Butler: The business of the BPL elevates itself

Noel Butler
11/16/2012 6:03:18 PM
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With this midweek occupied by the final international date on the 2012 FIFA calendar much activity has happened off the pitch on the business side for the Barclays Premier League these past seven days.

Kicking it all off and intriguingly so on a day that traditionally is reserved for issuing negative news this time last week Chelsea were announcing for the first time under Roman Abramovich a profit for the club.

This coming according to Bloomberg after seven straight seasons where Chelsea stacked up debts that averaged out at over £75m ($120m) per season.

With the announced profit coming in a shade over $2 million Abramovich will have to wait until some point in time well after John Terry and Frank Lampard finally retire to claw back the $1 billion he has invested too date in upgrading the player pool since taking ownership in summer 2003.

Cynics suggest Chelsea's deal with Gazprom, the Russian energy behemoth is merely a ploy to circumvent the Financial Fair Play conditions as set out by UEFA that were partially introduced this year ahead of their full implementation in 2014.

Some smoke screen.

That particular three-year deal will only show up on the Chelsea ledger in their financial earnings statement that will be announced this time next year. Then consider Chelsea as a privately held company has no legal obligation what so ever to make its financial statements public. They do so as a matter of transparency and club policy.

One such club that doesn't have the comfort of financial privacy is current table toppers Manchester United. They gave that up completely when in late summer approximately 10 per cent of the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Seems the most winningest club in domestic English history is no Wall Street darling though. Not only have shares taken an Ashley Young like dive since debuting ahead of the new season on August 9th when on Tuesday ticker symbol MUFC announced a significant 1st quarter profit investors dumped the stock and it ended the day down.

Three months on from Manchester United's Wall Street debut and even on the back of the announcement that the man who broke the Bank of England in 1992 George Soros had picked up a tranche of shares they still trade lower than their offer price.

Meanwhile it seems the blue half of Manchester has got the January transfer spending off to the early start with speculation coming midweek that they will be tabling an astronomical offer to Liverpool for Luis Suarez. The opening salvo $65 million. The club was quick to deny reports.

Chelsea taking a different track today as their manager was full of gushing admiration for the current pound for pound heavyweight center forward champion of the world, Radamel Falcao who for now is the property of supposedly the poorer half of Madrid.

The European champions have nosed ahead in the bidding war for the Columbian and all it seems is when, not if he joins for a fee that is sure to break the club's and UK transfer record of £50m. Come in El Nino your time is well and truly up.

Fueling all this irrational exuberance in the Manchester-London transfer investment market is the global broadcast pie that some rational estimates tagged early in the week is set breach a quite staggering £5 billion [$8b] when all the schekles are added up for the next three-year cycle.

Guaranteeing, for each of the 20 clubs, in excess of $100 million per season for TV appearances alone.

It's the land of make believe, fantasy football indeed. Not even unlucky in love Justin Bieber gets that amount. Even if he was partnered by his South Korean strike partner Psy.

For what was a banking free week for Arsenal, club CEO and Former MLS deputy commissioner Ivan Gazidis felt compelled to get in on the week's financial frenzy by telling the BBC yesterday of his belief that within three years the red half of North London will be in place to compete with anyone in world football when it comes to transfer fees and salaries.

Not sure too many of the 60,000 plus in attendance at the Emirates tomorrow lunch time for the first running this season of the always classic North London Derby will be as forward thinking as they chew things over on the terraces whilst munching down their £10 burgers. Three years Ivan? It's three points they want Arsene.

By the way did I mention Arsenal levy a premium of 25 per cent on the price of a beer at halftime. That's how much the club rise the price of a pint in comparison to what one costs before kick off. How very creative. A reverse happy hour if you like.

As discussion of fiscal cliffs south of the border gain momentum owners and CEO's representing the most indebted league in all of world sport met in central London yesterday and top of the agenda was Fiscal Responsibility.

In an initiative that has the backing of the big clubs as ways to protect their globally aspiring brands the losers in this are the lesser lights, those that provide us with our weekly dose of romance.

Your West Broms are vehemently opposed – as are the purveyors of Tony Pulis' baseball cap.

Ending the week in fine fashion earlier today a lone Ranger in a feeble attempt to drum up investor interest banged on about his club's ambition to one day join the world's most popular football league. The voice wasn't from a Championship promotion contender but the CEO of Rangers, Charles Green who dreams of a day UEFA tear down the rigid football borders that divide their 50 plus member states.

Long has it been mooted  at some point in the future the two giants of Scottish football would one day compete in the top tier of English football. Dream on it seems.

In March this year when the subject last surfaced Barclays Premier League chief Richard Scudamore knocked it deftly into touch.

"Our rules are simple. It says we're a league formed for clubs that play in England and Wales. I don't see that ever changing."
Scudamore cleverly side stepping the word never.

This for a league watched it seems by ever increasing numbers globally and influenced by an ownership group from an ever increasing overseas base.

Stranger things have happened in sport. Just ask Blue Jay fans.


After undoubtedly stealing the midweek spotlight who out there doesn't wish they could play football as well as Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Memo to English media, the Swede announced his maverick talent way back at EURO 2004). Well as they do say a good workman wouldn't ever blame his tools how then would you like to own the tools used by Zlatan in his single handed demolition of England?

Well you could thanks to his Swedish teammate and West Brom player, Jonas Olsson. Yesterday on twitter Olsson (J_OlssonViasat) announced that for all those who donate £5 ($8) to his family's charity imitative they will automatically enter a lottery with chance to win the very boots Ibrahimovic wore in Stockholm Wednesday night.

Seems the novel idea is paying off 12-hours later Olsson took to Twitter to announce £3,000 had already been donated. For good measure Ibrahimovic has signed the boots. So charitable Wednesday night, wonder if Joe Hart has donated?

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur live on TSN - Saturday November 17th 7:30am ET/4:30am PT

Manchester City v Aston Villa airs live across the TSN and TEAM Radio Networks with coverage kicking off at 9:30am ET/6:30am PT

Noel Butler

Noel Butler

Noel Butler is an analyst for TSN's soccer coverage and his blog can be read on You can follow him on Twitter at and listen to his radio program oranges@halftime on TSN Radio 690 Montreal.


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