The same way you would react if you were told you are free to buy a company and invest your hard earned money but not free to make profit because your customers said so, is exactly the dilemma of major European club owners who recently sought to create a breakaway European Super League.
Football clubs exist to make profit. Now, if for any reason a football club falls off the cliff, starts losing money and eventually goes bankrupt, there’s only one possible outcome which is extinction – The football club ceases to exist! For this reason, big clubs go the extra mile to ensure the club is owned by an investor who would throw-in a huge chunk of money to recruit the very best to achieve success. This perhaps explains the recent successes being recorded on the field of play by the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.
Prior to the acquisition of Manchester City by Sheikh Mansour, the club achieved little or nothing on the field of play despite the barrage of merry songs sung by supporters on match days. In fact, it was Mansour’s big money that endeared the club to many soccer fans and increased the fan base. Till date, Sheikh Mansour is known to have invested over 1.3 billion British pounds to reposition the club where it is today.
It is therefore absurd for the media to suggest and incite fans that they own the clubs and not the men who invested heavily in acquisition and purchase of big name football players to win laurels.
The COVID-19 pandemic clearly highlights the volume of investment by club owners as they continue to pay wages of players and staff amidst the pandemic. These they do despite having to play football games behind closed doors; without fans – A situation which remains in most European leagues as the world battles to completely recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. How then do we equate the role of fans and club owners who invest heavily irrespective of global trends? It’s glaring that just as customers of coca-cola can’t replace its management, similarly, it’s only fair for football fans to leave the management of football clubs in the hands of the owners who invest their hard earned resources. The task of managing these clubs should remain the exclusive reserve of those who invest.
Equally condemnable, is fans gatecrash, invasion and occupation of the football pitch on Match day – Manchester United versus Liverpool which led to the postponement of the game. The incident which left two police officers injured including one officer being attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face should be condemned for what it is. There should be no place for violence in football. It’s barbaric in real sense for fans to act in this manner. For one, the formation of the Super League was never imposed on any club neither was it made mandatory. Why then the negative press and incitement?
This incident also raises a lot of questions on the usefulness of press freedom being so vigorously championed on World Press Day because in recent times, press freedom has been variously abused. The attempts by journalists to harass and extract comments from club owners in the heat of the Super League cancellation is a sad reminder of the abusiveness of the press. What we find is in reality, the Press is free whereas society isn’t and very often is at the mercy of the press.
In the final analysis, it behoves the media and fans to understand the ubiquitousness of the clamour for freedom. Individuals who acquire football clubs are not charity organizations. They do so to make profit and should be allowed to enjoy same freedom and leverage as we all do when we set up our various ventures.