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The Money Problem

By Dave Roberts :  14/08/2009 :  Comments (21) :
This great comment from, Dave Roberts is worth a thread of it's own — The Editor

While nobody could really agree with Steven Simpson that David Moyes has built the best team in the Premier League in the sense of ability, it has to be remembered that there is more than one definition of the word ’team’. An alternative interpretation could include the concepts of spirit, loyalty and collective effort that permits a team to reach a level which otherwise they would not be expected to attain. I think this is what Steven meant and if that is the case I agree with him.

But there was something far more fundamental in Steven’s post when he suggested that he would rather support a ’Corinthian’ albeit skint Everton than the plaything of some transitory billionaire. I know exactly what he means, I share his concerns and, it would appear, so do Uefa.

The game is rapidly becoming a financial competition rather than a sporting one and this should concern us all. None of us would fail to welcome some worthwhile investment in our Club but Manchester City’s relentless and (to my mind at least) unethical pursuit of Lescott amply demonstrates what is beginning to become more and more a threat to the wellbeing of the game as a whole and undermines its future.

Somebody mentioned in a post above that we were once the Merseyside Millionaires, that as such we spent money then so why should we deny Manchester City the opportunity to do the same? But this ignores the fact that our available cash as the Merseyside Millionaires did not place us incomparably ahead of all or most other clubs at the time. It did not guarantee us success in the same way as it does now (if we translate success as at least a top four finish) and it did not allow us to try to bully less wealthy Clubs into allowing us to buy their best players whenever we wanted them or encourage us to ’go over the managers head’ when we were told a player was not for sale.

If the likes of Everton, Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs were the wealthiest of Clubs in those days, the difference between this ’top four’ and the rest was not so stark as to make it virtually impossible for other Clubs to achieve success. Clubs like Northampton, Burnley , Leeds and Liverpool could break in and win things and ’little’ clubs like Blackburn could tell us to go away when we tried to sign Bryan Douglas as well as Fred Pickering... and we did.

The whole ethos of the game and its machinery has changed now. Top four finishes and Champions League football sucks in vast amounts of cash, some of which is employed to buy players at prices and a level of ability that other clubs, like Everton, could not entertain. This makes it virtually impossible to permanently dislodge top four Clubs without truck loads of cash and when clubs come upon such levels of wealth, they now behave in a manner which would suggest they feel they have a right to collect any player they see fit and do so with contemptuous arrogance.

The playing field is now so distorted in favour of Clubs who have money to spend that did not come from football itself but from the deep pockets of billionaires, that even the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal must be harbouring some embryonic concerns of their own. Liverpool must be sweating buckets!

So distorted is the game now that there is a growing disillusionment amongst many supporters of all clubs who perceive the game drifting away from them and the world that ordinary people live in whether as result of paying £80M for a player, players earning £200k a week or players spending £120k on a night out. This is not a result of envy but of utter disbelief, similar to the recent reaction to the MP’s allowances scandal. It is crude and it is killing the game as we know it.

Football will never die — the game is too beautiful for that — but the game as we have come to know it over the past 20 years is teetering on the edge of oblivion; the fact it has not already tipped over the edge is due only to the ’loyalty’ of supporters, to the game and to their clubs. This loyalty is being sorely tested by the greed and extravagance now freely exhibited within the Premier League in general and within a few clubs in particular. This will be the death of them in years to come and I fear it will not be too far away.

Reader Comments

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Alan Clarke
1   Posted 14/08/2009 at 13:27:56

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I think in the end, it just becomes about going to the game. Football is essentially fucked and each year I hope something happens to correct it, it just becomes more and more fucked. We’re getting left behind but in order to catch up we need a billionaire who knows fuck all about Everton. At present I still feel Kenwright is so full of shit, I’d take anyone over him but I don’t want the City situation at Everton. Look at the way they’ve suddenly become the most arrogant dicks with all their new money. The true City hardcore following are embarressed.

So I’m just looking forward to meeting up with my dad and taking my seat in the Park End, shouting obscenities at the players, the opposing fans and the ref for 90 minutes as well as having the usual disagreement with the loud mouth in front of me and telling the guy behind me to ’fuck off’ for telling me to sit down all the time.

I’ll still be happy to be back inside Goodison tomorrow.
Anthony Doran
2   Posted 14/08/2009 at 13:38:35

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There seems to be little sign of the green-eyed recession monster in the Premier League or football in general but I think financially we our one of the ’best teams’ in the Premier League and somewere at some time in the future one feels that these free spending clubs who have been propped up by a sugar daddy of a chairman will eventually go to wall because of how they have been run.
Alan Kirwin
3   Posted 14/08/2009 at 15:21:15

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Dave Roberts, brilliant post sir. The single most accurate, insightful and balanced assessment of current reality that I have seen.

I hope the usual suspects read it in the simple & balanced way it is constructed, before the next tsunami of unmitigated bile and discontent plunders forth. In real life realism is applauded as an intelligent place to be. On ToffeeWeb threads, which are increasingly making the Sun and Star look like The Harvard Review, it is akin to illegal immigrant, benefits scrounger status.

Bravo Dave. Always a pleasure to read articles that are measured and intelligent, irrespective of their bias or conclusions. Dave Wilson, your first lesson, compare Dave’s post with your last 3. Spot the difference?
Larry Boner
4   Posted 14/08/2009 at 15:38:37

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It has just been reportred that Torres has signed an extension to his contract at Liverpool taking his WEEKLY wage from £70,000/wk to $110,000/wk, a £40k/wk pay RISE !??

There are no players at Everton who are currently on £40,000/wk - obscene though all of these figures are .
What is the point of continuing to hope that the club can move forward when you see what we are competing with.
When a "small team" like Everton miraculously break the stranglehold on the Sky 4 then the rules are changed to maintain the status quo and the small team is removed, a la Liverpool, 5th place but allowed in, Everton removed from the equation by a certain retired Italian ref.

City are currently the latest potential usurpers, it wll be interesting to see what happens if they break the Sky 4 and qualify for the CL next season. what will the powers do to save hopefully Liverpool, but more likely Arsenal ?
Col Wills
5   Posted 14/08/2009 at 12:32:24

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With all the shenanigans regarding Lescott and the will he/won't he sideshow, can you imagine if Jagielka and Arteta had been fit? I would have envisaged an even more turbulent summer for Evertonians to worry about. Mikky a target for Arsenal or Utd? Jags for City or Chelsea? Pure conjecture and i wish them a speedy recovery but can't help thinking that we've actually avoided losing some key players due to their current injuries.
Stephen Kenny
6   Posted 14/08/2009 at 17:10:58

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Whoever said Money equals Power hit the nail on the haed!

I’m sure that Michel Platini would like to change this but theres nothing he can do. If he tried to even things up a bit the richest clubs would break away, something that they could never allow to happen.

I’ve shown my dislike for Billy liar on many a thread but I’d much rather football came back down to earth and him stay, than be a rich mans plaything and be bought by somebody with no connection to the club,fans or history.

Sadly for me neither scenario is likely. I think you hit every point about what is wrong with football today!
Alan Clarke
7   Posted 14/08/2009 at 17:36:49

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It may still come crashing down, there are signs of it. Look at Portsmouth. Since January they’ve sold Diarra (£20mil), Defoe (£14mil), Crouch (£9mil), Johnson (£18mil) as well as losing Campbell and Davies from their wage bill plus Distin is most likely to be sold too. Paul Hart came out yesterday and still said financially they’re in a worse state than they were at the end of last season. Gary Jacob in the Times reported last week that West Ham were operating at a £1 million loss every month at the end of last season. This is happening because their ’rich’ owners have pulled the plug. Everyone can see Newcastle’s problems as well.

The problem is that the top clubs don’t seem to be affected and for any real change to come about, one of the G14 has to topple; then Uefa and Fifa may have more power to act.
Kevy Quinn
8   Posted 14/08/2009 at 17:37:39

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Stephen, I think the man who said that was Tony Montana.
Stephen Kenny
9   Posted 14/08/2009 at 18:00:54

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Kevy, is that the Colombian winger we were linked with a few season’s ago?
Mike Oates
10   Posted 14/08/2009 at 17:59:21

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I replied to an e.mail last year stating that we will end up in a situation where the CL is replaced by a 20-club European league run by the G20, based on financial income, with maybe a constraint of 4 clubs per country. In it will be usual English, Spanish, German, and Italian teams.

The reason is that the Billionaire owners will want competitive games against the best around and why Man Utd v Burnley when they could play against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter Milan et etc. TV will pay a fortune and games will be over 3-4 days a week .....Relegation will only exist if a club goes broke and will be replaced by the next richest club.

The rest of each country's clubs will play in their own leagues and as per now with the Winners/runners-up feeding into a European knock-out tornament run by Uefa. Top clubs will be creamed off into the G20 league.

Everton will still have 40,000 watching as we play Wigan, Sheff Utd, Aston Villa ....., and not much will change except from today, in fact we may get our 3pm Saturday afternoon games back.

I will dream up something else next week.

Kevy Quinn
11   Posted 14/08/2009 at 18:09:52

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Yes, Stephen, with the speed we process transfers he's due to sign 2014.
David Hallwood
12   Posted 14/08/2009 at 18:15:22

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Good post, and I think that a football fans should be concerned about the spiralling costs of the game. There is more money than ever but the latest estimate puts the indebtedness at £3.1billion, and you don’t need a degree in economics to realise that that level of debt cannot be sustained. In the last 2 years we have seen banks and even countries go bust under a mountain of debt, what akes anyone believe that football will dodge the bullet?

Players' wages aren’t just obscene — they are unafforable, there is an argument (usually voiced by agents) that its only a tiny minority of players that are on £100k+ pw, but players on ’ordinary’ wages of say £40k see those types of salaries and think its reasonable to have a tiny increase of say £5k pw thus ratcheting up the debt futher. Uefa/Fifa needs to act to save the game from itself.
Andy Morden
13   Posted 14/08/2009 at 18:51:19

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I don’t know if anyone else saw a report on BBC 6 O’clock News about the cash cow that the Premier League is in foreign markets? It seems that the TV audience for the prem is massive — specifically for (and it pains me to say it) The Shite, Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal. The money they cream from this market helps to consolidate their positions, and of course, Sky (and other broadcasters) benefit from the thirst for these teams, hence they skew their coverage towards them - they know where their bread is buttered. This is nothing we don’t already know.

What was of interest was to see that teams like Spurs (expected) and Hull (not so expected) were out in the Middle East promoting themeslves and benefiting from increased coverage, ticket sales and shirt sales. Bloody Hull City are more on the ball than us! Tony Marsh has already pointed out we missed a trick by going to America and the more I see the more I concur with him on this point.

In relation to this thread, I have to ask - what do we want? A team who is honourablebut who falls behind? Or do we want our club to get with the programme and try to level up the playing field? Yes, the money in the game is pretty disgusting, but on the other hand this is the reality of football. Stick or twist?

Trevor Williams
14   Posted 14/08/2009 at 19:42:06

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A bit of a contradiction from DM’s own mouth today about Lescott and all transfers:

"Most clubs will have a price for a player. The offers were not big enough."

If that isn't a "come a bit just a little bit more" then I don't know what is...
Marco Buonfiglio
15   Posted 14/08/2009 at 20:59:21

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Kudos to Dave Roberts for a reasoned, well-argued post.

Anthony Doran, I agree, it’s taken a while, but twelve months since the credit crunch, the recession is starting to nibble at the edges of the Premier League.

On January 8 this year, Equifax opined that 50% of Premier League clubs were ’technically insolvent’. Much was made of the fact that RBS wouldn’t foreclose on the Chuckle Brothers across the park purely because of the "massive PR considerations".

This is where Dave Roberts’s points are most relevant. Aye, back in the day, Everton were the Mersey Millionaires, and even earlier, Sunderland were the Bank of England club. The point is that the Moores money was loaned, a model that Abramovic followed until he realised his loans were never going to be repaid, so he converted them into shares in CFC.

It’s been said before, but it’s no less true for repetition: Although the Sky4/CL4 money has distorted the Premier League, turning it into a "Best Of The Rest" cum "Stay The Hell Up" division, Manchester City’s money is supposed to result in a shake-up. I don’t think it will. Hands up everyone who thinks that Hughes will be given time to produce a team? Different ownership, I admit, but how long was Eriksson given? Hughes’s next signing (whoever that might be...) will take him through the £100M barrier for the summer. Admittedly City’s new owners have spent a similar sum on a yacht, but when sums like this are piffling, so is your commitment.

So I come back to The Monkey’s Paw argument: be fecking careful what you wish for. The argument is that "if Moyes has achieved what he has on a nett spend averaging £3.5M a year, just imagine what he could do with £100M a year". Absolutely.

So long as you don’t mind Our Next Beloved Chairman prevailing upon our manager to sign his mate. Or just signing him and the manager finding out when he sees the replica shirts being printed at Everton 2.

I’ve had my own problems with BK over the last 25 years, but I think he’s better than the Monkey’s Paw.

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum: it’s a wonderful motto, but it’s a motto. Those who take it as a gameplan are deluding themselves because in our 131-year history. We’ve never proved it. How many times have we won the World Club Championship?

In 1985, there’s a strong case to be made that we had the best team in Europe, possibly the world, but let’s not get into that one again.

If Everton were a boxer, we wouldn’t be heavyweights. Look at some of the heavyweight numbskulls who’ve claimed that title. The 1986 European Cup was won by Steaua Bucharest for two reasons: Barcelona couldn’t take penalties, and Everton couldn’t take part. If Everton — over the years — were a boxer, we’d be Ray Leonard. Pound-for-pound, the best in the world.

NSNO: it means we’re the best club in the world.

Gareth Atkinson
16   Posted 14/08/2009 at 23:09:19

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Great article; however, I’ve just come to realise that we're fucking skint and every pre-season is going to be like this until we're taken over (even then will it be any different?).

However, I believe that if that if you can get an extra 10% out of players from the previous season, you can still do well. I’m not for one minute saying this makes up for not signing any players but it's something I’ve always thought about Everton the last few years, and weve got the perfect man in place to get that extra bit out of players.
David Hallwood
17   Posted 15/08/2009 at 13:24:52

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what none of the posters have touched upon is that it’s not only us that are f***ing skint, but so is just about every other team in the prem; the sky 4 owe 2 billion between and both Man U and the RS profits are eaten by interest repayments, how long this is allowed to continue is anybodies guess, but the only surprise is that the rise in running costs has been allowed to get so out of control
Howard Don
18   Posted 15/08/2009 at 13:57:32

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Grat article Dave, good analysis and a refreshing change from the bile of the Marshist tendancy. Yes I’d love a decent slice of new investment (eg Aston Villa) to give Moyes a working budget. Do I want us to sell our heart and soul like City (and possibly our future when the plug is pulled) Not sure I do.
Dave Wilson
19   Posted 15/08/2009 at 15:48:24

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Alan Kirwin

When Ciaran described you a particularly stupid man earlier this week, did you notice he wasn't challenged? Not by one single person, did it occur to you why ?

Go figure.

I’m off to the game now... enjoy your Lambrusco.

Dave Roberts

My apologies, didn't mean to hijack the thread. An excellent article.
Alan Kirwin
20   Posted 15/08/2009 at 16:10:01

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Just why exactly are you hurling insult after insult Wilson?

And after all the utter drivel and bile that you have polluted this site with, how the hell can you praise Dave Roberts’ article? It flies in the face of everything you’ve been vomiting on here for as long as I can recall.

Or are you really so stupid that you don’t actually know what you think?

Lambrusco is cheap, content-free & rather nasty. I tried it once when I was about 14. No surprise that it’s the one wine you’ve heard of Wilson.

Is poison really all you have?
Dave Wilson
21   Posted 15/08/2009 at 21:02:21

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ls it me, or does Coco getting camper by the post?

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