Gunning for Wenger: no upside to Arsenal manager's departure
Back in the 1980s, when the ruling Maktoum family of Dubai decided to get serious about bloodstock, they would use a private jet to fly their English trainers to Kentucky for the yearling sales. The plane became known as “The Magic Carpet”. Limitless oil wealth meant limitless buying power which meant limitless opportunity for Newmarket’s elite horsemen.
For a few years it really was Alakazam time for them. And then it stopped. The Sheikhs decided they’d like their multimillion dollar purchases trained by their own people. And the magic carpet was no more. That’s the trouble with sugar daddies: once their eye wanders, they have the financial clout to mosey off and soak up any losses that might accrue from their impulsiveness.
Sheikh Mansour has a depth of pocket that can tolerate a €120 million loss in his pet Manchester City project this year. Money-wise, even Uefa’s trump penalty card of expulsion from European competition isn’t going to have him scurrying online for the current account’s bottom line. Not that an organisation which managed to fine Serbia all of eighty grand for racial abuse and violence during their recent U-21 game with England is likely to reach for anything so dramatic.
But the point remains: it’s hard to scratch the turret of a financial tank that’s able to bankroll a vanity project like City. That is of course until, or if, the tank is rerouted to another such project: ask any Newmarket trainer – the carpet can land with a thud.
How long more for instance will Roman Abramovich’s “passion” for Chelsea encourage him to keep signing those cheques. The Champions League is won, and a trio of Premier Leagues, plus every sort of meaningful cup. That’s pretty much it. What’s left? And Russian oligarchs aren’t renowned for their sentimentality about blue is the colour and the Fulham Road, never mind pouring millions into a ravenous money pit in return for barely disguised disdain from terrace and telly.
Of course, Roman, the sheikh and the Premier League’s assortment of other corporate sugar daddies may be in for the long haul. They might indeed keep flushing their money away. The Premier League has, after all, its own peculiar logic: one that makes journeymen players with all the touch and skill of a cement mixer worth millions on the market. And one where it is in everyone’s interests to maintain the veneer, fawn over the fat naked emperor prancing up and down inside the gates and keep any mouthy, clear-eyed children firmly outside.
Learn the lesson
The parallel with the real world and our current economic problems is obvious. Yet it seems the vast majority within English football still don’t want to learn the lesson. And it’s such a simple one: there’s no such thing as free money;eventually, someone has to cough up. Corporations employ clever accountants to make sure it ain’t them. In this country for instance that’s the privilege of the PAYE schmuck. In football, it’s the schmuck on the terrace.