posted on Oct, 13 2008 @ 05:48 AM
First of all, let me thank semperfortis for arranging this debate, and also my esteemed opponent Schrodingers dog for what I am sure will be an
enjoyable and educational debate.
The subject of this debate is "The influx of billionaire owners has benefited the English game of football"
This is not the "European" game or the "world" game, we are talking here of the English game, and more specifically, the English Premier
Originally formed in 1888, the league has changed and transformed thanks largely to two key points in its history.
The first turning point was the player revolt in 1960, led by Jimmy Hill, in which salary caps of £20 per week were abolished.
The argument was that players provided the entertainment, and without players, there could be no league - playing for a club, was in those days very
much akin to a form of slavery, with players having no say in who they could be sold to, or the length of their contracts, or indeed, many of the
things that todays footballers take for granted.
The second key component was the formation of the Premier League, which broke away, commercially, from the Football league in 1991.
The breakaway was, as ever, about money.
As satellite TV grew in popularity, and as the money available to clubs also grew, the top clubs became disillusioned with the amount of money being
given to them - they felt that they deserved a bigger slice of the TV revenue pie.
As the 1992/93 started the EPL (English Premier League) was born with 22 inaugural members; Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry
City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham
Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon.
The league was later reduced to 20 teams to bring it in line with European leagues.
Over the years since the formation of the EPL we have seen the influx of "foreign" money, where billionaires from around the world have bought clubs
as "playthings" - at least according to the critics.
This blinkered view does nothing to address the good that billionaire ownership of clubs has brought to the english game, and specifically, the
We now have a situation where our biggest clubs can compete with those from the European continant on equal terms when it comes to money.
Real Madrid, the club who have won the European Cup more often than any other team are well known for flexxing their financial muscle, as are many
other clubs from Spain and Italy - particularly Italy in the 1980's and 90's.
But Real Madrids financial clout was decieving - often on the verge of bancruptcy, they have been bailed out by government and their own FA on more
than one occasion.
The financial clout of Italian clubs was also decieving - with much of the money being debt on the club as they strove to dominate European football,
particularly AC Milan and their rivals Inter Milan.
Indeed, who can forget the teams whiich included such superstars as Ruud Gullit, Franck Rijkaard and Marco van Basten - the spine of the brilliant
Holland side of the era.
Inter countered this with the spine of the German side from the same era.
English clubs, even had they been playing in Europe at the time, could never have hoped to compete financially with these teams.
Until, that is, the arrival of foreign owners and investors.
Since these people started arriving and buying majority shareholdings, or even just buying the clubs outright, we have seen the standard of English
Premier League football rise, until English teams have now become the dominant force in European competition, with three of last years semi-finalists
and both finalists coming from the EPL.
We have seen the influx of foreign superstars, the standard bearers being players such as Ruud van Nistelrooy, Denis Bergkamp, Ruud Gullit, Marcel
Desailly, Eric Cantona and many others who would never have graced these shores were it not for the "foreign" money or indeed domestic money of mega
Football is more than just a sport - it is a passion, a way of life, a classic contest where there is always the chance that the little guy can beat
the big guy, it is drama, and it is a sport that brings people from around the world together.
Football is a global community - fans from acorss the globe can name their favourite players, even if a name is the only English they speak.
Football is a global brand and a global market - and clubs which best recognise this are the most successful.
Football is a game unrivalled on the planet for it's fan base, and the money making potential of the biggest clubs.
The English game suffered for many years due to lack of money - it need suffer no more, as the EPL is now recognised as the best league in the world,
due to the influx of billionaire owners and the football superstars they have brought into the game here.