Part III: The squads, the fans, the money and the misc.
The third, and final installment, of me discussing whether or not changes to the rules of football, suggested by Twitter users, should be implemented. Check out parts one and two if you missed them. On with part three…
We’ve covered this elsewhere. Yes, yes and yes. Next.
Reduced ticket prices
This is something I’d love to see but I don’t know who would introduce it. It would probably have to come at FA level as the clubs themselves are unlikely to vote for it.
£20 away tickets (twenty’s plenty)
Also seems like a bit of a no-brainer. My only concern is that what you might get if this was introduced as a rule would be an increase in home ticket prices to compensate. I think an overall ticket price cap would be more effective, but obviously that’s an even harder sell to clubs in an age where football is drowning in money, and demand far outstrips supply at the nation’s major stadiums.
Transfer tax above a certain threshold to be distributed around/down the leagues
A Robin Hood tax on all purchases above a certain threshold to be split between the rest of the teams in the division (and possibly even down the divisions). The threshold would probably have to move each season with general price inflation, and the exact percentage would need to be fine-tuned.
Percentage of Premier League TV rights to be paid down the divisions
A suggestion of our own here. The Premier League TV rights system is relatively equitable for the twenty clubs lucky enough to be in it. Until relatively recently, for example, La Liga allowed clubs to negotiate their own TV deals. This obviously meant the two giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, taking even more than the lion’s share. It’s better now, with a new deal, but the ratio of TV earnings for the top clubs compared is still 4:1. So, the Premier League stacks up reasonably well in terms of providing for those at the top table.
But let’s not pretend that there isn’t a problem.
As I write, kick-off in the most valuable game in football, the Championship play-off final, is about five hours away. The fact that that game is the most valuable game in football says it all about the wealth divide. The difference between Bournemouth and Liverpool is, in percentage terms, less financially extreme than the difference between Hull and Huddersfield. This should seem weird.
It’s not because no one supports these teams either. A recent UEFA study put Championship attendances higher than Serie A, La Liga and Ligue Un in 2016-17. The issue here is TV money plain and simple.
As a Leeds fan I know all about the dangers of the cliff edge that relegation from the Premier League can be, and back then it was a gentle slope compared to what it is now. Pompey and Sunderland are more recent warnings. Obviously parachute payments provide for clubs previously in the division but even that seems slightly unfair. More than that, it’s not just about clubs facing financial oblivion.
Distributing revenues more evenly down the divisions would make for more competitive leagues and more competitive clubs when they’re relegated and promoted. Spreading even further down into the grassroots would provide a whole generation of kids with the opportunity not only to become professional footballers, but also just to have something to do, and someone to look up to in teammates and coaches.
It’s not like there isn’t an example either, remember that new Spanish rights deal I mentioned? Well, 10% of annual revenues go to Segunda B teams.
P.S. Since I wrote this there's actually been some changes to the way Premier League revenues are distributed to make it slightly less equal by distributing any future increase based on final league position rather than an equal share. So even within the Premier League it's looking worse. Definitely swimming against the tide here.
Require more English players in squads and on the pitch
This suggestion came in a variety of forms, including mandating certain number of U23 players in matchday squads, a minimum home-grown quota, or a requirement for UK citizenship.
To me the latter just feels a bit wrong, and I think a new generation of English footballers are proving that if you’re good enough, and prepared to make a leap, you can make it abroad. For years we expected foreign talent to come to us, but weren’t prepared to share any of ours. At the time of writing Liverpool and England youngster (as I believe I’m contractually obliged to describe him) Rhian Brewster is being linked with a move to Germany. Ryan Sessegnon has made a name for himself in the Championship. Even Harry Kane spent time at Bournemouth before getting his chance in the Spurs first team.
A non-English but nonetheless ‘home grown’ player with the greatest success story in this regard is Paul Pogba. A United cast-off, he went away, worked hard and several years later swanned back into town as world football’s most expensive player with a contract to match.
I understand there’s a problem with Premier League clubs seeking short-term solutions at the potential cost of players in their academies, but I think that if players can’t get chances here, they will be able to in other countries if they’re talented enough. Judging it on the basis of nationality just doesn’t pass the ‘feel’ test for me, but I understand the reasons people want to introduce something.
I think I’d be most in favour of an increase in the non-nationality based U23 requirement for overall Premier League squads. This would allow for the right balance between the high-quality football we all want to see, and the incentive to blood youngsters in the event of injuries or poor form. So, that’s a yes, sort of.
Snoods a mandatory kit requirement
Snoods have actually been a (relatively) recent pub conversation for the Foul Throw team (yes, both of us.) We were in the Tollington soaking up some atmosphere after Wenger’s last home game, and the topic of Chamakh and his snood came up. What people don’t realise (I said) is that Chamakh’s snood was just the logical and inevitable evolution of Henry’s gloves.
Thierry arrived from The ContinentTM wanting gloves, was laughed out of town by the Englishmen, and then outplayed them, and everyone else he came across, on the field. Towards the end of his career, Thierry threw his gloves into the fires of Mordor lest their power be wielded by one with intention to, erm, score goals for Chelsea. We all know this. Marouane knew this. He then bought what he was told were the re-knitted remains of those gloves in Snood form off a bloke in Spain who also sells Real Madrid shirts with two crowns on the badge.
The snood didn’t work out for Chamakh, but the real one has to be out there somewhere. All this to say, Snoods are funny and should be compulsory, yes.
Mandatory snoods. I’ve written a total of 3000 words (including parts one and two) on changes to the rules of football and the one I’m most behind is mandatory snoods. If you’ve got opinions or suggestions about any of this, drop us a line or comment below!