Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga title success, which saw the German giants take the crown with all of seven matches remaining, left the football world in awe—well, most of it.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who saw his side knocked out of this season’s Champions League by Bayern, claims their title-winning exploits prove that money is killing the game.
In his column for Yahoo! Eurosport, the Frenchman said:
Manchester United drew with them in the Champions League, but Bayern Munich are far ahead of the competition in Germany. If we look at Bayern's success as an example, I think UEFA's Financial fair play must be brought in, and adhered to for the good of the game.
I think it’s a good decision, a fair decision. We have to go down that path. Otherwise, we will all end up in the street. Why? Because there are new billionaires every day, and crazy people too.
Bayern have simply blown away the competition in this season’s German top flight, and are yet to taste defeat, as the club’s official Twitter feed noted:
While the way they’ve played under Pep Guardiola has earned worldwide plaudits, Wenger goes on to argue that something must be going wrong for there to be such a one-horse race in a league as big as the Bundesliga:
Football is seen as a financial competition without any economic logic. It’s leading to a two speed football, and national championships become dull. Why? Because one team only can win it.
I totally respect the work of Bayern, but when you see that the title is given eight matchdays before the end of the season, there is something utterly illogical. And the Bundesliga is not a small championship.
According to worldfootball.net, while Bayern have been the dominant force in Germany for some time, there have still been four different Bundesliga champions in the last eight years.
Meanwhile, in the last eight years of the Premier League, there have been just three different winners.
Teams such as Chelsea and Manchester City buying their way to the top of English football have left Wenger’s Arsenal without a domestic title in 10 years, and those with financial backing do indeed have a clear advantage over the league’s more frugal competitors.
Based on FTB Pro’s list of the highest spenders in Premier League history, Manchester City and Chelsea have reportedly parted with the most money, and they have reaped endless success as a reward.
Between them, City and Chelsea have won eight trophies over the last five seasons, and that total could rise to nine with both sides very much in contention for the Premier League title.
Wenger’s hatred for the financial side of football is most probably fuelled by his club’s lack of recent success. The Gunners have gone eight seasons without a trophy.
However, the line-up of the FA Cup semi-finals provides a pretty strong argument against financial super powers ruling all, with Arsenal the hot favourites to take this year's trophy—as Wenger stated via the club's official Twitter feed:
Wenger on FA Cup: "I agree we are favourites but that doesn't win you games, only performances win you games." #BAYvAFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) March 10, 2014
Wigan Athletic, Hull City and Sheffield United are the FA Cup's other remaining competitors who, clearly, do not possess the zeros on their bank balance to rival football's elite, yet here they are in the last four of the most decorated competition in England.
Wenger, who signed Mesut Ozil for a club-record £42.4 million at the start of the season, has never really had the financial backing to take Arsenal to the next level. However, with the introduction of financial fair play, they may just be challenging for domestic success soon, as Wenger reflected:
"The conditions must be looked at again. The competing teams must almost be able to think that maybe they can win this year. It has happened before in history. It can happen again, but won’t be possible without financial regulations."
Bayern, meanwhile, made just two major signings before their invincible season got underway, and while Wenger has a very valid case, praise must go to Guardiola and his side on this occasion.