When the Premier League formed in 1992 nobody could have truly predicted the impact that it, coupled with the millions of Sky Sports, would have on not only the English but the Euorpean game. But as we approach nearly twenty years of its formation, has the Premier League and the money involved with it, in fact destroyed some of the excitement and love of football?
The creation of the Premier League came around a time when English sides were mainly struggling in European competitions, teams were filled with British players and managers and English football was seen as the ugly sister compared to La Liga and Seria A. The Spanish and Italian leagues were swamped with the worlds best players, offering even England’s best such as Ince, Platt and Gascoigne a far more attractive salary and lifestyle, but this would soon change as Sky Sports millions flowed into the Premier League.
At first like many the excitement of seeing foreign superstars grace English grounds such as Zola, Bergkamp and Cantona was a breath of fresh air to me. The fact it wasn’t just the Manchester Uniteds and Arsenals either who were at it made it even more exciting. When Middlesbrough signed the likes of Juniniho and Ravenelli, it seemed that football on English shores was moving forward into a new and thrilling era and the Premier League could do no wrong. This carried on further in to the new millennium as yet more money poured into this new great super league, more foreign superstars followed like Henry, Veron and Di Canio until in 2003 a certain Roman Abramovich walked through the gates of Stamford Bridge and took the Premier League to a whole new level.
Who can deny that it wasn’t exciting times as fans across the country tuned in to Sky Sports news to hear what the latest £20m of the Russians fortune had acquired, suddenly fantasy football had become reality.
Looking back this to me could prove the very point of the beginning of the end, for the values of real football. No longer do clubs in England have to spend years building a reputation across the world by producing great players of there own, unearthing talent for reasonable prices and winning trophies through great management.
I am no great fan of Manchester United, but they are a club that was able to buy the best foreigners during the 90s and early 00’s because they were successful on the pitch and with the team Alex Ferguson had built though nurturing great British talent and spotting exciting reasonably priced foreign stars such as Schmeichel and Kanchelskis.
This in turn led to more prize money and better sponsorship deals for them, culminating in their historic treble win in 1999 , and as much as fans of other teams across the country may have looked on with envy that united had done this, the respect they gained from it for doing this in the ‘old fashioned’ method, was immeasurable. Could any honest football fan say they would have the same respect for a Chelsea or Manchester city if they achieved the same in the coming seasons, considering they were both pretty average Premier League sides until the wealthy owners decided that to acquire them like some rich man’s play thing or latest fashion accessory to the billionaires of the world?
This is my problem with way the modern game is going, no longer is it who has the best manager,the best young players nurtured though there academies or even the most loyal and dedicated fans, its who has the richest owner. People say money cant buy success but it can give a bloody good chance, as we have seen at Chelsea and now at Manchester City. Then we have the other side of the coin with owners coming to make money from clubs with great traditions and history as we have seen most notably at Liverpool but also to a degree at Manchester United.
Liverpool the most successful club in the English game can no longer compete at signing players with Manchester City a team who has never won one European cup never mind five, and this just doesn’t sit very comfortably with me. Even City fans I know are becoming a little annoyed at the way money is just thrown at the players who’s actual quality has to be questioned, £24 million for Jolene Lescott been a fair example? Is it just me living in the past or was it far more exciting when city had the likes of Kinkladze and Wanchope?
I fear for the way the Premier League is going, that fans across the country will become bored of the most successful teams been not those who get there through hard work and great management, but though having the richest owner able to buy any player, not because they are joining a great club but fot the fact they will earn over £200,000 p/w.
We have seen this in the champions league already with it becoming more predictable every year and no doubt this year will be no different. I crave a return to the 90s to see a team like Ajax glittering with players from there academy, reach the final or a Celtic who’s 1967 winning team consisted of players only from Glasgow or just outside, reach the final stage. But I fear the money men will destroy this dream as players are snapped from there clubs by the ‘wealthy big boys’ before they even have chance to make a impression on the first team.
What would the great Brian Clough make of this? Gone are the days where a manager no matter how talented can take a club of Nottingham Forrest size to 2 European cups. I for one just hope that between F.I.F.A and U.E.F.A some rules can be put in place before the real of spirit of the beautiful game is forever lost.
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