Monday, June 11, 2012

A Massive Club?

Jay Rodriguez has signed for the mighty Southampton and has announced 'This is a great club, a massive club' (although unfortunately not the club he supported as a boy ala Robbie Keane at the L.A. Galaxy). Someone needs to inform young Jay that by any measure, Southampton are not a massive club, so what constitutes a big or massive club?

Keeping it to Britain for the moment, there are of course several undisputed massive clubs, super clubs even. ManYoo, Arsenal and Liverpool (despite their current travails) would all qualify in this category. But here the problems begin, how do you really measure it?

Liverpool finished 8th this season and have no realistic chance of winning the title for a few seasons at least. Are they therefore still massive? Rangers in Scotland are oft described as 'an institution' yet they have just gone bankrupt, how can they therefore possibly remain big?

This brings us to a second category. One which for much of my lifetime, clubs such as the Sheffield two, the three big North East clubs, Wolves etc have been described, that of 'sleeping giants'. These are apparently clubs that used to be big clubs but are now invariably small clubs.

It is easy to mock the afflicted and most fans have an inflated view of their own team, it is only natural but the definitions are confusing to say the least. One could argue quite believably that Spurs and Everton are bigger clubs than Chelsea and Man City given their history and supporter base but given the current league table and spending power (and of course it is money that talks these days) then that is turned on its' head.

Money of course is always the prevailing factor. Everton and Spurs as an example used to be two of the richer clubs as did Liverpool. Call it lack of foresight or just bad luck, a lack of investment in infrastructure (namely stadiums) has seen the clubs fall backwards and without the benefit of a rich foreign benefactor like in Chelsea's case, they simply do not have the revenues to compete.

Another measure is that of the 'brand'. If you look around Asia then Liverpool and ManYoo shirts abound with Spurs probably a distant third. After that it is really anyone's guess but there is no doubt that sustained periods of dominance in the 80s, 90s and 00s from the big two have seen them power ahead in fan base and therefore in merchandising.

The problem with 'bought' success is that it invariably doesn't last being that is often at the whims of one person. Clubs such as Blackburn Rovers in recent times have come and gone and the stark reality is that it is the traditionally perceived big clubs that remain just that.

So now we have several criteria including fan base and history, but surely the most important thing for any club is their level of current success. Were City to capture Messi and Ronaldo and win the league for the next five years as well as a couple of Champions Leagues, would they then be considered a bigger club than United?

The reality is there are many tangible measures of the size of a club but much of it is subjective and subject to huge bias. One thing is for sure, Southampton are with no offence intended, NOT a big club and I have no idea where this leaves Aston Villa - No Nonsense.