In the thick of Kevin De Bruyne’s protracted move from Wolfsburg to Manchester City, a comment from the Bundesliga side’s Director Klaus Allofs probably should have warranted far more headlines than it did. His candid remarks regarding not only Manchester City, but the Premier League as a whole, should have sent shockwaves throughout the media.
It will be very difficult – apart from Bayern Munich – to compete with the Premier League in the future…… ‘Even the last team in the Premier League has much more money than Bayern Munich in TV money so this is already the situation.
‘It’s a big task for our football league to get more money out of TV rights and we have to compete with that and hopefully we can.’
The Premier League TV coverage deal which kicks in from 2016 has jumped 71% compared to the last auction for TV rights three years ago. The total sum which comprises of a gargantuan £5.136 BILLION, will be divided accordingly to all Premier League clubs and a promise to devote more funds to grassroots football.
This new television contract means that Sky will pay more than a ridiculous £11million PER GAME. Sky also bought the lions share of the matches played, with 126 played out on Sky and 42 on BT Sports channels.
As the outspoken Wolfsburg Director Allofs alluded to – this means that the Premier League will dwarf any respective package that any German, Spanish or Italian club can offer. Does this mean that the Premiership and its respective clubs are in rude health? It’s all down to perspective.
Of course, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid all have their own allure. Their glittering histories and near constant presence in the echelons of European competition mean that if they decide to enter transfer negotiations then they have enough clout to sway any young talent who has decided to chase fortune and glory. Does monetary gain hold the upper hand though?
This summers transfer window – before the new deal has kicked in I hasten to add – has seen some preposterous figures. £49m for Raheem Sterling ( on which I compiled an article, do have a read if you find yourself with five minutes to waste ), £32.5m for Christian Benteke, even relegated Burnley could find a cool £9m under the cushions of their claret and blue sofa for Brentford’s Andre Gray. The transfer window is no longer solely the domain of the oil-soaked.
With Manchester City splashing over £100m on just two players, does this spell the end of sensibility? The two players in question are hardly proven in the heat of the Premier League. Sterling had a wonderful season with the inspirational Luis Suarez alongside him but last season saw expectational burden lie heavy on his shoulders. De Bruyne was never given a fair crack of the whip by Jose Mourinho in his short stay in England but his sporadic appearances would have never given the impression that he was going to cost over £50m in just two/three years time.
The question that must be asked is ‘Are these players worth this sordid amount of money in today’s market?’ Whilst the fees being bandied around are extravagant compared to three or four years ago, this last year has seen a dramatic rise, sparked by the influx of cash that the TV deal has promised. It allows clubs to forget austerity measures and reside in the red side of financial thinking, with nary a care for the future. Clubs can forget the miasma that was Leeds United in the early part of the century and instead look to build on a foundation of cash that may not always be there.
Allofs comments should impart some cold reasoning. From next year, all Premier League clubs will have the bargaining power to lure most starry eyed players with promises of Scrooge McDuck-like money. Why go to a club who have the right values like Bayern Munich when you can start earning the big bucks from the age of twenty? After all, they obviously have earned it after a single season in the top flight…..
Another factor in the inevitable cash fallout is the fall of FFP ( another subject I have written on, if you care to read ). With UEFA formerly promising a strict framework for clubs to work with and harsh punishments should any outfit care to flout these rules, it meant that clubs who ran their club with care and with a firm look toward the future would be rewarded. When clubs such as City and PSG blatantly break these rules and UEFA failed to act on these promises – even going as far as backtracking on the proposed punishments – then FFP was instantly extinguished.
The question is can clubs who adhered to the laws that UEFA looked to implement, now change their outlook and compete with clubs who stick two fingers up to common sense? Can Arsenal forget about whether a player is worth the inflated transfer fee and simply pay what is required to stop them being tempted by Chelsea, City and others? Can other clubs now put their fiscal targets to one side in a quest to keep up with their rivals?
Fees from next year will overshadow current figures. If £54m for De Bruyne makes everyone baulk, then next year will see some astonishing numbers being thrown around. If you put yourself in the position of the club who has the prospective player on your books and a Premiership team enters negotiations, then you will no doubt ramp the cost up knowing full well that their bulging coffers will be able to meet your bloated valuation.
Football on its current course will meet the glass ceiling sooner rather than later. Higher costs for Sky and BT Sport eventually run down to the fans – it always does. The power that the TV companies have already affects matchgoing fans – Monday evening kickoffs and the distinct lack of Saturday games are evidence of this. Fans have shown however, that they have no problem with expressing their displeasure. Protests, banners and mass walkouts will be on the cards if costs for the fans rise any more. With billions being pumped into the game with not a drop splashed on driving costs down for fans – the forecast is grave.
Whilst we have all seen lower league clubs being forced regrettably to wind down due to escalating costs and a lack of a wealthy benefactor to pull them out of a mire – money being pumped in doesn’t always solve problems. We will see in a few years whether this new TV rights contract is excellent news for the Premiership or a nightmare just starting.