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SBD Global/August 5, 2013/International FootballPrint All
When UEFA came up with its Financial Fair Play rule, it "was expected that huge transfers would be rare and spending reduced," so there is no surprise Arsenal Manager Arsene Wenger has described Gareth Bale's impending £100M ($153M) move as "a joke," according to Thom Drake of the London DAILY MAIL. In the Premier League alone, close to £350M ($535M) has already been splashed, with smaller clubs like Cardiff, Norwich and Swansea joining Chelsea and Man City "in parting with their cash." Wenger said, "It's quite amazing that in the year where Financial Fair Play rules come in, the football world has gone completely crazy." Not many "could argue with him." In Europe, Monaco has spent more than £100M ($152M) itself on Radamel Falcao (Atletico Madrid £53M/$81M), James Rodriguez (£40M/$61M Porto), Joao Moutinho (Porto £22M/$34M) and more, whilst Paris St. Germain has nearly reached its ton, signing Edinson Cavani (Napoli £56M/$86M), Marquinhos (Roma £28M/$43M) and Lucas Digne (Lille £13M/$20M). Add to this Neymar's £50M ($76M) switch to Barcelona, as well as both Gonzalo Higuain and Mario Götze moving for £32M ($49M) to Napoli and Bayern Munich, respectively, and "the amount of money changing hands is staggering" (DAILY MAIL, 8/4). In London, Owen Gibson reported "at first, and maybe second, glance it would appear that a world record-busting move by Real Madrid for Gareth Bale is not exactly in line" with the pledge by the UEFA President Michel Platini to put the brakes on the game's overheating finances. However, a combination of the series of concessions negotiated by the biggest clubs through the European Club Association to UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules and Real Madrid's huge revenue‑generating potential "mean the two things are not quite as contradictory as they might appear." Much to the chagrin of its critics, who fear it will "lock in" the established order, the FFP break-even rules favor the biggest earning clubs. And of those, Real Madrid has "consistently been the biggest for the past eight years" (GUARDIAN, 8/3).
The "bad economy is hurting" football clubs around Europe, according to Nektaria Stamouli of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. But for "Greece's storied but troubled AEK FC, the fall has been especially steep." Ousted from the country's Super League in April, the "beloved club slid into bankruptcy -- the result of years of what fans roundly criticized as bad management and excessive spending, compounded by the country's deep recession." Now, AEK "has found what it hopes to be a local savior: oil and shipping magnate Dimitris Melissanidis." Melissanidis said in July at a news conference where he introduced new managers and the start of ticket sales for next season, "We are starting from scratch and we are fated to succeed." He also predicted that "the club would be back in the Super League after two years." Melissanidis was in late July "still negotiating with other potential investors and he has yet to say how much he will put up himself" (WSJ, 8/2).
Harold Mayne-Nicholls of Chile, the FIFA-appointed expert who "first cautioned about the dangers of taking the 2022 World Cup to Qatar" said that he "made it abundantly clear that playing in the tiny Gulf state would be too hazardous -- but was ignored by the majority of voting members," according to Andrew Warshaw of INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL. Mayne-Nicholls, who led the FIFA inspection team that examined the credentials of all nine candidates for both the 2018 (won by Russia) and 2022 World Cups, said that "holding the two ballots simultaneously in December 2010 was always going to be a recipe for disaster because of potential deal-making between executive committee members." Although the technical report presented by Mayne-Nicholls and his team "flagged up several flaws about a Qatar World Cup -- not least about the heat -- it was ultimately neglected by FIFA," an oversight that "led directly to the ongoing global debate" over whether to switch the event to winter. Mayne-Nicholls: "We knew Qatar would be very, very risky and we put that in our report." Mayne-Nicholls said that it was "clear from the start, however, that his report -- understood to have put the United States as the top recommendation for 2022 and Russia below several of its rivals for 2018 -- risked being sidelined." Mayne-Nicholls said, "Everyone knows that with two bids going together, you could share votes. If we'd only had one vote, that would have been impossible. I didn't have the authority to push them into accepting what we were saying. I just did my job, I wrote what I saw, and I told them what was and what was not the best option" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 8/2).
Football supporters "could be first in line to buy their clubs if they are put up for sale under a proposal" by the Scottish Greens political party, according to the HERALD SCOTLAND. The party wants "fan groups to be given first refusal on any sales to make clubs more representative of communities and to prevent them becoming 'an extension of their owners' egos.'" Under current right-to-buy laws, "rural groups have the right to buy their land" and the Greens want to "bring an amendment to the Scottish Government's forthcoming Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill to extend it to supporters' groups." Scottish Greens Member of Scottish Parliament Alison Johnstone said, "Scottish football continues to be beset by financial and organizational problems. Long-suffering fans deserve responsible owners, and it's increasingly understood that fans themselves are the best stewards of their own clubs. It's time to give a red card to the mismanagement from the people" (HERALD SCOTLAND, 8/4).