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Buying Success ?
September 2, 2003 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC at the beginning of July, he has spent over £111.15m on eleven new players prior to yesterday's transfer deadline. Some think that attempting to buy success in football (soccer) in this way is tantamount to cheating. This has really shaken things up in the genteel world of football - but is football still 20-30 years behind US sports? (salary caps, etc.)
posted by daveg (42 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
One of the players bought was even loaned to another club two days after being bought - what is going on?
posted by daveg at 6:34 AM on September 2, 2003


This is a good post, daveg. You might want to consider checking out SportsFilter, if you haven't already.
posted by terrapin at 6:44 AM on September 2, 2003


Oh bum !!!!!!!
(no I didn't know about Sportsfilter)
posted by daveg at 6:52 AM on September 2, 2003


That wasn't a hint to "take it to SportsFilter." I looked for your user name on SportsFilter and thought that perhaps you were unfamiliar. Besides, you are more likely to find *many* football fans over there.
posted by terrapin at 7:30 AM on September 2, 2003


Makelele for 16 million quid? Real must be smiling all the way to the bank.

Like another pundit said, none of the players they've bought have been exactly coveted by any other clubs. Mutu looks quite good so far, but the rest ? bah.
posted by carfilhiot at 7:45 AM on September 2, 2003


I'm a Chelsea fan and while it's all very exciting, I am starting to feel sick that someone can pump this much money into a sports team while people in his home country are suffering abject poverty.

that said, I am looking forward to him purchasing QPR's ground for our new training facility.
posted by Frasermoo at 7:51 AM on September 2, 2003


This has really shaken things up in the genteel world of football

To be honest, it hasn't shaken me any more that when Blackburn tried to do it in the 90's - and at least they're giving out silly money for the players they're buying. I think we got under 3 million for Shearer... the amount Chelsea payed for Bridge, well, I think everyone's a winner there.
posted by monkey closet at 8:01 AM on September 2, 2003


There's an interesting article on Roman Abramovich here which mentions this "blowjob" piece in Time magazine. I'm not sure the Chelsea situation changes anything, the Premiership has been about money for years, and Abramovich is not the first person to buy a club and pump money into it. Whether we like it or not, football is a business these days, this is no different to any firm having someone invest a large amount of money in them allowing it to employ the best staff. It sucks, but whose going to do anything about it? Which Chelsea fan is going to campaign against all the money they are getting?
posted by chill at 8:04 AM on September 2, 2003


I went to the Leicester game and Mutu looks fanatstic. Not so sure about Veron, we'll see. On the plus side it's good to see Ranieri is buying a lot of talented young players (Cole, Bridge, Johnson - good grief they're all English as well), nice to see someone planning for the future as well.

Interesting to note that when we'd spent £35m on five players the talk was the same, about all this sudden cash ruining the game, but no one seemed that upset when MUFC spent £30m on Ferdinand. The sports pages do love to hype these things up.

And from the Premiership on ITV last night - on the first day of the Premiership there were 13 foreign players on the field from all 22 clubs. When this seasons premiership started there were 127. I like 'em, makes trying to find things to rhyme harder. All together now, Giiiaaaann Fraaancoooo Zola, la la la la la la...
posted by ciderwoman at 8:15 AM on September 2, 2003


that said, I am looking forward to him purchasing QPR's ground for our new training facility.

If things go wrong you may need it - Stamford Bridge: prime real estate in one of the world's most expensive cities. Ruthlessness: What you need to become a Russian billionaire.
posted by niceness at 8:28 AM on September 2, 2003


I'm a Liverpool fan, so I'm not excactly esctatic about things that are going on at Chelsea at the moment. I don't really think the players he's bought are that great (apart from maybe Crespo and Mutu), but it's obvious that if they doesn't succeed this season Roman is just going to spend more silly money next summer.

And there'll always be players who will try to force themselves from their clubs just to earn more money (see Makalele). If only Raul wasn't so loyal to Real Madrid, he might have been a Chelsea player! Now, that would scare me!

I do think that soccer should try to impose some sort of salary cap. It can only lead to disaster (or domination by a select few) if a club like Chelsea can spend 100 million pounds in a month, or if a club like Real Madrid can spend 50 million pounds on one player. There needs to be some sanity in all this.
posted by einarorn at 8:37 AM on September 2, 2003


carfilhiot: re. Makelele some don't think so.

I guess the difference between Abramovich / Chelsea and previous attempts to buy success is that Abramovich (RA) has taken a very North American approach to the whole thing. Previously, local benefactors have financed clubs in their (joint) ambitions. RA undertook a financial analysis of the different options and selected Chelsea as his favoured option - there was no loyalty or connection prior to the financial one.


Blue is the colour, football is the game ...
posted by daveg at 8:38 AM on September 2, 2003


Some form of a salary cap is coming eventually, at least for the lower divisions. I think a cap has been instituted in the Third Division this year, with plans to extend it to the First and Second Divisons soon. The Premiership seems to be immune to it though.

Relevant sportsfilter discussion here.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 8:47 AM on September 2, 2003


doesn't succeed this season Roman is just going to spend more silly money next summer.
not sure about that. these guys tend to demand instant success. if it doesnt work out he'll probably sell stamford bridge, realise 100mill profit and move on.

[daveg] perhaps Real will now sell you helguera too!
posted by carfilhiot at 8:47 AM on September 2, 2003


Last year I got Fox Sports World in my digital cable package. As a soccer fan — er, football fan — since childhood (I grew up cheering for the local Portland Timbers of the NASL) I was ecstatic at all of the action available to me.

But which team to root for? An English team? An Italian team? A team from South America?

That question was answered one evening as I sat watching the mighty, arrogant Arsenal Gunners — riding some outrageous winning streak — as they fell to defeat at the foot of sixteen-year-old Wayne Rooney.

I root for Everton. (I've always liked underdogs.)

Of course, it's kind of silly to be sitting here in rural Oregon cheering for a professional football team halfway around the globe, but it's fun.

Let's just not discuss how Everton fared against Liverpool last weekend...

For Americans interested in English football, try Yahoo!'s coverage (which can be added to your My Yahoo! page) or the official Barclaycard Premiership site. I'd love to hear about other, better sites.
posted by jdroth at 8:52 AM on September 2, 2003


but is football still 20-30 years behind US sports? (salary caps, etc.)
There used to be a salary cap until the 60s & one Jimmy Hill's intervention.

Hands up who supports a team within 10 miles of the place they were born *sigh*

*hand*
posted by i_cola at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2003


[jdroth] if evertons game isnt on cable, you can get radio coverage via the net from their website, most/all clubs offer this. BBC is a good website for saturday coverage, but there are lots of others.

re: salary caps.
won't that make the englands league less attractive to star players? would ruud join manu if he could only earn 20k a week?
posted by carfilhiot at 9:04 AM on September 2, 2003


jdroth: Call 'em 'Arsenal' or 'The Gunners'. But not both together. Rooting for Everton would get you a laugh in Australia...
posted by i_cola at 9:06 AM on September 2, 2003


Call 'em 'Arsenal' or 'The Gunners'. But not both together.

See, this is another thing that's hard for me, as an American, to figure out about the EPL. Some of the teams (all of them?) have nicknames, but some of the nicknames are rarely used, and now you tell me that you can't use the team name and the nickname together! :)

Some of the nicknames I understand, but why are Everton called "The Toffees"?

Where can I point my friends to learn more about English football?

Rooting for Everton would get you a laugh in Australia...

???
posted by jdroth at 9:13 AM on September 2, 2003


I've long been a Chelsea fan, but I find it hard to get behind the new "Chelski". From over here across the pond, they feel much like the equialent of the New York Yankees: there's no fun in getting behind a team that has bought so much of its talent rather than developing it on its own.

I was all set to switch my allegiance to Spurs, until American Bobby Convey was denied his work permit.

Maybe I'll just spend this season rooting for Wolverhampton to avoid relegation.
posted by jpoulos at 9:23 AM on September 2, 2003


As kids collect football stickers, billionaire oligarchs collect clubs and players. So it goes. Doesn't make Chelsea any less a team to be despised: the club thinks it's 'glamorous', but its non-celeb supporters have long had a reputation for being thugs.

jdroth: this might explain the nickname thing: it's grassroots rather than part of the corporate identity. And 'rooting' is Aussie slang for sex.
posted by riviera at 9:28 AM on September 2, 2003


now you tell me that you can't use the team name and the nickname together!

I feel your pain, jdroth. My guess is that saying "Arsenal Gunners" is like saying "New York Bronx Bombers". I think it's hard to get a feel for the EPL vernacular without years of exposure to the British media.
posted by jpoulos at 9:30 AM on September 2, 2003


There are salary caps in other sports, Rugby League for instance. Three clubs this year have lost points for going over the limit including Halifax, who have managed to win only won game and have thus lost all their points. Very sad. :)
posted by vbfg at 9:42 AM on September 2, 2003


jdroth, it's because they are nick names and not names and usually have something to do with their location or club history or something. I don't know but I presume they make toffee in those parts of Liverpool. They did make guns at the Woolwich Arsenal which is where the Arsenal football club come from originally.
posted by vbfg at 9:51 AM on September 2, 2003


has taken a very North American approach to the whole thing.

Yet we don't were our sponsors on our jerseys.(note, the equipment's manufacture is)
posted by thomcatspike at 10:08 AM on September 2, 2003


Yet we don't were our sponsors on our jerseys.(note, the equipment's manufacture is)

And if it cut down on commercials (hah!) I'd embrace it in a second.

they feel much like the equialent of the New York Yankees: there's no fun in getting behind a team that has bought so much of its talent rather than developing it on its own.

Right, like Posada, Williams, Jeter, Pettite, Johnson...oh alright, I'll shut up now. Go Gunners.
posted by jalexei at 10:34 AM on September 2, 2003


well, for obscure english references, my team - wycombe wanderers are called the chairboys. this is due to the now almost defunct furniture making industry based in the town.

however, the white heat of the premiership and talk of salary caps is pretty much a standing joke in buckinghamshire, with a team that has more in common with the titanic due to the less than watertight defence.

england has always had a two tier nature between the higher and lower divisions and this is never going to change. clubs like chelsea, utd et al will always profit and clubs like wycombe will just struggle to survive.

don't even start about our miserable game on sky sports last night, it wasn't our greatest...
posted by triv at 10:36 AM on September 2, 2003


The nick names can come from anywhere ... I guess it just depends on the fans.

So, the Canaries and the Magpies are named after birds with the same colours as the team colours.
The Pool is Just Liverpool shortened.
Wolves = Wolverhampton. (Shortened again)
Sheffield United = Blades (they used to make knifes in Sheffield)

And Manchester United are known as the Scum, because - well, they're just scum.

etc, etc.
posted by seanyboy at 10:49 AM on September 2, 2003


Not sure that I think much of the 'Pub Quiz Help' - Chelsea have always been The Blues (I've never heard anyone call them The Pensioners, other than as a pathetic insult in more than 30 years of supporting them)

Surely Manchester United are Man-Ure ?
posted by daveg at 12:18 PM on September 2, 2003


The article riveria linked to has something about the Pensioners:

Chelsea are known as the Pensioners after the famous retired soldiers who are residents of the army hospital near to the club's ground. Dressed in their bright uniforms these distinguished old men can be seen at every match at Stamford Bridge, as guests of the club.
posted by adrianhon at 12:21 PM on September 2, 2003


triv: Heh...your lot were terrible ;-) I was hoping you'd do Wednesday cuz I hate that stupid band with a passion.

jdroth: Well, there's a lot to learn & it's all tied in with English & British industrial & social history so it can get quite arcane. On the naming thing, forget the US-style City & Nickname conventions. Like irregular French verbs ya gotta learn 'em individually.

When Saturday Comes magazine is a pretty good grounding (altho' I haven't read a copy in a while) and the spin-off site One Touch Football has some good links to fanzines which will give you no end of news & stories from the underbelly of footie in the UK.

Oh, and 'EPL' - just call it the Premiership.

However, for anyone in N America wanting triple cool-points and the amazment and props from any Englishman, (or Sri Lankan, Indian, Pakistani, South African or Australian) understand & appriciate the game of cricket. Good luck ;-)
posted by i_cola at 1:01 PM on September 2, 2003


i_cola, that is a trick question since it is not possible for a native born American of European descent to understand, much less appreciate, cricket.
posted by billsaysthis at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2003


wooot cricket is cool!

any game that takes 5 days to complete in todays fast food culture must be cool in my book.

talking of which: england v south africa? can england draw the series?? will need some luck that's for sure.
posted by carfilhiot at 2:43 PM on September 2, 2003


'some luck' - more like a bleedin' miracle I'm afraid (although Thorpe might make difference)
posted by daveg at 2:48 PM on September 2, 2003


Okay, I have more questions (or comments, really).

I've never seen the aforementioned When Saturday Comes here in Oregon, but I can regularly find issues of World Soccer (which is probably World Football everywhere else). I once found an issue of Four Four Two, and quite liked it, but I haven't seen it again. I'd love to subscribe to one of these magazines, but the cost is exhorbitant — nearly $100/year. Still, if I'm buying every monthly issue on the newstands, I'm paying more than that. Perhaps I ought to consider it.

(Incidentally, my favorite photography magazine is British, too: Practical Photography. A subscription to it would set me back $120/year. Still, it might be worth it. Does anyone know of a good source for British periodicals in the United States?)

Re: Cricket

I understand the basics of the game, but only just. I mean that I can watch the action on the pitch and understand what is trying to be accomplished. However, I have no idea what all the scoring stuff means when I hear it on Sky Sports News. It's just a bunch of jarble. My favorite explanation of Cricket can be found here.
posted by jdroth at 3:19 PM on September 2, 2003


Not only am I an American who understands and enjoys cricket... I'm FEMALE! Now I shall bask in the glory of your adulation. And for the record, I've never gotten an SMS from Shane Warne... :)
posted by web-goddess at 6:03 PM on September 2, 2003


woooah ... are you single wg? don't worry about warnie he's far too fat.
posted by carfilhiot at 6:53 PM on September 2, 2003


wg, you live in Sydney so I don't think you count! But maybe you could help me find a job there?
posted by billsaysthis at 8:17 PM on September 2, 2003


Yeah, being in Australia helped. I lived in England for two years without getting the rules but within a month of living in a country with a good team, I had it down pat. :)

Sorry, not single, and no good job leads. I'm looking myself...
posted by web-goddess at 9:57 PM on September 2, 2003


I do think that soccer should try to impose some sort of salary cap. It can only lead to disaster (or domination by a select few) if a club like Chelsea can spend 100 million pounds in a month

Going back to the top of the thread this, but, just to say

There's no real need for a salary cap, because, certainly in English football, no one has ever managed to buy lasting success in this way - teams need to have more than just a common interest in money to have the will to win.

What is really needed is for football to bite the bullet and stop giving the top teams the bulk of the TV money, which has created an environment where only a small number of teams can hope to win the league
posted by ascullion at 10:27 PM on September 2, 2003


As I understand it, buying new players will not guarantee a win. Team work, good team dynamics and co-operation are what makes a successful team. A team which consists of 'prima donnas' will not succeed with ease.

OTOH

'Despite the increasing use of statistics in football coverage, these often have a "trainspotter" uselessness about them. Perhaps the last time a goalkeeper whose mother-in-law's maiden name began with a "Q" saved a penalty was in 1897, but so what? Maybe the pundits would be embarrassed by more rigorous analyses. Dutch psychologist Willem Wagenaar analysed World Cup games and found the pattern of results so hopelessly inconsistent that only 5 per cent of the pattern was due to team strength—95 per cent was pure luck (Paradoxes of Gambling Behaviour, published by L. Erlbaum, 1989). He argues that it is this uncertainty that makes games exciting. If it were possible to predict the result, they would be boring.'

Peter Ayton, pp52 Newscientist 2152 Sep 1998
posted by asok at 3:35 AM on September 3, 2003


*belated hand*. Well why else would anyone support Birmingham City? WE are the one and only Blues and don't you forget it.
posted by squealy at 8:58 AM on September 3, 2003


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