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Football: for the fans or the money?

Purv Ashar

Football. Arguably the most famous sport in the world. Attracting audiences by the millions -- thousands in attendance physically (pre-COVID), and millions via television and streaming platforms. For example, the 2014 World Cup had 3.2 billion viewers in total, and one billion people tuned in to watch Germany triumph over Argentina in the finals. Not only international football, but club football as well, where 109,318 people were in attendance for a friendly match between Manchester United and Real Madrid situated in the USA (image below).

However, the sport we love is slowly getting pulled away by people with little interest in it. These people, of course, are the owners. Foreign owners with no passion for the clubs they own, no loyalty and bond with the fans, are making their clubs their cash cows. Owners, primarily in the United States, attend games once in a blue moon. On top of that, they barely care about fan opinions. This was seen during the infamous European Super League. Teams in England, primarily clubs in debt (Spurs) and clubs with disconnected owners (Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool) tried to push the competition forward, as the financial benefits were too good for the owner’s pockets to pass up. Chelsea and Manchester City (the other two clubs comprising the English Top 6) joined, but pulled out seeing the fan reaction, as they should have done. Upon the collapse and realising they weren’t going to get that much richer, the owners of the other four clubs also pulled out, again showing their financial desire.

There are two ways for these clubs to move forward. First, they need an owner like Leicester’s Srivaddhanaprabha family. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought Leicester in 2010, and he attended games like a fan and believed in fan power and player power until 2018, when he passed away in a helicopter crash. However, his son, Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha, known as “Top” held on to his father’s beliefs, and the only way for Leicester is up.

The second is probably the harder one to pull off, but the benefits are exceptional. This is a law put in place in Germany known as 50+1. This states that the club’s fan forum needs to have a say in club matters, which led to there being no Super League team from Germany. This was since the fans vetoed the proposal and the 50+1 rule prevented the clubs from entering the Super League.

In conclusion, football is slowly dying in front of our eyes as a sport but is becoming a cash grab for wealthy businessmen. Only taking appropriate action can prevent us from having to book a cemetery spot and grab a shovel.

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