How Grassroots Football Could Be Affected By New Premier League TV Deal

It’s no revelation that football has become a money-oriented machine since the Premier League’s inception back in 1992. This priority shift has seeped through from the top to the very bottom of the pool, helping create a wider gap between the elite and grassroots teams. This divide is only expected to further increase, particularly following news that dropped on Friday 22 September.

Reports surfaced surrounding Ed Woodward, vice-chairman of Manchester United, who predicted that Facebook and Amazon could well be in contention to acquire the Premier League TV rights when the deal is renegotiated later this year. Woodward said: “Absolutely I think they will enter the mix and we would welcome their interest”.

As well as this supposed interest in the Premier League TV rights, interest has been sparked for a similar negotiation with European competitions for the distribution of these matches including the Champions League and Europa League.

This follows several happenings over the last couple of months where Facebook submitted a £445m failed bid for digital rights to the Indian Premier League. Despite this rejection, they did, however, successfully broker a 22-match deal with the Major League Soccer for live streaming acquisition of the 2017 regular season campaign.

Amazon have also entered the fray after paying £37m to live stream the 10 Thursday night NFL games this season. Digital coverage is becoming increasingly popular and this also follows recent news that the Football League have granted major broadcast partner Sky along with all participating clubs the permission to live stream any midweek match.

Woodward, in turn, acknowledged the growing importance of establishing a digital engagement with fans which certainly alludes to the direction that the sport is heading towards. The rise of Premier League TV income from 1992-1997 to 2016-2019 has seen revenue increase exponentially from £191m to a whopping £5.136bn, serving as further proof to the catastrophic shift that’s been endured.

It’s also expected that Sky will have to pay a premium of 45 per cent on the £4.2bn they paid last time around – which equates to a further £1.8bn – in order to fend off competition. So, what does this mean for grassroots football?

The severe lack of investment and support from football’s elite to grassroots football is plain to see. This change will butcher grassroots further along with affecting Premier League clubs and the sport as a whole. For many, it depends where you rank to determine whether this inflation is a positive or negative, but it’s almost completely unanimous that grassroots will suffer drastically whatever your allegiance.

This summer has seen the two most expensive transfer signings in history completed. Neymar and Ousmane Dembele moved to new clubs for fees of £194m and £92.6m respectively. Manchester United were also revealed to have surpassed their £250m wage barrier, showing salaries had risen from £232m to £265m in the annual year.

But while many fear spending will grow to unimaginable levels, Ed Woodward firmly believes this to be untrue. In fact, he stated that there is a willingness amongst clubs, as well as the authorities of the game, to enforce Financial Fair Play regulations in a bid to avoid this seemingly inevitable consequence. The current leniency towards these rules is unfairly disadvantaging teams while extenuating and ultimately rewarding others for the governing body’s negligence and the clubs’ ignorance. This abuse of power is likely to continue whether ideals are supposedly on the verge of implementation or not.

With these increases, there has been a consistent neglect from the Premier League to backing grassroots football. The inclusivity and the accessibility of grassroots has always been its appeal but without the money behind the campaigns, it’s bordering on impossible for clubs to stay afloat. This is in addition to the already staggering number of clubs that have either downsized or folded over recent years at this level.

Following on from this, even the Premier League is feeling the heat in certain capacities. A restructuring was imposed by Huddersfield Town on their academy system which has seen them move from a category 2 to a category 4 in the Elite Player Performance Plan. Only the U18 and U23s teams remain outside of the senior squad with the rest being dissolved, effective immediately.

Already, Manchester United are raiding some of the top talent being dispersed out into the abyss, courtesy of their Premier League companions. And worse yet, this shameful act is being sold as a helpless attempt to forge the club as a stand-out option for the finest youngsters in the country. When in reality, the club have scaled back their investment in relation to youth development and have pitifully disguised this act as best as they possibly could. What’s more frightening is the inadvertent precedent that Huddersfield have set in motion for the sport.

The rapid decline of grassroots is in direct correlation with the inflation of today’s market. Local governments’ expenditure has been cut dramatically which has forced them to secure funding through selling pitches to private administrators who are only looking to exploit this demand for their own personal gain. For the ones who don’t succumb to this pressure, it has somehow resulted in the same pitches previously used becoming more expensive to hire and the conditions of these pitches getting progressively worse.

Back in 2012, it was believed or at least pitched to the public that the Olympic Park would reinvigorate life back into the sport and more notably, at developmental levels. However, 5 years on, this could not be further from the case. Without reform and major investment from the pantheon of football, it’s unlikely that the rot will stop anytime soon, if ever.

Although, a petition to impose a 5% levy on the Premier League’s broadcasting rights back into grassroots football has recently been launched. The government has been called on by campaign creator Kenny Saunders of Save Grassroots Football to introduce the tax percentage and reinvest the resulting money into grassroots from the £8.3bn combined revenue and international deal that the Premier League currently upholds.

As of writing this, the petition has received 3,024 signatures since its activation on September 13. In order for the government to be legally obligated to respond, the figure would need to reach 10,000. A further 90,000 would then be required for the petition to be considered for debate in Parliament. The campaign is active for six months and will conclude on 13 March 2018.

It’s difficult to place where football and grassroots football might be at that stage but it’s fairly reasonable to conclude that should the media giants get their hands on the Premier League for astronomical fees, the direction and dynamic of the game will irreversibly change.

Advertisements

Is Fan Funding the future?

First, you’re probably asking what is fan-funding? Well, similar to Crowdfunding it would allow regular people to have the influence that sponsors and board members have. Far too many clubs treat their sponsors as partners but their fans as mere customers without understanding the untapped potential in having a worldwide fan base.

The mission would be to allow ordinary fans to become investors in the clubs they believe in. Investing in football clubs shouldn’t be left only to millionaires and billionaires. Bringing clubs and their fans closer together will strengthen the bond between them. It will allow clubs to invest for the future, improving their infrastructure and making them less reliant on overseas shareholders to inject capital.

Even the smallest clubs have passionate fans, locally and internationally, and are connected to them digitally. They would love the chance to invest in sports, but there is currently no way to do so for the average fan or investor.

For clubs, this is a massive opportunity and an untapped, digital source of financing. Even your average League Two club will have up to 10 times more people connected to them online than physically going to the stadium on a match day. For larger clubs, multiply that number by 1000. All these millions of people are digitally connected, want to engage with their club and have their voices heard.

Imagine being able to help clubs to fund stadium improvements, fund a statue or youth team pitches. But imagine being able to influence who your club buys, if a player has a release clause or your club doesn’t have enough, fans should be able to come together and put in a small amount to buy a player they want. Of course, there would need to be a lot of rules and regulations established and small print etc. etc. but I definitely believe it could be something for the future.

Where did Bayern go wrong?

It’s still very early in the season, but trouble is brewing at Bayern. Should win the Bundesliga on quality, depth & experience alone but they’re well off their best. Now Carlo Ancelotti’s likely to be sacked as Bayern manager, where did they go wrong exactly?

Many claimed Pep had taken Bayern backwards when he took over mainly due to their lack of European success and in Carlo Ancelotti, it was assumed that he could give them the tactical prowess that would succeed in Europe. This could possibly be the case of ‘you don’t know what you had till it’s gone’ but throughout his reign as Bayern Munich boss, Pep Guardiola’s every move was scrutinised and he was regularly criticised by fans and media alike.

Previous Success

Of, course it was going to be hard to top Jupp’s Bayern, who many believe was one of the best teams since 2000, above Pep’s Barcelona. This is a team that had reached the CL final 3x in 4 years before Pep, and which didn’t in 3 years during his time in charge so the narrative that Pep was the saviour of Bayern and all his work is being undone by Ancelotti is totally false. But it seems even though Pep took 1 step forward he took 2 steps backwards, Carlo seems to have taken 5 steps backwards.

Training

All coaches have different philosophies, players have to learn to adapt. They complained under Pep too but Pep improved every single Bayern player significantly. It’s been reported that Bayern’s players miss Pep’s intellectually challenging training and have found Ancelotti’s style of training too laid back as he’s more hands-off, a stark contrast from Pep’s intense, detail-oriented approach and the players don’t feel like they have improved under the Italian.

Pep’s training approach took many Bayern players to the next level, yet his tactics accounted for their failing at the final hurdle which was the cue for Ancelotti to step in.

Tactics

So the idea with Ancelotti was: With the players having improved under Pep, a new tactical system could put them over the final hurdle again but players feel they aren’t improving in that area either.

Hummels: “We were tactically not well placed tonight. It just didn’t work well for us” whilst Müller said that Pep’s training sessions were harder than league games and that’s what pushed Bayern on

Ancelotti has previously replaced intense, nitpicky coaches with great success i.e Real Madrid but unfortunately the players just haven’t got beside him. Carlo’s relaxed attitude & squad stagnation seem to be contributing to the obvious morale drop at Bayern

Players

A huge problem is that Ribery (34) & Robben (33) are still Bayern’s best wingers & Alonso started until he retired. Even though James Rodríguez is a huge plus for Bayern (who they should make a permanent transfer)

Conclusion

Today’s Bayern squad is way different from the squad Pep inherited. Many key players either left, injured or aged. Pep left at a time convenient for him & bad for Bayern. The squad was in transition & didn’t look to future until his final summer in charge. Replacements for Robben, Ribery and Alonso should have been found prior to Pep leaving. Carlo inherited a good but aging squad, and Bayern haven’t invested enough in making theirs elite again.

What do we expect from Neymar at PSG

What exactly do we expect from the most expensive football signing ever? Well we already know his quality as he didn’t look out of place at Barcelona playing with Messi and Suarez but now Neymar has his own stage.

At Barcelona, Neymar touched the ball, on average, 73 times per-game. In 2 games for PSG, he averages 121 touches on the ball per-game. The average number of passes distributed by Neymar at Barcelona was 51 but it jumped to 82 now in PSG. Messi was always the first-choice, and at Barcelona, Neymar received the ball from a teammate, on average, 52 times. At PSG, it’s 87. Against Guingamp and Toulouse, Neymar had an average of 6 shots. At Barcelona, he only had 3.2 chances to score per-game.

Given a team that’s playing to his strengths and him being the main man, Neymar will certainly score more goals and be easily rested for Champions League matches. With Monaco being stripped of their best players, PSG will talk the league and cups and will put all their eggs in the Champions League basket.

Neymar MUST perform in the Champions League and if they fail again to reach the final or win the cup, fingers will surely be pointed at the most expensive player in history.

Champions League Is Back: More great comebacks to come?

Over the years, football has witnessed some amazing comebacks. In fact, the greatest comebacks that spring to mind include Newcastle leveling with Arsenal from 4-0 down, Manchester United’s late turnaround against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League Final and Liverpool’s most recent drubbing of Borussia Dortmund to snatch a last-minute winner to reach the 2016 Europa League Final.

However, for over a decade Liverpool’s performance against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League Final, turning around a 3-0 deficit at the half time remains to be the ultimate bench mark. Not only was LFC’s performance one of the greatest comebacks in football history but arguably one of the most remarkable sporting events ever.

Due to Liverpool setting such a high bench mark, this makes you wonder whether history could ever repeat itself again…

8th March 2017, a truly astonishing day that will be remembered for years to come. The day Barcelona overcame a 4-0 first leg deficit, defeating PSG in extraordinary circumstances.

To start with, it was no secret that Camp Nou needed a miracle to qualify for the next round. Much to the delight of Barcelona fans, Luis Suarez provided the perfect start with a second-minute opener. PSG then tactically sat back and absorbed the pressure without doing any of the pressings that won them the first leg in such incredible circumstances. However, much to the frustration of Barcelona fans, the PSG game plan was working. Andres Iniesta was restricted and the men behind the ball proved difficult to break down.

However, with a touch of good fortune, the breakthrough came in the 40th minute when Layvin Kurzawa mistimed his clearance, kicking the ball into the back of his own net. Shortly after half-time, Barcelona was then awarded a soft penalty, making them in just touching distance of completing the ultimate comeback.

BANG! PSG respond through a devastating Edinson Cavani strike to silence the Camp Nou. Going into the final quarter of the game, hope seemingly faded. It appeared as if it was almost a matter of time before PSG qualified to the next round.

However, Luis Enrique’s men had other ideas. Neymar curling in a sublime free-kick in the 88th minute and then scoring a controversial penalty in the 92nd minute spurred Barcelona on.  Coming this far; Barcelona was crying out for a hero. A Messi? A Suarez? A Sergi Roberto… surely not? BANG! Sergi Roberto win’s it for Barcelona in the dying seconds of the game to complete one of the greatest Champions League comebacks ever.

Filled with anticipation, nail biting moments and controversy on the night; Barcelona managed to win 6-5 on aggregate to progress through to the next round and mark their names down in history books.

Do you think Barcelona completed the greatest football comeback ever? Does it top the famous Istanbul 2005 Champions League Final?

Have your say!

Have Swansea City done the best business during the transfer window?

In one of the busiest summer transfer windows on record, we’ve seen outrageous money trading hands all across the globe with the two most expensive purchases being made and smashing previously held records. The Premier League has been no exception as the English elite looked to strengthen their sides for the new campaign. But while many debate over which of the country’s leading clubs accomplished the most successful business, allow me to direct your attention to a club who may well have pinched this title from under the noses of the league’s best – Swansea City.

Most notably, their acquisition of Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich on a season-long loan ranks highly amongst the best business achieved by any club. The 20-year old midfielder has struggled to lock down regular game time for the German champions and thus, speculation grew surrounding a potential loan move. The biggest question hanging in the balance was: where would the Portuguese prospect end up? But what nobody could have answered with a straight face was Swansea City – until yesterday. His agility, skill and unwavering energy will introduce a dynamic that could not only fill the looming void left by Joe Allen’s departure, but surpass it.

Earlier in the window, they agreed another loan move for a youngster tipped for the big leagues in the foreseeable future. Tammy Abraham stepped up from a spectacular campaign in the Championship last season with Bristol City where he netted 23 times in 41 appearances to try his hand in the Premier League. Chelsea and England fans will be licking their lips at this forward’s hunger and eye for goal and after scoring his first Premier League goal last weekend, many believe Abraham will have no trouble finding the net over the course of the season for Swansea.

Alongside Jordan Ayew and Tammy Abraham up top, Clement added another option to his enviable forward line during deadline day with Wilfried Bony making a return to the Liberty Stadium for a £13 million fee from Manchester City. Bony established himself as one of the most natural goal scoring talents in the division during the 13/14 season where he found the net seventeen times. A second season plighted by injury saw him only register nine goals but having only featured in twenty, the statistic holds up pretty well. During spells at Manchester City and a loan move to Stoke last season, Bony’s form dipped considerably due to a lack of appearances. The chance to find his feet on familiar soil is too perfect of a story to not get behind and if anyone can restore Bony’s form, it is Swansea.

The signings of Sam Clucas and Roque Mesa from Hull City and UD Las Palmas respectively, have added some much needed competition on the left-hand side and through the middle of the park. Former Heerenveen stopper Erwin Mulder has strengthened the numbers between the sticks after signing on a free transfer.

But what most will point towards to argue against the Welsh side’s chances are the losses they’ve suffered. Playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson finally completed his switch to fellow Premier League club Everton for a reported figure of just under £50 million. Fernando Llorente made his switch to the capital with the 32-year old leaving for Spurs for £13 million. In addition to these, midfielder Jack Cork left the club in favour of Burnley and both Modou Barrow and Marvin Emnes left the club in permanent deals to lesser clubs.

It’s easy to see why some will attach a negative stimulus to the business conducted but in the short term, the ins far outweigh the outs. More importantly, there is enough time between now and the next window and even longer between now and next season for Paul Clement and his team to consolidate the side and plan appropriately for the club’s longevity in the division

If their business is anything to go by, we could well see the beginning of a resurgence at Swansea under Clement after successive years of misery following the incredible feats achieved during the Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup eras.

Have your say. Do you agree? If not, who has had the best transfer window?

Comment below!

End of Transfer Window: Cristiano Ronaldo, will he go or stay?

The million-dollar question every Real Madrid fan fears; will Ronaldo actually leave the Santiago Bernabeu after 8 success filled years at the club?

The lowdown

On the 17th June 2017, marked a very strange day for both Real Madrid and neutral football fans. Strangely quoted by a number of highly reliable sources such as Sky Sports, BBC, and Telegraph; Ronaldo now wants to leave Madrid because he no longer wants to play in Spain. It was then clarified on the 18th of June 2017 that the underlying reason behind Ronaldo’s reaction is because of wrongfully being accused of avoiding a whopping £14.7m in tax fraud.

It is evident that the Portuguese captain is now facing serious allegations from Madrid’s regional state prosecutor of four counts of tax fraud relating to image rights payments. Tax investigators claim that Ronaldo has used an ‘’off shore company to hide a substantial portion of his income ‘’ from the tax office.

As a result, the treatment from Spanish tax authorities has infuriated the 4 time Ballon D’or winner and now wishes to leave the country. Real Madrid Football Club has formally defended their star man by publicly quoting they are ‘’ absolutely convinced by his innocence’’.

Source A Bola recently claim that Ronaldo would be the subject of a 180 million euro bid this summer which questions whether this outcome has actively been in the pipe line for some time. However, it is only a matter of time before all in unfolded.

Where would he go?

It doesn’t surprise you that the biggest clubs in the world are now closely monitoring Ronaldo’s situation. From being a shy Lisbon boy to grow into arguably the greatest footballer to ever embrace the football field; Ronaldo has many potential suitors. Recent speculation has only added excitement and hopes to Manchester United fans when Ronaldo commented on a dream move back to Manchester ‘’ I’m very happy being in Spain but obviously I also miss England because you can’t just turn off the memories’’.

Other teams are also quite capable of affording Ronaldo’s hefty transfer fee and excessive wage demands including the likes of the Chinese Super league, PSG and even the blue side of Manchester.

After winning several titles at Madrid including three Champion’s League trophies, multiple La Liga trophies, and domestic competitions; Will he really move away? If yes… where to? Or has this just been used as a scapegoat to avoid fraud charges?

Have your say!

End of Transfer Window: The Virgil van Dijk dilemma

On the 5th June 2017, it seemed as if Liverpool FC had finally won the race for Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk after the player verbally agreed to choose the club over giant rivals Chelsea FC and Manchester City FC.

The centre backs training has well and truly paid off with the modern-day qualities Van Dijk possesses; incredible strength, positioning and ability to play out from the back, it was inevitable one of the big guns come knocking. However, after penning down a huge 6-year deal at the backend of 2016, Southampton just will not budge their stance on the player. In fact, they simply do not welcome any sort of negotiations with their captain or his representatives.

This is what had truly fuelled fire to the speculation. It was reported that Liverpool had taken an ‘illegal approach’ to sign the former Celtic man via not having the permission to directly contact the player. It was then clear, Southampton had formally complained against LFC’s unethical approach for the player to the Premier League. Dependant on investigation outcomes, Liverpool could be served with a hefty fine and substantial transfer ban.

More worryingly, Liverpool chairman then came out with a public statement; “We apologise to the owner, board of directors and fans of Southampton for any misunderstanding regarding Virgil van Dijk. We respect Southampton‘s position and can confirm we have ended any interest in the player’’.

A farce. An embarrassment. A humiliation. A joke. This is what Liverpool fans most likely think of the Virgil van Dijk conundrum.

Virgil Van Dijk is yet to make any sort of indication as to whether he will continue to push for a move to Jurgen Klopp’s side, elsewhere or remain at Southampton FC.

What do you guys think? Will he remain at the saints? Do LFC have any chance of reigniting their interest and signing him?

Comment below!

Is Andrea Belotti Chelsea’s answer to replacing Diego Costa?

23-year-old Andrea Belotti has been on Antonio Conte’s wishlist since the end of last season.

He is just an old fashion striker. Look at Harry Kane he doesn’t score the best goals but he is there like a real striker always in front of the goal to score the tap ins. Belotti does the same thing and he can pass it back with his head to the midfielders if they are running to the goal. He just does the job as a striker.

Being able to do ALL the things a striker is needed to do in this day. That gives Andrea Belotti the ability to play in any system which suits Chelsea and Conte a lot. 3-4-3 as a lone striker or 3-5-2 up front with Morata, Andrea Belotti won’t look out of place in either system.

Strong, good in the air, great technique and he also has that Diego Costa kind of grit in him.

The fact that Italy finally has a good striker they can rely on helps him settle in with the manager who if is there next year, will also be able to work with him on the international stage.

Andrea Belotti is a complete No. 9 and with a release clause of £87m, I wouldn’t be surprised if he was a Chelsea player come September

‘Scary’ City… Again

It seems like for the last 5 or so years, Manchester City has had the best squad in the Premier League and every year when pundits make their predictions, City are more times than not the favourites. Put the fact that they have the ‘best manager in the world’ and already during this transfer window have broken the spending record. Manchester City

Starting 11’s  but their attacking players Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Leroy Sane, Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and Raheem Sterling etc. will certainly carry them and win them a lot of points by turning losses to draws/wins and draws to wins.

I think what last season was supposed to be, we will see this season and that is Pep vs Jose. Both managers have had a full season to get used to their teams and both didn’t deliver last season.