It’s the essence of an English summer. When international tournaments are not stabbing away at the heart of England supporters, the transfer window does just about enough to keep the juices flowing until sometime in August. Take part if you want, but there is an obsession with the summer market that simply can’t be washed away by the waving of a hand. UEFA would like to think they’re putting the shackles on this one, but I’m not so sure.
Clubs have been warned. Malaga sent a real fright through UEFA HQ on Tuesday night, almost putting to bed one of the Champions League favourites, Borussia Dortmund. And then what? What if Malaga did go all the way? They would have needed guidance, a little inspiration, but a boatload of luck to win the competition. UEFA would have been left red-faced and unsure what to do. However, Malaga’s heart-breaking end to a fantastic journey would have left ear-to-ear smiles on the faces of Michel Platini and his now merry men.
Mallorca have also felt the brunt of all this before. UEFA and Financial Fair Play are taking no prisoners. Apparently. We’re led to believe that the big spending from Europe’s elite will die down and an even footing will be established. Let’s forget then that Barcelona have a near-watertight investment in Neymar, reportedly all but confirming the Brazilian’s transfer to the Camp Nou at some stage in the next 18 months. And then you have the new powers among Europe’s finest. Who’s going to tell PSG that their summers of overindulgence have to come to an end? I can’t really imagine Platini enforcing all of this FFP business on one of his own.
But English clubs are currently either breaking out all the stops to remain in the Premier League or rubbing their hands at the thought of the new television deal. FFP or not, is it realistic to assume this year may be the last big dance of the summer?
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The approaching transfer window will see a striker merry-go-round between many of Europe’s top clubs. It’s something that’s been reported to death and we’re all sort of sick of it. That is until the season comes to an end and the only football on offer is the stories in the gossip column. Unless, of course, you fancy following the Confederations Cup. But let’s be honest, that’s just as bad, if not worse, than the nonsensical Europa League.
Football is too big a sport to be completely limited in the way it uses its money, even if it is an order directly from the highest governing body. Essentially, clubs must show that they’re not chucking money out the window and that it’s being used for sensible things. Well in the modern game, sensible normally amounts to a summer arms race with no concern for expense. It’s a means to ultimate glory, and the fans love it.
It’s worth looking at the way sports is run in the U.S, with plenty of restrictions in place but with more than enough excitement each off-season to make it all worthwhile.
Nothing could really stop the New York Yankees offering an ageing Alex Rodriguez a 10-year deal worth $275 million back in 2007. Salary caps in the NHL will never stop blockbuster trades happening, while Twitter was sent into overdrive on multiple occasions over the past two weeks following acquisitions made by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The NHL gossip pages receive just as much attention as the football equivalent in England, but it’s just about how teams get around the barriers put in front of them.
Clubs like Manchester United should have no problem with new deals with Nike and Chevrolet on the horizon; for them, FFP isn’t even enough to be a nuisance. And for all their talk and brave faces, I just do not see UEFA punishing Manchester United in the way they’ve done with Malaga. Where’s the money in the Champions League losing one of its biggest draws? UEFA, if anyone, have far more to lose. The action against Malaga was enough for people to take notice, but hardly punishment against one of the prominent names in the game. Its scare tactics by a bully who knows the club from the Costa del Sol have very little means of fighting back.
Such is the power of major clubs on the continent, including three of the four Champions League semi-finalists that teams will continue to do as they please – and that can only be a welcome stance for supporters. I struggle to see a huge swing in the way transfers are conducted or the amount of money being spent.
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