Ian Ayre took a lot of criticism earlier in the week for suggestions that clubs should be free to negotiate their own foreign TV deal, a move which would help clubs with a larger overseas fanbase maximise their earnings from TV rights.
Most of the criticism has been in the form of comments accusing him and Liverpool of being greedy. Perhaps the critics are unaware of the fact that since the formation of the Premier League, making money has appeared to be at the very top of the agendas of virtually everyone involved.
From the broadcasters, to the clubs and players, few seem to be in the game purely for the fun of it. Television companies pay huge money for the rights to the ‘product’ being sold by the Premier League, and will in turn aim to make money from advertising and customer subscriptions.
Clubs receive colossal sums of money from those TV rights, but that only leads to the players fighting over as much of it as they can possibly take in wages. Some players even have rights deals, believing that they are owed additional payments due to their name/image being used to sell official club merchandise.
There are outrageous sums involved, and as it filters through the sport, everyone is out to take as much of it as they can get, unsatisfied until they’ve explored every possible avenue of income.
The only financial losers are chairmen whose gamble into the big money world of Premier League football fails to pay off. And, of course, the fans who are required to contribute ever increasing amounts of money to attend games, which is needed to offset clubs’ debts caused by ever increasing wage bills.
The comments made by Ayre may not be liked by many, but if anyone thinks Liverpool are the only club wishing to generate extra funds to help compete, then they should look around at all corners of the league.
Man City’s spending spree was hastily conducted in order to earn Champions League football before UEFA’s financial fair play rules came into force. The owners may well be interested in sporting success, but it would be naive not to think that a long term plan is to catapult the club to the very top of European football, and then to reap the commercial success which would inevitably follow.
From a financial perspective, Liverpool cannot compete with Man City, yet have been attacked for looking to maximize their own income, while the fact that Man City have spent upwards of £500m on players since 2008 is overlooked in favour of admiration for the squad which they have put together.
Elsewhere in the league, the likes of QPR and Wigan may not be talked about in the same breath as Chelsea or Man City, but their rise to the Premier League was helped in no small part to the wealth of their owners compared to that of their lower league rivals.
And only across Stanley Park, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright is still trying to attract new owners. Owners with a lot more money than he has. Specifically, he’d like a “billionaire”, in order to help Everton compete with the top clubs.
These days, it’s all about the money. Anyone who thinks Liverpool are worse than any other club needs to open their eyes.