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Football's Financial Crisis
Written by Stowmarket on Friday, 16th Aug 2019 19:15

I have been watching English football for over 40 years, from top-tier to non-league. In that time it has faced many low points, including mass hooliganism and stadium deaths in tragedies such as Hillsborough and Valley Parade.

However, in financial terms, I cannot recall a summer like it. The world’s oldest professional club, Notts County, faced the genuine prospect of liquidation. Bury and Bolton fans knew that they would be beginning the new season on -12 points, however, it seemed entirely possible that they might not start the campaign at all. These clubs, and others such as Macclesfield, have not even been paying staff and players’ wages.

As a supporter of Northampton Town and Ipswich Town – clubs which have suffered from financial meltdowns of their own – I feel great sympathy for the supporters of these clubs. At the same time, you have to question whether there is a level playing field.

While Bury attracted players in League Two last season, with large salary offers they were never going to be able to meet, other clubs which were run with financial prudence, missed out on promotion. Some people would argue that Bury’s on-field success constitutes cheating.

There are club owners in the EFL cutting corners in order to gain an advantage on the pitch. This has been going on for many years. What is being done to prevent this? Sweet FA I would suggest, pun fully intended.

For many years I lived and worked in France, watching football all over that vast country. Over there the DNCG is an organisation which polices the finances of football clubs. On an annual basis, each club has to submit a dossier with its budget for the forthcoming season and accounts proving that it can operate properly.

The DNCG has the power to cap a club’s wages, introduce a transfer embargo, demote a club or – in the most extreme cases – expel a club.

And that's not an empty threat. In recent years, a number of clubs have been sent into the wilderness of regional, part-time football, including Tours FC this summer, the club where both Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny made their names.

These sanctions might sound draconian but they are there to ensure that a football club does not get away with breaking rules. The DNCG organisation is there to defend the morals of competitive, professional football. It has a vital public mission to play. Without it the footballing public would lack confidence in its professional game.

The existence and role of the DNCG is hardly rocket science. It seems appalling and inexcusable that the English game – its authorities (the FA and EFL) have far money at their disposal than their French equivalent, the LFP – does so little in comparison. Radical reform is long overdue.

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Marshalls_Mullet added 19:43 - Aug 16
As long as the PL is making money, people won't take notice of what happens outside it. You're right to point out the severity of the situation though.

Skip73 added 23:09 - Aug 16
A couple of weeks ago The Sky Sports Football app had the story 'Bury match postponed due to financial uncertainty'. The very next headline underneath read 'Man United sign Maguire for £80m'. It's absolutely disgraceful how much money The Premier League has compared to Lower League clubs. It makes me sick! Sky Sports and The Premier League can f*** Off for all I care!


Edmundo added 17:32 - Aug 17
Absolutely, there is no financial control of the leagues. It smacks of the boom and bust of the 80s in the City. This bubble will burst in the next five to ten years. When it does I hope we're not in the middle of it again, there'll be changes once a "big" club goes to the wall as the bubible bursts.

Skip73 added 18:38 - Aug 17
I can't wait for The Premier League bubble to burst. Nothing would be more satistying than to see the big sides inplode.

ElephantintheRoom added 09:08 - Aug 18
Interesting and thoughtful piece. Have you fully appreciated the irony of writing it from a Town supporter's stance of benefitting from reneging on £32 million debts, being run as an 'investment' by an offshore tax avoider - and dropping into the 3rd division with a wage structure simply unattainable for the division's resident clubs? The first point of order is probably a fit and proper person's test to stop chancers and criminals buying football clubs - but the horse has clearly bolted long ago on that one. However, it was always thus..... when you started watching, Man U was being run by Louis Edwards, he of top quality school meals fame - and the board rooms of England held many similarly unsavoury characters. Little has changed with russian 'businessmen', fake sheikhs and mysterious oriental billionaires of no known provenance being the latter day questionable owners attracted, like our own owner by easy money and poor/non-existant governance. The big difference is that Town are right in the middle of it this year with Bolton and Bury's travails. We even played Notts County on the brink of extinction - but nobody seemed to care - I'm not even sure our host's troubles were even mentioned in the local press. Interesting new Danish owners there - which shows even clubs with the most worrying futures canquickly see the mirage of a better future. Hope perhaps for Town after all.

Draws_apoint_ added 22:46 - Aug 19
Sobering article so true as long as PL make money no one cares as the real football & fan of this country is forgotten.

Draws_apoint_ added 14:01 - Aug 20
Just add to previous comment PL
stands for Premier League....

Daniel72 added 12:49 - Aug 27
Interesting article, thank you.
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