Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughEnglish Clubs’ Champions League Gamble - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough English Clubs’ Champions League Gamble - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

English Clubs’ Champions League Gamble

There has already been £145,000,000 million spent this summer in the Premier League, with the likes of Phil Jones, David de Gea and Jordan Henderson moving for big money. To put this into perspective, last summer, approximately £400 million was spent in the entire summer of 2011, a figure that falls to around £260 million if you discard the spending of Manchester City, a club who are yet to really get going this summer.

And, surely this spending is not going to stop. This newspapers of this morning (or yesterday morning depending on when this is published/you get around to reading it) are claiming Samir Nasri is on the verge of joining the aforementioned Manchester City, while Wesley Sneijder and Sergio Aguero are also being heavily linked with moves to the North West. Even Arsene Wenger appears to be prepared to get his chequebook out – Gervinho appears to be an almost done deal, while the likes of Gael Clichy, who has already left, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas will almost certainly need to be replaced.

This next season is possibly going to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Manchester United will be desperate to keep hold of their title, with Chelsea and Manchester City set to put up a strong challenge. In addition, if, and it’s a massive if, Kenny Dalglish can persuade his plethora of midfielders to function into a well-oiled machine, and Liverpool can continue the form they showed towards the end of the season, they can’t be ruled out. Yet, the bookmakers have Arsenal as stronger favourites than Liverpool in their betting.

Is this seeming strength in depth at the top of the league the reason for the spending? It is estimated that qualification for the Champions League is worth between £30-50 million depending on your choice of newspaper. Or, to put it another way, for a club like Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, failure to qualify for the Champions League, a steady revenue stream over the past 10 years will cost £30-50m.

And this is just the basic financial cost. The added prestige of being a Champions League team cannot be valued; look at the trouble Manchester City have had over recent years. Despite having seemingly all the money in the world, they were struggling to attract the crème de la crème of world football. For a club like Manchester United, who markets itself so well throughout the world, the cost of not being in the world’s premier club competition is immeasurable.

Last season demonstrated how close it is at the top; while Manchester United ended up coasting to victory, it wasn’t always so clear cut. Sir Alex Ferguson is well aware of how close the other teams are behind, and as the old saying goes, if you’re not moving forward you’re moving backwards. With all clubs set for wholesale changes this summer, there is a chance that any team who does not match their rivals stride for stride will be left behind. And then they may not be in a position to catch up again. Liverpool is fortunate that their fall from the top happened now, and not in a couple of years with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules in place.

Ah yes, Financial Fair Play. As has been well documented elsewhere, I am awaiting UEFA’s response to the sponsorship deal of the City of Manchester stadium with baited breath. This demonstrates the importance that the rules are being viewed with by the biggest clubs. But, this sponsorship deal is nowhere near the value of Champions League qualification. Arsenal has admitted in the past that failure to qualify would be disastrous for the club’s financial model.

It appears that this summer, clubs have a decision to make; to gamble on securing that Champions League spot through extra transfer spending or slip away quietly into the night and hope to regroup, pick up one or two bargains and progress from there. We wait and see which route Arsenal go down, (but if the rumoured £19 million Stewart Downing bid is true, it’s fairly clear), but it appears the others are all prepared to go down fighting.

Tom Bason


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