It is, to use the technical term, early doors in the English Premier League club financial reporting season. Publication this month of Everton’s figures brings to all of three the number of clubs who have so far reported. Yet 2013-14 is already shaping up to be a landmark year for profitability in the English top tier.
The question and answer format is much resorted to in France. To one more versed in the “cut-to-the-chase” school of Anglo-American journalism, however, it can come across as woolly, evasive and self-indulgent.
By relating a conversation word for word as it happened, or purporting to, the convention both implies that every cough and splutter uttered by the protagonists is worthy of the reader’s attention and largely abdicates the editing function.
I have just returned from Monaco and an absorbing few days at the Sportel convention cum media rights bazaar. Boiling it down, I can recollect three moments worth recording for future reference.
I have been privileged to receive, in advance of this week’s Sportel sports content media convention in Monaco, a briefing on 2014 World Cup viewing trends from a leading specialist in the field. The briefing – from Kevin Alavy, managing director – mediabrands at Futures Sport+Entertainment, a US-based sports research consultancy – was unofficial in nature. But it gives an idea of what to expect when the official television audience report for the tournament is published by FIFA.
I have to admit I wouldn’t normally dwell on an announcement by FIFA President Sepp Blatter that the FIFA Executive Committee had decided that the football association of a rocky 2.3 square mile enclave at the tip of the Iberian peninsula cannot be accepted as a member of FIFA.
‘If you build it, UEFA will come.’ With apologies to Kevin Costner and the rest of those responsible for Field of Dreams, the fantasy Black Sox baseball movie, this looks like a more and more apposite slogan for a venue some four thousand miles east of Ray Kinsella’s ploughed-under Iowa corn-field: Wembley Stadium.
Given the number of times I read that football agent Jorge Mendes won the summer transfer window, it is ironic that his profession stands technically to be legislated out of existence before the end of the 2014-15 season. If world governing body FIFA gets its way, a new regulatory system dealing not with licensed agents, but with “intermediaries” will take effect on 1 April 2015. Some, including agents I have spoken to who predict that the new rules will produce chaos,
Recent reports suggesting that European Union countries were mulling a possible future sports boycott against Vladimir Putin’s Russia triggered two immediate thoughts.
So FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a step nearer securing a fifth term as boss of world football, following this week’s announcement by his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini, probably his most credible potential challenger, that he would not stand against him in next year’s election. That means that world football’s governing body may be a step nearer possibly losing its direct, active representation in world sport’s most powerful club – the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Liverpool posted the biggest pre-tax loss in the Premier League in 2012-13. The previous year only Manchester City posted a bigger one. In such circumstances, you might have expected the Anfield club to be squirrelling away at least some of its Luis Suárez windfall; to be showing a modicum of restraint in this summer’s transfer market in the interests of its bottom-line. All the more so with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) provisions hovering in the background.
Rummaging through my mother’s garage, I found a mildewed relic: a copy of Shoot! “incorporating Goal”‘s summer special from 1974.
It was not a happy time for English football. The Alf Ramsey era had just fizzled to a close with a goalless draw in Portugal. With the World Cup that England had failed to qualify for about to take place in West Germany, the first article was an assessment of Ramsey’s long reign.
Against my better judgment, I yesterday waded into the lively Twitter debate over Celtic and the Champions League being prosecuted (the bits that I have seen) by those better informed and/or more emotionally engaged than me.
Top football clubs are different to other businesses. Whereas most companies exist to generate wealth for their shareholders, football clubs must balance this against the pursuit of trophies. Of course, the two aims are linked, or can be: mountains of silverware will increase a club’s popularity, tending to make it more valuable and, hence, to enable its owners, should they so choose, to sell it at a profit.
With the start of a new Premier League season less than three weeks away, I have repeated last year’s exercise drawing on data from the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance to compile 26 top-three ‘mini-tables’. These rank the 20 English top-tier clubs in the 2012-13 season according to different financial parameters.
July 8 – The last few weeks, with the tournament in full swing, have been a lot better. But I don’t think anyone could justifiably argue that Brazil’s first of three years in the global sporting spotlight has gone entirely to plan. Today in Belo Horizonte Brazilians must face up to the distinct possibility of more bad news: can their yellow-shirted warriors, shorn of their two best players, feasibly get the better of a typically well-drilled,