John Reid (From the Socialist Newspaper)
At the start of the new football season, the same old robbers are wrecking the game. Since the outset of the Premier League, over 50 clubs have gone into receivership.The latest club in trouble is Coventry City. Docked ten points, and without a ground due to the antics of the money men in charge, fans have to travel to Northampton to see their team play!
Mismanagement has already ruined Portsmouth, Luton Town and also Glasgow Rangers, which was expelled from the Scottish Premier following off-field dodgy dealing.
Football is a game at the top owned by billionaires and played by multi-millionaires.
Premier League revenue has risen to over £3 billion – half of which comes from TV deals. However, wage costs eat up 83% of the revenue growth as players’ wages continue to soar.The race to get into the Premier League has pushed the debts of Championship clubs to £0.9 billion. These clubs have a wage to revenue ratio of 90%. They spend 30% more than they receive. The aggregate losses of Championship clubs in 2011/12 were £147 million.
Fighting to stay in the Premier League or qualify for Europe has rocketed debts to £2.4 billion, including £1.4 billion of ‘soft’ debts. Chelsea are £895 million in debt, Newcastle £262 million and QPR £93 million. QPR were the third highest spending club and still got relegated!
The cost of football in the Premier League is phenomenal, £40 to £60 per ticket, cutting young people and low wage earners off from their clubs, many of which, like Coventry, were formed by workers. We need to reclaim the game, the clubs need to be brought under the democratic control and ownership of the fans with the ground being safeguarded for the use of the football clubs.
They’ve taken our jobs, factories and hospitals – now it’s our football club!
On Sunday 12 August, at least 7,000 fans attended a Coventry City ex-players’ charity march at the Ricoh Arena, while the Sky Blues’ first home game in Northampton was only attended by 2,200 fans from both teams!
This followed a 7,000-fan protest on 20 July against the decision to move Coventry City home games to Northampton. At the rally, former Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist pointed out, to rapturous applause, that while in other countries clubs are owned by the fans, we have here a situation where owner SISU, an offshore hedge fund, is only interested in maximising profits from the people of Coventry.
The tragedy of Coventry City is a perfect example of how profit hungry parasites like SISU attack working class communities and culture. They must be stopped, with discussions needed on how we can get fan and community ownership and control of clubs, football and sport in general.