How to save football? Well…Football is the most loved sport in the world with an estimated 3.5billion people being a fan of a football team, just under half of the entire worlds population …not too shabby!
As shown in the map below, the spread of love for the game of football is huge and for many it serves as a lifeline away from the ordeal and pressure of everyday life.
So with all of that said what 3 things would I like to see changed in order to make the game even better and in some ways save it from losing its magic touch and appeal.
1) Introduce a Wage Cap
This is an idea which is much easier to suggest than it is to explain how it would work. Everyone always says that money is killing the game and that players are paid too much money for what they do. I feel that answer is both a yes and no, yes i feel money is killing the game and could well kill it for good but also players are only paid in relation to what they are worth. It is no different to Tom cruise demanding £25m to star in a movie, he knows his worth to his employer and takes his slice of well earned money for being one of the best in his line of work.
Having said all of that…I do feel the game needs to implement a new maximum wage percentage allowance based on ticket sales and merchandise alone. This would allow for clubs to survive within their means whilst also preventing deals such as Manchester City where inflated sponsorship deals are managed indirectly by the clubs owners, thereby allowing increased playing budgets.
2) Parachute payments to be reduced to just the first season.
So what exactly are parachute payments?
“Football clubs relegated from the Premier League receive a percentage of the equally shared element of broadcasting rights each Premier League club receives. This percentage drops progressively over a three-year period – 55% in the first year, 45% in year two and, if the club was in the Premier League for more than one season before relegation, 20% in the third year.”
So why change this, surely it protects clubs getting into financial difficulty should they fall out of the Premier League? Yes and no. The issue I have is that the whole concept to protect clubs is in most cases irrelevant as most if not all of the ‘Premier league talent’ immediately leaves a club once that club is no longer in it, thereby the wage expenditure is immediately alleviated. On the other hand it also allows clubs to over invest/stretch, become relegated and then keep some of these players when in the Championship meaning they are overpowered due to the discreptionancies in the wage budgets available to them compared to other clubs in the division. By reducing this to the one season it would allow clubs the option of signing Premier league talent on promotion to a 2 year deal with the knowledge that they would still be protected should they suffer relegation whilst also not allow the financial gap to grow for an extended period of time when it is not necessary.
3) Funding made available to allow teams to offer their own ‘I-Follow’ subscription.
This is something I feel that clubs are really missing out on. The reality is that for some clubs it is just not possible or practical for fans to be in the ground every single week. At the moment, now we are outside of lockdown, the restrictions on I-Follow are back in place meaning that no Saturday 3pm kick-offs are available to stream, as was the case during the past year. What I am proposing would require these strict rules to be relaxed to allow streaming during these hours. This is something that I genuinely feel the benefits of doing so would largely outweigh any potential negatives and risks.
A great example of how this type of media has been done well is by looking at Charlton FC, they have launched their own CharltonTV package which offers a sort of personalised skysports coverage approach to live games (when allowed) with a pre and half-time show as well as end of game analysis. The archaic EFL rulings of not allowing 3pm kick-offs on a saturday are in place to protect the game domestically and to keep fans in stadiums. This fear of losing crowds is misplaced and more emphasis should be put on opening up more channels for those who are unable to attend every week. This would provide a new option for fans to support their team. The revenue to the club would also then be increased along with the fans experience, lets face it if you want to go to see your team play in the flesh, you are very unlikely to substitute that experience to watch them at home. Embrace the technology available to us and move forward rather than simply staying in the past, look at it as an opportunity and not as a threat.
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