Even as track and road running prize purses continue to stagger along at start up, 20th century levels, officials of the “beautiful game” soccer are placing curbs on runaway athlete spending at SoccerEx in Manchester, England.
In an effort to halt what’s called “financial doping”, UEFA, the European soccer association, has instituted new regulations that limit wealthy owners from subsidizing team losses incurred while paying high athlete transfer fees and salaries. A top club like Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City lost $191 million in the year ending May 31, 2010, having spent more on wages alone than it earned in revenue.
The new regs will require teams to only spend what they generate from soccer-related income, or risk losing playing privileges at UEFA’s Champions League and Europa League competitions. To allow a weaning off the old system, owners will be allowed to cover losses of up to a maximum of $63 million over an initial three-year spell, starting in 2012. In the three years from 2015, just $42 million in losses can be covered.
EFA’s head of club licensing Andrea Traverso told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the organization is already anticipating club lawyers searching for loopholes to get around the new regulations.
“We will monitor how the clubs react and if necessary, if we notice there are measures that need to be taken to address particular problems then we will address those to the executive committee for consideration and then eventually (make) some modifications,” Traverso told AP on the sideline of the SoccerEx conference.
It was the new regulations that convinced the Boston Red Sox ownership group headed by John Henry to buy the Liverpool team in October 2010 for $476 million through their New England Sports Ventures.
Imagine the problem of overpaying runners, jumpers, and throwers? So are running and track inherently low level, niche sports forever consigned to the agate page except for the Olympic Games and World Championships? Or could there ever be a time when the road and track clubs like Mammoth TC, Team USA Minnesota, the Bay Area TC, etc. become owner-operated and scheduled along the lines of soccer in team vs. team competitions leading to a season ending championship?
It is one potential model to commodify our sport. At present with every event being a stand alone universe, and every athlete an independent contractor, it is impossible to create a viable calendar to showcase the efforts of the athletes. What say you?
(Associated Press was a source for this post)