Mark Maher, of C’Mon U R’s, continues his look at the recent transfer window and all that is wrong with football today, as he discusses ‘Sugar Daddies’:
Since Roman Abramovich took over at Chelsea in 2003, he has been credited as the first major “sugar daddy” in football. A “sugar daddy” is someone who is willing to pump vast amounts of money into a club in order to achieve world domination without making profit. It’s argued that Abramovich’s involvement with Chelsea has distorted the football transfer market throughout world football as he turned a club lacking silverware into a major European superpower – helping them to their first league trophy in over 50 years while also winning the Champions league for the first time last season.
After Abramovich, many clubs have tried follow suit including PSG, Malaga and Russian outfit Anzi Machakala. The biggest though has to be Sheikh Mansour of Manchester City, as he has made them the most envied club in world football. He is considered the richest man in football and has invested close to one billion pounds since 2008 – paying over the odds for players and offering them wages in excess of £200,000 a week. This becomes a concern for other clubs as they have to try to keep their players happy by offering them inflated deals to stop them from being lured to clubs like Man City.
An example of this is the comments made by Massimo Moratti – Inter Milan president, when he revealed there was nothing he could do to stop star players Samuel Eto’o and Thiago Motta from leaving to join Anzi and PSG respectively. Moratti quoted: “I think I am an Inter fan and if some players left, it is because the conditions to keep them were no longer there.” It is reported that Eto’o was offered £350,000 a week to leave, swapping Champions League football to play in sub zero temperatures in Russia. Was he motivated by money? You decide…
“Sugar daddies” can also have negative effects on a club. Their insatiable desire to win trophies have led to unrealistic expectations, thinking they can buy a new team and win trophies straight away – and if not it’s the manager who gets the blame. Look at Chelsea, who’ve had 9 managers in 9 years – with Di Matteo being the latest casualty even though he had finally won the holy grail for Abramovich by delivering him the Champions League only a few months previous.
Recently, Nicola Cortese – the Southampton owner who has invested millions in the club, decided to sack Nigel Adkins – the manager who had just won back to back promotions and were sitting at 15th position in the Premier League. Most football fans felt that Adkins was doing a fantastic job, yet Cortese felt that a change was needed in order for the club to “progress”. So he hired Mauricio Pochetinno, a man who had previously been sacked by Espanyol for being bottom of the league. To be fair, Pochetinno has been touted as a young manager with a bright future, but to take a gamble on a manager unproven in the Premiership for a man who had taken Southampton so far just shows how ruthless these “sugar daddies” can be.
The worst of all though, has to be Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone’s takeover of Q.P.R in 2007. A brilliant documentary called “The Four Year Plan” was released and it showed the running of the football club over a four year period between 2007-2011. When Briatore was asked about being filmed, he was happy to be in the limelight and accepted, but what he didn’t realise was that it would make him a laughing stock by showing the world his interference in team affairs as it was broadcast on BBC.
Known for continually axing managers and even forcing some to play players he wanted in the side, the documentary gives a no hold’s barred insight into their time at the club. In one scene Briatore bullies sporting director Gianni Paladini into going down to the touchline to get Gavin Mahon brought on. After Mahon scores a last minute winner, Briatore starts to see himself as a master tactician. In another scene during a reserve match, he tries to force manager Ian Dowie to get all the Q.P.R players to pass the ball to Damiano Tomassi. You can clearly see that Dowie is unhappy with a person who has no experience in the game yet tries to run the team, and it’s inevitable that only weeks later he becomes the next manager to get sacked. Instead of taking the blame for sacking so many managers, Flavio is heard discussing how unfortunate he has been having so many “incompetent idiots” at the club. Increasing ticket prices significantly, changing the club’s crest, and not willing to listen to the fan’s concerns, it wasn’t long before they started turning on the owners. So by 2011, after realising that running a football club wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be, they sold their stake in the club.
Check out the trailer of “The Four Year Plan” below. It’s worth a look!
SPORT IS EVERYTHING. Mark Maher.[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nKhYShSUOrQ]
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