Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 10 September 2008

Fans pay for the success of the 'beautiful game'

"We need a billionaire," wailed Everton Football Club chairman Bill Kenwright, 'only' a millionaire himself. That was his response to the takeover of Manchester City by the Abu Dhabi United Group, the investment arm of the royal family of the United Arab Emirates.

Kevin Parslow

For the moment, City fans may well be over the (blue) moon about their new owners, which straight away led to the acquisition at the ridiculous cost of 32.4 million of Brazilian international Robinho from under the noses of Abramovich's Chelsea. But they and other fans would do well to ponder what this and other developments mean for football, both in this country and internationally, and for the predominantly working-class fan base who watch it.

The Independent called it "a move that will transform the shape of global football". In fact, football club ownership has been going in this direction for some time.

No longer does the local butcher, baker or candlestick maker own the local football club, but huge corporations, sovereign wealth funds and wealthy robber barons, who are taking football away from the masses and turning clubs into playthings for the rich.

All of these new owners have made their money by robbing and exploiting workers and the environment around the world.

Football clubs are now commodities to be bought and sold like anything under capitalism. Most of the new owners are from outside Britain. Manchester City was previously owned by Thaksin Shinawatra, multi-millionaire former prime minister of Thailand, who has been described as a "human rights abuser of the worst kind".

When his ownership of the club came under investigation two weeks ago, he promptly sold out, making 130 million profit for two years' ownership! Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, has few democratic or human rights and treats its large migrant workforce particularly badly.

Does this takeover of football clubs by wealthy individuals and entities come without a cost? Supporters of Newcastle and West Ham this week won't think so, as their managers left, both protesting they had no control over the players bought and sold by their clubs, thus affecting the choice of players from which they had to pick the team.

The lifestyles of the top players have become more remote from the fans - we might admire his footballing skills but how can we identify with the 'slave' Cristiano Ronaldo surviving on around 6 million a year?

There are also huge financial implications as well, both for the clubs in general, and for fans. Commentators sometimes suggest there is a 'bottomless pit' of cash for football, as lucrative TV rights deals add to the influx of cash from the owners. But despite being owned by Russian and US billionaires respectively, Chelsea and Manchester United, the two top teams in the Premiership in England, have combined debts of 1.5 billion! In any other industry, bankruptcy would loom.

In fact, fans are being made to pay for success. Ticket prices continue to rise, which has led to a big turnover of season ticket holders at many clubs, forcing out many working-class fans who can no longer afford to go to a match regularly.

They are largely being replaced by those once described as the "prawn cocktail brigade" by former Manchester United captain Roy Keane.

Unlike the Financial Times, that suggested a "geopolitical face-off between two teams with foreign owners" might make football spicier, football fans want to keep the game simple, supporting their local club.

Economic and political developments in the world, not just this country, could easily throw many clubs into crisis if their owners decide that they can no longer subsidise the losses.

Then, big business's ownership of football clubs will come into question alongside the existence of the capitalist system as a whole.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 10 September 2008:

Housing Crisis: Brown has no answers

War and occupation

End the wars and occupations

USA: Defying police, students walk out against the Republican national convention

Socialist Party editorial

US mortgage bank nationalisation - sign of deepening crisis


Scotland council tax to be scrapped

Scotland: Council pay battle at critical stage

Socialist Party workplace news

Workers' anger surfaces at TUC

London bus workers inspired by strike

Fighting for decent pensions

In brief

Socialism 2008

Come to Socialism 2008!

Socialist Party campaigns

May Day detainees fight for justice

No to post office closures

Boom to bust in Cardiff Bay

Fans pay for the success of the 'beautiful game'

Protest against harassment!

Socialist Students

Fighting start to freshers fairs

Young workers ripped off

Bangor University students union fees referendum

Environment and socialism

Can we have 'the right to travel' - without adding to climate change?

Socialist Party review

Richard Dawkins: The genius of Charles Darwin, (Channel 4)

International socialist news and analysis

Thailand in grip of political deadlock


Home   |   The Socialist 10 September 2008   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:


triangleThe Socialist inbox

triangleHull City supporters fight to reclaim their club and the game

triangleBirmingham South East Socialist Party: Football under capitalism

triangleGentrification on the terraces: fans say twenty's plenty

triangleWomen's football - Sampson allegations


triangleMcStrike: ballot for strike action at six McDonald's stores

triangleRefugee Rights to be launched in Manchester

triangleZero new homes 'affordable' in Blairite Manchester

triangleManchester Socialist Party: The refugee crisis

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



School strike forces head to say privatisation will stop



College protest against job losses



Bromley library workers win strike campaign



UCU members vote to end pensions dispute



Usdaw conference 2018: time for new era of fighting trade unionism



Victorious Fearnville Fields campaigners thank the Socialist



Hull says no to war, no to austerity


The Socialist

The Socialist - a fighting, campaigning, workers' paper


Socialist Party

Building fund: 150,000 milestone smashed!


Fighting Fund

Give us your change (and more) to fight for system change!



Workers' victory over anti-union Scottish council



Avenue School strikers and parents win judicial review



Vote for a left, fighting PCS leadership



PCS rejects Acas offer - further strikes announced



Bromley libraries - indefinite strike action continues

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018