“THE League is prostituted. The League is s**t. The biggest pile of c**p in Europe.”
No, not a disgruntled Sheffield United supporter reflecting upon their team’s failure to hold a lead against Exeter City. But Seville president Jose Maria Del Nido’s take on how the distribution of television revenues in Spain ensures that, barring some miraculous change in the footballing and political landscape, the balance of power will always reside with Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Sheffield United, having been relegated last season, also have good reason to bemoan how England slices-up the Sky TV cash. If relinquishing their Championship status was not painful enough, Bramall Lane’s number-cruchers must have felt positively faint when they calculated how much money the club would lose as a result.
Profit and loss columns have little interest for the majority of supporters. The only results they are interested in are sporting. Not financial.
But with the January transfer window fast approaching, talk in the pubs and clubs surrounding United’s stadium will shortly resemble the type of chatter likely to echo around those swanky wine bars within the Square Mile.
Directors, as on-loan duo Matty Phillips and Billy Clarke continue to impress, are being urged to “dig deep” in an effort to capture the Blackpool stars on a longer term basis. Calls which conveniently ignore the fact that Ian Holloway, not Kevin McCabe or Danny Wilson for that matter, enjoys the final call on their futures while Stephen Quinn, Nick Montgomery and even a rejuvenated Ched Evans must, some insist, be retained whatever the cost.
When teams face shortfalls in funding, there is a subtle shift in the dynamic of the relationship between boardroom and bootroom although Wilson seems to have quickly grasped the fact that money is no longer in plentiful supply and has shown himself to be a far shrewder politician than some of his predecessors. United’s hierarchy are not blessed with Papal infallibility. They have dropped plenty of clangers in the not so distant past.
But, whatever their detractors say, a lack of ambition is not the root cause of their present predicament. As the club’s wage bill illustrates they have, if anything, been guilty of showing too little restraint.
The situation United now face can be compared to the one which presented itself when James Beattie asked for a new contract midway through the 2008/09 campaign.
Had the very well renumerated striker stayed rather than be sold to Stoke, it seems improbable Kevin Blackwell’s side would have entered what proved to be an ill-fated play-off campaign. With hindsight they would almost certainly have secured automatic promotion instead. It turned-out to be a costly call but football is not an exact science and it is impossible to argue conclusively that is how things would have panned-out.
Yes, it is possible to stack the odds in your favour. But those urging United to “gamble” should ask themselves this: Would you risk the future of your family on the spin of a roulette wheel or throw of a dice?