Strange days

I feel like it’s groundhog’s day and any moment now Bill Murray is going to show up dressed like Sepp Blatter, do his Carl Spackler voice and tell me that the ridiculous 6+5 proposal is back on, the 39th game idea is still alive, and the EU agreed to force 18 year olds into indentured servitude.

Didn’t we already go over all this stuff? Didn’t the EU say that the 6+5 rule was “not compatible with the free movement of persons in the EU” and even go a step further?

The European Treaty is very clear on this point – discrimination on the basis of nationality is not allowed, this also counts for football.

As dead as the 6+5 story seems it pales in comparison to how roundly the 39th game idea was rebuffed by every country that would host such a game.  How is this even making print at this point unless I’m trapped in a day that’s repeating itself endlessly?

Further evidence of my fate is the weird “story” in the Independent about how much money’s in each team’s transfer kitty. It’s weird for lots of reasons (mainly that they don’t cite any sources and their numbers all look a little off) but the thing that stuck out like a sore, red thumb was that they are repeating the propagandistic claim that Manchester United had profits of £79m. No they did not. They lost £58m and are completely incapable of even paying the interest on their loans much less the transfer fees they owe. Didn’t we go over this last month also?

What is going on???

Please, god, tell me there’s a news story!!! Show me a sign that I’m not trapped in a summer hell of listening to Man U make false claims, Sepp Blatter bleat on about his illegal 6+5 plan, and Scudmore talk of his completely unsustainable 39th game.


Djourou wants to play holding midfied and is willing to wait until he’s 26 or 27 to prove himself capable.

Huh… no matter how hard they try to reprint the same stories (hit me with the “Nasri to Arsenal” story I haven’t heard that one for about 1/2 an hour) I guess it isn’t groundhog’s day.

So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.


  1. Blatter’s comments from Australia very much had a Lewis Carroll aspect, didn’t they? But they are motivated by something else, which you can either despise or applaud.

    In either case, Blatter et al are trying to stop the EPL from becoming the Premiere league on earth. It’s as simple as that. They can see that the combination of great play, inspired by international stars, combined with unprecedented TV money and the extra cash not being sucked out of the Champions League competition are rapidly building up the EPL to a point where it will soon be impossible for any other European clubs, and most specifically the Milanese, Barca and Madrid, to compete any more with the EPL.

    Look at what’s happened the last five years and project ahead another five. How many millions more will the Top 4, and the Other 16, gain from TV? Plus the CL and UEFA? The 39th Game will happen, somehow, some way, to further cement the TV primacy and marketing prowess of the EPL. When will the 4 English teams take all four semifinals in the CL? Next year perhaps? And what about UEFA? Could we not see all-English finals in both within five years?

    That’s what Blatter is fighting against — the supremacy of the EPL. Maybe for good reason — he wants a more balanced European playing field — or for bad — he wants the supremacy to reside in Spain or Italy. But that’s what he and Platini want.

    I bet the EPL is already the 4th most watched sports league in North America. In five years, its viewership will be much larger. It doesn’t conflict with broadcast times for the NFL or NBA, so from the standpoint of the American market, it is extra programming, of the best kind — top flight sports — and in English, too.

    Sepp Blatter is a modern day Canute. He can’t stop the tide.

  2. You raise some good points and I agree with you about the Champions League final and TV revenues and the like. I just don’t think that Blattini’s proposals are the answer because they seek to reform business practice at the expense of the worker.

    You are absolutely right, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if there was an all English quarter final next year. But 3/4 of those teams are there not because they have been prudent businessmen and have built their team’s wealth slowly but rather because they are heavily in debt and willing to pay irrational sums of money to build super teams. Basically, the EPL as a market is experiencing irrational growth. But unlike Blattini, I see irrational growth not as a problem but as a symptom that a market is at or near the the top of any given bubble. All businesses have cycles of boom and bust, the EPL is no exception and my prediction is that in less than 3 years it will be in a bust.

    Man U can’t even pay their creditors and when that line of credit that they’ve been rolling their debt into comes due they will collapse like the house of cards that they are. Similarly Chelsea, if they don’t win the CL (which I honestly don’t think they can) Roman will tire of them and sell the team leaving them with mountains of debt and a bloated, unsustainable payroll. Liverpool too has serious problems in the board room and with all the debt the team is carrying. I can’t see them spending £60m on transfers every year, finishing 4th, and remaining financially soluble.

    Which leaves Arsenal. Their real danger is both internal and external. Internally, they have a large debt from building the new stadium which they basically leveraged on the real estate market. It’s possible that they won’t sell those Highbury condos. Then what will they do? Externally, the threat is that Usmanov wants to buy the club and use it as his own personal bank (as he’s seen Abramov do). Which would just be the end of Arsenal.

    And when those four clubs’ bubble’s burst (which I’m hoping won’t happen to Arsenal) then the balance of power will shift back to Real Madrid, Milan, Inter, Barca, etc. Clubs that have very little debt and a huge fan base.

    And here in America we’ll be watching Serie A instead of the EPL, because it may be the 5th most watched sport (Hockey is still bigger) but most Americans could easily switch from Man U to Milan. Easily. Look at all the knuckleheads that are Yankees fans…

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