Monday 13th June 2020 saw the best and worst of football as Arab owned billionaire super club Manchester City took on UEFA and won to cast a darkened cloud over the sport whilst little known Wycombe Wanderers of League One did their best to redeem some sunlight back on the game of soccer in winning their own historical battle against Oxford United at Wembley.
Manchester City were able to overturn a two-year European ban and turn a €30m fine into a €10m payment to UEFA (for failing to co-operate with them) after the Court of Arbitration cleared the side of any wrong doing following the sports European Governing Body originally banning them on breach of financial fair play (FFP).
UEFA had long questioned the cloudiness of the City Football Group’s ownership, banning the club initially from European competition for two years suggesting they had “disguised equity funding as sponsorship contributions” but without ‘proof’ (which CAS cleared yesterday) City, armed with around 30 of the world’s highest paid, baddest and best lawyers (with money no object of course) took UEFA to the cleaners with a huge UP YOURS to FFP.
In truth the ruling is stupid, in reality it shows that rich football clubs will always get their way regardless. What it now means for the sport is unclear? FFP is no longer ‘valid’ based on this decision and it now seems that there are even more loopholes in its flawed pathetic system than that of HMRC. Will clubs stick to a flawed policy in order to manage (or even clear) their finances or will they simply start to invest in the model that Manchester City have proved works?
I personally would scrap FFP entirely as it restricts clubs from ever evolving. The biggest clubs with the biggest budgets will always come out on top in any case, whilst those scrapping around at the bottom of the financial ladder will always just have to make do. Unless you have a global salary cap on players this will always be the case. What we need rather than financial restriction is ‘better club management’ and those ‘profit making well run clubs’ should be those that are rewarded.
In fairness to Manchester City they are backed well, are well run and are not in any danger of going out of business, although anyone with an eye can see that they have ‘bent’ the rules to suit them in their bid to become bigger than their much ‘quieter’ neighbours at Old Trafford. Something they pretty much have done over the last few seasons thanks to huge investment.
Away from all that super club stuff though I wanted to bring you a much nicer, happier football orientated non business/court room type of story that will only begin to put a smile on your face.
Anyone who saw last nights video of Adebayo Akinfenwa being interviewed after Wycombe Wanderers beat Oxford United in the League One Playoff final at Wembley will be able to see how much winning a game of football means to a player that was written off four years ago.
After winning the League Two Playoff Final in 2016 Akinfenwa was pretty much left on the scrap heap by his club AFC Wimbledon. His contract running out, aged 34 he was asked ‘is this it’ with Wembley Stadium the perfect back drop to bow out. Akinfenwa however took offence, he asked Managers to ‘hit me up on WhatsApp’ live on Sky Sports and he found a club in Wycombe and a Manager in Gareth Ainsworth that believed in him, and now 38 years young he celebrated yesterday by finally reaching the second tier of English football for the first time after near 20 years in the game.
Akinfenwa delighted after the match said ‘the only person who can hit me up on WhatsApp this time is Klopp’ and by the power of football, a couple of hours later… Guess who calls the beast to say well done….
Proof that the game, despite all its troubles can still be more powerful than its lawyers! If only sometimes at the least…