The 25 Things I Would Fix About the Beautiful Game, Part 1 – The Rules

INTRODUCTION

I love the beautiful game, but over the last couple of decades, that love affair has grown… complicated.  It is clear that there is enormous room for improving the game of football, not only in the way it is played on the pitch, but also how it is governed and managed off it.  I believe that if at least some of the changes I recommend in this article were implemented, the world of football for the players, clubs, and most importantly – the fans – would be vastly improved.

As such, I present to you the “25 Things I Would Fix About the Beautiful Game”:


 
PART ONE
THE RULES

Our first set of changes revolves around the rules of the game.  Most of the rules that govern play on the pitch have been around for decades, but as the sport evolves, the rules should evolve and adapt to the new realities of the sport; new strategies; how the game is played; most importantly, how the rules enhance the fan’s appreciation and enjoyment of the beautiful game.

1 – Technology 

Technology has been present in football since… day one.  It is present in the types of fields the sport is played on; the footwear one wears to play it; the protective equipment one uses. As the game evolves, so must the technology used.  I believe that most technological advances that reduce unfair advantages should play a role in the sport, as long as they do not compromise health and safety.

Goal line technology is the hottest debate in the world of FIFA at the moment.  Some argue that it dehumanizes the sport, and removes the enjoyment of debating referee mistakes.  I say we should use this technology as an aid to referees, so that critical decisions (which can sometimes have million-dollar repercussions) are accurate and fair, but most important of all, objective.

I’d go a step further and apply that same technology to the offside rule.  You’ve got a sensor in the ball; why not put one on each player’s jersey as well?  The most common and controversial call in football could be virtually eliminated; a computer algorithm detects the forward is behind the last defender when the ball is played, the referee assistant’s flag buzzes, he lifts it.  The right call every time means folks can go back to doing what they’re on the field to do – play football.

Yes, I understand that technology is out of the reach of some of the lower-level professional leagues.  The alternative is… what you have now: human error, drama, and debate.

2 – Substitutions

Nothing annoys me more than a strategically-timed substitution on the 93rd minute of a match with 4 minutes of added time!  Why does play have to stop altogether? 

All substitutions should go through the fourth referee!  There’s no need to stop play; a player is ready to go in, the fourth referee is informed, he raises his placard indicating the player to come off in his stead.  He informs the match referee through his communications gear, whom at the next deadball situation will point to the sideline so players are aware a substitution is about to occur.  Play moves on immediately, and if the player who is supposed to come off decides to delay it, oh well! The fourth referee ensures the exchange happens properly, and that’s it.

No more time wasted in this space means injury time should be for… injuries.  More on that later.

3 – Delay of game

You see this in every match: the referee whistles for a foul, and the player responsible (or one of his teammates) grabs the ball, then throws it to a teammate, who then throws it away from his opponent.  Perhaps you see this during a throw-in situation; the player’s team kicks the ball out of play, and he still grabs the ball as if convinced the call should go his way. 

Other instances of what we call time-wasting have been addressed by the football rule-makers, and instructions issued to officials on how to appropriately punish offenders; examples include yellow cards for excessive goal-celebrating, long delays by goalkeepers on goal kick situations, or failure to yield proper distance on a free kick.  Honestly, these pale in comparison to the delay tactics I described in the first paragraph.

Here’s the new rule.  It’s simple: if the referee whistles, that means play is stopped.  If the decision is not in your favor (be it a foul, throw-in, offside, no matter) and you touch the ball, the referee will issue you a yellow card.  That’s it.  How long do you think it would take for players to learn the concept?  Perhaps three or four matches of playing down a couple of players?  I guarantee you managers would change their approach to tactics and player instructions should a rule like this actually be enforced.

Just imagine the time you could save, every match!  This time savings could be used for perhaps a dozen additional plays, every match.  This is a winner, folks.

4 – Simulation

A recent study by Dr. Daryl Rosenbaum at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center indicates that incidents of fake injury at football matches are frequent, occurring at a rate of over 11 per match, resulting in seven minutes of game stoppage per contest. He said questionable injuries are more likely to be associated with contact and referee sanctions than definite injuries.

Eleven times per match, on average, the referee stops play, and everyone on the field awaits for the player to “recover” or be assisted by medical staff.

Officials have instructions to punish offenders with yellow cards, but this approach couldn’t be more ineffective.  First, no referee can clearly determine every instance of simulation, no matter how good he is.  Secondly, a yellow card will never discourage a diver from doing it again in the future.  Sure, he may not do it again in the same match, but chances are he’ll be at it again in the following fixture.  The world of football knows all the major divers; take Dani Alves of Barcelona or Angel Di Maria of Real Madrid as two examples of the best in the business of deception.

Officials from each country’s football federations should be reviewing every minute of every match played to ensure clear instances of simulation are dealt with appropriately.

I would recommend a two-match automatic suspension at minimum, and longer suspensions (and fines to both player and club) for instances of simulation that have the potential of influencing a match result.  Yes, I understand this would open up the question of how to make that determination.  I say keep it simple: if a simulation results in a false penalty or the opposing team’s player is erroneously red-carded, for instance, then these should be considered as match-result-influencing.

It may not be the best solution, but I guarantee you it’s an initiative that would aggressively curtail this embarrassing, shameful behavior that goes against the very foundation of the beautiful game.

5 – Violent conduct

Football is a contact sport.  There will always be instances of violent conduct and bad injuries resulting from such conduct, no matter how heavy the punishment.  I believe FIFA actually addresses violent conduct punishment well.  I say well, because I believe there are loopholes and room for improvement in this space.

Most football federations charge players with violent conduct after video review, and on average, players found guilty are suspended two or three matches.  However, if a referee witnesses the violent conduct and issues a yellow card, then in most countries, the matter is deemed to have been dealt with by the match referee and the card is deemed as appropriate punishment.  As I’ve said earlier, even the best referees in the world can fail to see how violent a foul may actually be, and seldom can they infer malicious intent – the game is just too fast.

Every questionable play should be reviewed by these governing bodies, and all should be dealt with appropriately and severely at all times.  No one wants to go to a football match where the top stars are injured; suspending those that keep our beautiful game artists away from their craft should be eradicated from the sport.

And so it begins…


Proceed to Part Two – The Regulations


SERIES GUIDE:

Part One – The Rules
Part Two – The Regulations
Part Three – The Competitions
Part Four – The Administration
Part Five – The Finances

The 25 Things I Would Fix About the Beautiful Game, Part 2 – The Regulations

PART TWO
THE REGULATIONS

Our second set of changes revolves around regulating the game of football.  Regulations prevent unfair advantages and generally protect clubs, players, and other footballing entities.  The following five proposed regulations not only protect clubs and players, but also help to foster talent growth and competition.

6 – Homegrown Talent

FIFA has been working on something they call the “Six-Plus-Five Plan” for a few years now.  In essence, the new regulation would require teams to field at least six homegrown players in their starting elevens, leaving up to five slots for foreign talent.

FIFA’s basic reasoning is that allowing teams to field an unlimited number of foreign players is detrimental to the national team; they assume that when big teams such as Arsenal, field only foreign players, it leaves no room for homegrown talent to develop.

I believe that FIFA has a point, but a Six-Plus-Five plan is way too aggressive, and may do more harm than good.  Let’s be honest: people support the big teams because the big teams have some of the best players in the world.  By limiting the number of foreign players so drastically, FIFA would in essence be killing the beautiful game.

On the other hand, I do agree that a limit should be set.  A Three-Plus-Eight system, for instance, would be a much better solution.  First, the impact on all current teams would be minimal – most current teams do field a number of homegrown players, and the quality of the game wouldn’t necessarily suffer if this plan was adopted.  Secondly, forcing the homegrown player situation to be addressed will be good for not only the national team, but also for the clubs themselves; most will develop their football academies to grow their own talent, but feeder clubs will also benefit (more on that in Part 5 – The Finances).

The biggest benefit, in my opinion, is the “local hero” effect.  Kids look up to football stars, but are even more motivated by local players who make it big.  They set an example to be followed, and fans of all ages can identify with the local hero who stays with his football club for an extended period of time, as opposed to foreign players who tend to change clubs more often.

7 – Carry-overs Between Competitions

There are too many competitions nowadays (more on that in Part 3).  In keeping with the homegrown / young talent theme, I’d like to explain how imposing a limit on carry-overs between competitions benefits all of football.

I would invert my homegrown plan and call for an Eight-Plus-Three plan instead.  This plan basically means the following: you can only start three players from your previous starting eleven in the last match in a different competition.

Huh?!?

As an example, say you are Tottenham and you just fielded your best 11 for a league match against Manchester United over the weekend.  It is now Wednesday, and you have an F.A. Cup matchup against Leeds United.  The Eight-Plus-Three rule would force Tottenham to field 8 new starters for the cup match.

I am sure many of the top teams would dislike this regulation, since they set out to win all competitions they participate in.  However, enforcing this change would be beneficial to substitute and reserve players on every single team.  These are players that either get limited or no playing time during the course of the season, but are now forced to perform.  I believe this also helps the team in the long run; more playing time for your subs and reserves might yield an alternative to one of your regular starters that you might not otherwise consider, and it might make your selection choices easier in case you encounter injury or suspension problems throughout the season.

The last benefit, I think, is that it forces the major teams to focus on one competition more than another, and that is good for the little guy.  More strategy in team selection means more excitement for fans, and more opportunity for players.

8 – International Duty Club Veto

This new regulation is pretty simple: give clubs an opportunity to deny a player’s national team call-up, say, once a year.  Think about it folks: sometimes, players get called up to internationals right before their club team’s “match of the season”.  If they play for their country, they risk injury or fatigue, and the club suffers.  If they don’t play, they may have flown clear across the world for no reason whatsoever, and they come back jetlagged, fatigued, and may have missed out on some good preparation.

This regulation would be good for the clubs, for obvious reasons, but I believe it also offers benefits to the national teams.  A national team manager that is denied a superstar for a particular match will be forced to call up a different player who might not otherwise be called upon.  This is good for the player being called upon, of course, but also good for the national team, as they expand their roster and discover new talent.

9 – International Duty Injury Repercussions

The English National team just played two matches this week, and multiple players came back to their clubs injured – Micah Richards and Darren Bent, for example, are two of those players.  My suggestion is that a club whose player returns from international duty injured (be it during training or an actual match) be offered the chance to deny the national team’s call-up of the same player for a period of say, six months.

This protects not only the club, but also the player.  Until national teams take responsibility for buying insurance for events such as these, this new regulation would give clubs some measure of comfort.

Clubs should not be financially impacted by losing one of their key players to national team duty, as this clearly was not done for the benefit of the club.  There should always be repercussions to national teams, and if not financial, then at least logistical, in the way I have described in the first paragraph.

10 – The Officiating

The refereeing situation in football can be improved.  Currently, referees are used as scapegoats by club managers, and are generally vilified.  The problem stems from a general lack of respect by the entire footballing world.

Take English referees, for instance.  I believe them to be as close to the perfect model as you can get, at least as compared to their counterparts in Spain, Portugal, and Italy, among others.  They allow a more physical style of play, which keeps the game tempo up.  In Spain, for instance, referees are quicker to whistle any time players are jockeying for position, and because players know this, it encourages play-acting and diving.  To that, I say “let them play!”

From an administrative perspective, however, referees do need to be held accountable, and as such, all referees should be graded, every match, for their performance.  By ranking them amongst their peers, you are establishing competition between them, and a willingness to learn and improve themselves.  I believe that referees should be promoted and relegated based on their performance.  Those who perform are rewarded, those who don’t perform are punished.  Doing this will definitely better the officiating quality, and better quality means more respect.

At the end of the day, referees need to be respected.  Perhaps if refs were quicker to issue yellow and red cards for complaining, for instance, then players would think twice before opening their mouths.  Watch a Barcelona or Real Madrid match, and count the number of times their players surround a referee to argue a call!  In the last match I watched, I counted at least seven instances of this.  

Fines and suspensions for arguing calls need to increase, and as better referees make their way up the ladder, quality and respect will eventually flourish.

And so it begins…


Proceed to Part Three – The Competitions

Go back to Part One – The Rules

 


SERIES GUIDE:

Part One – The Rules
Part Two – The Regulations
Part Three – The Competitions
Part Four – The Administration
Part Five – The Finances

 

The 25 Things I Would Fix About the Beautiful Game, Part 3 – The Competitions

PART THREE
THE COMPETITIONS

Our third set of changes revolves around footballing competitions.  Some of these competitions have been around for decades; take for instance the F.A. Cup, in England — it officially began in 1871!  The following proposals are designed to reduce or streamline all the various types of footballing competitions that are, in my opinion, damaging the game of football today.

For purposes of simplifying this section, we will use England’s Chelsea Football Club and Fernando Torres as the recurring examples.  If Chelsea have a perfect season, they could be eligible to play in the following competitions:

  • The Barclays English Premier League
  • The Football Association Challenge Cup (or F.A. Cup)
  • The Football Association Community Shield
  • The Football League Cup (or Carling Cup)
  • The Europa League
  • The European Champions League
  • The European Super Cup
  • The Intercontinental Cup

As a Spanish international player, Fernando Torres could also participate in either of the following competitions (depending on year of competition):

  • The European Championship (or Euro)
  • The World Cup

The following are my recommendations for the only competitions that should be held:

CLUB COMPETITIONS:

11 – The Domestic League

The domestic league is the main club competition.  It would continue to be held in each country, but my recommendation is to reduce the number of teams competing in the various divisions of the domestic league. 

For example, there are 20 teams in the current edition of the English Premier League.  My recommendation is to reduce that number to 16 teams, thus reducing the number of matches in the league by eight per season. 

Not only does this alleviate the issue of player fatigue, but by reducing the number of teams, one could argue that the quality of the remaining teams would increase.  One could also argue that with less matches, the quality of the play would also increase due to reduced player fatigue.  

Less teams per division means potentially more divisions (or skill levels, if you will), and thus, more competition within each division, all the way down to the amateur level.

12 – The Domestic Cup

Most countries have a football association knock-out (or cup) competition in addition to a league knock-out (cup) competition.  Why have two similar competitions?  Which is more important?  Which gives its winner the most bragging rights?  I say eliminate the league cup altogether.  Typically, this cup is reserved for a team’s… reserves, anyway.  We’ve already addressed the issue of substitute and reserve play in Part Two.

A cup competition is important, however.  Unlike the league, which typically rewards the best and most consistent teams in the land, the cup competition is a knock-out tournament; the nature of it dictates that on any given day, any one team can upset a major squad on the pitch.  This makes the cup competition almost as important as the domestic league, especially for the smaller or lower-division clubs.

The domestic super cup is typically a one or two-match contest between the winner of the domestic league from the prior season, and the winner of the domestic cup from the prior season.  It is usually considered the first match of the season, and since it only involves two teams, I believe it should be continued.

13 – The Champions League

Currently, the top teams of each nation can qualify to participate in one of two main continental-wide club competitions. In Europe, for instance, these are called the European Champions League, and the Europa League. 

The first is the upper echelon of teams – typically the champions from each country plus one or more top finishers, depending on the country’s coefficient (a measurement of a league’s competitiveness – the better your league, the more teams that can qualify).

The Europa league is a second, lower-tier competition that is reserved for the lower-class leagues in the continent, plus some of the better teams which did not qualify for the Champions league, or were perhaps knocked out of the Champions League in the early stages of that competition.

My suggestion is to eliminate the Europa league altogether.  Instead, increase the number of clubs that participate in the Champions League and turn it into an actual league!  Basically, we should have four or eight groups of sixteen clubs each, each containing teams from the full spectrum of caliber – from small country champions, to large country top teams and champions as well.

After one round of play, where each team plays every one of their league opponents, the top four clubs would advance to a knock-out stage similar to today’s competition.

This approach not only rewards consistent teams, but also allows lower-tiered teams to face potential powerhouses at least once!  That means more ticket sales, merchandising income, etc.  Win-win.  The number of additional matches in this new continental league would be offset by the fewer number of matches in domestic play, which in total would still be fewer than in the current structure.

NATIONAL TEAM COMPETITIONS

14 – The Continental League

Every four years, national teams across the world play qualifying matches for their continental championship.  In Europe, this is called the European Championship, or Euro.  The competition is made up of several small leagues of five to seven teams, and the winners (and runners-up) qualify for the finals to determine the continental champion.  These tournaments alternate every two years with the World Cup (more on that below).

My suggestion is to simplify the process and improve the quality of the football in the final tournaments.  Instead of having several small “leagues” which qualify for a finals tournament, I suggest several divisions based on team quality.  The top 16 teams would be in division one, the next best 16 teams in division two, and so on and so forth.  Similar to domestic leagues, the bottom 3 or 4 teams from each division would be relegated to a lower division, in exchange for that division’s top 3 or 4 teams.  This ensures that we, the fans, don’t have to suffer through qualifying matches with 11-0 results (a recent example of this was just last week, where the Netherlands defeated San Marino by just such a margin!)

This also eliminates the need for a finals competition after league play.  The champion is determined by the first division’s winner – its prize won by skill and consistency over the course of the last two years of competing against the best teams in the continent. 

Now that’s fair!

15 – The World Cup

The World Cup format cannot be changed.  It works, the viewership loves it, and frankly, it is grossly engaging.  However, my suggestion is a simple one.  Instead of going through the painful qualification process (very similar to the continental championships described in 14, above), I suggest we pick the top tier teams in every continent’s first division!  We can start with a large number of clubs (say 64), and the qualifying would entail knocking that down to 32 teams. 

The finals format would be exactly the same as the current World Cup finals.  But a significantly less number of matches would be played, and the quality of the World Cup finals would improve drastically.  The reason the last few tournaments have been so boring to watch is because the lower-level teams know they cannot compete with the Germanys and Brazils of the world.  As such, they play a strictly defensive game, in the hopes the opponent will make a mistake.  I like to call this “parking the bus”.

32 strong teams go all out, all the time.  Bring back the beautiful game, people!

And so it begins…


Proceed to Part Four – The Administration

Go back to Part Two – The Regulations


SERIES GUIDE:

Part One – The Rules
Part Two – The Regulations
Part Three – The Competitions
Part Four – The Administration
Part Five – The Finances

The 25 Things I Would Fix About the Beautiful Game, Part 4 – The Administration

PART FOUR
THE ADMINISTRATION

Our fourth set of changes revolves around the body of government that rules over the sport of football – FIFA.

The following are my recommendations for changing what’s wrong with the current administration:

16 – Reorganization

 After the most recent allegations of fraud and deep-rooted corruption within the FIFA organization, it is clear that something must be done to shed football’s governing body and start anew.

The whole organization is a group of good ol’ boys; it is a closed organization of tight-knit individuals who will hold onto power (and the money associated with it) for as long as they can.

Take for instance, President Sepp Blatter’s brilliant attempt to tell the world that he will “root out all corruption from FIFA before his last term is finished.”

Just for you folks, I’m going to translate that last quote:

“I will erase all records of my own wrongdoing, and throw other people under the bus to divert attention from myself before my last term is finished.”

Listen… no one is buying this garbage.  I’ll give another example of just how foul this group of racketeers is:

FIFA, led by Blatter, appointed an outside ethics committee to investigate the corruption allegations that raised their ugly heads in 2011.  Oh… and the ethics committee will report all its findings to… the FIFA board.

Nice.

In 2015, when I run for FIFA President, I will ensure that the entire board and all its representatives are removed (forcibly if needed), and that they all be replaced with competent individuals who do not have any knowledge of where all the FIFA skeletons are hidden.

17 – Representation

Speaking of competent individuals, we need to address the issue of representation.

All countries associated with FIFA have representatives on their committees.  I suggest that these officials (including the President him/herself) be chosen from within each country’s football federation.

But I have one very important caviat: these officials must be true football personalities; no lawyers, accountants, owners or sports agents should ever be allowed to run for office.  You know… the sharks.

Instead, a country should choose managers, sporting directors, or club presidents that have the best interest of the players (and clubs) at heart when it comes to making the important decisions – especially monetary ones (more on that in Part 5 – The Finances).  Preferably ones who are not, nor have ever been tied with corruption, scandals, or bribery, as has been the case with club presidents from Juventus of Italy, F.C. Porto of Portugal, and pretty much every Turkish club known to mankind.

Once the right candidates are brought forth, elections should be held in a fair and equitable manner.

18 – Elections  

There was widespread international condemnation of the Fifa presidential election earlier this year, when it emerged that Sepp Blatter had triumphed over nobody (that’s right, he had no opponents) to win football’s top job by a margin of 186 to 17.  Besides the obvious question, “Who did the 17 vote for?”, there is another, more important query: “How can an organization as large as FIFA hold elections when there was only one viable candidate with absolutely no competition?”  This is just another clear-cut example of corruption cover-ups within the organization.

Elections to FIFA’s top positions should always have multiple, competent candidates.  Not giving someone the opportunity to run as opposition is a grave sign that something is rotten from within.  I suppose even Kim Jong-Ll of North Korea would say, if asked about these elections, “Sepp Blatter is giving fraudulent, unopposed dictatorship a bad name. He should be ashamed of himself.”

The cream of the crop should be easy to find.  FIFA should always have at least three or four candidates for each of the top positions, so that fair elections can be held.

The time for dictatorships is over.

19 – Term Limits and Restrictions

The old corrupt guard is gone.  New blood has been chosen from each represented country in FIFA.  The top brass has been appointed.  They are now ready to do their job.

I have one more rule: members at the very top within FIFA should not be allowed to stay in office for more than two years.  That’s right.  They should be appointed after each World Cup, and removed after each Continental Championship.  Then the next officials would be elected, again, until two years later.

When an organization is as vast as FIFA, and with so  much money flowing through it, one cannot be given the opportunity to learn all its secrets; to find all the little loopholes.

This is how fraud and embezzlement occur.  This is how corruption fosters.

On top of this term limit, there is one more important restriction: former officials should not be allowed to run for FIFA office again.  Period.  There are millions of competent individuals involved in the business of football.  The pool is vast; we don’t need the same individuals coming back, regardless of how well they have performed while in office. 

The way this works in the real world is with… transparency.

20 – Transparency

 The best leaders are transparent ones.  Why hold onto a  good leader for an extended period of time, when you can learn the lessons from that person, document them, and make them absolutely transparent, for everyone to see?

Giving someone the opportunity to linger opens them up to becoming comfortable; once someone is comfortable, they become even more accustomed to a situation.  Pretty soon, the fine line between good and bad becomes harder to define and interpret.

Good people who have power go bad.

That is why all decisions within FIFA should be broadcast openly, and documented thoroughly.  All decisions, especially financial ones.

Has anyone actually gone in and audited all of FIFA’s financial records?  How money is earned?  How it is invested?  Where it is spent?  Who benefits?

I’m scared to think that the answer is no, though I figure it likely is.

Football is a multi-billion dollar industry, yet, every day you hear of professional clubs going bankrupt, with no protection from FIFA or its federations.  You hear of professional players going unpaid for months at a time, yet there is no insurance coverage for this sort of thing.

Make the books transparent, and put the money to work where it makes the most sense.  But I’m not going to get into finances here.  You can find that in Part Five – The Finances.

And so it begins…


Proceed to Part Five – The Finances

Go back to Part Three – The Competitions


SERIES GUIDE:

Part One – The Rules
Part Two – The Regulations
Part Three – The Competitions
Part Four – The Administration
Part Five – The Finances

The 25 Things I Would Fix About the Beautiful Game, Part 5 – The Finances

PART FIVE
THE FINANCES

Our fifth and final set of changes revolves around the economics of the sport of football. Money is king.  There are billions to be made in the world of football these days, yet, I don’t think that the money is going where it is needed at the professional level — this is my focus for today’s article — the amateur level will be addressed some other day.

The following are my recommendations for changing the way some of the money changes hands in the world of footy!

21 – TV Rights Reallocation

The Premier League sells its television rights on a collective basis. This is in contrast to some other European Leagues, including La Liga, in which each club sells its rights individually, leading to a much higher share of the total income going to the top few clubs.

One need only look at the greed in Spain to realize how screwed up the system is, how unfair it is to most clubs, and how it contributes to a greater and greater divide between the top two and everyone else in the league.  And Spain is not alone.  Italy, for instance, has the same approach to tv rights distribution.

Let’s focus on the English Premier League.  In the EPL, the money is divided into three parts:

  • Half is divided equally between the clubs;
  • One quarter is awarded on a merit basis based on final league position, the top club getting twenty times as much as the bottom club, and equal steps all the way down the table;
  • The final quarter is paid out as facilities fees for games that are shown on television, with the top clubs generally receiving the largest shares of this.

Of all of the major European leagues, this is the fairest allocation of tv rights by far.  I still think that the final quarter (facilities fees) should be allocated equally amongst all clubs.  That is the perfect model.

In contrast, the Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona get the Lion’s share of the money, which they use to buy better and better players, thus turning the Spanish La Liga into a slightly more exotic version of the Scottish Premier League, where only two clubs exist. 

Contrast that to the English Premier League, where many clubs are financially stable, and where folks tune in for a better chance of watching something other than the routine destruction of less well-resourced clubs.

FIFA need to take measures to fix this globally.  My model is the way to go, or competition will eventually die, as is happening in Spain.  You can’t get me to watch anything but El Classico, and you know my feelings on that too!

22 – Feeder Club Compensation

 Important note:  Feeder clubs are not allowed in most football federations.  I am stealing the term because it is an easy concept to follow.

Let’s take a specific player as an example: Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo’s first club was Andorinha, as a youngster.  He then signed with Nacional, another Madeira, Portugal club.  Then he went on a three-day trial at Sporting Lisbon, where he was signed and placed at their famous football academy (you may recognize other players bred here: Luis Figo, Ricardo Quaresma, Simão Sabrosa, and Luis Boa Morte, among others).

As a professional, he was then transferred to Manchester United, and most recently, to Real Madrid.

The concept of “feeder club compensation” is basically this:  whenever a player is transferred, his previous clubs should be entitled to a cut of the transfer fee, say, 10%.

These payments, often called solidarity payments, are fair because of the player’s development at those clubs. Fortunately, most current contracts have a “sell-on” clause which stipulates that moneys should be shared on all future transfers of a player.

In this hypothetical example, if no money was exchanged between Andorinha and Nacional, then no payment would be necessary.  However, when Sporting purchased Ronaldo, his previous clubs should be entitled to 10% of the transfer fee – let’s assume that was $125,000.  Nacional would get 10%, or $12,500, but would need to pay Andorinha $1,250.00 (their 10% share).  When Manchester United bought Ronaldo from Sporting for $20 million, the fair breakout under my proposed rule would have been:

$18 million to Sporting; $2 million to Nacional; and $200,000.00 to Andorinha, since all three of these clubs had a hand in the development of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Doing this across the board would assure these smaller clubs a more equitable share of the resources, which they could use to continue to develop great talent.  In the long run, all clubs would benefit from such a strategy.

23 – Capped Salary Spending

UEFA President Michelle Platini already declared his intentions to passing a sort of salary cap for all European clubs.

In essence, clubs would only be allowed to spend as much as they earn – no longer can they finance dozens of millions of dollars in transfers with debt;  if they didn’t earn it, they can’t spend it.

This has the great advantage of keeping clubs “out of trouble”, so to speak.  With so many clubs near bankruptcy these days (take Portsmouth’s troubles a couple of seasons ago, for example), this rule would just make sense.

I say implement it globally. 

The downside is that rich clubs, financed by multi-billionaires (Chelsea, Manchester United, et all) will always find loopholes to spend money on the best players.  There are rumors that Manchester City has been selling their trees to investors.  I suppose that can be considered income, and why not spend it on players like Sergio Aguero and the like?

Regardless, the overall benefits outweigh the downsides, so I am all for it!

24 – Fair Play Compensation

Fair Play is rewarded by FIFA in many ways, mainly in the ability for teams to qualify to some competitions if they are deemed to exhibit the most fair play.

I say that concept to the next level:  compensate the cleanest, fairest clubs monetarily!

Think about it;  if you are a small club, with little chance of ever challenging for the title (or say, even an European spot), then what financial incentives do you have other than avoiding relegation to a lower division?

And what incentives (besides the fear of suspensions) do these clubs have to play nice?

None.

Enter the Fair Play Compensation rule.  My suggestion is to take a set amount of money, say, 10% of a league’s tv rights amount, and allocate it to the best-behaved clubs in the league.

How do you measure it?  Yellow cards; red cards; total suspension days; total amount in fines, and other measurable things of this nature.  Everything is awarded a certain number of points, and at the end of the season, the pot is distributed amongst the teams appropriately.  In England, for instance, the fairest club would get 20 times the amount of the worst-behaved club, and everyone else in between would fall accordingly on the distribution curve.

I guarantee you the quality of the game would improve.  Dirty tackles, silly yellow cards for game delays, simulation, and other ridiculousness would be curtailed, all for the love of the green stuff.

25 – More FIFA Profit-Sharing

This concept really goes hand-in-hand with the transparency concept discussed in Part Four – The Administration.

Currently, it is very difficult to determine who exactly benefits from all of FIFA’s dealings.

Once an accurate understanding of FIFA’s (and all its subsidiaries) is obtained, the administration should look to allocate their resources to all its federations, professional and amateur clubs as they see fit.

Currently, less than 10% of all of FIFA’s profits go towards its associations in the form of programs for the improvement of football.  Lord knows what that even means.

Real improvements and contributions must be identified and implemented, the most important of all, financial protection.

The hottest topic today, when it comes to football financial protection, is the concept of insurance for bankrupt clubs – it is sad to see players at lower clubs who go months without getting paid.  There is insurance that can be purchased, premiums that can be paid by FIFA to ensure no professional or amateur club player goes unpaid at the end of the month.

The money is surely available, and likely being embezzled or squandered by the folks who hold currently hold the check.  Hopefully, the organization won’t be destroyed by these people before they are exiled.

The football world needs a real FIFA.  One that works for its players, clubs, and associations… and most importantly, for us, the fans.

And so it begins…


Go back to Part Four – The Administration


SERIES GUIDE:

Part One – The Rules
Part Two – The Regulations
Part Three – The Competitions
Part Four – The Administration
Part Five – The Finances

 Page 46 of 50  « First  ... « 44  45  46  47  48 » ...  Last »