit further.

Some people thinking about project restart are missing the point. It’s not just about football, especially not just about premier league. It’s not even just about sports. It’s about restarting whole society and what are considered non-vital services for short term survival. So if project restart is a no go, how about hairdressers? How about nail saloons? How about musicians and concerts? How about restaurants? The list is endless. If we don’t restart football, I see no justification restarting other sports or other non essential services either. I would like to watch good football on TV, but I can live without it. But at the same time I can cut my own hair, make my own food and listen music only via spotify.

What that naturally means, is that millions and millions of people will lose their work. That will cause massive problems (and ultimately deaths) in our society. Like Andy, I have no expertise what the tipping point is e.g. when is the critical time lockdown causes more harm than good, but there is definitely one and that includes football.

One more thing is overall positive impact of sports in general. If we shut down all sports for years to come where social distancing is difficult, that will result in people generally moving less. Surely you can say that we can all go jogging, but it will never happen. Swimming for example is great for older people or for me at the moment after hurting my back. More physical activity means less depression, heart diseases etc.

I am not saying I have the answers, sadly so. But I do know that you simply can’t think football in isolation. It is very much part of bigger conversation.
Matti Katara, Helsinki (luckily there is youtube and chess)


Injured greats – McGrath!

That Top Ten Injured was a sad article although I guess some inspiring tales of success despite the injuries. However, the major omission for me is Paul McGrath.
Easily the best defender I have seen play, despite having no knees. Imagine how good he would have been if fully fit! At Villa his nickname is God, so they would have had to invent a new superlative.

I was lucky enough to see him play for United at Bramall Lane once, just before he retired. It was said his knees meant he couldn’t train and his warm up seemed to consist of a slight stretch to each side, and as I remember it he only made it in to the opposition half once (and got a standing ovation for it!). Despite this he was still absolute class, he just read the game like some kind of psychic super-hero monk. Like someone had hacked him in FIFA and set his positioning and interception to 1000.

He still somehow managed around 500 matches (thanks wikipedia) and played until he was 38 but I reckon if he was fully fit Villa could have played a 1-5-4 formation and won everything! Although I suspect Milan would have bought him.

I stood behind him queueing in a newsagent around the time he retired, first I noticed he was much shorter than I thought, second, I got a bit awed and possibly reached out to just touch him to see if he was real but then he turned round and I said hi and he said hi back. Then he left. What I wanted to say was “Sensei, teach me!” 🙂
Rob, of Sweden


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