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FC got Mail

Submitted by on November 1, 2010 – 9:52 am3 Comments

A couple of AFL regulars, including the media whore known as Maurice Twomowers, were quoted in a Mail on Sunday article this weekend.

We’re not sure whether we should be pleased to receive positive backing from such a right-wing rag, but someone once said that no publicity is bad publicity. Make your own minds up. Here’s the article:

Manchester United fans who part with their cash so Wayne Rooney can get paid: 7,407

As Wayne Rooney surveyed the stands to which he was again confined last night with an ankle injury on his return from Dubai, the more charitable fans might have imagined him reflecting on his good fortune and the gratitude he certainly should be feeling towards his public.

Or at least 7,407 of them. Because that is the number required through the turnstiles to pay just a week of his new £10million annual wage, a staggering 10 per cent of the club’s average home gate.

Of course, across at Eastlands, Manchester City’s Yaya Toure’s £221,000-a-week wages need even more paying supporters, more than 10,000 a game. But Rooney’s new deal is a significant escalation in the value of English players, part of the inflation that has now taken the Premier League’s total annual wage bill close to £1.5billion.

In the season before the competition began, 1991- 92, the equivalent figure was ‘just’ £75m.

For the players at the highest level at least, it is a boom time. But for fans – and those in the boardrooms of clubs around the country – it could be a significant moment. The moment that turned them away from the game they have grown up with.

‘For a long time, any story about money has been regarded as a good news story,’ said Kevin Rye, of fans’ organisation Supporters Direct. ‘A player signs – good news. A new contract – good news. A new TV deal – good news.

‘Except what people have realised now is that this money has to come from somewhere and it comes from them. The fans end up paying in some way and in the constant race to the top, the fans are subject to a race to the bottom.

‘The effect each time is to create another tipping point for individual fans and this will tip some over the edge and they won’t renew their season tickets or go to matches at Old Trafford as a result. It has in the past, and will again.’

At United the process is already under way. Yesterday thousands of fans demonstrated through the streets of Manchester against the American owners, the Glazer family, and on Friday the club that embodies their disgust reaches a significant milestone.

FC United of Manchester play at Rochdale in the FA Cup first round on Friday and they will be backed by a vociferous crowd who have given up on the bigger United at Old Trafford, many despite a lifelong attachment.

Their crowd of 3,229 in the last qualifying round was bigger than those at four of that Saturday’s League Two matches. It would take the cash from just 15 of them to pay the weekly wage of their own star striker, Mike Norton, who is on about £120 a week.

‘Looking at the Rooney saga, I’m glad I’m out of it, not paying these millionaires and not paying Glazer’s interest,’ said Mike Turton, a founder member of FC United. ‘I followed United for 30 years and I was a season-ticket holder but the Premier League is less interesting for me now. There is a lack of soul and quite a few mercenaries just passing through.

‘Some Premier League club supporters want to be winning things at all costs and they don’t see the bigger picture. If you’re a Manchester City fan you might be craving for a trophy and not care how you get it. But it’s not going to be very good for anyone if only City and Chelsea are competing for trophies in future.’

Even Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the players’ union, the Professional Footballers’ Association, has his misgivings about the spiralling costs and long-term sustainability, urging his members and the game to show a social responsibility. And all against a backdrop of recession and cuts being endured by the very audience who are funding the wages of Rooney and his team-mates, not only through their presence in stadiums but also in buying merchandise and television satellite subscriptions.

‘It wasn’t the best of times to have such a dispute [as Rooney's] airing at such a difficult time for many of the fans on whom the game relies,’ said Taylor. ‘Of course, people will pay to watch the top players and it’s not for me to condemn a player earning what he can for a short career but the game does need to show more social responsibility.

‘I deal with clubs at all levels and about two-thirds have financial problems. I don’t want football to go like banking, where everything looked good on the surface but they were paddling furiously to keep their heads above water.’

Taylor added: ‘Rather than just pay fortunes, with the balance of payments going abroad, the game has a duty to give the next generation a chance and I’d like to see managers given more time to bring young players through. And I’d like to see the Premier League looking at rules from American sports, such as no club being allowed to have more than 20 per cent leveraged debt.’

It is the high levels of leveraged financing at United that have done so much latterly, despite Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger’s defence of on-field standards, to have supporters questioning their clubs’ off-field affairs and where their money is going. And more than those 7,407 at Old Trafford.

FC United board member Martin Morris has responsibility for the development fund. The club are trying to raise £600,000 to help fund a move to a new stadium in Newton Heath, the birthplace of Manchester United. In other words, three weeks’ wages for Rooney.

‘Recently it isn’t just little clubs like Scarborough, Chester or York who have found themselves in serious financial trouble,’ said Morris. ‘It is bigger clubs such as Portsmouth and even Liverpool. Smaller clubs don’t come under the microscope so much but Portsmouth and Liverpool have changed that dramatically.

‘If Liverpool barely got out of what was a real threat to their financial future recently and United’s debt is three times that of Liverpool, then it would only take a barren patch in terms of trophies and a dip in gates. Then it doesn’t look healthy for United at all.

‘I hope they don’t go to the wall but there is no real future for United or any other football club with this present model of ownership and it is as likely to happen at Manchester United as at any other club.

‘Everyone is still chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and I don’t think it can be much longer before the bubble bursts.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1325247/Manchester-United-fans-cash-Wayne-Rooney-paid-7407.html#ixzz141S0lzLy

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