Loadsamoney league where common sense is kicked into touch
With the onset of a new Premier League football season comes the staggering yet unsurprising realisation that the clubs at the very top of the beautiful game in this country are to enjoy even greater rewards for their lofty status.
For, because of a bidding war between television broadcasters, this season will be an even more lucrative adventure for Britain's top-flight clubs. Here in the West Country, where only the hugely impressive Yeovil Town are in kicking distance of the biggest of the big guns, fans of the game could choose to ignore the machinations of the Premier League's money men and their obsession with filthy lucre.
But that would be unwise. What goes on above them is in fact of great consequence to those clubs further down the pyramid – many of whom ply their trade in our region and nearly all of whom are strapped for funds. The question we ask is this: precisely what will the Premier League giants do with all the money now about to be lavished upon them?
Newcomers BT Sport outbid Sky for 38 games, raising the value of the deal by more than 70 per cent as a result. That means there is a staggering £3 billion price ticket hanging on the next three years' television rights and a bonanza for Premier League clubs, every one of which will receive an extra £14 million every year. Many will splash out on players; certainly we expect the usual suspects – Manchester City and Chelsea – will do just that because they're hooked on it.
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But here is a note of caution for all the big spenders – and their fans so easily intoxicated by football's largesse. Rocketing wage inflation has left the game's finances in dire shape and while those owners with the deepest pockets and the greatest vanity might be able to service spiralling debts, we suspect that the clubs that toil manfully in that ultimately barren hinterland just adrift of the Premier League's top six, might struggle.
Certainly they will run up huge debts trying to keep up with the table toppers.
Despite record income, Premier League clubs made total losses of £361 million last year, hardly an indication of an industry in rude health, but try telling that to the fat cat chief executives.
All this new television money might go some way towards stabilising creaking balance sheets. Might it go to grass roots football, a wise investment in the future of the game we love so much? We fear almost certainly not.
And that is to football's great shame.