Football is a business. Actually, it isn’t – it’s a sport. But there’s a chance you might have forgotten, given the media’s obsession with football clubs and their cash concerns.
There’s one type of cash concern in football, like Accrington Stanley struggling to survive. And there’s another, where big clubs are struggling to stay as big clubs. Take Liverpool, for example.
Ex-footballers gracing screens with their oh-so-obvious banter keep telling the watching populace that Liverpool “simply have to qualify for the Champions League”‘ because of cash concerns and a need to attract the best players. But it’s a sport and I couldn’t give a stuff about who needs to be in a specific competition because of business issues.
Then there’s the big club justification – “Liverpool are a massive club that deserves to be in the Champions League”. Liverpool, of course, are a massive club with a “brand” (another dreadful term that has become associated to Sky-era football) that commands global recognition. Good for them. But such prestige does not mean Liverpool – or anyone else – has a divine right to be successful.
Look at Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham Forest, Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, et al – all of whom are big clubs, finding they have no divine right to be in the top flight, never mind Europe.
Football is cyclical, you see and teams drop from the elite. Nothing is more sure. Liverpool are struggling, Manchester United have their own financial concerns – Manchester City are spending big, Spurs are on the up. Things change.
Look at the Villa. We were the biggest club in the world in the late ninteenth and early twentieth century; we were the global “brand”. Post-Second World War football in Aston has seen some high points and quite a few low points. At the minute, the Villa are thinking about being successful again. We shall see.
But no club has a right to success. And no club “has” to be in any competition, despite what the pundits would have you believe.