Soapbox: Liverpool, greed and money for nothing

Just when you thought money in football could hardly be more unfairly distributed as it is, along comes some Anfield suit with plans to make it unfairer still. At least Pete Sixsmith was able to enjoy some non-league fare and Rugby League before a new encounter with the ugly face of corporate football …

What a peaceful weekend away from the noise and commotion of the FA Premier League. I spent my Saturday afternoon watching a thrilling local derby between Shildon and Bishop Auckland, in front of a crowd of about 300, no TV cameras, a smattering of replica shirts and the ability to walk around the ground chatting to various folk while watching the game.

It ended up as a 2-2 draw, with nine-man Auckland deservedly equalising with the last kick of the match. The two sendings off were correct, although the penalty that levelled it for Shildon was a very debatable handball, given by a Sunderland-supporting referee from Blyth.

In the evening, I sat in front of my crackly cat’s whisker radio and listened to Leeds Rhinos overturn St Helens for the fourth time in five years in the Super League Grand Final.

A matter of weeks ago, a fair number of Rhinos fans were advocating tarring and feathering for the coach Brian McDermott. Since then, he has taken them to a Wembley final, which they could have won, and the ultimate accolade in the game, Super League Champions. Sometimes a coach has to be given time.

I had also enjoyed the company of M Salut at the weekend and witnessed him writing up the Johnny Crossan interview (click here for Part One.

Like Keith Scott, I regarded Johnny as a hero and I even convinced myself that my regulation hair cut of 1964 was a Johnny Crossan cut, rather than the usual knife and fork job performed by Reg Robinson in Main Street.

However, my sanguine mood was shattered this morning (Wednesday) when I picked up The Guardian and read that Liverpool FC were making noises about changing the way in which TV revenues are distributed throughout the PL.

At the moment, there is a sense of equity about the share out. In the season just ended, Manchester United received £60.4m, while Blackpool took away £39.1m, a veritable fortune for a club of their size.

That they were able to do this,(and that we made £47.4m) is due all of the TV rights being shared. Each club receives £13.8m for the domestic audience and £17.9m for the overseas rights. Arsenal get the same as Wigan, Liverpool the same as Bolton. It keeps the smaller clubs in with a chance of staying in the league if they use their resources sensibly.

What Liverpool want is basically a free for all, where the clubs that are deemed to be the most successful, will be able to sell their own TV rights. Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre said: “Maybe the path will be individual rights like they do in Spain”.

That system works brilliantly for Barcelona and Real Madrid, but not so well for the likes of Oviedo and Real Betis. In Spain, the rich get rich and the poor get poorer; Second Level players went on strike at the start of the season as clubs had not paid wages.

Barca and Real dominate La Liga to an extent that far outweighs that of the Big Four (Five now, with the arrival of Manchester City as global players) dominate the PL; clubs like ourselves, Newcastle, Everton and Villa, traditional clubs with a strong domestic fan base can occasionally tweak the tails of the big boys.

But, if Liverpool’s suggestion is to be followed up, a greater concentration of cash will end up in the pockets of those clubs who have “support” in the Middle East and Asia. TV rights will be sold to those countries on a club by club basis and the big bids will be for Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, with the others trailing behind.

Liverpool have “supporters” in Malaysia, so they can sell their rights for considerably more than we can. Therefore, Liverpool get richer and Sunderland don’t. You can now see why Quinny and Bruce are in South Korea and why Quinny has moved into his new job in charge of international development.

For many years, the Football League had a policy of gate sharing. That went in the 80s and the PL has always advocated that home clubs keep their gate money. But there are always clubs that want more, more and even more.

Liverpool are the first club to break cover on this. For the distribution to change, 14 of the 20 need to vote in favour of it. Let’s assume that Wigan, Bolton and Blackburn are not turkeys voting for Christmas ( although with Rovers’ current owners, the poultry analogy may be too close to home), then the pressure moves on to Sunderland, Newcastle and Villa. Will they stand up for equity or will they vote for a more uneven distribution of wealth?

If it is the latter, I suspect that I will be watching an awful lot more Northern League football in the future.

16 thoughts on “Soapbox: Liverpool, greed and money for nothing”

  1. He’s the one, Davey. I was stood watching the second half with former Spartans manager Harry Dunn and he used a rather uncomplimentary nickname that the ref has.
    I thought he did well until the penalty. He lost his cool a bit after that.

  2. Who was the referee lads – I’m from Blyth and the only guy I know refereeing and supporting the lads is called Tony ?

  3. Bill – the Bishop manager was less than pleased with the ref’s second half performance – one thing he missed was as he was leaving the pitch when a member of the Bishop “backroom staff” made a gesture behind his back – to the amusement of the fans

  4. Just look where the mantra of ‘greed is good’ has got us in the world.Huge amounts of money going to those who don’t create but manipulate.Had it not been for the initial fairness of the Football League Liverpool would have been unable to achieve their success in the 70s and 80s.When I first started watching football they were an ordinary Division 2 side.If Wolves and Preston and WBA had taken the lion’s share of the money,that’s where they’d be today.Trying to justify yet more inequality is iniquitous.Let’s hope this dreadful idea is strangled at birth,although somehow I doubt it.

  5. The great divide began when the rules regarding the splitting of gate receipts was changed so that the home side kept all the money. It’s been a downward spiral ever since.

    Yes Ant, it’s nice being in the big house isn’t it. Well, it is until you find that the mortgage hasn’t been paid and you are out on the street with the rest. Competition? I don’t know why they don’t just impose a rule which says that only any one of six is allowed to wint the PL come the end of the season and that anyone beating them on points will have the required number of them deducted. That would only be fair now wouldn’t it.

    It’s hardly surprising that the Sixer seeks the pleasures of non-league.

  6. I find John’s point interesting regarding La Liga becoming number 1 in the world, when actually one of the reasons, research tells us, the Premier League is number 1 across the world because of the competitive nature of the games, a situation not repeated in Spain. Consequently I find it odd that certain supporters are willing to watch the Premier League slowly fade in favour of their own narrow self-interest. And I won’t accept the argument that I would think differently if I supported one of the ‘Big 4/5’, as at this point in time I firmly believe that the Premier League should be distributing wealth further down the Football League in order to make football in this country more competitive across the board, and if that meant relegation for us, so be it.
    And for some debates the moral argument is the decisive one!
    By the way, sometimes a coach should be given time. Equally, there are times when they have had more than enough!

  7. They only get the same basic tv money. If you are on TV a lot, you get more. So it’s not the Socialist Repunblic of the Premier League we are dealing with.
    As for the comments about the likes of Sunderland etc “making up the numbers”, one of the attractions of the PL is the fact that it is competitive and there is always the chance of one team beating another. Does that happen in La Liga? I think not. Asian fans will be attracted towards the PL because it is English; the English language is seen as the gateway to success in China, Malaysia, Korea (maybe not in the North) and an English product is ifar more important than a Spanish/Italian/French one.
    The American owners at Liverpool look at English sport in the same way they look at American sport, which is as a franchise. If the franchise don’t work, move it away to somewhere that does. They would be more spiritually connected to the horrible MK Dons.
    Where are Bob Lord, Syd Collings and Alan Hardaker when you need them?

  8. what ian ayre says is correct sure it wont be fair on small clubs but i realy dont give a f*** tell me why do a sunderland or stoke etc deserve the same as a man u a arsenal or liverpool even more so when barca and madrid set there values this man is a very smart man

    • A view, Ant, that you’ll doubtless modify if Liverpool end up outside the top four… you are in danger of confirming your grand old club as no more than a brand, worse still a brand that used to be top of the range but isn’t any more. He may be smart but he has zilch to do with proper football and belongs in some poxy bank.

  9. I don’t think that Colin Myers, the Bishop manager, was best pleased as our Sunderland supporting referee sent him from the dugout after Shildon took the lead. Not sure whether he sent an email out after the game. Probably not.

  10. It may seem unfair, but thats life!
    Wouldn’t it be a great world if we all got paid the same! My boss, myself and our cleaner on the same salary and same bonus. What a utopia that would be?!
    The “big 5” most notably Liverpool and United have huge international fan bases, built from years of success at the highest level since the 70’s and when these two sides meet on saturday it will get millions of fans tuning in from all corners of the world to watch.
    This is why they want the lions share and I find it hard to find a reason why they shouldn’t have it (moral objections aside).
    Lifes unfair and so is football

  11. I was sorry to miss the Shildon-Bishop match. Lesley had actually brought something in two shades of blue to wear, had not our plans/commitments changed.
    Did either manager express disappointment afterwards at the result and single point? Thought not…

  12. Liverpool fan here. Not a good idea this one is it? It is blatant greed isn’t it? Maybe their hands are being forced by the
    Spanish model but this will leads us all to Hell in a Bonham-Carter. There will only be 10 clubs left soon, all playing each other continuously. Feeling slightly shamed today.

  13. A more uneven distribution of wealth, maybe. But the money is generated unevenly too. No one in Asia is paying subscriptions to watch Swansea! It may make for a more uneven Premier League, but as Real Madrid and Barcelona already have this deal going and are pulling ahead of the Premier League’s bigger teams, it will only be a matter of time before La Ligue takes number one spot worldwide, and you can have your even share of nothing! Like it or not, its the big clubs that make the Premier League the most popular in the World. If they can’t compete with other big clubs, guess what? The EPL stops being the biggest league and we all suffer. Use your brain. No one on the other side of the planet would have even heard of Sunderland if it wasn’t the spotlight on the EPL, created by the likes of the ‘big 4’.

  14. The last sentence should clearly read “If it is the latter”. My fault.

    – corrected, Pete. Sorry for not spotting it … cr.

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