‘I disagree with people when they say football is a sport. When the Sky (TV) money came in, that changed. Football is a business’. The recent admission from the former Manchester United and England captain Bryan Robson during an undercover meeting may have come as a shock to some, but to most, isn’t it something we already knew ?
For those who don’t know, or didn’t see the program, Channel 4’s ‘Dispatches’ documentary recently went undercover, posing as wealthy businessmen on the look-out to buy an English club. They met a group in Thailand, which Bryan Robson was a part of, and openly discussed the possibility of buying two clubs (which is illegal) and how they would circumnavigate the laws to achieve this. Robson was secretly filmed discussing this in the meeting, and openly talking about how his links to a certain Premier League club and other managers, would help call in ‘favours’ and loans, to build-up their newly acquired teams. They also stated they were not in it for the long-term – just looking to buy the club’s cheap, gain promotion, make a massive profit, then get out. It was when queried on the moral issues surrounding such a takeover that Robson gave the above statement.
Are many of us still naive to think that the people who invest billions into our clubs will not want the maximum return possible out of their investments, and do everything they can in trying to achieve such things? That is exactly how the business world works. However, we are talking about football – a sport. Our ‘beautiful game’ that means so much to so many, world-wide. To have our beloved club’s bandied around like toys by these rich businessmen, is not a nice thought for any passionate supporter.
Of course, the huge money invested in today’s football has changed many things for the better. The way the sport is brought to us (so-called ‘expert’ pundits aside), seemingly 24 hours a day through every kind of media possible. Clubs have better stadiums, better training facilities, better injury care, the list goes on and on. But is the most important thing any better; the actual football? Sky TV would have you believe so, but that’s another debate.
Utilising loopholes and creating deals to advance is nothing new and has been going on for years within football clubs. The difference today is that the clubs are now viewed as businesses – loopholes and deals are now used with the end purpose of creating the maximum profit; the business philosophy. Not for the end purpose of trying to make the club the best it can be; the sporting philosophy. With such large amounts of money available in the game, many an individual’s integrity is put to this test. The power to ‘influence’ sporting decisions (illegal or otherwise) has been around for some time, but in today’s game nothing attains influence greater than money.
Whilst Robson’s opinion may well be right, looking to underhandedly capitalise on the sorry state of affairs and cash-in, is disgraceful. Two wrongs don’t make a right eh Bryan?