- Jul 11, 2008
- Reaction score
The phenomenon of "pouring money to get results so as to become a big club" will probably linger forever. This phenomenon seems to be a necessity rather than a menace, where three parties comprising the big club, the small club and the player can all be happy if done properly. "Who would a small club blame for its failure to sign top-rated players?" It's certainly not the big clubs who are to blame. The small clubs should be more effective with scouting for new and undiscovered talents when they are still not highly valued players yet, after growing and nurturing, they can decide whether to sell those talents or to keep them. We all know things don't work this way though — even if the small clubs decide not to sell their young talents but to build them up to win trophies instead, reality will soon kick in since building a trophy-winning team takes a long number of years to implement successfully.
The young talents of today are hungry for success and with that untamed hunger comes an avalanche of haste and hurry. They will always find their way out of struggling small clubs to successful bigger ones upon the expiration of their contracts or by using gimmicks — they are that desperate.
When these big clubs come looking for them, the young players cannot resist the most sought-after opportunity knocking on their doors while their clubs can't resist the money too. The entire fault does not lie with the small clubs, it's not like they don't want to win trophies, but they just happen to need the money from the sale of their big talents to cover for certain club expenses.
This entire scope is more of a necessitated attempt at survival that helps all involved parties to keep their heads above water. This phenomenon predates the English Premier League (EPL) and it's prevalent in other leagues as well.
May I also add that I don't think this phenomenon translates to the bigger clubs abusing the smaller ones, I feel it's more like a game of choice and survival.
Here are some points to back up my assertions:
POV 1: In spite of the supposed negative effect of this phenomenon on the competitiveness of the EPL, the rate of competitiveness in the EPL has increased in recent years. For instance, Leicester City FC got promoted to EPL in the 2014–2015 season, the club struggled heavily throughout that season and only managed to finish 14th, however it was one of the greatest shocks that the sport world has seen in a long year when Leicester City FC emerged the league champion in just the following season, this feat further proves the extent of the league's competitiveness.
Just to add, this same phenomenon caught up with the club, notable players were sold off before the next season commenced.
POV 2: EPL has done better than most other top leagues in terms of the huge fees spent at each transfer window to sign new players.
(Note: When considering the phenomenon of domination of small clubs by the big clubs, supposedly, for the sake of argument, the less the average amount spent on signing players by a club, the better).
Using stats from statistics.com, it is found that out of the top ten record football transfers in football history, only one is from the English Premier League. Sitting in the 7th spot of this list is Jack Grealish (117.5million euros), who was signed by Manchester City FC in the 21/22 season. French club — Paris Saint-Germain FC took the 1st and the 2nd spots for the signings of Neymar Jr. (222million euros) in the 17/18 season and Kylian Mbappé (145million euros) in the 18/19 football season.
Spanish club — Barcelona FC has two other signings in this top ten list with Philippe Coutinho coming 3rd with the record signing fee of 135million euros in the 17/18 season and Ousmane Dembele placing 5th with the same record fee of 135million euros in the same football season. Spanish club — Real Madrid also has its record signing in the 19/20 season, Eden Hazard on the rock bottom of this list placing at the 10th position.
In the 8th and the 9th spots are record signings of the Italian Serie A clubs, Juventus FC and Inter Milan FC.
Cristiano Ronaldo transfer fee of 117million euros in the 18/19 season by Juventus makes the 8th spot while Romelu Lukaku signing fee of 115million euros was another notable signing in the 2019/2020 season by Inter Milan.
The above stats further goes to prove my point, it is clearly obvious here that this phenomenon is almost ubiquitous (it is largely prevalent elsewhere) and that even if we are to agree for a moment that it's indeed a menace, then EPL wouldn't even be the worst offender as many other leagues have gone to greater extremes in doing the same thing.
POV 3: Sometimes (less often than not actually), signing some players especially the big players can fetch the club some extra cool cash — this shows that the reason why some clubs sign certain players at outrageous fees is not always with the goal of dominating the small clubs. Signing a big star can do more than that, it can also cause an upsurge in television viewership, like it has been known that less popular leagues have been wanting to sign either Ronaldo or Messi, or even any other big star for some other reasons.
Taking Lionel Messi transfer as an example, in just seven minutes, 150,000 Lionel Messi Jerseys were sold online with the proceeds from those sales totaling up to 23.7million euros, without a shadow of a doubt, PSG would certainly make more money at the later end.
Also in 2020 when Cristiano Ronaldo moved back to his former club, Manchester United for the second time in his professional football career, he broke the record for the most shirts sold in a single day. I love the sale puts the total revenue generated from the sale of Ronaldo's Jersey at more than $219million and that of Lionel Messi at more than $121million. These are not some isolated events, similar things happened when Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived at Manchester United, also when Neymar signed for PSG and several other cases.
Impact of UEFA FFP regulations on this phenomenonThe UEFA financial fair play regulations were introduced by UEFA in 2011 to prevent European clubs from accruing large debts and becoming insolvent. It was set up to encourage European clubs to be more prudent about their financial decisions. What UEFA was trying to prevent that led to the formulation of The UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations (UEFA FFP regulations) is actually club bankruptcy and not really the need to stop big clubs from dominating the small clubs.
It was not until the 2011–2012 football season before its implementation began. In the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, sqaf.com pegged the net debt of EPL clubs at £3billion, the situation was worsened by the pandemic and this saw many EPL clubs (just like with other leagues) seek ways to conserve resources.
Surprisingly, just four out of the clubs with the most debts can be said to be 'big', the remaining six aren't exactly what anyone might want to call big. The First thing to notice is the sharp gap in the amount owed as one sifts through the lot, from the club with the most debt to the 10th one. Chelsea FC, the first on the list with a wild margin, was reported to have been £1.3billion in debt. Tottenham Hotspur was second place with a net debt of £534 million, this is way less than half of what Chelsea owed. For other big clubs in this list, Manchester United was 5th with £204 million and Liverpool placed 6th with a net debt of £157million.
The small clubs that were in this list are Newcastle at 3rd place (£384million), Brighton and Hove Albion at 4th place (£279 million), Wolverhampton Wanderers at 7th place (£103million), Watford at 8th (£97million), Bournemouth at 9th (£90million) and Leicester City at 10th (£80million).
This list clearly does not have two of the six most important big clubs in the top 10 spots; these are Manchester City FC and Arsenal FC.
This list is substantial in emphasizing the point that clubs plunge into debts not only because they broke their banks by signing the best players at outrageous fees, if that was the case two of the highest spenders especially one like Manchester City won't be missing from the list as it would drown in debt.
It however opens our sensibilities to other reasons that could be at play, such as how wealthy the owners of a club are and how much a big club makes with the help of the big players it invested in. Sometimes a club fails miserably to make good money even after signing top-rated players.
Generally, clubs run into debts as a result of poor financial decisions.
In conclusion, Newcastle United by a reason of the financial buoyancy it just has as a result of the recent change of ownership can decide by choice to emulate the big clubs and also sign the top-rated players in EPL and across other leagues — which I believe it will do, or it can choose to just keep being its old self. It's all a matter of choice.