Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday October 14 2011
I remember 1991 for lots of reasons, a scorching summer that still stays strong in my memory for what was a great period in my life, the Latics were a mid-table division three club back then, just plodding a long, life was good.
1991 was also the year that the Premier League, or the FA Premiership has it was known back then, was conceived. In June that year the agreement was signed for a breakaway division at the top of the tree. There was money in football but the problem was that it was distributed, it was disseminated throughout the divisions and all clubs got a share. Now there were some at the top table who didn`t want this, they argued that they made the cash through being the draw for the TV deals so the cash should go to them, the big boys wanted the money, they said they needed it to compete in Europe.
TV income had risen from £6.3 million for a two year deal in 1986 to a staggering (at that time) £44 million for four years in 1988. Clubs saw the potential, keep the cash at the top, distribute it 22 ways instead of 96 and you get a bigger share. So on the 17th June 1991 the clubs in the First Division decided to break away from the Football League and the FA Premiership was formed, thus giving the country`s top clubs their own rights to negotiate TV deals and sponsorship and keep the cash amongst themselves. This hit clubs in the lower leagues quite hard financially.
Fast forward 20 years and some familiar noises are being heard, coming out of Anfield this week Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre has said that his club are ready to lead a challenge to allow individual clubs to negotiate their own overseas deals, currently worth £3.2 billion, the cash is shared 20 ways, but Ayre`s argues that the money earned is through the pulling power of a 'few` clubs and not the likes of Bolton and others who no one wants to watch, he argues that Liverpool not the Premier League is the product that is wanted in far flung place`s like Kuala Lumpur and Kathmandu.
It looks like he wants to create a VIP lounge within the VIP lounge.
There has been a big backlash to Ayre`s comments from pundits and clubs, our own Dave Whelan has come out and blasted the idea saying: 'It is absolutely scandalous. It is the 'American Dream', this. They are thinking 'How can we get more money'? But you won't get more money by killing the heart and soul of the Premier League and of football in England.'
'It would kill Wigan Athletic. It would kill Blackburn. It would kill off half the Premier League.'
All very well and good becoming rich, but when its at the expense of others in your alliance? The very essence of why the Premier League is so popular is the fact that teams can compete with each other, the Latics can beat Arsenal, Bolton can beat Man United and anyone can beat Liverpool and so on, it makes the games interesting. The Italians like our current sharing system so much they have just changed theirs to one similar to our own and are hoping that it helps Serie A become a better 'product`.
Spain allow clubs to have their own negotiating rights, there are just two with the pulling power and it shows, Latics boss Roberto Martinez says: 'The distribution of TV funds in Spain hasn't worked'
'Real Madrid and Barcelona are getting richer and the others are finding it harder, year by year, to compete. That is great for the two football clubs but no good for the league.
'It would be strange for us to try to adopt ways to run our league that don't work in other countries.'
I think there is a long way to run on this one
Latics and Proud
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Date:Friday October 14 2011
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