FOOTBALL AND THE SUB PRIME AND OTHER SCAMS
Mickey Blue Eyes
Analfield's main sponsor was reported in the 1st April Independent as follows:
"The bank that has signed the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in football history, with Liverpool, has sought reassurances that the conduct of players will not cause it any embarrassment.
Standard Chartered's chief executive Peter Sands sought undertakings with his Liverpool opposite number about the club's likely action against offending players and also had sight of the club's code of conduct before signing the £20m a season deal, last year. Standard's Group Head of Corporate Affairs, Gavin Laws, insisted, in a week when England manager Fabio Capello said striker Andy Carroll should drink less, that the bank was relaxed about the £35m signing. In a candid discussion of the bank's new relationship with the club, Mr Laws also said that Standard would like Liverpool to recruit Asian players to capitalize on their marketability in that continent, where Standard have a huge market. He also said he hoped Liverpool appoint Kenny Dalglish as manager...."
In other words, the football tail has started wagging the football dog in public. If you wanted to change animals you could also say the cat is finally out of the bag. In other words, admen, accountants and bankers - each detested even more than current parliamentary politicians, media newsmen and estate agents - have openly issued instructions on playing and management of the game. Institutionalised corruption of football is almost as complete as in the USA street-fight-in-motor-bike-helmets version - where, incidentally, owners have just "locked out" players over a dispute of how to share out $9 billion. Quelle surprise!......Not. At least not to those who have kept their critical faculties.
Now, like you, I couldn't care less about liverpool's playing fortunes. But irrespective of the club I do care about issues that affect the sport of football in general. This open interference by Standard Chartered is but one of them. However, anybody who thinks this didn't already exist behind the scenes in one way or another is kidding themselves. All Sands has done is blurt it out, for which a small measure of thanks is due. After this, nobody can plead ignorance. Nobody can say the financial institutions don't have a say in how the game is administered, and that they would impose their ways on the game if given a clear run. In fact in most cases the institutions already have the final word. Those who still wish to exercise wilful ignorance need only look at the woeful financial histories of Portsmouth, Leeds United, Cardiff City, Plymouth Argyle and the myriad of other clubs at all levels who have endured bankruptcy or administration procedures. It is all in the public domain. Nobody is immune. In fact there are only three clubs in the country who are not balanced on a razor edge: Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City......and Chelsea and City would be in meltdown if their oligarch owners decided to pull the financial plug overnight. Even Manchester United could face playing disaster if economic conditions plummeted further. So, ask yourself: what is the difference between individual oligarch owners and institutional oligarch owners? Answer: virtually none. Thus, the link between money and power over all aspects of life, even the trivia of football.
Really, this is only common sense. But the remnants of common sense and fairness have been sidelined since 1979 when the most recent version of capitalist barrow boy economics and spivvery was instigated. There is nothing new about it. Only the form and propaganda is different. Now there is a whole new generation who know nothing more than a society where they are told greed is good and rat-eats-rat, that humanity is merely a machine in search of profit, that the more profit motivation reigns the more "freedom" there is - by which is really meant freedom for a few to steal millions or even billions. All of it is couched in bullshit and lies manufactured by bought-and-paid for neo con quasi-intellectual "academics" and "institutions" and a mainstream media that wouldn't acknowledge the truth if it tripped over it on the way out of an editorial conference. False or deliberately misleading accountancy certification has long been the norm, not worth the paper it is printed on. We have been here before. We will be here again......until the entire apparatus is smashed and booted into the same historical dustbin as feudalism and slavery.
So why be surprised when Standard Chartered behave thus? After all, they are only following in the dishonourable footsteps of every capitalist crook and liar who preceded them. They look to squeeze profits for themselves, nothing more. Nothing else matters, not you, not your family, not your society, not any concept of morality, and certainly not "your" football club. That's the way this kind of system works and always will. And its footy instigators are well aware that most people are too engaged in the business of daily survival to organise and fight back, which is the only real way of changing things - otherwise you might as well disappear into vacuous "meditation," squat on your haunches and burn joss sticks and incense and mumble an incoherent mantra. Or disappear into the ale house and mutter tearfully about good old days that never existed. People are even less inclined to engage when the subject is the relative trivia of football, and who is to blame them? Survival is more important than twenty two men kicking a ball around a field. In these circumstances football comes bottom of the list of priorities. This brings with it too the equally useless weary apathy of sick cynics who attack inactive people en masse, a sado-masochistic exercise in hysteria for which the game's hangers on are now rightly notorious, even laughable.
I think it highly likely Sands will be quietly taken into a boardroom and have the back ripped out of him and told to confine himself to direct communication with the club. In corporate sponsorship, like organised crime, any exposure to democracy is unwelcome. It is permissible to promote sentimentalised shit like The Godfather and The Sopranos (read: murdering cowardly scum and drugs dealers) and the nonsense of "risk taking entrepreneurs" and "creators of wealth" (read: thieves of national wealth), but not to exercise raw power in public. You give the real game away when you do that.
The fact is of course that Sands' behaviour is only the surface tip of a very large iceberg. Below that lies the much larger hidden source of football power, the money men and the financial institutions. Ultimately, football "owners" - no exceptions - are merely buy-to-rent front men looking for a profit. Just as you are when you take out a mortgage and kid yourself you own a house and can sell it on and make money on it. Of course you don't own anything but a fraction until you have paid back the mortgage, and a rip off amount of interest too. By then, inflation has swallowed any gains you might think you've made. Until that time you are a tenant of the lender and you can be thrown out if you don't cough up. The real triumph of contemporary capitalism is that it fooled enough people into believing otherwise, as it did with the dot com bubble and the property and football bubbles and all the other bubbles to come. If you want precedent, go research the South Seas Bubble, the Kuwait Souk Al Manakh Bubble, the US Savings and Loans Rip Off and the Great Depression. The transnational list is almost endless. All of it was and is conceived and executed by an Establishment kleptocracy.
The scam jargon of the last two decades is "sub-prime," "derivatives" and "leveraged buy outs," which really means nothing more than temporary access to money for spivs to keep the system going. There are many other terms, all of them bullshit intended to mislead and mystify. When they fail, it is your money that is stolen from the banks and other institutions and re-titled "public debt" (read: cough up again for the umpteenth time). All of these examples will demonstrate to you how and why football inevitably fell victim. If you want to see the most recent detailed general exposé in popular format you could do worse than start here: http://www.sonyclassics.com/insidejob/
There is also an unpalatable truth for self-deceptive football fans, and it is this: British professional football clubs have never belonged to them. From their beginning, with only a couple of exceptions, ownership rested with majority shareholders in limited companies. Prior to that the irony is many were founded by churches for perfectly moral reasons, of which Everton were typical. But ownership was always going to become international once "globalisation" and inflation took effect and exchange controls were dropped (in the scam jargon, "relaxed") during the final quarter of the last century. It was the only way to gain access to greater and greater finance. Money now flies around the world at the touch of a button, as Iceland and Ireland in particular have found to their tragic cost. To have access you have to be a member of the global gang and comply with its rules. Provincialism was excluded, so the era of first level local business football club ownership really ended with creation of the Premier League in 1992.
In reality supporters have never been anything more than customers who pay for an item. Period. That's it. Only a fool would pretend otherwise. Professional football clubs have always been owned by just a few men. Supporters have never had a direct influence of any real worth. This is a hard but necessary truth made harder by the current era, when even minority shares owners and "businessmen" try to run shares scams. At even the lowest levels football has become infested with tenth rate wannabe Gordon Gekkos, Ivan Boeskys, Bernie Madoffs, Michael Lays and Robert Maxwells. Again, no surprise. Create this kind of society and it seeps in everywhere. The game is infected with insane financial hubris at all levels. There will be no end in sight until there is a viable mass movement to take the game into its rightful place, which is community ownership. And at the moment that isn't even registering on the social radar screen of Premier League clubs. Nor will it change until there is enough consensual strength to force the issue, as opposed to self-righteous platitudes, curmudgeons, whiners and mere anarchy. For the present, community ownership remains a consideration in lower regions of the Football League only.
The point is, there are active viable alternatives. For example the German supporters majority ownership model is far superior. Their average gates are higher and their ticket prices about fifty percent less, and their national team has always performed well in competitions. In the last decade five different clubs have won their Bundesliga. But it remains a pipe dream for us here while crooks and liars own and run the country. Get rid of them from key positions and we might stand a chance. Meanwhile, for the first time in history, the USA, the world's richest ever nation, has a generation whose expectations and conditions are lower than their parents (13% of Americans now need food stamps), a fall reached in Britain about twenty years ago. Now 25% of our people live in poverty and 20% of our youngsters are unemployed. Capitalism has had an unobstructed run for over thirty years and is still the disgusting thievery it has always been. Needless to say this tragedy is simply ignored by London-based mainstream media. And those are the official figures, which probably means the true figures are even higher. Here, we have even reached the stage where the neo con government wants to evict disabled wheelchair users from their homes into "suitable accommodation" because "they live in houses too big for them." Of course this kind of socioeconomic misery is bound to knock-on to professional football in some way. It is unavoidable.
Thus a demonstration of Harold Laski's thesis that capitalism is incompatible with democracy and decency. Thus too the clearest possible demonstration that previous prime minister Gordon Brown was talking out of his fat, incompetent, self-seeking arse when he claimed, "We have abolished boom and bust" just a year before everything went tits up yet again. There may still be a couple more booms and busts before financial Armageddon, but the moment draws nearer each time. Football is the least of it. Meantime, fans could usefully ask themselves why there is so much money flowing through the game and still clubs are living hand-to-mouth or going bankrupt or into administration. The answer isn't too hard to find. And simple-minded change of owner isn't a solution. It is merely a change of emphasis. We will only get change when fans grasp how and why community ownership works and why it is desirable. Anything else will go off half-cock and probably end up back where it started. So much is also common sense. At least it is if you don't lose your ability to reason.
It is tempting to think Peter Sands did us all a minor favour with his unguarded public words. However, it is likely he has already been caught on the shepherd's hook, dragged off and given a sound talking to by older suited-up thieves at Standard Chartered. I doubt if he'll repeat it any time soon. After all, the last thing a Godfather needs is somebody blabbing openly about his protection racket or his drugs deals. Far better to call it "insurance" and couch it in esoteric terms calculated to puzzle or mislead.
In fact, this seemingly minor episode shows all too clearly how the system works. Eventually, cui bono? From about this summer I am willing to guess it is likely you will be forced to search for a football answer whether you want to or not. The noose is tightening every day. And no club in football is immune......none. But if that's what it takes to clean out the Augean stables, so be it. It has been overdue since 1992. We all know it, though there is an absurd minority with their head firmly wedged in their anal canal while bleating for more of the same. Some can't see further than the end of their masochistic nose. But even for them reality will be here soon enough.