How Leicester City Are Saving Premier League Football
I think it’s safe to say that this year’s Premier League season has been a fairy tale, a stuff of dreams. Yet Leicester City could just be saving football as we know it.
Any general football fan knows the huge amount of money that surrounds clubs and players, yet if you ask economic and financial experts the state of the beautiful game it is a worrying one.
A few years ago I wrote a dissertation, which is the huge final paper you research and write to gain a university degree, and I predicted that football would, sooner or later, financially implode.
WHY? Well if you think about it the huge source of money comes from either rich backers, company and merchandise deals and of course TV money, particularly SKY.
But if there’s an economic crash and companies go bust then a huge majority of money is lost, yet clubs are still stuck with high bills.
Perhaps companies and TV stations decide to lower their bids but again the club’s bills remain high. Company’s like Addidas or Nike or DHL or SKY could just one day decide that they either don’t want to pay such high amounts or they want to pay less. Perhaps profits are down and they can’t afford to pay the amounts that clubs now expect just so they can wear their shirts pre game before a Europa League tie.
Or take clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea who were picked up by billionaires. They will be more than likely unable to replace themselves with a billionaire who wants to spend the same amount of money, yet these clubs still have huge outgoings and will either have to significantly reduce their earnings or go bust. Clubs and fans on the rise rarely think about the fall. Clubs on the up go hand in hand with clubs that spend more. But all good things come to an end.
The perfect example of this was Portsmouth. They rose up and began to spend most of the money that came in. However when the money stopped they couldn’t plug the holes quick enough and they sank. And you’d be wrong to think that they’re the only clubs. Most clubs in the Premier League either don’t run at a profit or have loans and debts and this is all because in the last 20 years success has coincided with money. In fact, all major clubs including the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona are in the same boat.
So why is Leicester a possible savior?
They have the smallest wage budget in the Premier League, not including the newly promoted teams as they had different and stricter financial restrictions on them in the Football League. This itself is understandable, since the Football League has seen 16 clubs go into administration in the last 10 years.
But going back the Leicester, their star players of Vardy and Mahrez cost less than 1.5 million. The entire squad cost 55.4 million, almost the same price as Raheem Sterling.
They have proven that hard work, passion and love of the game can create just as much, if not more, success than money can. You can be financial responsible and successful. They have busted the illusion that throwing money at a club or player is a successful method.
Just look at this season’s most successful player stories. Vardy, Mahrez, Kante, Kane, Alli, Rashford, Iwobi, Payet, Ayew. These players are not bank breaking and will hopefully have made the chairmen, directors and managers of all clubs sit down and think about finances. Hopefully they will spend money on development and long term success and facilities, instead of so called high profile players whose wage and transfer fees are far too high.
However Leicester could end up creating more problems. Their rise of popularity in South East Asia, especially due to their owners who are from Thailand, will generate more short term money and investments into the Premier League. The fairytale story will also create more Premier League interest and therefore money for at least the next season or two. This means for the next couple of seasons the BPL teams will receive more money short term, and will likely use that money in the short term.
Leicester’s rise is nothing short of wonderful, but the real lesson they are teaching to other clubs, particularly the top ones, is how they should be managing and running their clubs. With the rise of streaming and cheaper ways of watching football, a shaky world economy and therefore a higher chance that rich owners will leave or go bust in a crash, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the stack of cards that is football could potentially come crashing down. The more money the clubs are receiving, the more they are spending. But when the river dries or slows it’s going to be a tough time for clubs, players but especially the fans.