The economics and politics of football

 

Sir, – The failed attempt by leading soccer clubs to form a new competition not under the control of Uefa is only a temporary victory for administrators of the sport.

As one of the principal movers in the Super League project, Andrea Agnelli of Juventus, has observed, Uefa and Fifa control and regulate football clubs, collecting fees and selling rights without themselves risking anything, a situation that is clearly unfair.

Football associations are essentially private clubs that have attained monopolistic control of a what is now a huge global business. These associations are themselves regulated only weakly and are a law unto themselves regarding control of the sport.

Any argument that the owners of the European Super League candidate clubs are greedy must be placed in context beside the well-publicised corruption and mismanagement that has occurred in various football associations in recent decades.

Indeed, many fans of the game would have great sympathy for any group of clubs that would set out to establish an alternative.

The main problem with the ESL was that it was limited to the richest 12 clubs. Its aims were too modest, its sights too low. Had they endeavoured been expanded to include the top 120 clubs, then Uefa and Fifa would have had to concede defeat, as the new body would have had the power to establish its own versions of the current national and international association and competitions, leaving the incumbents empty-handed and powerless.

Fifa, Uefa and every national association should be alive to what is happening.

Change is coming, and long overdue, and sooner or later will happen. To paraphrase Nelson Mandela, those who do not allow gradual, orderly change, only guarantee sudden, disorderly change. – Yours, etc,

JOHN THOMPSON,

Phibsboro,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – Is it not wonderful to see that the organisers of the European Super League were thwarted by a fan insurrection? Those fans can now look forward to normal service being resumed when the unpredictable Premier League will again be won by a club owned by billionaires with a squad of multi-millionaires.– Yours, etc,

TOMMY O’DRISCOLL,

Cobh,

Co Cork.

Sir, – No matter how many more millions they have coming in, the big football clubs are spending next year’s income before it’s even earned.

Unlike sensible businesses, they have not built up reserves to see them through down-times because they only consider it will be all up-times for them.

The latest scheme to rescue them from bad management is a “Super League” designed to siphon off even more of the billions that already go into football but at the expense of smaller clubs.

Let a big club or three go bust.

They’ll eventually be rescued by their supporters and investors who see trimmed-down clubs that have a future, not bloated billionaire ventures. – Yours, etc,

ALAN C WOOD,

Innishannon,

Cork.

Sir, – It is extraordinary from reading the numbers of letters to The Irish Times to see how in Ireland we are so exercised about our beloved English teams leaving the nest for the greener pastures of Europe. Her Majesty would be pleased.

We are a fascinating people and, as Bob Geldof said, the English have never understood Ireland.

I wonder why? – Yours, etc,

AIDAN RODDY

Cabinteely,

Dublin 18.

Sir, – I find it quite unbelievable that our nation’s so-called soccer-loving public could get so emotionally overcome at the proposal to establish a European Super League.

For my own part, I hope it will happen some time in the future.

I am a passionate League of Ireland supporter, and would never support any other league apart from my domestic league.

I recall a few years back Liverpool FC coming to Dublin to play Shamrock Rovers in a friendly game. The recorded attendance was in excess of 35,000.

It is hard to believe it, but 34,500 of these Irish fans were cheering for the British team to beat Shamrock Rovers.

As a Bohemian member, and life-long supporter, I have no love for Shamrock Rovers, but I do concede the absolute necessity to support our own in order to strengthen our domestic league.

It is one thing supporting British teams instead of our own, but it is quite another when Irish people are supporting British teams against our own. – Yours, etc,

PAUL O’BEIRNE,

Beaumont,

Dublin 9.