Football is dead. It has been on life support for some time and last night 12 clubs – and there will be more who will tag on – just decided to pull the plug.
I’ll start with “English” Football, given that’s where I live.
In 1991 Manchester United floated on the stock market. It felt wrong. There are those that say Liverpool fans like myself were “jealous” and many of us no doubt were, but I was honestly not one.
I was envious of Manchester United in the 90’s. As a kid growing up, I hated them they were them and we were us. To my mind a polar opposite and a rivalry that could never be reproached.
As you grow older you realise we’re just the same set of wankers with different sponsors with questionable business practices on our shirts.
A lot of people in this country claim to love the game and its tradition but little by little we’ve allowed them to take it from us and why? Because they gave us shiny things while they did so.
Who are “they”? Anyone who was interested in just making money out of our passion.
Bill Hicks famously used to go on impassioned rants on how marketing was the death of anything good in this world.
He commented music companies would take people with no talent and target impressionable youth. You see while they didn’t have their own money, they had access to their parents money.
In the culmunation of his rant he purported an extremely graphic hypothesis that to get on in the music industry, all you had to do was to fellate Satan.
How right he was.
Given the choice to prevent a Premier League – an idea not of Rupert Murdoch’s making as some believe but of former Liverpool CEO, Rick Parry – we instead lined up in droves to clap at the new shiney shiney.
Year by year after that the game slipped away, whether we knew it or not. The money increased, the big names from abroad increased but the game was dissapearing over the horizon.
Enter Roman Abramovich.
Again, I was disgusted he was allowed to own a football team give his links to certain human rights abusers and how it was suggested he acquired his vast fortune.
I was also angry that a team could become a power over night. It’s at this point I admit freely that some of this anger was that it would diminsh our own chance of success. I’m not a hypocrite, or at least I try not to be.
I accepted Chelsea after a few years, mainly because of what was to come next. Deep down though, I knew this had opened the door for what could only be deemed as a hostile takeover of the game I loved.
These things don’t happen overnight. I honestly couldn’t believe what seemed to be genuine shock from some people in their reactions last night on social media.
The writing had been on the wall for years and while I was roundly ridiculed and told I was guilty of hyperbole – and no doubt will be again by the same kind of people whose apathy to tradition and sanctity allows this blindside to be facilitated – I knew deep down it was coming.
The last straw for me watching the league as whole came last season. Liverpool won the league and I felt empty. To some degree, it was down to not being able to be there or celebrate it as we would have wished but really though it was the realisation that even when we won, there would be little respite until the next onslaught.
Couple that with Liverpool choosing to partner with AXA a company you can read all about here:
and my love for “English” football was all but gone. I then fell victim to the same whataboutery that I hate. I made myself believe that because Liverpool were only sponsored by AXA, it wasn’t the same and therefore wasn’t as bad as being owned by the human rights abusers directly.
There is a truth to this and one I was desperate to cling on to. There is however also a truth that I let myself down by not walking away there and then. I was guilty of the same kind of cognitive dissonance that allowed human rights abusers to buy a huge stake in this game.
You see Abu Dhabi don’t just want to PR wash in England, they chose England for viewing figures – not as some will suggest that they were “fans” – do me a fucking favour with that one.
Most people know the major players but one man seems to slip through the net, that man is Ferran Soriano. Abu Dhabi’s name might be on the label but this is the fella that created the “secret sauce” City Football Group was his idea, he wanted to to take the idea of academies all over the world to the next level and have a “franchise” of clubs that all fed into one another and create a talent network that clubs didn’t work alongside the main hub but were owned by it.
Anyway fuck “City”, it was just important to acknowledge how out of hand this is and how when Abu Dhabi heard this proposal they jumped at the chance to fund it as their plan is, was and has always been to not partake in a sport, but to dominate it.
The whole idea of sport is that it only matters if it is competitive on at least a somewhat level playing field, the big clubs now actively look for ways to make that not the case and the ultimate result is the death knell we have now seen for the sport.
To wrap things up in England, you only have to look at two groups, the fans and the owners. We the fans (myself included) patted ourselves on the back for the minor victory that was getting clubs to not raise their price any further from their already extortionate amounts.
We applauded ourselves as we got an extra crumb, meanwhile in Germany they just tell the league they’ll take the whole loaf and that’s why football still matters in Germany despite idiots over here referring to it as a “farmer’s league”.
The second obvious player here are the “owners” I mean the fact we freely refer to them as owners and yet some didn’t see this coming is the kind of cloud of misplaced whimsy that we live in when we talk about “our game”.
We’ve been over “City’s” owners who the fans would happily allow to sacrifice puppies at half time as long as they keep pumping their ill gotten gains into the club and Manchester itself.
Liverpool, a club owned by a consortium that features owners who backed both Biden and Trump in the last election – so seemed to care about their own country’s plight but then got into bed with AXA showing they definitely don’t give a shit about Palestinians.
And the Glazers who give a fuck about no one and nothing as long as they can keep syphoning funds from one of the most marketable brands in the world.
This is football?
I decided I was done with English football and went to La Liga. I enjoyed it infinitely more but again it was not to last.
I chose Barca for their history and tradition and overnight the owners pissed all over it and set it on fire.
I thought that the idea of “socios” would be a safety net and that it couldn’t happen at such a club as the fans “owned” the club. That naive notion has been well and truly been disuaded.
Surely the Bundesliga though, surely they will be safe, right? Surely their big clubs wouldn’t take on the most fan savvy of all the leagues in my opinion?
If rumours are to be believe, wrong again. There is no hiding place from this kind of greed, it’s all consuming.
Where does football go from here? If the country that are given the majority of credit for inventing the sport can’t stop this, another country that prioritised “fan ownership” can’t stop it and the most fervent of all football fans when it comes to the idea that football is nothing without them can’t prevent it, where is our out?
Absolute power corrupts absolutely and the big clubs are desperate for said absolute power and they are all but there now in the shadow of big daddy JP Morgan.
I’m reminded of the end of Barney’s black and white film entry in The Simpsons.
Don’t cry for football, it’s already dead.
He killed himself with alcohol, we killed football with our apathy.