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The solution, eh?

As the European Super League debate has played out in England, many voices have suggested the solution to billionaire ownership lies in Germany and the 50+1 rule.

There needs to be a little more explanation here. Why does billionaire ownership have to have a solution?

Billionaires creating a cartel, sure, that’s something that has been solved and should have been. But rich folks owning what are, usually and on average, losing assets is a problem?

19 thoughts on “The solution, eh?”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Informative piece and nice they got a German to write it.

    The key to this problem is in the final paragraph:

    But German football has similar problems to England when it comes to money. The competitiveness of the Bundesliga has long gone, and for now the answer from German supporters is not bigger stars but equal distribution of the income.

    Will the fans on Manyew be willing to accept mediocre football or afford to pay for megastars to give them the success they believe is their divine right? Ditto Liverpool, Chelsea and now Man City.

    And that’s not forgetting challenger clubs with aspirations – there’d never be another Blackburn, coming from relative obscurity to dominate for a few years without a sugar daddy.

  2. BiND,

    “and for now the answer from German supporters is not bigger stars but equal distribution of the income.”

    And if you’re OK with that as a fan, why not go and watch Kettering Town play in the National League North?

    BTW I don’t understand fandom of huge clubs at all. Their geography is mostly irrelevant, the owner is a foreigner, the players are temporary mercenaries from 4 corners of the globe. When I was growing up, I used to go to Northamptonshire cricket games. Most of the team were local. I knew a couple of players a little (one lived next door to my aunt).

  3. Bom4, your last paragraph exactly. The way some of these pundits et al have been going on the teams are still owned by the local mill owner and the players were all born round the corner from the stadium. Chelsea famously put out one team years ago with no English players in it.

    As for a cartel, there are 98 teams in the ‘big 5’ leagues and whilst the ones looking at improving their business model (ie: trying to actually make a profit once in a while) and may be the big money spinners, there are plenty of other clubs those opposed to the ESL idea can give their hard earned to.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset


    I don’t understand fandom either. I followed Leeds when that was my closest club, the Huddersfield when we moved there and finally I watched Wycombe Wanderers when I lived there and Martin O’Niell was manager because they played good football.

    I still follow Yorkshire CCC, but my interest dipped when they removed the Yorkshire born criteria.

    Rugby is a bit more interesting. I started following Wasps when they were playing at Adams Park (High Wycombe) and still do (Once A Wasp, Always a Wasp). On the fans’ forums they talk about the schoolboy and academy players, discuss 2nd XV games and how players’ got on etc. There’s interest in getting the odd star in to fill a hole, but emphasis is on the club, not the stars. That’s why there was such outrage over Sarries breaking the salary cap.

  5. This related heavily to a post of mine in an earlier thread and some other posters slightly missed the point. The German system has much to commend it, not least that the fans (at least superficially) seem to have a voice in how a club is run. But it is not a “solution” it is an alternative regime and its danger is that it can lead to factionalism or politics worming their way in to a club’s governance. So far this gloomy situation has not happened in any club that I can think of ( except St Pauli, whose sole purpose is factionalism). The point that I made earlier is confirmed here though, German clubs outside of Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig will not be able to compete at a European level in a few years ( this year there were no German clubs in the last eight of the Europa League ).

    I try to make it a virtue to support local clubs – I come from SW London and support Wimbledon, I lived in south Munich and my local club was 1860, I used to watch Anderlecht when I lived in Brussels. Where I live now, alas, the local club is about to go bust, they were particularly unlucky with Covid and Lockdown and it has broken them. The one serious exception was when I lived in Vienna, my local club was the ancient Wiener Sportklub who were crap and continually going bankrupt, I used to follow FK Austria instead.

  6. There’s something I will never understand. Something BiND says above. “I followed Leeds when that was my closest club, the Huddersfield when we moved there and finally I watched Wycombe Wanderers when I lived there ” Why do you feel a need to “support” a football team. It’s a commercial product. Do you wave a scarf in the colours of your favourite washing powder when you load your skivvies into the machine?
    But then I’ve never really understood sport. I can just about get why an individual might want to test their personal prowess against somebody else’s. But why one of two strangers?
    I can’t be alone. I seem to have gone through life with people who share my point of view. Football was never a topic of conversation in the pub. I was at one time involved with a sport. But we built & raced cars. ‘Cause it was fun. It wasn’t even about winning. That was never going to happen. Winning’s done by sponsored teams & is an offshoot of the advertising industry. But that didn’t mean we spent our Sunday afternoons glued to the F1 championships on the TV. Apart from some mild interest on driving techniques. What would it have mattered which particular brand of cigarettes got podium?

  7. Bloke in North Dorset


    It’s simple, tribalism. It’s sometimes nice to be part of a crowd enjoying the same thing. At the time I enjoyed watching football and being part of the tribe added to that enjoyment. When I stopped going to games my interest fell away.

    I follow Yorkshire CCC because I was born in Yorkshire, it’s my tribe.

    Following Wasps is tribalism, I enjoy watching rugby and being part of a tribe enhances the enjoyment, or at the moment disappointment .

  8. Leeds, Huddersfield and then Wycombe. My, your affections seem somewhat fluid, sirrah.

    But probably not atypical taking the global fanbase as a whole. The fanbase of a club can be split into several groups – match attending (two groups, the home support and the much smaller away support), the domestic TV watching (sofa) fans, and the non-domestic sofa fans. Domestically, both match going and a large chunk of sofa fans believe in “$[team] ’til I die”.

    Which may not be true for the more geographically dispersed, where success on the pitch matters much more. Metrics can differ between each group, but the rough idea is actually winning trophies, consistently, matter far more to a ManU fan in Nigeria than one in London, who’ll balance the style of play against trophies. Nobody really likes Mourinho. See also Brighton under Potter (and the tail-end of Houghton’s reign).

    Historically, match attendances increased with promotion to a higher league division – but they continued to increase as the threat of relegation diminished. The whole thing runs on FUDGE; Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt and Great Expectations. Overseas fans weight the GE bit higher, so winning stuff – and winning can also be defined as the opposition a club is likely to face – generates more revenue from those non-domestic fans. Who are also less likely to value other metrics, style of play or club culture (whatever that is).

    At the club level, they can be viewed as utility maximisers, across many metrics, for the domestic fans. Revenue maximisers for non-domestic. The PL came into being as almost a pure revenue/profit maximiser, as the Division One clubs were facing an effective overnight drop in match-day revenues of 20~25% due to Hillsborough and the Taylor report. And that drop would eventually ripple further down the divisions.

    The PL maintains the Uncertainty – the competitive – element, as the distribution of TV cash amongst member clubs is relatively equal compared to other leagues.

    The 50+1 idea at club level hasn’t stopped Bayern dominating the Bundesliga, as they’ve been either winners or runners-up 18 times since 2000, including 8 championships on the bounce since 2013.

    50+1 seems to split economic rights and control rights. Fans (members) get an effective veto over certain matters, at club level. There’s the possibility that the model of asset ownership differs between continental domestic leagues, leading to different levels of access to finance. The English clubs own their physical assets, and have domestic access to a particularly deep and broad set of markets. Where fans may be able to veto the creation of liens over club assets, then it seems you get a winner takes all effect, may be based on stadium capacity.

    So, try 50+1 at the league or association level instead. Good luck with that.

    UEFA seem a bit weird here. They control access to competitions at the club and international level, and might be revenue or control maximisers, but the route taken is to increase supply, which increases costs to the clubs. They’ve increased the number of teams competing in the Euros, added the Nations League, expanded the number of teams in the Champions League and the Europa League, and now added the Europa Conference. Looks like a massive fuck-up in the making.

  9. Well, having spewed that out;

    Fuck me sideways with cucumber.

    UEFA are potentially creating a purely European set of leagues under their direct control, almost completely side-lining national associations and domestic league structures.

    It would be relatively straightforward to create promotion and relegation structures from the Europa Conference, Europa and Champions League. Domestic leagues function purely as feeders.

    Same thing with the Euros and the Nations League. Promotion to the Nations League from the Euros, which becomes the feeder.


  10. I know nothing about football. I am amazed at the passion a mere proposal (not a match) can arouse. Contrast the indifference to the curtailment of our liberties by a usually mild disease.

  11. I don’t understand adults being football fans either. When I was a boy I supported my local club, whom I abandoned to play rugby. When I lived in Edinburgh and played my rugby on Wednesday afternoons I watched Hibs a few times (Hearts only once, Hibs being the more entertaining side in those days). But being a “fan”? Not likely! I’d grown up.

    I never went to a football game again after finding myself among a pack of Leeds fans looking for some justification to beat me up.

    Come to that it’s nearly thirty years since I watched a rugby game apart from on the telly. That was a Bledisloe Cup game in Brisbane. It was better than any football game I’d attended.

    The best football code for the live spectator is seven-a-side rugby as played in the Border tournaments. For a start, in my experience it’s the only code where you can persuade a pretty girl to accompany you.

  12. I’d say you’re right about tribalism, BiND. I’d say it’s hard wired in to humans. But it’s easily manipulated. The military have known this for millennia. Get your dupes tribal about their regiment, whatever. They’ll throw their lives away for it. No doubt you’re tribally loyal to some piece of third world shit, probably despises you & people like you, because he’s currently on a very remunerative employment contract with your club.
    I think it’s why people are so supine, these days. Tribal loyalty tends to be of a limited quantity & exclusionary. So people have loyalties to all sorts of dispersed things but not to each other. No tribe, as such. Government’s been playing on that with the “Our NHS” shit. Same the the Covid regulation bollocks. “Save Our Collective Grannies”.

  13. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    “Most of the team were local. I knew a couple of players a little (one lived next door to my aunt).”

    And when I was growing up the England goalkeeper lived on my street and we played with his kids. Nicely to-do, tidy, conservative, middle-class area, but definitely not millionaire’s row.

    Back OT, what really do the fans care about this? How many rags are now devotedly following FC United of Manchester? I know one, to be fair. But Glazers Unitedco Incorporated LLC seem to have no problem generating income. Or my team which has been used as a laundromat by its fair share of Thai and Arab billionaires.

  14. Bloke in China (Germany province)

    “The fanbase of a club can be split into several groups – match attending (two groups, the home support and the much smaller away support), the domestic TV watching (sofa) fans, and the non-domestic sofa fans. Domestically, both match going and a large chunk of sofa fans believe in “$[team] ’til I die”.

    Since leaving Manchester, I have not seen City play. Not live, not on telly either, except the odd highlights, or perhaps once when they happened to be on and I was in some airport bar with nothing better to do. I care for the current success only for bragging rights over the rags and scousers of my acquaintance who follow English domestic closer than I do, and take it seriously.

    But, when I lived there I had a season ticket for several years, including the spell in old-money division 3. I will watch, live (pre-covishit), whatever is on and to which you can gain entrance when I happen to be there. Swiss third division? An international match in Hong Kong against the world 142nd ranked side? All of it well below the level of Euro super whatever. Fine, to pass the time. I know there is no point even trying to get into Juventus vs. AC, so don’t.

    Where do I fit in the football fan paradigm? Am I a casual 😉

  15. “Germany and the 50+1 rule.” – The german system is not so good, Bayern Munich have been champions for each of the last eight years. During that same period five different English clubs have been champions, though looked at over a longer period, it evens out somewhat ( some other german clubs have been champs, the same few english clubs share it around).

  16. I do find the opposition a bit odd. Media field day, hysterical.

    Hands up who does NOT want European league football, and state why?

    (yeah, I know, european league football was not on offer, but it was a step in that direction).

    And the big english clubs are global brands, is it fair that the NEVER, EVER play real games in the lands of many of their fans?

    It has seemed to me for many years now, that, the big european clubs should be playing each other rather than their own domestic lesser clubs. I’m all up for Man U v Real Madrid or whatever, bring it on.

  17. BiCGP, once a City fan always a City fan. By not watching the current City team on telly, you are missing out on some of the best football City have ever played. Over the past ten years I have been blessed to have been able to watch Aguero, David Silva (the best player to ever have played for City), Yaya & Kolo Toure, Zabaleta, Kompany, Nasri etc to the current squad with Phil Foden being likened to Paul Gascoigne and provided he stays off the beer is likely to become one of the best English midfielders we have ever seen. As mentioned in a previous comment, I cut my teeth at Moss Lane, Altrincham. My grandad was a City fan and my dad is a City fan although at 85 with Alzheimer’s doesn’t remember whether or not he watched them on telly the day before.

    When we emigrated to South Africa in the late 60s, English football hardly got a mention in the sports pages back then other than the 1st Division results. During the football season, Saturday afternoons were spent listening to Saturday Special on BBC World Service on shortwave radio (19m switching to 25m to catch the classified results) in the company of Paddy Feeny, Peter Jones and Bryon Butler. On returning to UK in the mid 90s, my first season ticket at Maine Rd was the 94/95 season and the last being the 2016/17 season when travelling back and forth from NL was more of a chore than a pleasure.

    As for the Super League, it amused me that so many fans turned into teary-eyed romantics about how the game was being stolen from the fans. The same fans that berate their club chairmen for not dipping their hands in their wallets and splashing out on super stars. A whole year of having our civil liberties trampled by respective governments yet the bread and circuses of league and cup football competitions carried on behind closed doors but the Super League outrage bus is the one everyone chose to leap aboard. Idiots.

    Listening on the weekend to various podcasts, the whole rich get richer trope started to unravel. the $3.6bn being poured into the Super League was not, as the press would have us believe a lump sum being paid to each club but shared among the Super League clubs over a 20 year period. Oh.

  18. BiC(GP); Yeah, lots of sub-divisions between fans, “where were you when we were shit” etc, etc. The casuals probably aren’t a reliable source of revenue for the clubs; we’ve got F1, golf and rugby fans who will watch the footie in the pub if it’s on, but they’ll not be buying a TV subscription just for the football.

  19. City fans have a riposte to “where were you when we were shit”:
    We were here
    We were here
    We were here when we were shit

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