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Monday, 1 September 2008

The Premier League - Raging Bull Or Cash Cow?

It's transfer deadline day. Between work this morning (in Spin Southwest) and keeping an eye online since I came home, I've been keeping one eye on it most of the day. Well done the BBC!

The interesting move of the day, for me, is the purchase of Manchester City by a UAE based business group. SKY News say that these guys have ten times the money of Roman Abramovich and judging by the rumours today, they're willing to spend it too. They're just the latest club to be bought up by oligarchs - Aston Villa, Liverpool, Manchester United and of course Chelsea have all been purchased by owners from foreign lands in recent years.

I don't mind their origin. They can be English or Estonian for all I care. What does worry me is that these are businessmen, with their eyes fixed firmly on the ca$h they can make from these deals. SKY, Setanta (and increasingly foreign TV companies) have boosted the coffers of the Premier League as a whole. That money makes today one of the most fascinating days of the year, when (literally) hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on players from all corners of the world.

I worry about the future though. What happens when the bubble bursts? What happens when the owners pull out? Where will that leave the fans who have been loyal in the dark days of terraces, muddy pitches and All-English XI's? The bubble may not burst for some time - the Champions League etc. mean that the clubs have several sources of income. Yet, this will dry up in time. That's the nature of the market.

Speaking of the market, that very same commercialism has brought about these riches. It is the reason that the League is the strongest in the world. It is the reason that these oligarchs are here and, it is the reason that they cannot simply be banned/removed. The future is bright, for now, but in these times of economic uncertainty clouds will soon gather on the horizon.


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