With the increasing influence of money in the modern game, I cannot help but fear for the so called ‘unattractive’ clubs in the Premier League.
As the wealthy clubs continue to prosper, the gulf between ‘the rich’ and ‘the rest’ continues to grow. Manchester City have struck lucky, attracted investment and now have a seemingly bottomless pit of transfer funds at their disposal. They proved an attractive choice for the would-be investors given their geographical location, stadium and reputation at the time of investment – not to mention the challenge of gazumping their local rivals.
This raises the question of what the future holds for the less ‘attractive’ teams such as Stoke, Bolton or, my team, Newcastle United. These clubs live in the shadow of the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea and seem to be (worryingly) happy to celebrate mediocrity. While I am enjoying Newcastle’s time in the top six, it will be but a fond memory this time next year, unless it leads to a successful run in the decreasingly-valued Europa League. Either way, unless these clubs are happy with a cup final appearance here or there or a Thursday night out in Vienna or Salzburg then they face a worrying time ahead. I hope I am wrong, but, barring Sheik Mansour throwing his Manchester City out of the pram and buying a new Stoke City or Wolverhampton Wanderers to play with, I predict that we won’t have a sixth (assuming Man City’s success) name on our Premier League trophy for many years to come.
So what is the answer to our problem?
Financial fair play? No. I’m no financial expert but there appears to be too many ways around this problem that it will become nothing more than a minor obstacle for our more powerful clubs to discreetly negotiate. Either that or it will provide an excuse for the wealth of talent in our country to seek their fortune in Russia, Asia or the Middle East.
What other options do we have? A league based on cricket’s IPL? Where the rich franchisees gather together and bid to try and sign Gareth Bale for the ‘London Spurs’ or Demba Ba for the ‘Newcastle Virgins’? I hope not…