Showing posts with label football. Show all posts
Showing posts with label football. Show all posts

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Football democracy

One of Scottish football’s leading administrators has called for the game to accept that supporters matter more than television companies, and to rethink the balance between the demands of broadcasters and the interests of supporters.

Hibernian managing director Fife Hyland said the demands of broadcasters had been too easily allowed to outweigh the interests of supporters, particularly when it came to deciding kick-off times. “We know TV is important to Scottish football but it’s not the be all and end all,” he said.

For many of the Scottish football clubs , match-day receipts remain several times greater than income from broadcasting. For example, in their last published accounts, for the year to July 2010, Hearts revealed that their matchday revenues were more than two and a half times greater than their income from broadcasting. Their income from TV was £1.5million, while that from matches (gate receipts plus smaller associated items such as programme sales) was £3.9m. There is an even greater disparity across the city Hibs are understood to take in around four times more from match-days than they do from broadcasting.

The Old Firm, Rangers (presently insolvent) and Celtic dominate Scottish football. A new £80m TV contract with Sky and ESPN, is dependent on the provision of four Old Firm fixtures a season and shows the importance of Rangers and Celtic. The ten non-Old Firm clubs in the SPL want to change the league’s voting structure, which at present requires an 11-1 majority for substantial changes to be passed. Dunfermline chairman John Yorkston said that he would urge the ten to resign if Rangers and Celtic continued to block democratisation of the rules on voting. The Old Firm have historically shown their ability both to ignore the common good where there is a buck to be made, and so it was to prove again.

Man­­agers and directors of the ten have begun to make it clear that a future without the Old Firm was not only an option, but might even be preferable. Fans will see their departure as a chance for real competition to be returned to an SPL championship

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bigoted law

In updated guidance to police, Frank Mullholland, Lord Advocate, Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, has warned singing or chanting songs which “glorify, celebrate or mock events involving the loss of life” should be viewed as offensive. The ten-page report also says that “flags, banners, songs or chants in support of terrorist organisations” are “likely to be offensive”. Songs “which promote or celebrate violence against another person’s religion, culture or heritage” are also “likely to be offensive”, according to Mulholland. It is understood Mulholland’s guidance outlaws songs like the Billy Boys, The Boys Of The Old Brigade, the so-called Famine Song, and the chant “Ooh Ah, Up The Ra”, which is sung by Celtic supporters. Where the song is religiously prejudiced the relevant aggravation will be libelled.

Socialist Courier wonders just how many countries national anthems fall under that classification. "But we can still rise now And be the nation again!" A call for rebellion in Flower of Scotland? And verse 6 of God Save the Queen? "Lord grant that Marshal Wade, May by thy mighty aid, Victory bring, May he sedition hush And like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush"

Hibs fans Andrew Whitson and Paul Swanbecame the first people to be convicted under the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act last week when they admitted singing songs that were “of a racially derogative nature” on a train between Ayr and Glasgow. They were fined a combined £380.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

In the red, Whyte and blue

A "large number" of players at struggling football club Rangers have agreed pay cuts of between 25% to 75% to save the jobs of non-playing staff, administrators have said. It is understood senior players like captain Steven Davis and Scotland internationals Allan McGregor, Steven Naismith and Steven Whittaker have accepted the largest wage cuts.

In a statement, joint administrator Paul Clark said: “The agreement on very substantial wage reductions and voluntary departures from the club represents a major sacrifice by the Rangers players."

Socialist Courier takes this opportunity to clarify why footballers earn so much.

Footballers at least start from the same position as the rest of us: not owning any wealth from which to obtain an unearned income, to obtain what they need to live they have to go out on to the labour market and offer their mental and physical energies for sale. Most professional footballers, working for clubs in the lower divisions or for non-league clubs, never earn anything more than the average worker.

But some, those who play for the top clubs, are paid fabulous amounts of money, by working class standards. What is their income? Is it wages? Not really. It’s more like rent. Rent is paid whenever there is a natural monopoly in something that cannot be increased, normally land, mineral deposits and other natural features that can be employed in production. The rent of land and natural resources is essentially fixed by the paying demand for it. The higher the demand, the higher the rent.

As Arsène Wenger pointed out, “you normally need special qualities to be a strong footballer”. It is these “special qualities – which are a sort of natural resource that cannot be increased – that enable the best footballers to command so high an income, but as rent rather than as the price for the mere sale of their labour power. Their income is so high because the demand for their talents is so high.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rangers Blues

The woes of Rangers grows by the day. The insolvency firm Duff and Phelps have set a 48-hour deadline over the sale of the club after cost-cutting talks involving slashing players' salaries to prevent redundancies broke down and are already considering the possibility of liquidation if they cannot reach a deal. They also said Rangers may not be able to fulfil their remaining SPL fixtures without the promise of new income or drastic measures to reduce costs while also confirming Rangers had no chance of competing in Europe next season as they would not be able to submit fully audited accounts by a March 31 deadline. .

Asked if Rangers was in a state to be sold, an administrators source admitted: "There's an awful lot still to be resolved. It is all about who owns what. It doesn't matter whether you are selling a house, or a football club, or a company, you have to know what you're buying."

Scottish Football Association chief executive Stewart Regan has described the prospect of Rangers going into liquidation as "a disaster...[and] the news that the club is running out of cash and may be unable to fulfil their fixtures is the final piece of news that will send Rangers fans into despair."

The popularity of football inside capitalism made it an activity much adored by workers often too unfit to play it themselves, but keen to follow the efforts of their local sporting heroes. With the development of capitalism football has just become another business opportunity. Its development more likely to be followed by financial journalists rather than football ones. Football used to be about watching the match, buying a greasy pie and a cup of bovril. But now stadiums are like shopping malls. It is a truism - if not a cliché - that football today is big business.

Every activity that capitalism touches it turns into commodities.

As Rangers football club ails, vultures circle. In a society where common and shared identity count for little when there is a quick buck to be made, it can be no surprise that football has become infested by the sort of parasites whose idea of of a pastime is making money, especially at other people's expense. The market economy creates the conditions in which they can prosper and seize control of assets that communities often mistakenly think are theirs already.

It is time to take the money out of football altogether. And that means abolishing money in all other areas of life.

We live in a world of inequality. That is a natural consequence of the workings of capitalism. Socialists want a world of equality where everybody would have an equal say in the way things are run including our local sporting associations and where there would still be football, but no bankers or stockbrokers dealing in a football club's future, that being determined solely by the players skills on the field.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Businesses as usual

Rangers has filed legal papers at the Court of Session to appoint administrators. Rangers awaits a tax tribunal decision over a disputed bill, plus penalties, totalling £49m which the club would be unable to pay.

Celtic has announced a big fall in pre-tax profits for the second half of 2011, profits of only £180,000 compared to a £7m profit at the end of the previous year. Cash from player sales also fell from £13.2m to £3.1m. Bank debt is £7m.

And in the east, Hearts still struggle off-field as much as they do on-field. Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov told RIA Novosti on Wednesday that all wage arrears with the debt-stricken Scottish club have been settled (Hearts players have suffered late wages since October), but admitted to an outstanding tax bill that threatens their future. British tax authorities lodged a petition with a Scottish court earlier this week saying Hearts had eight days to settle the bill, reported to be around £150,000 , or face liquidation. Romanov put Hearts up for sale in November along with Belarus' Partizan Minsk and Lithuanian side FK Kaunas, saying he wanted to leave the football business. Authorities in Belarus expelled Partizan Minsk from the Top League due to Romanov's refusal to keep bankrolling the team. Romanov's decision to withdraw cash backing to FBK Kaunas saw the Lithuanian FA demote the ten-times champions to the second tier.

Stop supporting capitalism!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Buying and selling people

Celtic have the highest player transfer outlay in the last five years, with a spend of just over £35 million, closely followed by Rangers who have spent around £33 million in the same period. Coming in at a poor third is Hearts who spent almost £3 million.

The teams that are making money from selling their players?

Celtic again leading the way with £35,574,000. Rangers have made sales of just over £20 million. Here is where Hibernian really punch above their weight. The Easter Road side have sold just over £16 million of players in five years and Hearts also sold well, £14 million. So the profits for Hibs have been almost £15million and for Hearts £11 million.

Almost every club in the division has turned a modest profit with the wheeling and dealing of player sales. Hibernian's business model is so focused on bringing through youth players and moving them on for healthy fees. It appears that Scottish football is all about the search of young, marketable talent. Celtic’s transfer balance is interesting, given the figures involved, as they seem to spend exactly what they make, reinvesting the money taken from sales into the playing squad. The club transfer policy seems to be to find players with a sell-on value, put them in the metaphorical shop window, sell them on at a profit and then repeat the process with the proceeds.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The morning after hang-over

Let's feel sorry for the sad departure of Scotland and England from the qualifiers for Euro 2008 .

But also let us shed a tear for all those profits that will now disappear .

England's exit will cost the U.K. economy about 2 billion pounds , according to Simon Chadwick, a professor at Coventry Business School. England's failure will have ``far-reaching consequences,'' according to Chadwick, a professor of sport business. ``Sporting success is essential not only for the pleasure we get from it, but also for the psychological well-being and economic benefits it generates,'' he said and workers are more productive when England does well, according to the professor.

Sports Direct's shares fell 13.3 per cent to 97.5p this morning. Sports Direct has an agreement to buy 65 per cent of all England shirts that Umbro expects to sell in the UK in any given year.

"As England have not qualified for the 2008 European Football Championships, the company can no longer be confident of achieving that level of financial performance..."

Umbro, which generates nearly 50 per cent of its total revenue from the sale of England replica kit, has already issued a profit warning this year, after poor summer sales of England "home" kit. Trading has failed to improve and after last night's disastrous performance from the England team, Umbro will reduce the amount of "away" kit produced.

"The effect on 2008 revenues, though still unclear, will be more pronounced due to a substantial reduction in our expected sales volumes for the new Away jersey."

JJB Sports, which saw its shares fall more than 8 per cent to 133.75p this morning, owns a 9 per cent stake in Umbro.

The result is likely to be bad news for bookmakers, which now won't be getting a flood of money backing England in next year's competition. Shares in Ladbrokes which runs a chain of betting shops lost 0.4%.

Other sectors that could also take an earnings hit next summer include pubs chains and brewers -- as fewer fans will now pack into pubs to watch the games. Shares in brewer Scottish & Newcastle slipped 0.4%. Pub operator Punch Taverns fell 0.3%

And with the other U.K. teams -- Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales -- all also failing to qualify, broadcaster ITV can also expect to attract fewer views for live matches. Shares in ITV slipped 0.4% in afternoon London trading.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fitba' Madness

Patriotism - It is all hype .

It is Scotland against Italy for a place in Euro 2008 .

Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said all of its appliances would be flying Saltire and Lion Rampant flags on Friday and Saturday to show support for the team .

The Big Match will be worth £8 million (£1m more than the £7m the Edinburgh economy was boosted by Barcelona's pre-season match with Hearts this summer) to the Glasgow economy, economists have predicted.

The Tartan Army is also expected to gamble a record £10 million ( The previous record of £5m was held by Scotland's Euro 2000 play-off game with England at Hampden in 1999. )

Meanwhile, rock group Runrig, who are to perform three songs during half-time at Hampden, have officially launched their Loch Lomond single in aid of Children in Need.

Yup , Scotland still goes cap in hand for charities to alleviate poverty and for the rest of us it is not going to be much different from the Roman Empire and its bread and circuses .

And Italy arrives in Glasgow from a day of mourning for a dead football fan shot dead by police , spurring a comment from Sergio Campana, president of the Italian players' association.

"I think football should stop for a year in order to reflect on the evils that exist."

But perhaps for some readers of Socialist Courier , this might all be too much .

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Victory for the Scottish Homeless

The number of people having their homes repossessed has surged, the Council of Mortgage Lenders has said. An estimated 14,000 properties were repossessed in the first six months of the year, a 30% increase on the same time last year.

Scotland have won the Homeless World Cup.

Every cloud has a silver lining , hasn't it ?