Arsene Wenger has warned that football faces a financial crisis as the gap between the haves and have-nots grows larger.
As clubs throughout Europe struggle to stay afloat, the über-rich Sugar Daddy led clubs operate on a different level and the knock-on effects are obvious. With their over-inflated transfer fees and ludicrously high wage packets, they skew the market, leaving it almost impossible for other clubs to compete.
“At the moment, with teams like Chelsea and Manchester City, they just take who they want”, said the Arsenal boss, and he warned that the repurcussions would be felt sooner rather than later, not just from inside the game but because of the economic difficulties faced in real life too.
“People feel football has been untouchable, but that will not last. I am convinced that Europe will go into a huge financial crisis within the next three weeks, or three months, and maybe that will put everything into perspective again. All our income could be a little bit under threat in the next few months. We have seen the first signs of resistance already in Spain”.
The situation in Spain in particular shows how finances will reduce competitiveness. “Barcelona and Real Madrid have much more financial power than they did 14 years ago because they have individual TV rights,’ said Wenger.
Last month players in Spain went on strike over unpaid wages. While the big two are boosted financially by their individual TV rights deals the rest of the clubs are fighting to stay alive. Over half the current teams in Spain are without a shirt sponsor for the season ahead. It was 2004 the last time a team other than Barcelona or Madrid won the title and as the financial gap grows the league becomes a sunny SPL (in terms of competitiveness, not quality).
It’s a sobering thought and for all the frustration felt by Arsenal fans towards the manager, perhaps, in time, it will emerge that Wenger’s legacy was not about trophies but ensuring the financial survival and growth of Arsenal Football Club without having to rely on owners who could withdraw their support on a whim.