Of course we are not happy that Manchester City has won the title. By and large Untold doesn’t like it when teams like Chel$ea and Manchester $ity win titles. They can go out and buy every player under the sun and pay those players with money that never was made by the club itself. It is a form of cheating.
What are the odds that Manchester City could even be in a Champions League place now if the rich oil man would not have come over a few years ago? We know and we guess all long lasting City supporters will know it: zero. Of course, it is not the fault of those supporters that the oil man came along. But a title won by money is something not to be proud about.
What we did like was the way Rednose XX was sunk, rather like the Titanic 100 years ago. City scoring in the extra time when the game at Sunderland was already finished was priceless in a way. All the diving, all the cheating; it didn’t help at the end of the season. But the bad news is that I fear that from next season on the PGMOL and Riley (if still in charge by then) will do all they can to bring the Rednose XX along.
There is however one possible good thing about this $ity win.
For decades Manchester United was the spending force in the EPL. Don’t let the numbers fool you. If it wouldn’t have been for the sale of Christiano Ronaldo, United would be up there with $ity and Chel$ea.
When United only had to deal with Chel$ea, they could manage that easily. They didn’t have to compete with Arsenal in a way because while building the stadium we had no extra funds available to buy many proven players. We did in fact, but only sporadically.
But when $ity also came along, it became clear that times were getting more difficult for United. Fighting one rich team for signing players could be done. But fighting two such teams: then things get more difficult. And if I’m not mistaken, I have heard some encouraging things coming out the United camp.
We don’t have to think that United ever did anything to bring in financial fair play. They just went their own way. Arsenal and Wenger have been saying for years that there should be rules about it. That clubs only are allowed to spend what they earn themselves. United couldn’t care less. Until recently.
The building of a title winning team costs around £1 billion at the moment. And there are only two teams who can do this in the EPL for the moment. Chel$ea and $ity. Even United cannot compete on such a spending level.
So the noise coming out of the United camp that we have heard lately is one that those FFP rules are maybe not that bad a thing. By now, the United camp will realise that their days are numbered if they have to compete with the money from Russia or whatever oil rich country it is coming from.
When Wenger and Arsenal asked for financial fair play, we were described as moaners, bad losers and that we should get our own financial sugar daddy on board and join the mad spending. Something our club refused even to consider. The FA and the EPL closed their eyes and counted their own money and didn’t seem to care about such things.
However when Michel Platini unveiled Financial Fair Play for the first time, he said that Roman Abramovich was the man who had pushed this idea forwards; claiming that Ambramovich and other club benefactors had pleaded with him to find ways to control rampant wage inflation and stem spiralling losses.
Of course the cynical among us then argued that Ambramovich was pursuing this line simply to stop others doing what he had done. He’d brought Chelsea to the top, he felt (wrongly as it turned out) he had got a youth academy as good as Arsenal, and so he wanted the gates closed.
But then, it didn’t quite happen for him. The youth academy has been poor in its accomplishments, and the top men within the academy have come and gone, rather like the managers.
With hardly anyone breaking through to the first team on a regular basis since John Terry, Chelsea have a problem. Hence the £74m for Fernando Torres and David Luiz, the £5m compensation for Carlo Ancelotti, and the continuous pay out of salary to André Villas-Boas.
But if Chelsea are sending out mixed messages and Man City are sending out no messages, what is happening to Financial Fair Play?
The BBC Radio 5 coverage of the final day’s play in the league contained endless references to Man City being the dominant force for years to come, because of their wealth. No mention, at least not one that I heard, that FFP might be in the way. (Of course, there was also no mention of the tapping up process that they, like Chelsea engage in).
But the agenda is moving. Whereas the Daily Telegraph could run a story in February 2011 to the effect that Chelsea and Man City were confident they would meet FFP rules, by June that year there were headlines like “Chelsea a long way off satisfying FFP agenda” (Guardian). When Chelsea posted its £67.7m loss in February 2012, much of the British press began to catch on to the fact that neither Chelsea nor Man City were doing anything to bring themselves into FFP requirements.
But supposing Manchester United still believes that FFP will happen and will have an effect. If Rednose wants his XX, there will be the need to stop teams like Chel$ea and $ity spending the money. And maybe from being not interested in FFP rules at all, it could be that United suddenly discovers that bringing in FFP rules might be the only possibility for them to compete with the oil money teams.
So don’t be surprised if the EPL and the FA in the next days, weeks, months start to talk about bringing in FFP rules themselves. Of course, most Arsenal fans will be happy if that day would come. It will make the league more even and more unpredictable. And that is what made football what it is: one, if not the most popular games all over the world.
But if the FFP rules come in, it will be once again Arsenal that has done the hard work. It was Arsenal who first talked about it and pleaded for it, while the others just said nothing at all or didn’t care. The FA and the EPL didn’t take notice when Arsenal said such things. Will they listen when United opens their mouth?
Just imagine, Arsenal and United fighting for the same goal of FFP. This is what losing the title to $ity can bring along.
Published with permission from Untold Arsenal: Arsenal News. Supporting the Lord Wenger; coach of the decade.