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Terry’s Footy Blog

FOOTBALL’S BLACK HOLE

10-09-2008

With Albion enjoying the international break, Terry Wills has time to reflect on the takeover of Manchester City by Middle Eastern billionaires – and what it means for the rest of us.

Am I right in thinking that fans everywhere, apart from those supporting clubs such as Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool plus now Manchester City, will, like me, feel the once ‘beautiful’ game is now more worthy of a new title “The sod you Jack all that matters is the Premiership, sorry ‘Greed League’?

Anyone care to disagree following the shock takeover of Manchester City via the Abu Dhabi United Group, fronted by Sheikh Monsoor bin Zayed who has a personal fortune of £10 billion and fronts a group worth £500billion?

Relegating a certain Roman Abromovich into the ‘Pauper League’ along with, dare I say it, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa, Mike Ashley on Tyneside, the ‘warring’ American Co-Owners Tom Hicks and George Gillette at Anfield and, on paper, the Gold Bothers and David Sullivan at St Andrews? (Although judging by the comments I see and hear from the St Andrews faithful they aren’t particular impressed by the ‘genuine’ investment ploughed into Birmingham City)

Not that I’m shedding any tears in particular for the ‘poor’ Russian Billionaire. He’s entitled to spend his money however he decides is HIS best option BUT for the rest of we ‘ordinary’ fans it reinforces the view that the chance of seeing ‘our’ respective teams EVER being able to challenge for major honours is as likely as visiting the Birmingham Nature Centre and seeing a Dodo vainly striving to take flight into Cannon Hill Park.

Proof? Dwell on the transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid to Manchester City for a reputed £32.4 million fee and a reported £150,000 a week salary.

Sounds, no it IS ridiculous, but then if ‘stories’ circulating that the £10 billion Sheik would be prepared to bankroll the transfer of Christiano Ronaldo from Old Trafford and pay him £500, 000 a week, would this eventually lead to Robinho demanding an equal salary with all this implies?

BUT the tragedy of this ongoing seemingly unstoppable rolling stone ‘At the End of the Day’ (from Les Miserables) IS that the tab WILL in the main be paid by the supporters via extensive rising ticket prices.

Supporters, many sadly, finding the expense of watching their team simply escalating out of a realistic price range. Confirmed in a survey claiming that the cost of attending a Premiership League game has risen to £100 a game and that this season a high percentage of fans will be boycotting their respective teams.

A figure I personally dispute on the grounds that it isn’t ESSENTIAL to buy food and drinks in addition to a match ticket and the cost of travel. (Waiting to be shot down in flames from those who consider this IS an integral part of the ‘Match Day’ experience!?)

The survey reveals that among the ‘Greed League’ clubs the percentage of fans boycotting their team varies as high as 43% from West Ham United to 18% at Bolton Wanderers. Of our local clubs the Albion percentage is 38% and Villa 22%.

But as Villa are attracting over 40,000 a game and the Baggies having sold a record number of season tickets, these figures could be open to debate.

Add to this the 43% disenchantment at West Ham, and Newcastle’s 39%, following Alan Curbishley and Kevin Keegan’s departures for having their ‘loosely termed’ authority, what authority do I hear you ask (?) then they have genuine grounds for taking the decision that typifies what the ‘ordinary’ fan feels at the state of the game as they see it.

"So what can be done to ensure such anomalies are eradicated from the game? Sadly as I see it nothing that will lead to seeing full grounds on a match day as opposed to swathes of empty seats or silent unmoving cardboard cut outs.

As a Baggies fan I have to congratulate Jeremy Peace and the Board on their decision to reward season ticket holders by watching Premiership football at last season’s Championship prices.

But being honest that is merely a holding decision and providing Albion are playing Premiership Football next season I’d be surprised if a significant increase in prices could possibly be avoided.

Even so this would have a minimal effect on the fruitless ambition to think they’d be significantly closer to narrowing the ever expanding chasm that grows ever wider as seasons come and go.

Yes there would be moans, groans, and a falling off in attendances, but if so at the hub of any controversy you’d find the name of Sheik Monsoor bin Zayed and his group who know, and care nothing about the traditional British game and the passion and desire that leads fans to supporting THEIR team however they’re performing.

In the meantime supporters, judging by the exploits of some of these MASSIVELY overpaid players in the first of the World Cup Qualifying games, are surely justified in asking why messrs Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand, and others cannot reproduce their club form when wearing an England shirt?

Aided by a Foreign manager/coach who’s being paid £6 million pound season to pick the same old faces that led inevitably led to Steve McLaren receiving his P45 in double quick after his disastrous failure to guide England into the European Championship Finals.

Surely it couldn’t possibly be the fact their clubs, or should I the supporters, are paying them ‘obscene’ wages as opposed to the honour of representing their country?

We’ll wait and see IF England, and of course the Baggies, can achieve positive results after Saturday’s games.

But in saying that bearing in mind the much published ‘Hadron Collider ‘Big Bang Atom Smasher Machine Experiment’ (to be carried out 300 feet underground near the French-Swiss border) that some scientists fear could create a huge Black hole that could swallow the Planet, in the process wipe out mankind, then THAT would be the answer to most football fans prayer’s!

After all even those multi billionaire, trillionaire, Sheiks wouldn’t have enough cash to buy their way into survival even though at present they are well on the way to ‘smashing’ the very fabrics of OUR game into a ‘footballing Black Hole that many fear has already taken place!!!

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