Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson

Fergie has never been shy about having a dig at the assembled media and has bullied nearly all and sundry in his time as ManYoo manager. Most of it is with a purpose which is to further the cause of Manchester United and his players, some is for personal and family reasons and some is out of sheer bloody minded vindictiveness. This week's latest comments on the power of television was however born out of sheer hypocrisy.

Ferguson spoke of football having sold its' soul to the devil and of TV having too much power and yet whilst not directly responsible for Old Trafford policy, Ferguson works for one of the elite of the elite European clubs that has gained far more than most from the huge influx of television money.

During the 1980s, ManYoo operated on a similar budget to the other clubs in the league and suffered in comparison to the likes of Everton, Aston Villa and of course to their fierce rivals Liverpool. With the arrival of Sky Sports in the 90s ManYoo were the first to exploit the new global opportunities and this jump start that the club took propelled it to the forefront of the game.

Whilst it would be churlish to suggest that Ferguson has not been a huge factor in their fantastic recent history, he was the benefactor of an extraordinary crop of youngsters and from the beginning of the Premiership he has been the recipient of an annual transfer budget that was the envy of all until Abramovich came along.

Year after year transfer records were smashed. Roy Keane, Andy Cole, Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastien Veron, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney as well as indulging Ferugson on other players such as Ronaldo (a fantastic investment it must be said), Dwight Yorke, Fabian Barthez, Nani, Antonio Valencia, Anderson and this Summer's latest spending spree.

Television has allowed United to exploit their global marketing phenomenon and in turn to hand Ferguson the money to build the great sides that he has presided over. Indeed they were one of the first to have their own in house television station of which Sky Television incidentally owns one third.

Now just because Ferguson uses all these tools and the money that comes with it doesn't of course mean he has to like it. It is however hypocritical to complain about it such a childish and spoilt manner. Future generations of Fergusons probably will not need to work due to the riches he has amassed from the television bank rolled football industry that provides his employ, there was no mention of how much wealth he has garnered from the arrangement nor complaint about that.

Ferguson complains that television makes too much money from football and that the clubs do not achieve a large enough slice of the pie. This is yet more nonsense and rank hypocrisy from a man that earns more than 99.99% of the population from the arrangement.

Media plcs exist like any other company, to maximise revenues for their shareholders, not to pass on profits to those who would not be able to make them without them. If the football clubs don't like it they can do it themselves if they so wish, the reality however is they cannot.

The media is not responsible for the gross mismanagement that goes on in most clubs and is certainly not in any way at fault for the greatest leak of wealth from the clubs, the movie star salaries that are paid out without any thought to both players and agents. It is the clubs that have chosen to pass on the bulk of their revenues to the players, not the television companies.

Lunchtime kick offs might be an 'inconvenience' to someone such as Ferguson but there are millions of people in Asia who pay vast amount of money through television subscriptions for whom they provide entertainment at a peak viewing time. Indeed, were it not for these early kick offs, many children (young Premiership fans to be) would never see any games due to the time difference and would not become those fans in later years to further line the club's pockets.

Good ol' Harry Redknapp suggested he'd rather be somewhere else during a pre season tour and it is this lack of respect and good grace to overseas fans that sums up the parochial attitudes on display. Clubs that wish to maintain their 'local identity' whilst at the same time greedily accepting cheques from abroad in any currency that they can find, it is the thin end of the wedge.

If Ferguson really finds the influence of television so impossible to deal with, we are quite sure that he could return to his managerial roots at St Mirren who rarely have their games moved for television. One suspects however that he would still prefer to be writing cheques for the likes of Ashley Young and Phil Jones - No Nonsense.