Tomorrow’s game, today


Shadows are coming across Europe.

Inter Milan will have to deduct millions of dollars from its salary bill. One or more of its bright lights have to be sold. Antonio Conte, the coach who ended the club’s decade-long wait for an Italian championship just a few weeks ago, Don’t intend to be around To see their title-winning team crumble.

Barcelona, One billion dollar debt, On the budget of a pauper should form a squad to fulfill the ambitions of his princely states. The club’s wish list does not extend far beyond the cheaper corridors: Sergio Aguero, Georginio Visionaldum, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depe are all out of contract, all available for nothing, a cut-price cavalry.

Juventus must step back to back off. The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, knows that his fans yearn for Galactico, but also that he cannot afford one. The general confusion of transfer rumors revolved around Manchester United and Liverpool, but some players will have to leave for others to arrive.

It is not just grand houses that are feeling the pinch. Parts of the Lilly team that won the French title will split. The remaining Ligue 1s face fire sales. Spend in january transfer window All the top five leagues in Europe had a fraction of their normal level.

After many years, money is tight, and time is limited for everyone. almost everyone.

There are a handful of bulls in the football bear market, who are not only immune to it, but are also responsible for benefiting from the recession that surrounds them. Champions League final on Saturday Features two of them.

A little more than a decade ago, it seemed that the 2010s would be dominated by the arrival of Manchester City and Chelsea. Between them, they represented the new dawn of football: Chelsea, controlled by the assets of its billionaire Russian boss, Roman Abramovich and Citi, transformed by the functionally bottomless wealth of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. For some time, their meetings were referred to as El Cashico, always with a slight ghost of derision: a nickname for ersatz imitation of an authentic rivalry.

Indeed, when Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed al-Nahyan first arrived in Manchester City, it was Chelsea where he trained his sightseers for the first time. Chelsea was so confident of signing Brazilian forward Robinho from Real Madrid that his website started selling jerseys in his name. When the Spanish club looked on, he withdrew from the deal. The city, eager to make a statement of intent, duly stepped in.

The following summer, City tried to go one step further, identifying John Terry – Chelsea’s captain – as their priority transfer target. It was reported that the club was prepared to pay him an unimaginable $ 300,000 a week. He eventually chose not to accept, but City managed to at least plague Chelsea: Abramovich was forced to reward Terry’s loyalty by making him the club’s highest-paid player.

The on-field rivalry took longer to develop. As anticipated, the clubs emerged as the dominant forces in English football in the 2010s: between them, they have won eight of the last 12 Premier League titles. But they rarely find themselves in direct opposition. More often than not, the second as one fell short, and the greatest threat to their immediate ambitions came from the ranks of the established elite who were both trying to grab.

However, the situation has changed now. Over the past year, there has been a fundamental shift in the landscape of both English and European football, which has reduced almost all of its peers and left both Chelsea and City in a position of almost unparalleled strength. It is not the culmination of the Champions League final rivalry. It is, instead, a precursor to what might happen in the future.

They are responsible for their chances of uncontested primacy for a confluence of factors. The most important is definitely Economic impact of epidemic, And the year of empty stadiums and balance-sheet black holes.

Estimates vary, but most suggest that the epidemic has cost Europe’s clubs somewhere in the region of $ 5 billion, with nearly half of it being borne by the continent’s 20 richest teams, some of which – special Real, Barcelona and Juventus – were already struggling. Under the burden of mismanagement.

Citi and Chelsea, due to the generosity of their owners, seemed blissfully unaffected by that contraction. Faridabad Spent $ 140 million spent on central defenders alone At the beginning of this season when its payroll reached an English-record high: about $ 500 million-a-year, at a time when most of its rivals were trying to limit their spending.

Chelsea Spent more last summer Than any other team in Europe, and including almost all the 18 teams in the Bundesliga. Chelsea, in fact, paid a higher fee than under Abramovich at any time, taking advantage of the likes of Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to be a rare hunter in the hunting world to gain unrestricted.

There is no reason to believe that given the limited horizon in most parts of Europe, this summer would prove to be any different. Among his peers, there is increasing acceptance that it is no longer possible to compete for talent with Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

Countering this was, of course, part of the reasoning behind the short-lived and heartless Super league. The founding document of the repealed competition contained a set of specific provisions on burial expenses that went beyond the Financial Fair Play rules governing the Champions League.

There will be “zero tolerance” for balance sheet manipulation. Spending on players, coaches and salaries will be strictly limited – 55 percent of the club’s revenue, or 27.5 percent of the highest-grossing club, attempting to favor those teams with the largest fan base – and allowing the clubs to be profitable. Have to be committed for a period of three years.

The monitoring and enforcement of the rules will be carried out by a monitoring body, which is responsible for auditing the finances of member clubs, governing sponsorship agreements and approving anyone who violates them. It was to be called the Financial Stability Group.

The city was certainly part of the project, but it was also, as the people involved in its construction believe, its goal. Super League was not just A power play To grab a major share of soccer’s revenue; For some of those involved, it was also the only way to level a distorted playing field.

its The collapse, However, has weighted the dice more in favor of the new elite.

When UEFA announced last year that Manchester City and Chelsea had already been given a free pass, Suspend financial rules Which previously prevented both teams from making full use of their owners’ assets. The losses were so extensive and so great across Europe, that hardly any team would be able to meet its criteria.

UEFA stands for system Is not inactive. It says it is currently investigating how to remodel and improve its cost-control rules so that they can be “more focused on the present and the future.” The governing body of European football has said it believes “wages and transfer fees, which represent most of the club’s costs, should be reduced to acceptable levels.”

But there are benefits for those in positions of strength in their current absence. First, by accumulating talents now, they can effectively get in before the door is closed. Second, and most important, they have the opportunity to shape new regulations to their needs.

Citi, Chelsea and PSG have long felt that the previous system of Financial Fair Play does not apply to them as much as it does to them. The original idea, his argument, followed to ensure that European football did not incur too much debt, was co-opted by a cartel of the game’s established powers to prevent clubs from investing in their teams, which was their There was an attempt to set the situation in stone. The peak.

This time, however, as a result of the Super League, it is City – which heralded the breakaway collapse in withdrawal – and PSG. – Who never joined it – Who can expect to sit at the table when new rules are discussed. Any form of financial regulation is introduced, it is more likely to represent their interests than the excluded old elites. Chelsea, the alliance’s ambitions with both of them would benefit from the proxy.

It is, of course, clubs that find their positions of power under fear of danger: not that the collapse of the Super League will lead to some utopian, egalitarian vision for the future of football, but a set of vested interests. Will be exchanged. Second.

Personally, the owners believe that there is now very little chance of holding back the city in particular. Some in England believe the club could win the Premier League for the next decade if it continues to use its funds as efficiently as it has. In Europe, the fear is that the Champions League will become the exclusive patronage of the new elite rather than the old.

For some, of course, this can be a good thing, a welcome change after years of domination by a handful of entitled and arrogant superclubs. For others, it will experience another step toward some serious vision of the future of football, where the global game becomes a game of oligarchs and plutocrats and nation states.

Either way, the way from there to here has been made irreversibly, in the last one year as the epidemic hit and money dried up and regulations loosened and the establishment collapsed. The new future is here, and it starts on Saturday.

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