The report in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that QPR could run afoul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play standards and face a fine in the £60 million range is no surprise. Harry Redknapp has a history of pushing clubs beyond their economic means and, in QPR’s case, he took an already bad situation and made it unsalvageable. This having been said, the efforts of UEFA to crack down on the likes of QPR and La Liga side Malaga is reducing competition and helping to solidify the hegemony of the largest clubs in Europe.
QPR and Malaga were never going to challenge the established order, yet their ability to spend and attract players is thanks largely to money and geography (West London and the Costa Del Sol). Football’s authorities should be made to answer why a club like Malaga is slapped around by UEFA while established clubs are able to run up huge debts and spend at will.
Let’s take West London for instance. Chelsea’s commercial revenues will always outpace Fulham’s whose will likely always outpace QPR’s whose revenues will always outpace Brentford’s. So what we then have is a pecking order, a virtual caste-system of haves and have nots in one area of one European capital reinforced by the official rules of UEFA. Incentive for investors to buy smaller clubs and pump money into the club, and by extension money into football, will dry up.
Why would non-local investors want to get involved in a club that is in the second-tier of English football or a lower-tier Spanish club if they are being effectively forced to stay in place by football’s governing bodies? It is nice to be romantic about the need for community teams and local ownership, as well as idealistic goals for owners. I would like view the football world this way also, but I also believe in competition, investment to grow the game and allowing the little guy to have a chance to live the dream within reason.
I thought Malaga getting within a dodgy call of a semifinal berth in the UEFA Champions League last season was a wonderful story for the sport. Romantics should have indulged in the deep run and good fortune of a non-traditional club and the rewards it gave their long suffering supporters. Obviously the authorities disagree with this sort of romanticism.
Certainly there should be rules that prevent another Leeds United or Portsmouth from happening. But the way UEFA’s Financial Fair Play is constructed is too much of a giveaway to large clubs. I was hopeful the implementation of rules would carry some common sense but after the Malaga ban and potential QPR punishment, it is obvious common sense has gone out the window.
On the international scene, the short knives are out for Roy Hodgson after a friendly loss where the England manager experimented with players. The British press continued over reaction to every result is laughable. Chile has an excellent side and was looking to build squad cohesion with the match while the Three Lions were simply trying to use the opportunity to get a better idea of who will be on the plane to Brazil. Are Chile a better side than England currently? Perhaps, but that is no great cause for alarm as the Chileans are better than the vast majority of national sides on the planet today.
With the Germany friendly looming, we can expect a boatload of articles about how well the Germans have done in crafting a diverse and attractive national side while England has not. This narrative has been written consistently since the humbling 4-1 loss the Three Lions suffered to Germany in South Africa. Yet little of it means anything.
Gordan Strachan is doing a great job restoring Scottish pride and a meritocracy as far as squad selection is concerned. Friday’s 0-0 draw with the high-flying (though depleted) United States was a great result. The recall of Kris Boyd is overdue, and optimism is beginning to become contagious for Euro 2016 qualifying.
On the club scene, some Manchester City fans have adopted the narrative that the side would be sitting atop the Premier League table if Joe Hart had not committed so many howlers this season. The more extreme elements in this group have even stated that without Hart the embarrassing Champions League home loss to Bayern would have been much more competitive. But most fans have come around to the view I first advocated in our EPL Talk preseason preview podcast and have articulated regularly since: Manchester City’s naive transfer dealings and deluded management idealism always meant this season was going to be rough sailing in an increasingly competitive Premier League environment.
Kenny Jackett, who in my mind is one of the most under appreciated managers in British football, is doing it again, this time with recently downtrodden Wolves. The West Midlands club has suffered successive relegations but look poised to clinch automatic promotion back to the Championship with consistent and workmanlike performances. Wolves sit atop the League One table currently.
Editor’s note: Read Kartik’s previous Monday Soccer Insider columns.