Does Money Indeed Ruin Football?

For those following the games, rooting for their favourite teams and feverishly discussing their matches between two glasses of ale, football is a mix of entertainment and something to be excited about. These fans are, in turn, a massive customer base for those behind football as a business: their dedication and following is the driving force behind broadcast rights, merchandise, and ticket sales, all of which turn a wonderful sport into a cash cow for those pulling the strings. As long as the game is fair, both in the field and behind the scenes, it’s a win-win for all parties: the players get their salaries, the fans get their quality football, and the business entities behind them, ranging from football betting operators to the teams’ owners, advertisers, sponsors, and such, all get their money. Like in every business, though, there are parties in football that don’t exactly operate according to the rules. Of business, that is.

What many people don’t realize, though, is that football goes beyond being simply a game. As MEP Stelios Kouloglou pointed out in an op-ed published on Euractive this April, football can often flow into different areas like politics and racial bias, pointing out that the emergence of Pelé, one of the best football players ever, was instrumental to significantly reducing racism in Brazil. Yet the democratic nature of football is degraded today thanks to all the money flowing into it. And the best example of this, Kouloglou writes, is the UEFA Champions League.

As he points out, the only clubs that can reach the Champions League semi-finals are from the “big 5” countries – Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Great Britain. And this happens not because there aren’t any talented teams in other countries but because of all the money flowing into the clubs nowadays. After all, not all clubs can afford to pay almost £200 million for a single player, no matter how talented and marketable the player might be. These big clubs with big money behind them syphon all the most talented players from all over the world, offering amazing transfer fees and strengthening their ranks – investing in their future success with the goal of keeping their fans’ attention pointed on them, and making even more money in the process.

And where there’s money, there must be scandals related to money. Corruption and tax avoidance run rampant across football, from the top of organizations like FIFA and UEFA down to local clubs and players, working with financial advisors like Kingsbridge that allegedly help them invest in ways that will grant them tax relief, schemes that “don’t work”, according to HM Revenue and Customs.

A few years ago, an unpopular opinion emerged in the press stating that the influx of big money into football will ruin it forever by attracting the “wrong kind of owners” that see clubs as their “cash cow”, among others. MP Damian Collins went as far as saying that “Running a big football club now is like running a Hollywood studio – it’s a content business. The money goes to the stars”. And this is one of the biggest issues today’s football faces that can ruin it forever.

395 thoughts on “Does Money Indeed Ruin Football?

  1. StevieBC 11th March 2019 at 22:15

    '..Good to see the Scotland manager has his finger on the pulse WRT his team…'


    And good to see that the unfaithful, 'committed'  manager who so contemptuously walked away from the Scotland job( but got it back) is so oo oo understanding of  McGregor's hissyfit.

    Honest to God!

    How much crap can we take from  our Football Governance body?  

    Leave aside Truth: have they no bloody idea of how to lie in any kind of integrated manner?

  2. I hope that one of the new rules is that the SLO is present among the supporters , especially at away fixtures .

  3. PaddyMalarkey@22.45

    There’s no Hampden gigs on that list however Eminem played Hampden a few years ago and I know from personal experience there were a large number of that particular artists’ fans arrested on the night. There were also the same issues when Oasis were at Hampden. The Robbie Williams crowd are no angels either.

  4. From BBC website today

    Referee Steven McLean phoned Steven Gerrard to apologise for missing a foul in the lead up to Hibs equaliser on Friday night


    crying crying

  5. Bill1903@09.55

    "The board stuck with it and we paid off all our debts, we took our blows and with some friends around the club we got rid of the best part of of £15m of debt.” 

    From the DR article. 

  6. paddy malarkey 11th March 2019 at 15:45

    Can anybody point me to he sanctions taken against clubs whose fans have entered the field of play this season ,or statements of condemnation from politicians of the clubs/fans ? Struggling to find much.

    paddy malarkey 11th March 2019 at 18:33

    easyJambo 11th March 2019 at 16:05

    Cheers , EJ , but  I omitted to put "Scottish" in the post .


    The answer to your original question is none, in respect of this season.

    The answer in respect of the last 10 seasons is one, Motherwell following the play-off game against Rangers at Fir Park in 2015 when they were put on probation for 18 months after security failures.


    The ironic thing about the Strict Liability discussion is that the SFA and SPFL already adopt Strict Liability.

    They do so for clubs who breach their rules on player registrations and eligibility (barring one infamous decision published in 2013). Just ask Clyde or Hearts for their experiences this season, or multiple clubs who have been thrown out of competitions in the past.

    It is only SFA/SPFL rules on unacceptable conduct that need to be put in place.


  7. Strict liability mean the SFA and the clubs can't choose how or if they deal with any sectarian or crowd trouble issues.  At the moment they can, mostly of course they choose to do nothing, why would they?  Occasionally they hand out some token gesture of a punishment and why not?  They choose to have no liability.  I wish I could, imagine the possibilities!

    On the "punishing the innocent" argument I'm sorry but that's disingenuous to say the least.  Firstly, people are diving straight to ground closure when in fact there is a range of sanctions, fines, points deduction etc before a consistent repeat offender gets to ground closure.  The fact is there is no threat of anything at all and that has to stop.  Note also that both UEFA and the EPL (I haven't checked any others) both clearly match the sanctions with the effort made and steps taken by the club in question to deal with the issues.  So a club demonstrably doing their best would not be sanctioned as much as, say, our current lot of shameless hucksters.  That's scary to our clubs, imagine having to demonstrate effort being made.

    Secondly, it's not really punishment is it, except to the club?  Once again we seem to forget that we're talking about a game of fitba here, an entertainment run by some of the participants as a commercial enterprise.  Not getting to go to a game of fitba is not a breach of any human right, being able to stage such an event and charge good money for it is, in fact, a privilege that is being abused.  If there is some resultant hassle re ST holders getting refunds then that's even better, the clubs need to start facing up to their responsibilities and face some consequences otherwise they do nothing.


  8. If stopping someone from going to watch football is not a punishment then why is it used as a punishment.


  9. I've found two UK teams, West Ham in 1980 and Villa in 1983, under UEFA rules had to play ties behind closed doors due to crowd trouble in previous round.  Of course English teams were banned from Europe altogether for crowd trouble.  Interesting one, apparently in the 2010-11 Heineken Cup Edinburgh vs Castres oft re-scheduled tie was held behind closed doors to protect the crowd in the prevailing weather conditions.  It takes a lot for the authorities to close it down for one game and, thankfully, there is a range of sanctions long before ground closure. Of course the clubs always have the option to actually do something about sectarianism and crowd trouble in the first place.  Abhorrent as this complicit acceptance is I can see why they don't, it's because there are no repercussions for them.  Why are we accepting this?


  10. Unless SL can be implemented without fear or favour then it will not work who here would trust those in charge in Scotland to do so. 

  11. I’m told that a tabloid called the Sun claims that referee S. McLean phoned the sevco manager to apologise for missing a foul in the lead up to Hibs equaliser on Friday…

    is this true?

    is this common practice?

    Have St Mirren’s phone lines been defunct for yonks?

  12. The Dons are 3-2 up on yellow cards in the first half and 1 up in goals. Hearts 2-1 up and Partick keeper booked.

  13. We won't have to listen to the build up for an old firm semi Thank god.

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