The reason behind Man Utd fans cheering on Man City over Liverpool, US systems won’t work in football, Son Heung-min and lots more…
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Football 365 have touched on this before, but I do want to ask why is Tottenham’s Son never linked with the big clubs? He is a proven, excellent striker, who has done the business in a top league for seasons now.
Is it the club? Do people just hate dealing with Levy and so it isn’t worth the effort?
Do they think he is only good because of Harry Kane (which would be insane)
Is it some form of racism, where they think he couldn’t hack it in Spain or Italy (which he demonstrably could considering the bits he’s done in the PL)
Personally there is a snobbery that still pervades most levels of football about Asian players. I’ve been writing to F365 for what feels like decades, and I’ve seen the needle move microscopically on this point. I hope by the time my children are adults, they’ll see more Asian representation in football. But for now, it remains a pipe dream, where we’re seemingly only allowed one bright star.
And I say all this as an Arsenal fan!
John (He really is very good, why haven’t Real come and snapped him up and buggered Spurs!!) Matrix AFC
Neymar and Mane
When PSG lost 6-1 in an epic Champions League to Barcelona, Neymar had every reason to feel good about himself. He’d won everything with Barca already and now he was the major reason they’d pulled off one of the most incredible comebacks in football history. He must have expected all the plaudits and would have deserved them too.
But the next day the paper’s were all about Messi and it sunk in that whatever he did , Neymar would never be number one at the club. And if that’s true how could he ever win the Ballon D’or?
So he went to PSG. Maybe they’d make it, maybe not. But he would be the unquestioned star. And if they did win the lot, he’d be the one getting the plaudits and the rewards.
He regretted it of course and tried to go back as soon as he could. But PSG wouldn’t let him. And he’s still not won the biggest individual award there is.
And what’s this? Mane is potentially on the move now and the similarity with Neymar is striking. It isn’t because of trophies, you can’t really beat fighting for the Quadruple right to the end. Liverpool can pay him what he wants, it’s not a money issue. But he’ll always be in Salah’s shadow and he knows it – rightly or wrongly.
He must believe Lewandowski is on the move, which leaves Bayern short one iconic star. Go there and he will be number one and at a club that does fight for the biggest honours right to the end of most seasons. He wants that Ballon D’or right enough and he won’t get it at Liverpool, not with Salah there.
So I believe he will go and presumably be a big success. He’s a terrific player. But the grass isn’t always greener – as Neymar could tell him – and individual awards aren’t better than a happy club fighting on all fronts. And that’s if you win the ego plumping awards at all.
So don’t be surprised to see Mane wanting to come back in a couple of years and equally watch as it doesn’t happen. We will have moved on and replaced him – that’s the circle of football life for you.
All that being said, it’d nice if he signed off with some goals and a win tonight mind you.
Salary cap/parachute payments…
Lee was the latest person to suggest a salary cap for the Premier League, ignoring the fact they work so well in North American sports because their top leagues are closed shops, with nowhere else for players to go that can rival the NBA, NFL or NHL for standard of player or levels of pay. Incidentally, an interesting detail of the NHL is the salary floor, designed to stop owners basically assembling a roster of relatively poor players in order to secure better draft picks. A more viable option for the Premier League would be base something on Major League Baseball’s luxury tax, which would involve determining how much an acceptable payroll amount is and fine teams a percentage of their excess. Manchester City would be most likely to exceed it, and also be the most likely to afford any fines that came their way.
The main obstacle to any sort of salary cap for players, however, is that in North America contract amounts are public record, whereas in football there are undisclosed transfer fees, most reported salaries are generally guesswork, and don’t take into account signing bonuses, agent fees, performance incentives or other aspects such as image rights. In short, there is too much reputational damage at stake for Premier League clubs and players to agree to greater transparency of their finances.
However, there is a way the authorities could introduce financial controls to player salaries, albeit for clubs below the elite. It seems so obvious that it must be inherently flawed, but it seems like an effective way to prevent some Championship clubs spiralling into debt would be to directly link parachute payments to player salaries. In order to receive parachute payments, relegated Premier League clubs should have to submit a full set of accounts, and the amount they receive in return should be ring-fenced in order to be used for player contracts. Clubs should have to use other income streams to sign new players (and to pay them); should they sell a player from their Premier League squad, they can keep the equivalent parachute payment to do with as they will. This way, clubs can continue to pay their highest earners without fear of financial strain, and still cut their cloth appropriately for being in the second tier. Some clubs will complain that this is an imbalanced approach because some teams get more money than others, but that wouldn’t be a massive concern if the money is set aside for a specific purpose.
US systems won’t work
Lee’s ideas for adopting the American system in the UK have been mentioned before, It will never work for many reasons:
1) The US leagues are a closed system. A set number of teams, with no promotion and no relegation. That’s how draft picks are able to work. The team who finishes bottom gets the top draft pick (or has more chance of getting it). How would that work with a league with promotion and relegation?
2) Young players are not developed by teams. They develop at schools and colleges. High schools and college sports are massive and get tens of thousands of fans in attendance. Professional teams then draft the players. How would this even work in the UK where clubs spend millions of pounds on academies? Would Burnley be drafting players from Man City’s academy? not sure they’d be happy about that.
3) No alternative leagues. Players in hockey, basketball, baseball etc. have to play in the US, because realistically that’s the only place the top players could get the salaries they currently earn. Try a salary cap in England and Salah, De Bruyne etc. immediately leave for Spain.
4) Contracts. Players are more of a commodity and seem to get traded whether they like it or not. They then take their current contract with them. The situation is completely different in the UK, so the idea of trading for players wouldn’t work.
A salary cap will almost certainly never work here, because even if you had an agreement between all European leagues, what would immediately happen? Hello European super league.
Like it or not, the system we have is not going to change and there is very little we can do about it.
Mike, LFC, London
The lovely nugget of US sports as a model for fixing football. There is just one tiny thing about US sports, they are a closed shop designed to make money for their owners.
No pesky things like promotion or relegation, just market expansion. If your region doesn’t look like you will make a significant return then the rich guys in your area aren’t invited to the party. If your teams starts badly your team may ‘allegedly’ start tanking to get a better draft pick, you are still expected to pay because they have TV blackout rules, less than 80% attendance, not shown in your area, etc.
You can say football is like this at the moment, the only way to break in to the elite is be a slumbering giant ala Liverpool where a Venture Capitalist can see a return via the global fan base (or rodger you senseless like United) or you win the oil lottery like City or Newcastle, you can lose that lottery too ala Chelsea. But football is not all about winning, sure it is nice but only a part of it.
I suspect the emotional ride that Everton fans went through over the last few months (especially as they came out on the right side of it) is far greater than if they had a run at the title once 15 years or so and just hung around with their club making money off them for the interim. Forest fans heading to Wembley Sunday are dreaming of getting back into the big league, they may go straight back down next year, who knows, but they just want a shot as its been a long time away. A bit of jeopardy is what makes football great.
The US system would reinforce the Super League structure at a local level, is that is what is wanted?
One final point, football isn’t broken now, it has always been broken, players had to fight for a minimum wage in the 60’s, match fixing was rife in high level European competition up until the 90’s (maybe still is). All fans were treated like scum in the 70’s and 80’s, some fans were scum in the 70’s and 80’s. Like life football isn’t perfect, it reflects life to a degree, but is a lot of fun, warts and all.
Mel – Dublin, Berlin, Athlone Town (football is also a lot of tedium when you support Hertha and Athlone Town)
Interesting mail from Lee on the salary cap, and how well it works to even things up in America. Problem is, all the sports that have the salary cap, draft, player swaps etc are pretty much solely American based so there is nowhere else for a player to go. Football is global.
If the premier league had a salary cap and a draft, Gerard wouldn’t be at Norwich. He’d be in Spain somewhere. And if this extended to UEFA, then he’d be playing in Asia or wherever.
Sorry to pop the idea but unless every league in the world has the same rules then it can’t work. And I can’t see the same salary cap working in the Canadian league as the premier league for example.
John (FC Isle of Man) TT land
Whatever the question is, American sports are not the answer
Lee in Friday’s morning mailbox made the case that US sports are a template for football to follow. This is an argument that rears its head fairly frequently, but it falls apart once you look beyond the most superficial advantages. Lee has a point that US sports titles are more evenly shared and that star players are less likely to be stockpiled at megaclubs; this certainly has attractions. However, the US system is not replicable in football, nor would we want it to be, as it has lots of downsides that are just not acceptable. It is not possible to cherry pick aspects of a system without understanding other parts of that system that make them possible.
The main thing to remember is that US sports are run for the benefit of the ‘franchise’ owners. The rules are primarily there to protect the owners’ investment, not to encourage real competition, they are a type of socialism for the rich. For example, why are there only 30/32 franchises in each of the major leagues? Because it gives more market power to the owners, evident from the fact that in American football Congress had to give an exemption to antitrust laws for the AFL/NFL merger.
And several things follow from this limited number of teams. There is there no relegation – franchise owners are not really punished for operating rubbish teams – indeed frequently many do it just to save money on wages or else strategically to get a higher draft pick. Supporters just have to put up with a tanking team. There is no pyramid of teams competing to get to the top, it is a closed system. Also this market power allows them to move their franchise from one city to another if there is more money in it for them, there are more cities than pro teams so they can take advantage of their scarcity value. I don’t think this is an outcome we want.
Anyway, practically, it would be impossible to replicate the American system wholesale in football. It makes sense in the closed US system, organised in one country and one legal system, with the same franchises involved all the time who have a long-term interest in co-operation. The draft system fits into the US college sports quite well, but this has no equivalent in football. The franchises can agree a salary cap among themselves, remember this is done to cap their expenses not as a morality play, the value of the franchises are not capped when they are sold (as an aside, while I think football players are overpaid, I don’t see why we should limit their salaries in order to benefit owner profits). On salaries/transfers, remember US teams cannot be relegated, so there is no concept of having to spend just to maintain your league position. And there is just the logistical problems that soccer is played professionally all over the world, organising salary caps would require dozens of leagues to agree to limits wages/transfers, in different legal systems and football cultures, whilst also probably agreeing to limit relegation. I just don’t see how that could work.
Finally, be careful what you wish for. The European Super League is a copy of US sports. A limited number of teams, limited/no relegation, designed to increase profitability and remove downside risk. That’s the only way the good parts of US sports can be transferred to football.
A salary cap would make things far more competitive…
I read the letter from Lee in this mornings mailbox, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the signature had been cut short. I thought maybe it should have read Leeds United fan Andrew from Canada. I read the letter to a friend and she actually thought I had written it. So…
Consider Lee’s second point, trades rather than transfers, and take Aston Villa as an example. Villa sold Jack Grealish to Man City for buckets of cash which they reinvested into the club, and finished three places lower than when they had him. Villa had little choice but to sell, and Man City had to give up very little. They gave up cash and they have boatloads of cash, Khaldoon Al Mubarak could probably make up the fee in spare change. If, on the other hand, they had to give away players they suddenly have a decision to make. Is getting Grealish really worth giving up other players who are currently on your team, or who may be in the future?
Ok, so City just wait a bit longer and sign him on a free. Or do they? That brings us back to the first point, salary caps. If there’s a salary cap in place then maybe City can’t afford to pay him much more, or possibly any more, than Villa. He can still choose to leave but it’s not such a cut and dried decision. The most obvious comparison to a salary cap is a fantasy league. You can’t just go out and put all the best players on your team because you have a limit you can’t exceed. Makes things frustrating but far more competitive.
The standard argument against all this is that unless it was put in place across all UEFA leagues, it would weaken English teams and make them less competitive in Europe. My response to that is, “so what”. It’s pretty much always the same teams in Europe every year anyway, so who cares if Liverpool aren’t in the European Cup final every three years.
Apparently Barcelona may not be able to sign Raphinha and keep Ousmane Dembele, so maybe the talent drain may be less severe than some people think. Of course the “big” teams don’t want this. The NFL, MLB, and NBA are all more profitable than the Premier League, but the money is shared more evenly. The “big” teams would rather just keep all the money for themselves than share it out, and why would you want competition if everyone else is just happy for you to win. The end of season title decider was thrilling, but what are the chances that the title won’t be decided by the same two teams next year.
Andrew (not Lee) – Canada
I sent the email about some supposed changes which would help football be more fair.
Immediately in the comments everyone was saying how they won’t work because football is different. No shit.
That is why I said we would need to adapt the rules to match the sport. Instead of making a strawman if my argument just say the truth “you like it the way it is and don’t like change”
At least that’s honest.
As for the comment about fairness being a bi product of owners controlling young player salaries and careers, in ice hockey young players get traded away from teams they don’t like all the time. Jack Eichel in ice h…