When played, football seems pure and delightful to watch. However, while the play itself remains glorious, the way in which players are acquired is very displeasing to many critics. Money now seems integral to any sort of significant success.
In the last ten years, the Premier League has witnessed the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea buy their way to the title whilst smaller clubs have not had the fortune to find a rich investor.
This seems to be a fundamental issue, as others simply have no chance to compete, and it also seems unique to the sport of football, as money, although it does play a part, is not nearly as important in many other team games.
There is also somewhat of a catch-22 situation involved, as the money being spent attracts bigger players, which improves the status of the clubs, which attracts bigger players, which leads to more money being spent, which brings bigger players - the cycle continues. Therefore, it seems that these clubs have an inherent advantage over others for no particular reason.
It also seems that there is an obvious, yet unfortunately impractical solution to this, a wage cap on all things. The standardisation of wages for players and staff would certainly lead to a more balanced playing field, as footballers and coaches would be no more inclined to go to a club such as Sunderland as they would to go to Manchester City.
It would also put far more emphasis on the academies of teams, and perhaps the likes of West Ham and Southampton would be able to hang onto their best home-grown players and push the elite sides in England.
If this was so, perhaps we would see reflections of the likes of the French rugby side Montpellier, who, from being a relatively mediocre team, won the Top Fourteen without spending a disproportionate amount of money, but by using young players who had been nurtured from an early age.
The big limiting factor of this, however, is that the chairmen of the clubs would most likely never agree to it. This having been said, new measures were implemented in the last year, limiting the amount a club’s wages could grow annually.
The deterrent will be points deduction, and with over two-thirds of the Premier League’s chairmen having voted in favour of these restrictions, they look to be a step in the right direction, however a complete solution to money ruining football still looks distant.
Another alternative is to look at football in a completely different way. Instead of being a sport where talent is judged and players chosen on judgement by eye, is it time for the numbers to take the reign?
It could now be the time to allow statisticians into the backrooms of football clubs and placed in a pivotal position in terms of transfers and bringing in youth players? If this were the case football would be borrowing a lesson from baseball, where in 2002, coach Billy Beane began to use statistics that others ignored in order to build a successful baseball team on a tiny budget. This example saw his team, the Oakland Athletics, become disproportionately successful to their wealth.
Whatever football’s future holds, the governing bodies must surely have to address the problem of money skewing the game towards the rich elite at some point.
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