Midweek Memoirs of Mr Bodell #2
Moving on-baffling decisions and departures. All part of an ordinary day at Tyncastle, Hearts. Yes, this week I want to tackle the subject of club ownership, and, quite frankly if I could tackle it in reality with one of my trademark studs-up leaps, I would, but I can`t so I`m just going to be brutal in my honesty instead.
Romanov is by no means the only club owner in the UK with a bit of history to his name. (Remember folks, this is all how I see it, and nothing is gospel). There`s the Glazer clan at Manchester United, Abramovich at Chelsea and many, many others in fact, in my whole hearted opinion, every single foreign sugar daddy to have graced the Premiership-or any other division in the UK is doing the English national side a huge disservice.
Why? Asks the puzzled reader. A simple chain reaction is my simple reply. Try to follow:
1. "NOOOO! I don`t want him coming in!" The foreign owner arrives at your club, buying out the long-standing, stable, sensible shareholders who are fooled that he won`t spend his rupees on ridiculous wages for past-it players. The fans are usually opposed to the arrival too
2. "I always said this fella was the one to take us forward" Now safely in charge of the club as the majority shareholder, Mr Vassilikarakisson makes sure no members of the original board or shareholders remain so he can begin his ruthless/lavish stint in charge. As the latter is most popular, Mr Vassilikarakisson spends ridiculous money on players from countries no-one has ever heard of. They do pay off however.
3. "NOOOO! I said he would be bad!" However, the love affair eventually ends because people like me, fans of clubs too unattractive to foreign investment, point out how bad this is for the (A) English national side and the (B) English game.
(N.B: Mr 'Vassilikarakisson` doesn`t exist, and if he does, apologies for blemishing your good name.)
The English game has shot itself in the foot repeatedly over the years, however, of late the influx of foreign owners has brought a subsequent influx of foreign players. Just look at Manchester City, the only English thing there is Darius Vassell-hardly something to boast about! Because of the greed of many club owners English players or at least those based in England have become ridiculously overpriced in the last five years or so. For example Ashley Young, is he really worth 9 million? No. Is Darren Bent 500k better than Thierry Henry? No way. With this ridiculous overpricing of English and English based players, a gap in the market is created for foreign clubs to sell people like Sven Goran Eriksson their players.
Thus this arrival of players from clubs, let alone countries that no-one has ever heard of drives out the few English players still plying their trade in the Premiership. Some may go abroad, some drop down levels, the most talented of course stay put and fight. But the point is a lot are forced out of the reckoning. With a lack of pitch time and a lack of fitness comes a loss in self-belief, which in turn affects the actual ability of the player in question. Consequently they find themselves forced out the international reckoning whilst some donkey who manages to play occasionally miserably gets pelters whilst playing badly for England.
One of the best examples I can produce is Jermain Defoe. Until the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov and to an extent, Mido, Defoe was a regular starter at Spurs, a regular scorer and frequently a member of the England squad. However, Berbatov`s arrival forces his out and now it`s a rarity to see Defoe in an England shirt. He may play in the upcoming qualifiers but I would be prepared to bet that Darren Bent will get the nod ahead of him.
So that is the influence of foreign ownership on the English national side. Of course, not every foreign owner to buy an English club will go out and spend their millions on players from other leagues. Indeed, not every foreign investor will splash their millions-look at Randy Lerner, he has by no means made Villa the Chelsea of the Midlands-and, in my opinion, good on him.
Unfortunately, it`s not just Steve McClaren`s men that are affected by this new culture of foreign ownership. The Premiership (I say Premiership because the majority of owners are foreign there), is also hugely affected by the chairman that sell up to a man whose made his mint in dodgy business abroad.
First and foremost, foreign players are very different from English players. They play at a much slower pace they are much less honest. For example, the majority of foreign players dive, or 'simulate` fouls in order to win a free kick or earn the opposition a booking. Of course, English players are by no means saints; Joe Cole is a pretty nifty diver, as is Steve Kabba (see his dive to win a penalty at Wolves). English players, playing for English clubs are also going to display more passion and put in more effort, possibly for their team of childhood allegiance or simply because they understand how much fans of their club would want to don the shirt each week. This is one of the main reasons I question Tamas Priskin, will he be up for a December afternoon in Essex? I doubt it somehow.
Finally, foreign investment pumps up the cost of football for the honest, genuine, hard-working fans like you and I. We don`t want to pay extra for our season tickets just to watch a bunch of foreign ponces with alice bands and gloves roll around when we could pay less to watch a passionate hard fought match in the league below, who would?
For those of you that have the question 'Would I support Watford if an Abramovich-esque owner took over?` The answer would be a firm no. Maybe I`m not as commited to the club through thick, but I certainly am through thin.
Keep the faith,