Football is becoming more like a business and less like a sport everyday. There is of course the argument that football has resembled a business for a long time now – games scheduled for TV to increase viewing figures, transfers from one club to another, advertising prevalent around stadiums and sponsors on shirts, not to mention the extreme volumes of money players are receiving. All very significant and inevitable aspects of a 21st century sport, however the rate at which this business is escalating is much clearer now than ever before.
Too many negative factors are slipping into football which are generating a very fickle environment, which is in turn having a negative effect on many players, managers and most importantly fans of the so-called ‘beautiful game’. There are obviously some victors in this commercialized way of life, but the negatives certainly outweigh the positives.
Take for example the recent treatment of Yaya Toure by Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. The fan favourite has starred for the club ever since his arrival from Barcelona in 2010, yet has only featured once this season and furthermore hasn’t been included in their Champions League squad. Guardiola has confirmed that Toure will not play until remarks made by the player’s agent are taken care of with an apology. Bastian Schweinsteiger has found himself in a similar position under new boss Jose Mourinho, who has forced the German legend to train with the under-23s and even by himself on some occasions. Joe Hart is another name that can be added to this seemingly endless list of victims of this volatile business. Given their circumstances this season, it is hard to see any return to playing for their respective clubs anytime soon, a situation that would have been very hard to believe this time last season.
Times have changed so rapidly even within a year as Jurgen Klopp, for example, arrived at Anfield almost a year ago, but decided he would give the likes of Christian Benteke a chance to prove himself at least, until eventually shipping out the player to Crystal Palace. Not much of a hopeful situation, but still handled a lot better than others. Countless examples of this are noticeable in recent years, highlighting the fast-moving, relentless, business-like ideal that football is now following, a concept very different to that of even 10 years ago. It seems to take managers less and less time every year to get their squads exactly how they want them, which doesn’t bode well for many players who aren’t given the chance to impress their new manager.
It is unavoidable to mention the money involved in football nowadays at it is providing leagues, especially the English Premier Division, the wealth to attract the biggest and the best. Simultaneously however this is causing its own downfall as more and more people become affected by the harsh realities of wealth, or incidentally, a lack of it. This factor falls onto the fans more than anyone as they have to cope with the rising ticket prices and merchandise just to support their team. Fans have subconsciously become consumers of a worldwide business where not much, if any, consideration is given to their perspective on the game. Many fans are thrown off by the rising ticket prices to go and support their team, although the £30 cap at Premier League away games has been one of the only lights in an otherwise dark situation. Season tickets prices in the likes of Germany and Spain are unthinkably cheap compared to those of England, begging the question of why clubs like Manchester City allow their stadiums to be half empty, and nothing like the incredible atmospheres generated by a sold out Borussia Dortmund home stadium. Shirt prices are equally frustrating for fans. It now costs in the region of £50 to buy the Arsenal shirt for this season, never mind the £1014 you’d have to pay to watch them play week in week out.
With the improved TV rights deal well established this season, and the continued influx of wealthy foreign owners, don’t expect to see the sport returning to it’s traditional ways anytime soon.