The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
The Guardian‘s David Conn has an interesting interview today with Keith Harris, the banker and former Football League chairman who advised the billionaire owners of clubs like Chelsea and Aston Villa throughout the process of buying them. Harris argues that the global economic downturn—he calls it “the toughest economic situation anybody has endured in our lifetime”—will mean an end to the culture of the football club as rich man’s plaything and could lead, if wages and transfer spending aren’t brought under control, to a meltdown in the Premier League itself.
We have been through a time when clubs have been overspending, with very ordinary players commanding huge transfer fees and wages. The climate has changed and takeovers are not going to be the solution to the woes that they may have been two years ago. That is unequivocal.
Harris also says that of the group of clubs for which he’s currently working to find buyers, which includes Portsmouth, Everton, Blackburn, and West Ham, only West Ham has a chance to sell quickly, because of the allure of London and the desperate circumstances of current owner Björgólfur Guðmundsson.
I’m still waiting to read an analysis of the current football economy that would observe the distinction between the wealthy owners who see their clubs as toys (Sheikh Mansour, Roman Abramovich) and the ones who see them as long-term investments (the Glazers, probably Randy Lerner). This isn’t quite that; Harris believes that every club is “ultimately a trophy asset.” But it’s sharp and well worth a read.
Read More: Billionaire Owners
by Brian Phillips · January 7, 2009