The loud protests by the football establishment over the proposed European Super League are not surprising.
The Premier League, Fifa, Uefa and other objectors have enjoyed the fruits of the big bucks for too long, and hate the idea of a commercial challenger breaking up the oligopoly.
Existing forces in the game have failed to do enough to address inequalities, stem the spread of gambling, deal with racism or promote the women’s game and much else.
Tottenham’s Harry Kane, left, tussles with Manchester United’s Harry Maguire earlier this month. Both clubs have signed up to join the JP Morgan backed Super League
It has taken clubs like Manchester City to lift women’s football, Chelsea to take on anti-Semitism and the owners of Spurs and Arsenal to risk investing in world class stadiums.
Greed within the Premier League establishment has never been more obvious than in the pandemic. Instead of overpaid players and management making salary sacrifices and giving back to communities, it took an individual player, Marcus Rashford, to make a stand on child poverty.
As for Fifa, nothing is more emblematic of the endemic self-interest than the way in which football has been forced to bend its timetables so that the next World Cup can be held in Qatar.
The idea that opposition from this serially untrustworthy organisation should be listened to is farcical. The clubs leading the breakaway are fully entitled to make their own business decisions.
All are independently owned and free to have signed a £3.5billion financing deal with JP Morgan Chase. Much of the punditry is wide of the mark.
The misleading narrative is that only oligarch-owned clubs, such as Chelsea, are part of the enterprise, while Bayern Munich and others in community ownership want nothing to do with it.
In fact, there are a wide variety of ownership patterns. Juventus and Manchester United are publicly quoted enterprises and everyone has the opportunity to buy shares.
Barcelona long has been applauded for its fan ownership and control model. Real Madrid also is owned by supporters although power is devolved to a construction industry magnate.
The £3.4billion fee that Sky pays for Premier League rights is already under pressure as a result of streaming.
The Super League, with up to 20 members, would drain cash away not just from the Uefa Champions League, but from national leagues too.
They could be making a better public interest case if more of the enormous TV cash were being shared with lower leagues, football academies and the grassroots rather than spent on divisive £300,000-a-week salaries.
More choice of TV rights, together with streaming, should bring the price down for viewers and fans. Will the lesser clubs be forever blocked from the top flight?
No, as there will be at least five wild card places open each season. Bring on the Super League. It could even incorporate practices from the US where teams which finish bottom get the pick of the best young players.
Capitalism with a human face!
Oliver Dowden has sent a signal of a more robust approach on overseas takeovers. When Arm Holdings was sold to Softbank in 2016, the Government was on the quayside to wave goodbye as the deal was rushed through, on the basis it showed Britain was still open for business as Brexit dawned.
The Culture Secretary has invoked the Enterprise Act of 2002 to make sure the onward sale to gaming chip maker Nvidia for £29billion will not lessen competition in the semiconductors market or allow digital technology, used for defence, to leak overseas.
Prospect of a lengthy probe might encourage Nvidia boss Jensen Huang and Softbank chief Masayoshi Son to reconsider the transaction.
The preference must be to follow Son’s original plan and list on the public markets. The temptation would be a Nasdaq float but hopefully Dowden’s intervention will remind Son that Arm is made in Cambridge, the intellectual property is there and an initial public offering would be an adornment for the City.
The Melrose disposal of Nortek to Chicago-based Madison Industries will allow it to pay down debt, keep shareholders happy and bolster the GKN pension fund at a moment when Covid is causing stress for aerospace.
Encouraging to see that motor industry offshoot GKN Automotive, pioneer in electric drive systems, is bolstering global operations by appointing a new president Shaoling Qui for its China offshoot.
Doubtless part of the improve process before the whole caboodle, including valuable R&D and tech is sold off.
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