Corporate Football - an introduction to economics

Lessons from the beautiful game

English football has provided an extraordinary opportunity for working class people to glimpse how global speculation can blight whole areas of the economy and aspects of their very day to day living.

After all, vast chunks of housing, utilities, health, education, and even money supply have been regularly bought and sold - speculated/gambled upon - with all the associated disruptions which are the inevitable consequence. But these are not as "in your face" to most working people as good old footie. Here the fans can watch as their historical tribal focii become the playthings of the super rich and devalue in any sense but strictly monetary (the only one that really matters).

But the way corporate immorality nearly destroyed Liverpool and even Manchester United and has destroyed many lesser clubs can be very instructive for readers of the back pages. These same corporate psychopaths are using the same methods to run banks and food supply chains, to distribute pharmaceuticals and weapons of war, to plunder oil and mineral reserves.

The message is simple – we have a better glimpse of the incompetencies and excesses of corporate management in the world of footie than in any other sphere. As they wreck the beautiful game, so they are wrecking the rest of the global economy.

The sports pages are now where the essential economic debates can and should be taking place. In those pages we can see, for example, that the great Russian "entrepreneur", Putin's poodle, Roman Abramovitch has, after years of heavy spending, management interference, and general fart-arsing about, finally come to the conclusion that his play thing - Chelsea Football Club - has suffered enough from his management expertise. Back to square one for this brilliant captain of industry as he loses his bottle and backtracks completely to where he and his play thing were when he first sacked Mourinho. Evidenced so clearly by his re-instatement of Mourinho, it is also evidenced by his incompetent assessment of the playing life of people like John Terry and Frank Lampard. Having brought in Andre Villas-Boas to oversee the process of getting rid of "old" players, Roman panicked. Off went AVB (now doing quite well at Spurs without the benefit of Roman's heavy helping hand) and the "old" boys stayed.

In any sphere, were he a salaried worker, such gob-smacking incompetence would have been rewarded with his own sacking. Regrettably the western economic model doesn't provide for assessing the incompetencies of super-rich oligarchs. They are beyond reach. But only in football do we see this so graphically.

As banks and corporations cause havoc around us, we don't see the detail. It isn't interesting enough for most of us and we don't have the time or resources adequately to delve even if it was. And it is obscured anyway by sycophantic mass media, largely in the hands of these same oligarchs. But the footie is there for us all to see. We don't need the pundits to point out that huge amounts of cash being spent isn't a guarantee of success if there are no brains behind the investment. Every week we can see evidence of flawed, ego-centric thinking played out in the stadiums and on the televisions. What we don't see so clearly is the way in which that same flawed, ego-centric thinking screws up other areas of our economy and our lives.

The only reason the oligarchs are able to maintain their positions of power in football, despite breath-taking incompetence, is their unassailable wealth.

The only reason the oligarchs are able to maintain their positions of power in other areas of the economy, despite breath-taking incompetence, is their unassailable wealth AND the carefully cultivated mystification and obscurity associated with what they actually do.


© 2013 Deacon Martin

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