The increasing profile of Financial Fair Play and the world’s current economic climate have seemingly caught up with the untouchable realm of top-flight football. Although fans want instant success for their club, long term stability may well be more important – just ask Rangers fans.
Kenny Dalglish has endured a fairly tough season at the helm of Liverpool, as off-field issues and inconsistent results have damaged the Reds’ hopes of achieving Champions league qualification, something that supporters of the club desired from the outset. Yet away from the field-of-play the Merseysiders have been going from strength-to-strength. The board room issues that marred Hicks and Gillett’s reign are now almost forgotten as the Fenway Sports Group have set about reshaping the club, and building a stable long term project. The latest piece of business achieved comes in the shape of a £25 million-per-year kit deal with American sports giants Warrior. To put this into context, the Reds’ new deal is the most financially rewarding in the entire Premier League, eclipsing Manchester United’s deal with Nike and doubling the income from the previous deal with Adidas. Coupled with this, Dalglish’s side also receive £20 million-per-season from kit sponsors Standard Chartered, one of the only beneficial legacies left by the previous owners. All-in-all Liverpool find themselves in a great financial position, even if on-field performances are a little below expected standards.
All of these changes have been lauded as more important in the long term than achievements on the field of play by Dalglish, who insists that the club is improving rapidly:
“The club is now where it was before – each one for each one, everybody in it together. There are many ways you can judge a season and the best way is progress at the football club as a whole. I don’t think it necessarily relates to trophies or points.” The manager told the Guardian.
“You can measure it by how the club has progressed and where it is, from the first team to the kids. Off the pitch, especially, the club is a lot stronger than what it was. You go off the pitch and see how much money we are getting through sponsorship and kit deals.
“You look at the academy and see how much better it is. You look around here (Melwood) and most of the people have got a smile on their faces now. The squad is stronger than it was last year. What other areas are there to improve on – apart from points?”
Although there will be many critics to King Kenny’s stance, it has to said that he has a point. It’s easy to forget that the Reds were on the verge of bankruptcy not so long ago, and in real danger of slipping off the football radar. However since taking over in 2010, FSG have established a feeling of stability at the club, addressing the spiraling debts and investing in the long term future of the club.
While others run consistently in the red, Liverpool look to be establishing a plan to make the club not only financially secure, but profitable. Teams living beyond their means is common place, but changes in UEFA rulings are now cracking down on such actions. Financial security before instant success may ultimately prove to be the mantra to go by, as economic issues hunt down the top-tier football. With big names such as Rangers falling into peril, and debts for many clubs across mainland Europe spiraling out of control, the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool, who are planning for stability, may soon become the standard bearers. Although fans want points and prizes, to put them before the future of the club would be irresponsible, sponsorship and income are truly a measure of success.