51 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Matt Scott: Football’s new megastars are worlds away from the players of yore

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“I have hit rock bottom and I don’t see any way out of it,” Chelsea’s former European Cup Winners’ Cup winner, Alan Hudson

Alan Hudson is 62 years of age now but when he was the playmaker for a useful Chelsea team during the 1970s he was one of the Kings of the King’s Road. He was a household name, leading a lifestyle as flamboyant as the football he played over the 400-plus top-flight appearances he made as the creative force of clubs that consistently challenged for trophies.

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Matt Scott: Should Europe’s top clubs be depressed by deflation?

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“Inflation is unjust and deflation is inexpedient. Of the two perhaps deflation is, if we rule out exaggerated inflations such as that of Germany, the worse; because it is worse, in an impoverished world, to provoke unemployment than to disappoint the rentier,” John Maynard Keynes, Essays on Persuasion

Whether or not you have heard of John Maynard Keynes, and whatever you might think of the orthodoxies (libertarians mostly consider him a false prophet of the dismal science,

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Matt Scott: Drifting into a storm? How football must manage its divergence in riches

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“Riches, one may say, are like sea-water; the more you drink, the thirstier you become.” Arthur Schopenhauer, Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit

It was in 1851 that the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote his Wisdom of Life. At the time European empires bestrode the globe and an upper class of landowners and industrialists dominated the social landscape within nations. A militaristic thirst for still more riches brought about the conflict of the Great War,

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Matt Scott: Arsenal: big guns set to have the last laugh?

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“And the big Gun guffawed,” The Last Laugh, Wilfred Owen

The military connection endures today in name only, and in the cannon that is borne on the club’s crest, but there is no question that in football terms the passage of history has made Arsenal one of England’s big guns. Thirteen league titles and 10 FA Cups point to a record bettered only by Manchester United and Liverpool. But,

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Matt Scott: From Russia, with love. A financial history of Chelsea’s 10 Abramovich years

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“Is any of the opposition around?” “Not in any condition to be worried about.” Donald ‘Red’ Grant in conversation with James Bond, From Russia With Love

When Roman Abramovich pitched up at Stamford Bridge with his whirlwind takeover in 2003, few people outside Siberia or the oil-and-gas sector of industry and banking had ever heard of him. But in the decade since his unlikely transformation from governor of Chukotka to guv’nor at Chelsea,

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Matt Scott: Who would pay for Champagne’s new FIFA republic?

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato, The Republic

Since the earliest days of democracy, political apathy has carried a price. In the UK, bizarre though it still seems, the price of a low voter turnout and diminished engagement with the political process was a £1,645 claim for a “floating duck island” by a member of the British parliament and knight of the realm.

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Matt Scott: Bolton and the salutary tale of how to turn gold into lead

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“I am the lord of the philosopher’s stone,” Mammon, The Alchemist, Ben Johnson

Four hundred years after those fictitious words were first uttered on a London stage, alchemy, the fabled process of turning base metals into gold, is of course just as much hocus-pocus as it was then. Even so, it does not seem to have stopped football clubs trying to turn leaden-footed footballers into the latest golden generation.

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Matt Scott: State aid, crippling debts and the gods who shine on the lucky ones

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“You’ll never have me in your grasp, not in this chariot, a gift to me from my grandfather Helios, to protect me from all hostile hands.” Euripides, Medea

When the infanticide Medea, the original theatrical villain, is lifted with the bodies of her murdered children from the scene of her crime by the sun god’s chariot there is a sense of dissatisfaction about the outcome of Euripides play. It’s a bit of a cop out of an ending,

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Matt Scott: Six lessons for 2014 and beyond

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“History… is the lesson and the example of the future,” Alphonse de Lamartine, Antar.

As one year rolls into another there is only the fading memory of what came before and an anticipation of what might be. Football’s cycles work to a different calendar, but it is worth considering how the lessons of 2013 might provide examples for what the future will hold in the second half of the 2013-14 season and beyond.

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Matt Scott: Faceless offshore funds and the mafia – funding football’s have-nots

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“Key ECB interest rates will remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time,” Mario Draghi, ECB president, reaffirming the 0.5% European bank rate on 1 August 2013.

Ever since the financial crisis first struck, central banks across Europe and beyond have been locked in an arm wrestle with the invisible hand of Adam Smith’s markets. There has been much talk of a zero interest rate policy,

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Matt Scott: What Adidas’s row with Sports Direct tells us about the direction for sport

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“In one way the constant battling was very good because what it did was make them very competitive. Horst and his family were all very aggressive and all very successful.” Former Horst Dassler aide Patrick Nally, as quoted by Andrew Jennings and Vyv Simson, The Lords of the Rings.

As the president of Adidas, Horst Dassler was until his death in 1987 arguably the most powerful man in sport.

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Matt Scott: Time to overhaul football’s betting relationship

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“First half. Last 10 minutes. Hundred per cent.” Former footballer Sam Sodje appears to promise a yellow card to order.

Betting has a tradition of accompanying football in England in the same way custard goes with English puddings. It just adds a bit of flavour to the proceedings. It is a guilty pleasure, nothing more. No harm done.
Gambling is so much a part of the football culture in England that when last week the national-team manager,

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Matt Scott: Thinking of fixing a match? You bet your life

“He that loves pleasure must for pleasure fall.” Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus.

It might seem to the cynical observer that the best young footballers have made some Faustian pact with the devil himself. Those with the most natural talent for a game they would otherwise play for the fun of it are lavished with riches from their mid-teens. They can enjoy the adulation of an adoring public when donning a shirt for their clubs or,

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Matt Scott: Big injuries can mean big money lost; call your broker

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“Never was anything great achieved without danger.” 
 Niccolò Machiavelli

Perhaps Machiavelli’s death in Florence in 1527 came too soon for him to have enjoyed the popular 16th Century Florentine game of Calcio but you sense he might have been drawn to its brutal tactics and narrative. His modern kindred spirits certainly seem to enjoy the football we love today. Heck, Henry Kissinger was even a board member on the USA 2022 bid committee.

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Matt Scott: United’s overseas commercial empire begins to take on an infinite form

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“Men yearn for poetry though they may not confess it; they desire that joy shall be graceful and sorrow august and infinity have a form, and India fails to accommodate them,” E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

When, four seasons ago, so many Manchester United fans adopted green and gold, the colours of their club’s first-ever kit, it was as a symbol of peaceful protest against the ownership of the Glazer family.

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