While most fans are only interested in what’s happening on the pitch, the financial mess that many clubs currently find themselves in has to be a major concern. After all, no fan want to see their club going down the same disastrous path that Portsmouth has.
There is some light on the horizon however which is predicted to change football as we now know it. The Glazers’ timing of the extension of the club’s debt maturity dates to 2017 offers an unmistakable clue. It may also explain why despite the huge debts forced onto Manchester United, the family is intent on hanging on to the club.
By that year, football’s access to new media markets will have widened dramatically with the development of high-bandwidth data services across the world. American markets recognise the value of this impending development.
Three years ago the New York Yankees were valued at £1bn and at the same time their Yesnetwork internet system at £2.3bn. “At the moment the internet is dominated by pornography,” said one senior football figure with a successful internet background at the Soccerex conference. “But football will build communities. Within five to 10 years there will be stadiums with full connectivity.
People watching their football delivered through the internet will be communicating with people in the ground while betting on their iPhones. If every football fan in China and India is paying a few dollars a month for it, all the top clubs will be worth billions – and the Glazers know it”
If this is the future of football, debt laden clubs like United only have to hang on for a few more years before being hit with a huge bonanza. It does raise a couple of interesting questions however. Will the ordinary fan in the street benefit from all this or will the new riches go straight into the pockets of club owners, unimaginable transfer fees, bigger and fatter player contracts and even more millions gouged by their agents?
Unless the lessons of the last 20 years have been learned that is exactly what’s likely to happen which will then pose another interesting question. What will be the point of all this new wealth coming into the game in the first place if it is only going to be squandered just as it is today?
Will you use the new technology when it’s available?