Monday December 19, 2011 at 12:36pm
There were some pretty dire economic figures on the news last week.
Many shops were slashing prices by up to 70% in a desperate bid to attract sales and takings on the high streets are down this Christmas on what they were last year.
The figures still sound pretty impressive, though. Up to £4bn taken this weekend, with some reports saying Britain was spending upwards of £1.5m a minute on Christmas stuff and popular toys at risk of being completely sold out.
However it is a curious economic picture, with takings in shops across the country down by £20m a week compared to October this year and it does look as though times are tough on the High Street.
About the only sector of the country not feeling the economic pinch, it seems, is top level football.
Read the gossip columns each morning and teams are said to be spending astronomical sums on players in the January window. Manchester United are to be close to spending nearly £40million on players, if you believe what is on there today at any rate, with Chelsea also set to buy all sorts of players.
When the spending in the last transfer window – which ended on August 31st - was totted up, clubs had spent something in the region of £485 million.
That in itself represented a significant increase on the previous year’s spending with some putting it as a 33% rise – hardly in keeping with the general economic picture.
So are the big clubs totally removed from economic reality? The answer on the face of it is yes – with many clubs breaking their transfer records in the last 12 months and players wages reaching what seems to be astronomical levels, some players again reportedly, are believed to be on £200,000 a week.
But that maybe doesn’t tell the whole story. Outside the top level teams are struggling as badly – and perhaps worse than they have done - for years and even within the top tier there is only certain teams that are doing any spending at all. Everton for example have hardly signed a player for a cash sum in years.
Football expert at accountancy firm Deloitte, Dan Jones explained recently "This summer's spending [was] largely focused amongst the top end Premier League clubs most strongly competing for domestic and European success and the consequent financial rewards.”
So the big six teams, then, and the likes of Stoke City, who spent £22m on the back of their rich owners benevolence are the only ones to really splash the cash.
But then of course, even those clubs aren’t totally immune from High Street pressures. Hardly any of the Premier League Clubs have raised ticket prices in the last few years (indeed my own, at a mid table Premier League outfit has been the same price since 2008). Now, those prices were too high anyway, and they remain so, but at least those fans that are already forking out too much for their clubs aren’t being asked to pay even more.
Many fans are now opting to stay away all together, as pubs are offering live games from foreign channels – a practice that was thought to be illegal until a Portsmouth landlady won her case the other week.
The problem that football will have in the future is that largely, as we have written on these blogs before, clubs aren’t self-sufficient, with many relying on their rich owners to sign cheque’s and although the UEFA financial fair play rules, which come into force soon are meant to stop the sort of massive losses that the likes of Manchester City have recorded, there are ways around it, as the deal to sponsor City’s ground has shown.
So it could be some time yet for the economic austerity that is affecting so much of life elsewhere truly hits football.
All that remains to say is to wish all our readers and customers a very Happy Christmas. We are open throughout the Christmas period, but the blogs will return in the New Year.