Big Business is ruining football

Recent revelations about Manchester Utd’s huge debts have placed a question mark over the viability of football in its current form – profit driven by big business. Could one of the biggest football clubs in the world suffer the same fate as Leeds United, bankrupted and abandoned by its former multi-millionaire owners?
The reality is that the current crisis in football is caused by the billionaires to whom these teams are just another company and the bottom line is that trophies equal bigger profits.
Wrexham, Rotherham, Stockton, Southampton, Darlington, Luton, Leeds and Cardiff City are all clubs who have faced administration in recent times and the possibility of going out of business.  Currently Crystal Palace are in crisis.
Big business’ take over of professional football has transformed the game.  The game is now viewed on television by hundreds of millions of fans around the world, while it has taken clubs further away from their pre-existing fans and in the cases mentioned, threatened their continued existence.
Irish clubs are not immune.  Shelbourne were relegated by the League of Ireland for financial mismanagement, Derry City has had recent financial problems and Cork City’s continued existence is still in the balance.
Since football was taken over wholesale by big business interests, the sport has become a consumer spectacle – clubs are now brands to be marketed and exploited to the full.  The on-field game has become sanitised and ticket prices have risen to beyond the reach of most working class fans.  Clubs view their fans as consumers of their merchandise, rather than supporters in the true sense.
The club which (mis)led the way in the 1990’s, Manchester United, was briefly worth £1 billion on the stock market, ten years later, after the Glazer family took over, it has debts of over £700 million with annual interest repayments of £40 million to £60 million.  This hasn’t stopped the Glazer family from taking a combined £23 million out of the club in admin fees and consultancy fees. 
Many fans look toward capitalists like Roman Abromovich to make their team a major force.  The wealth they bring comes at a cost – their investments are often just interest free loans. 
The Socialist Party believes that football should be reclaimed by the fans from the profiteers. Clubs should be community run with a structure where people would enrol as members to their club for a nominal fee.  Club members could then democratically run the club on a not for profit basis. As so many are in debt or making a loss and faced with collapse, this would be a step forward and would return the sport to its working class roots.