Written by Tony Mckenna (TTT Subscriber macattack).
If you missed Part 1, check it out here.
Money is hidden. That is a succinct way of summarising the state of the world economy. Money has no borders. Loopholed laws allow it to be transferred from one country to many others. Money is untraceable. Countries and small islands permit the rich, crooks, celebrities, world leaders and high ranking politicians to distance themselves from their bounty. And to avoid tax.
Money is complex. That is its very essence. Emperors, Kings and Masters of the Universe do not want the plebeians to know where or how they make it their preserve. Money is everything. It makes the world go around. Or it goes around the world, to be more exact.
But if it is the way of the world, then football will not be impervious to the practices associated with it. They inevitably carry risk. Particularly when the black swans fly in. Fans never know what will hit them.
Even in the best of circumstances, and on more simple levels, can they really know how money moves, or is accounted for, as directed in football boardrooms up and down the country? Read the accounts?
You Can Buy A Football Club But You Can Never Own One
Football fans can never choose who gets to buy their football club. Realistically, this is beyond their control and subject to random events. The outcome also eludes the scrutiny of quality assurance, since the ‘fit and proper’ test does actually allow unfit and improper people to bid and buy.
But football does differ from other businesses in many respects, especially in the sense of the social importance that clubs hold for their fans. Not too many public tears were shed when banks were threatened with going out of existence, unless your money was going with them, or when British Home Stores disappeared from the High Street. Alternatively, the expulsion of Bury FC saw the NHS setting up mental health sessions for impacted fans. Kate Kubacki, Team Leader at Bury Healthy Minds, (Guardian 05.09.19), offered a perspective for those who may scoff:
“While some people might say it’s only the loss of a football club, it’s more than a football club. It’s been a way of life, it’s their social support, it’s their social networks…”
It is, indeed, a way of life for the fans. Club allegiances are secured during our formative years; a choice role modelled and bequeathed by family elders, or friends, with passing generations. An emotional bond glues, then attaches to others in a mutual fan-base. Life long friendships are made. Shared experiences and narratives fixate on the evolving fortunes and misfortunes of the relevant football club. It is this network, and the people that comprise it, that suffer most whenever a club is held to task for any financial malpractice. Their way of life is impacted.
The palette of would-be owners is colourful enough, but all too often in the wrong ways. Fans are forever at the whim of the predatory players in the world of football finance; a Monopoly-playing collective, spread across the globe, constituting football’s hidden Wall Street. Only a small proportion of the World’s population can actually aspire to buying a club, and not because they actually like football. Nor are they necessarily orientated towards the future financial well-being of the institution they prize; rather, they tend to be profligate risk -taking tyrants, peddling the ‘Ridsdale dream’ to a nightmare finale, or leveraged, gambling opportunists motivated by a self-serving individualism. Or else tyrants with an excess of immoral earnings jockeying for position on the international stage, for business, political and limelight gain. Narcissism needs a narcotic fix.
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