13 May 2012

A bad day for Man City, Rangers and football

While it may appear churlish to criticise Manchester City on the day they won their first championship in 40 odd years, or Rangers who appear to have found a last minute saviour, both these events are bad for football.

Rangers bought success over many years by cheating - spending money they didn't have, defrauding the taxman (and all of us by extension) and failing to pay dozens of small local suppiers for their goods and services.  The fact that they may now be saved and allow to carry on in the upper echelon of Scottish football by wriggling out of their debts by offering creditors a few pence in the pound without further sanction from the Scottish football authorities would be plain wrong.  It also sets a dangerous precedent that will destroy what remains of Scottish football's sporting integrity and drive away more decent football fans from the game.

The similarity with Manchester City may not be immediately apparent.  There is no evidence that City are failing to meet their liabilities and for success starved fans the impact of middle eastern sovereign millions has been transformational.  From mid table anonymity to champions in a couple of years - outspending the EPL's traditional big guns - city rivals United and Arsenal and Chelsea.

But like Rangers, Manchester City's spending is unsustainable.  According to the Guardian - last year players' wages accounted for 104% of their turnover and the club lost nearly £200 million.  City aren't playing by the rules of other clubs, their capacity to generate income bears no relation to either their supporter base or on field success.  And competition is devalued if one club can simply buy success.  They also leave themselves open to complete financial collapse - like Glasgow Rangers - if Sheik Mansour gets bored with his English play thing.

UEFA are rightly keen to see a more level financial playing field across European football.  So it is time for the Scottish and English football authorities to take action and introduce financial fair play rules - so that all football clubs are run sustainably for the long term good of the game.

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