I don’t lay claim to knowing what is or isn’t good football but I do know stupidity when I see it. And the phrase, “money has ruined football” is in the premier league of stupidity because it simply isn’t true. In fact, English football – not to mention the British economy – has benefitted enormously from the cash that has flowed into the game from commercial interests in the form of sponsorship, broadcasting rights and merchandising. If we saw it as a normal business we would be lauding the success of the Premier League – a massive business success.
Yet people like Andy Burnham, the former Labour culture secretary, persist in promoting the view that somehow football is worse for all the cash.
"I think money has poisoned our national game. Our game has rampant commercialism. We have put money before the sport and we are reaping the dividends of that”
I’m sorry but can somebody show me some substantive evidence of the negative impact of money in football. And can we put the argument that the national team suffers to one side – England failed to qualify for the World Cup finals twice in the 1970s when the game was broke, there were no foreigners playing in the first division and players earned peanuts.
Today professional players are employed by teams not even in the top four divisions, attendances are good and the numbers playing and watching are at an all time high. Indeed, the criticism might come from other sports – cricket, athletics, tennis – that has been squeezed out by the ubiquity of football. Football in England is played at a higher standard, gets more support and contributes substantially to our exports. It is a success story.