21 Aug 2016 12:00:43
Can people please take a moment, when considering their: 'we have brought in x but only spent y on players', to think about UEFA rules?

I'm sure one of the Eds or someone else will correct me if the percentage is wrong, but as I understand it the FFP rules state that wages in a season can be 130% of the previous season. Therefore if, for example, your wage budget was £400,000 per week last season, it can be £520,000 per week this season.

If we want players to stay and continue offering new contracts, wages rise taking probably £50,000 per week off of that allowance - before considering the extra £20,000 or so in contractual pay rises year-on-year. When replacing a first team player, e. g. Mane (signed two years ago from a small team so probably on £30,000 a week) with Redmond (Premier League proven, wanted by many clubs, in an era of TV money), you are probably adding £20,000 per week to your spend.

At this point if you say we've brought in probably a total of £60,000 per week extra, plus the £70,000 in keeping existing players - not taking into account changes in staff structure, we are likely to be fairly close to the line on FFP rules on wage rises, and as such transfers are not as simple as 'we have £30m to spend let's buy someone world class'.

The club know what they are doing, let's presume that if they don't sign a new player, it's because that player wouldn't be worth the risk of a ten point deducation and/ or being expelled from the Europa League.

{Ed002's Note - Putting aside the numbers themselves, conceptually this is correct.}

1.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 17:32:58
I understand the figures but doesn't that just show that the big boys with top revenues are just going to slowly pull away from the rest of the league regarding investment? I see a gulf developing at the top with about 6 clubs being able to more or less do what they like financially.

2.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 17:58:15
Chris - I hit send too early and will reply to your post once I am through this train journey to the desolate wastelands of Northern England. No trains between Didcot and Oxford fouled up m day and Virgin Trains not carrying ice for my gin made it worse. I will get to the safety of a Hilton and reply later - it is a point well worthy of a good and thorough answer. And a break for me from the moaning Liverpool fans and the Arsenal fans who will still bleat once they have Brahimi, Draxler, Mustavi etc next week. }.

3.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 18:34:10
No problem Ed002, been there myself many times and know how exhausting it is . Just as an additional point I suppose it doesn't matter whether any of these high investment clubs have put themselves in the red in the past to do it before the FFP rules came in. The likes of Southampton trying to be a profitable business are victims of their recent financial stability?

{Ed002's Note - There is a multitide of sins here Chris.

Firstly the whole FFP issue, which as you say benefits a slightly strange cross-section. Right now UEFA are trying to deflect a legal challenge and are looking to relax the investment that can be made – but are still aware that they need to deal with other issues, most notably the capping of television income and sponsorship. UEFA has spoken to a number of clubs but have generally not found them supportive – all three English sides spoken to are against the plans to relax the investment cap. However, UEFA has now turned to the association of European clubs and they are keen to have some input. They are traditionally ignored but they have been actively discussing this issue with UEFA. However, they are excluded from the discussions that UEFA and specific clubs have with each other – and it is that forum that will eventually settle on the more critical television revenue and commercial sponsorship caps. There will regardless be a relaxation this summer, but it may not be sustained without ratification – and that won’t happen anytime soon. None of this will be good for the English sides. The worry UEFA has that the two potentially largest beneficiaries both play in the French league. But clubs do need to keep within the general guidance and the spending limits - it is to some extent the income caps which don't hit the majority of clubs that are being an issue.

Next up is a breakaway league that could cripple UEFA. It remains very much an on-going issue with regular discussions on the matter between a dozen or more clubs.

Without going in to too much detail: (a) A number of clubs take the opportunity to meet and discuss various issues including changes in rules, club versus country issues, television and other media rights, the power of UEFA, exploitation issues for new technology streams, etc.. The meetings were annually but now they happen two and sometimes three times a year. There was a meeting in December – where there was a discussion about the state of FIFA, the situation with UEFA and a so far unpublished claim from a retired referee that the result of a Champions League game was influenced by a third party. These discussions also always turn to the possibility and structure of a breakaway pan European league. Several are ex-G14 clubs, several are not, and some clubs decline involvement in such discussions. (b) The plan is that at some point a number of clubs would break away from their national leagues and UEFA. They accept that they would be banned from all existing club competition and the players would initially be banned from all FIFA competitions as well, but know that FIFA would be looking to negotiate in any case. It would be the end of UEFA in all probability and UEFA are very aware of this. It would also result in a restructuring of many of the national leagues. (c) The clubs would renegotiate their television and media rights, rights of distribution via other streams etc.. (d) It remains the greatest fear of UEFA and all major national authorities that one day this will happen – which has resulted in a counter-proposal being drafted by UEFA. (e) Timing wise, two very prominent clubs want it to happen as soon as possible (2018) and they have the support of a third club - but most are looking at 2022 being a good option. A few clubs are looking at 2025 to 2027 and I suspect that could end up as the reality.

There is a counter-proposal has partially been backed by UEFA to try and save their own skin. This is an option to the breakaway as everyone now knows the reality of it. The proposal is to rename and change the format of the UEFA Champions League to make it an elite closed-shop pan-European league with a fixed number of teams – and these would be the same teams every year. It would then require the restructuring of the Europa League and the possible introduction of a lower-tier European competition. Although they have yet to flesh out the detail and there is now a major concern that the impetus for this is not coming from Europe, one major Football Association has given their support and discussions have also been held with the leading clubs from England (Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal). The American backer, Stephen Ross of the Miami Dolphins, has requested a meeting with an extant group of sides considering the pan-European breakaway to discuss his proposals. They have yet to respond but having identified the source of much of the funding (and that raising a concern) will wish to discuss it between themselves first. However, UEFA are now considering yet another proposal that would see some places in the CL fixed (probably to previous winners) and then see it supplemented by Champions and second place sides each season. This complicates matters again as it means the re-introduction of a third competition or the significant restructuring of the EL. The plan being put to clubs is a summer/preseason tounament that will evolve in to a paralelle league, and of course eventually in to a complete breakaway for these clubs.

If the proposal for a breakaway goes ahead, there is every likelihood that the big money from television, sponsorship etc. would go with a breakaway league. It would completely rupture the operations of UEFA and I would expect it would require national associations like the FA to restructure their leagues. Nobody wants this but it is the eventual consequence I would expect. Initially it could be that there is a single 16 team league with 2 or 3 EPL teams making the initial plunge. If I had to speculate, I would think (1) you might eventually see something like five or six EPL teams leave for two-tier pan European league - but it won't be based on the UEFA rankings; (2) the Premier League would be disbanded as an organisation; (3) the FA would restructure in to two 20 team divisions with lower leagues regionalised as they were many years ago; (4) FIFA would ban all players from the breakaway teams from International football - perhaps rescinding that position to stop FIFA breaking up as well - they don't want further issues but the troubles are not going to go away. I could also see many teams lose their professional status. I would think we are probably 10 years away from any significant move at this time.

I hold a reasonably strong view in terms of the need to restructure football in Europe in any case. For me an eventual a breakaway pan-European league would force the restructuring of many of the national leagues, possibly resulting in a British league with perhaps only a couple of professional tiers and then regionalised amateur leagues below that. Financially I do not see that so many pro sides can be sustained within the sport which, like it or not, will see more and more money going in to the highest levels of the game. Governments will ensure that grassroots sport get funding but everything in the middle (Southern, Northern, Conference, Division 2, Scottish Divisions 1-3, League of Wales will not get the funding needed to continue on any sort of professional basis.

At the end of this month UEFA will present its findings to the group of x "elite" sides (including three English sides). Around December the details will be released to the press and the greater audience. Whatever happens in the short-term will be dog food withing 7 or 8 years and the breakaway will happen.

None of this bodes well for the clubs like Southampton. Everton and Liverpool in all honesty.}

4.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 19:23:17
Wow, thank you very much for that. what great depth and insight into the workings. Very much appreciated 002. I shall never raise an eyebrow to a reply again.

{Ed002's Note - You guys have been real good recently so I am pleased to help.}

5.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 19:26:00
Ed 002, amazing and startling set of details you have produced here. Many, many thanks for the response and from what I make of these comments it makes the likes of Kerry Packer look like a match box seller on the corner of the street . Scary stuff, what happened to football?

{Ed002's Note - To some extent you are correct Chris. There is a bit of a money-g-round happening in England and folks are getting on for the ride with the likes of Bournemouth, Swansea and Crystal Palace.

The money isn't simply investing to speculatate any more as the money is arriving in droves from media etc.. Since China opened up it has thrown a massive potential market in to the mix for professional sports (not just football, but there are other growth sports as well) and a number of Chinese companies see the potential for significant income form the game. Chinese money is already flooding through football with ownership and/or investment in clubs as diverse as Inter Milan, Espanyol, Den Haag, Milan, Sochaux, Aston Villa, Milan, Atletico Madrid, Slavia Prague and significantly, City Football Group. City of course owns Manchester City, New York City, Yokohama F Marino and Melbourne City - and are looking to expand in to China and South America. For years the professional game in China was under a cloud of corruption (including match-fixing) and the Chinese, and to be fair FIFA, have worked very hard to resolve the issues. The game is on the up there and they have the money to pretty much do what they want. They now a shift will be coming in Europe and I would expect to see further investment in European sides - there is one organization looking hard at Germany and another already successful in buying in to Italy. They of course have to work within certain legal ownership frameworks and that will restrict investment in certain countries. Do not be surprised to see another English side be taken over by Chinese owners in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, the profile of the game at home is increasing and the market to be tapped significant. I spent several months in Hong Kong working in both 1988 and again in 1990 and it was clear then that the mainland needed a step change and it could get leverage over so much - since then that has happened. Six months working out of Beijing in 2005 (until they pretty much forced me out) showed that changes were happening - since then I understand from colleagues who do visit that it has moved on a lot.

In terms of my personal view:

The Chinese are intent on cleaning up their act and want to promote sport within a nation that has only recently fully opened their doors to the outside world. There is a significant shift in wealth to the Far East and in particular China. They will invest and build in their own leagues and they will go to other parts of the world to learn. Chelsea has lost one player to China and has had an approach about a second. Other players from the EPL will follow with at least one Manchester City and at least one Liverpool player having opportunities in China for next season that have not been taken up - but in the longer term they will cherry pick and then look to grow. This then leads to potential movement of players within the consortia (as Udinese has done with Watford) and that is something we will see more of but there are pleanty of walls in the way based on (a) convenience, and (b) potential abuse of national or international FFP rules. They will learn from the mistakes of others and they will soon be looking to add coaching capabilities by recruiting from other leagues. It is progress - like it or not.}

The coming years will see lots of changes. You know about the pan-European breakaway proposals, well there is going to be a counter-proposal backed by UEFA to try and save their own skin which is soon to be tabled (at the end of August to the "elite" clubs and in December to everyone else). There will be more global City Football Group style collectives appearing. There will be growth in China. And so it goes.

A roller-coaster ride for a few years Chris.}

6.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 20:07:44
Cheers Ed002.

{Ed002's Note - You are welcome.}

7.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 21:47:51
Wow 002.this was very insightful. What is happening to the beautiful game?! Reading this, should saints be less woried about signing players to stayin the prem rather finding a chinese buyer? Might it be why Kruger is trying so hard to sell our brand in America because he knows what lies ahead?

8.) 21 Aug 2016
21 Aug 2016 21:56:40
This all sounds horrific. Personally I've been losing interest over the last few years now and this be the end for me. I guess the rest of the world caught up and took it away. Oh well, such is life.

9.) 22 Aug 2016
22 Aug 2016 08:40:46
Would a break-away pan-European league mean that clubs would only play in that league.? How would their fans fancy having to travel those sort of distances all of the time? It could be a boost for other teams who will get more people who just want to see a game on a Saturday afternoon. Will this league become just a pay-per view event?
Personally I wouldn't bother and I suspect many, like myself would miss the rivalries that are the English league.

{Ed002's Note - Yes - they would leave and much of the media money would leave with them.}

10.) 22 Aug 2016
22 Aug 2016 12:11:48
With great sorrow my partner has been offered a job in New Zealand which he has accepted. We will be off by the end of September at the latest. We will be living in the north island based just outside Auckland. It's a wrench to think that for the next two years we won't be watching our beloved saints home and away.

I've enjoyed the rumours and the banter. All I can say is thanks to the editors - it's a tough job but you have managed it excellently. Thanks for all the positives. To the negatives - I understand your frustrations. Just try to believe and keep the faith. It will take time- Rome wasn't built in a day.

Great character names - have made a note of these. Well what more can I say. I will try and see if I can read this site on the other side of the world. Still got matches to watch before we go, but there's quite a lot of packing and moving to organise. Bye.