The new EPL season has begun. Here are my predictions for how things will shake out in the end. Manchester United Chelsea Arsenal Liverpool Birmingham Middlesbrough Newcastle Charlton Tottenham Southampton Aston Villa Blackburn Fulham Portsmouth West Brom Norwich Everton Crystal Palace
Saturday, September 04, 2004
Thursday, August 12, 2004
A few years ago Fiorentina went bankrupt. They folded. Some new owners sunk some cash into a new club Fiorentina Viola and got things rolling in the Serie C-2 in Italy. As things things go, this was due to the league ruling they didn't need a start things off in the Serie D. The new team got promoted to Serie C-1 and then were able to buy a spot in the Serie B. They're back in the Serie A now and back to being just plain old Fiorentina after buying the rights to the old name and colors. So it's ironic that what should've been a warning to other Italian clubs, to keep their financial house in order or they'll go belly up, wasn't heeded. Both Napoli and Ancona were recently denied licenses by the Italian Football Federation to play in the Serie B (the 2nd division) for the season that starts Sept 12th. Surely these clubs realized that they were smaller and less stories than Fiorentina. If they weren't going to be able to meet the financial requirements, the federation wasn't going to give them a license. This is good news for Bari and Pescara since despite relegation they can play in the Serie B again this year. The question remains as to what the the Italian federation, FIGC, will do about the big clubs. They have yet to due much to punish them for falling short of their financial responsibilities. Lazio seems to have been granted a license again for the year despite serious questions over whether or not the club has the finances to make it through the upcoming season. Parma, Lazio, and Roma are all clubs that are barely any better off financially than Ancona and Napoli were. The federation needs to do something before they too go the way of Fiorentina.
Posted by Allen at 8/12/2004
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Recently the start to the Serie B, the 2nd division in Italy, was delayed until September 12th [http://www.channel4.com/sport/football_italia/aug9h.html]. It seems that the authorities in charge of these things are starting to acknowledge that the betting scandals that emerged last spring are not isolated incidents. So far it looks like 33 individuals and 12 clubs have been named as being defendants in the investigation. It'll be interesting how these things shake out with some clubs like Siena having several players and directors looking to have taken part of this. Siena narrowly avoided relegation from the top flight to Serie B last year. And with Gaucci and Perguia's lawsuit still pending, one has to wonder how this may add ammo to his claims that Perguia shouldn't have been relegated. In short, Gaucci's suit alleges that several clubs did not meet the league's financial requirements and therefore should've been relegated [http://www.channel4.com/sport/football_italia/jun26j.html]. While many people view Gaucci as a wacko who's pullin' yet another stunt, the man does have a legimate point in this case. Even if the courts don't side with him, it's painfully obvious that between the betting scandal and the loopholes in the rules that seem to favor the big clubs that Italian football needs a big clearout and some new blood brought in. It's sad to see what was once considered the best league in the world not that long ago becoming better known for it's scandals off the field than what happens on it.
Posted by Allen at 8/10/2004
Monday, May 24, 2004
Now that Houllier and Queiroz have been shown the door by their clubs, they will be joining hundreds if not thousands of footballers that find themselves unemployed. Houllier and Queiroz are the lucky ones in terms of what they were getting paid and what kind of payoffs they likely received for leaving their respective clubs. For the most part, the footballers that they join never saw the salaries they had and definitely didn’t receive any cushy payoffs to leave. The industry is going through a period of contraction. For most industries, contraction means a loss of jobs and companies. But soccer is a bit different; clubs don’t just disappear. The area where we see the contraction is in clubs squad size, going with younger players, renegotiating existing contracts and trimming their back office staff. Leeds recently laid off hundreds from their office staff. One of the fallacies about the fall of Leeds was the money they spent on transfers. Since 1996, Leeds has only spent £18 more on buying players than what they got for selling them. That breaks down to a few million pounds a year, nothing that would break a club’s back. Last year, Leeds lost £49.5 million. And who did they buy last year? Unless it was Pele’s genetic clone, they lost that money on player wages and other things. And if you want to say, “ya, of course those wages are killing them” then explain how they continue to function as a club despite laying of a couple hundred folks from their office. Player wages have been a problem at Leeds just as any other club. The difference was the folks running the club did a horrible job. They may have known what they were doing, but they didn’t act like it. And now the fans at Leeds have to pay the price.
Posted by Allen at 5/24/2004
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Italian soccer has had more than it’s share of controversy the last few years. It should be no surprise that yet again another controversial matter has been getting a lot of press. Many were blind sided by this one. Although the more cynical fans would point to it and say it’s always been there given the calls that Juve (or Milan or another club) seem to get when they need to win the league. The latest controversy is not about expanding the number of teams to 20. The tempest hitting the sport is not over how to deal with the issue of TV money that delayed the start of the 2003-2004 season and still hasn't been resolved. It isn't over the circus at Perugia with their president having recently threatened to not play the remaining 4 games of the season because he didn't like the refereeing. Fake passports are not involved this time around. And surprisingly it's not about if clubs like Roma, Parma, and others should be penalized or even relegated for the poor state of their finances. And it's not about the hooligans that rioted and even set off a bomb at the last Rome derby. The latest controversy in Italy involves 12 clubs being probed by anti-Mafia police regarding alleged links between gambling and organized crime. At this time it appears that 12 clubs in the Serie A, B, and C have had players and staff (coaches, owners, et al.) involved in match fixing. The police investigators reportedly stumbled into this one. They were not looking for this crime, just investigating members of the mafia for other crimes. The clubs involved, according to ITV [http://itv-football.co.uk/News/story_109630.shtml], are Ascoli, Catanzaro, Chievo, Crotone, Fermana, Lecce, Lumezzane, Piacenza, Reggina, Sassari, and Taranto. It is a shame that this has occurred. The timing of such a scandal would never be good. But with the current state of the game in Italy, the timing is horrible. The Italian FA should be spending their time on solving some issues that has been festering for awhile. The Serie A and other leagues need to address the issue of the solvency of the clubs. Clubs such as Roma, Lazio, Parma, and others have acquired a mountain of debts and are at risk of going completely out of business. The league needs to address this issue this summer. If they don’t, we could very well see a mess in the Serie A next year with a team or two going out of business during the 2004-05 season. Related Links:
Posted by Allen at 5/23/2004