OPINION: PROTECTING A PEOPLES’ LOVE

The Final of UEFA’s Europa League competition this week will be followed by that for UEFA’s Conference Cup.  And then the crowning European Champions League final between multi-time winners Real Madrid and Liverpool.

Over these weeks, all the major domestic European Associations’ leagues and knockout cup competitions will also have been concluded.  And that will then be that: the only soccer which will be left for the millions of soccer aficionados all over Europe will be that of TV replays, rewinds of classic matches from the past, chat shows, and conjecturing about what the footballers’ transfer market may churn up.

The ironic thing is that this latter element, the transfer market, will most certainly be conveniently filling up the same quantum of media space in print and web, as well as on social media platforms.  So the case here is one where blah-blah, and conjecturing, will be getting as much time and coverage as the real actual playing of the game on the field. This certainly posits a number of questions.

For starters: is it the case that money and people, and simple talk have indeed become even bigger than the game itself?  Experts of football finance and sport economics no longer have any qualms at pronouncing the total environment of football as structured and played in England as being far far more financially rich then in other countries of the continent.  The totals of all of the main three usual sources of club incomes, viz matchday income, media incomes, and merchandise sales, far outpace in the UK those of in other European country. 

Easily thinkable is another related question: will this situation be subsisting for now even many more years into the future? But here one is also pushed to asking whether UEFA is really delving into to what extent its own Financial Fair Play Rules are being properly followed and obeyed by all involved. Over recent months there has been much talk about possible withering down of some of these rules and such change being sourced in the recent Covid-19 implications for most clubs. But the Covid-19 scenario is now returning to some form of normality and it would be greatly damaging to European football if any scenario that allows clubs to indulge in any perseverance of the rampant going into indebtedness and non-payment of debts that was the jungle situation in European football before the advent of these Rules.

Here again is an example of a big public and social activity where those at the top must constantly keep in mind that those at the bottom, i.e. the fans and spectators and lovers of the game (including even if doing so only from their sitting room couches) are far more important than the pinstriped suits-wearing owners and top brass within the clubs, within the national associations, or even in the continental federations.

Football must always remain “the people’s” game..