Is Money Ruining "Our" Beautiful Game of Football?

Chris DowdingCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2008

In almost every walk of life, the old saying "the rich get richer while the poor get poorer" is true. Football is no exception.

The big clubs make millions, and spend millions, often ploughing revenue back into the club to attain success.

Lower down the leagues however, clubs struggle to make ends meet, have to sell their best players, and often flirt with the threat of administration.

The first thing to make clear is this: Nobody is to blame for this current state of affairs. It has been an almost organic growth, in tune with football's popularity and the game's economic state.

Football has never been more accessible that it is now. Numerous channels broadcast games from across the world, the matches they show reaching billions of people. The internet has seen the advent of a multitude of football related websites, broadcasting opinions, match reports, and match highlights.

One now has the opportunity to use the internet to purchase merchandise from the club of their choice, ranging from replica kits to mouse-mats.

Put simply, not only has football never been more accessible, it has never been so popular. Football has a worldwide market, and as such, it is marketed to a whole world of consumers.

The arguments are compelling. Is money ruining the game? Has it improved it? Both questions are equally valid, and both as hard to answer.

Someone who supports one of the world's biggest and richest clubs would argue that money has improved the quality of the game. It allows the world class players we watch at the World Cup, European Championships and Copa America to go to those clubs and ply their trade.

They often thrill and entertain, and the buzz of watching a world-class player doing what he does best can eradicate the lingering doubts one might have over the astronomical wages he earns.

Footballers earn a ridiculous amount of money, but again, this is in step with the way the game has gone economically. If the game was in the same financial state it was in twenty years ago, players would still be earning what would be considered ludicrous money.

Does it really make a difference to the man on the street if a player employed by Chelsea makes £25,000 per week, or £125,000 a week? Either way, the player will make more in a month than the average person will in a couple of years, or even a lifetime.

Footballers are given an incredible talent, as evidenced by the depressingly large amount of young players that don't make it. Make no mistake about it, most Premier League players have more talent in their little toe than you or I have in our dreams.

Should their unique talents not be rewarded?

At the other end of the scale, you have the clubs who are almost unable to operate due to financial constraints that they simply cannot set themselves free from.

In the case of some clubs such as Leeds United, this is down to poor management at executive level. The money Leeds earned from television revenue was not spent wisely, and they have spent the last four years paying the price for that.

The best hope for some clubs is that they can get an FA Cup draw against one of the top sides—a guaranteed money maker. That this is the biggest hope they have for making money is a sad state of affairs indeed.

The days of lower league teams producing talent to be sold on to clubs in the top flight seem few and far between now. Promising young players are picked up by the scouting networks of the big teams, thus depriving smaller clubs of a source of income they once relied heavily on.

The mega-money takeovers that Manchester City and Chelsea have been subject to are a world away.

So, is money ruining "our" beautiful game of football?

As  I said, the arguments are compelling, and everyone will have a different view. Money may well be ruining football, but in some cases, the blame lies with the clubs themselves.  Players and their agents will always be considered greedy. Sponsorship will continue and probably grow. More clubs will go out of existence. Sooner or later, as with any market driven by money, the walls may come crashing down.

Football could be a victim of its own success and popularity.

However, while football continues to be the most popular sport on the planet, there will always be a market for it. And where there is a global market for something, there will always be money.

For the forseeable future, money in football is here to stay.