Football and the Global Credit Crisis: A Snapshot

Bela TrimmelCorrespondent IDecember 7, 2008

Many aspects go together to make football one of the most loved sports in the world.

Three of the largest tenants of the game are the fans, the clubs, and the players, but with the current global financial crisis, these facets of the game are starting to be affected.

In this brief article, we will look at the three aspects mentioned above and see how they are effecting the heart of our beautiful game.



Middlesbrough currently sit in 12th place in the Premier League table after a loss to Hull at the weekend.

The match itself did not draw a very large crowd at the KC Stadium but it is unlikely that it would have drawn much of a crowd had it been played at The Riverside.

While there is no concrete information for this season, reports show that the attendance figures at Middlesbrough home games are down. Figures from the 2006-07 to the 2007-08 season, show a near 4% drop in attendance for the club.

While the derby match against Newcastle drew an almost capacity crowd at around 32,000, it is safe to say that the attendance issue is still affecting the club. 

Middlesbrough Chief Executive, Keith Lamb, reported on 27th November 2008 that the club will likely use funds from their television deal to subsidise prices at the club.

In these tight financial times, clubs cannot expect fans to shell out the money that they had in the past for tickets. Considering other expenses, such as travel and refreshments at the ground, the average fan cannot afford to take their child let alone themselves to a game whenever they fancy.

While Middlesbrough do not rely directly on the money that they pull in from ticket sales, the club still needs the fans to be there and do what they do bestsupport the team.


The Players

When we go to a match, we expect to see our favorite player on the pitch. At some clubs where the talent is not spread across the entire team, you have the chance to see players who do not grace the front page of FourFourTwo magazineunless they start scoring goals.

However, what do you do when the money starts to dry up?

Logically you start to sell players to supplement the team and the one or two big stars you have on in your squad could be the first to go in order to generate money. This is the issue that is facing the West Ham manager, Gianfranco Zola.

The Hammers boss has gone on record stating that he wants to keep players like Dean Ashton and Matthew Upson. He feels that the current squad size of 24 players is too large.

With the mid season transfer window less than a month away, players that may not make it off the bench more than a few times a season will likely be straining themselves at practice and during matches to make sure that they don't end up at lower level club come January.

While they would still be getting paid, it is likely that they will be uprooted and shipped off to an Austrian league or perhaps even the K-League in Korea.

Most players keep the thought of being transferred somewhere in their mind. However, they never dream of being shipped to a club where they might be financially unstable.

The cost of relocating to another club is expensive and the way things are going, the wages they earn may be in question when they get there.

The Clubs

Believe it or not, there are wage discrepancies in the Scottish Premier League yet again.

Earlier this year saw Gretna forced into administration due to lack of funds for the team. Players went for weeks without being paid and it seemed like the club would never see daylight again.

Now concerns are rising once again at Hearts, with the Edinburgh club already late twice this season with players wages.

While the manager reports that morale at the team is good, it will unlikely stay that way for much longer if the matter becomes habit rather than an isolated incident.

The club is owned by Ukio Bankas Investment Group, which in turn is owned by Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov. It is unclear how the firm is dealing with the current credit crisis but it is likely to effect the team wages again in the long runpossibly forcing the team into administration.


The Crisis and The Richer Clubs

I have never cared much for Roman Abramovich because I believe the guy bought Chelsea as something else to add to his collection of world class toys.

I have friends that are Manchester United fans but they hate their owners, the Glazers.

You can take Chelsea and Manchester United away from the statement and insert the name of many other big clubs in the world and it would likely still fit.

We can not stand the owner, but aren't we glad they are loaded?

It's almost like a safety net made out of money. We rest easy at night knowing that even if the revenue from merchandise, ticket sales, and all the other little things that feed into the clubs, the owners could bail the club out.

However, if you are Hearts supporter, or a Newcastle supporter, or even a club like Rochdale, the credit crisis scares the crap out of you and rightfully so.

I can't imagine the anxiety that goes through some of the fans that follow their team religiously. They have to be shaking in their team colored boots right now because they are unsure if they will even have a club to cheer next season and that makes the beautiful game a little less beautiful.


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