I'd like to dedicate this article to a internal discussion I've been having, with myself (feel free to join in) about how much multi-billionaire businessmen have essentially spoilt the game, but I would imagine it's a test of any fans' morale fibre when one comes to England and says they want to takeover their club, to make them become one of the best in the world. My personal opinion is that football should be played the Dario Gradi way. I.e. placing emphasis on the academy, nuturing a group of young, home-grown prospects and introducing them to the first team early on and developing a team spirit within that group, that will come with them playing together so often. Then, once they grow out of themselves a bit and want a move to a bigger club, you sell them to a Premier League team and make money from them and develop the next group of young players.
That's generally how I would feel passionate about seeing my club run. And that's how it used to be about thirty to fourty years ago, when local business men who cared about their club could actually afford to run a football club. Now, possibly partly because of so much football, particularly in the Premiership, being on TV more, more and more foreign chairmen want to takeover clubs. Some of them, i.e. Carson Yeung at my club, Birmingham City, want to make money from it and treat the club like a business. Which makes some logical sense- why would a chairman from Hong Kong that had hardly heard of Birmingham City want to pump loads of money into the club to make them a slightly better team than they were before. His lack of contact with the fans proves that his only intentions with Blues was to make more money.
Some of them, i.e. Abramovich, childishly want to takeover clubs so that they become their plaything, to make that club become the best in the world immediately. So he moved to London where he would be loved by all the Chelsea fans and could become a bit of a celebrity, have all the best players and win everything- whilst privately knowing that people only like him because of his money and not who he is as a person. I have to say, I can't help but feel a bit sorry for Abramovich if that's what makes him happy. But realistically speaking, the only way Birmingham City could ever win the Premiership title or the Champions League, is if an Abramovich came in and wanted to buy the club outright.
I honestly don't know whether I would still support Birmingham City if that happened. It would go against absolutely everything I believe in, and if it got to a stage where we were winning the Premiership title every season by 10pts or more, I'd probably get bored of it. But before I submit to a resounding declaration that I would never support Birmingham City again if that happened, I'd like to talk a little bit about the club's history. The last time we actually were a good team was in,
I think the 1960s when we played in some European competitions and beat Aston Villa in the League Cup final, in 1963? Since then, we've been a little bit of a yo-yo club (although I can't help but think the strings have been cut off now), we got relegated to the third tier of English football in 1989, in the late 90s to early 00s we lost in the playoff semi-finals on penalties about 5 times, finally got up in 2002, spent the next four years thinking we might actually be an 'established' premiership club, went down, went back up, went down, went back up... went down again, and now we're back to about where we were in 1989. The amount us Blues fans have had to put up with is incredible and so many of us have stuck with it through thick and thin, you'd have thought we'd earnt a few glory years.
Would we really stop watching it if we won something and had an awesome team that could beat Villa? Also, going to football every Saturday has become such a big, routine part of my life, would I not go? Would I support someone else? I certainly wouldn't support Aston Villa or Wolves I know that much. I'd be tempted to support West Brom, which would feel weird at first, and it would be a bit more of a drive, but worth it for what is at the moment, good quality, Premiership football which we're not even getting at Blues at the moment! But it would be a strange thing to do. The other option, would be to go and support a non-league team, like Solihull Moors, or Halesowen Town. It certainly wouldn't cost as much.
But my problem with that, would be that it wouldn't be that serious, there wouldn't be a proper stadium, the crowd watching the game would consist of the player's girlfriends, three men and a dog. The atmosphere would be a bit rubbish, and unproper. And that makes me question my initial values, for supporting a team that doesn't have too much money but can introduce young, homegrown players and have people who have the club's best interests at heart. Which is exactly what non-league football is, but it wouldn't feel quite the same. The brutal reality of football will be that it always comes back to money, and the teams with the most money, will eventually always win.
It's as simple as that. So for me, it's a question of where do you draw the line? Because it's the money these chairmen provide that makes the Premier League so exciting. If money didn't exist in football, football at all levels would be like Sunday League and non-league matches, which would be boring, and no football would be on TV. Knowing that, it then seems almost pointless to try and be an ethical football fan, but I also think it would be wrong for the spending in football to go beyond the current level it is at now.