While international success continues to elude English football clubs, its Premiership has acquired a license to print money. But who profits from it?
Next month, the European Football Championships begins. Of the so-called home nations, England, Northern Ireland, The Republic of Ireland, and Wales have all qualified. Scotland, riding high politically in its efforts to make a break with the rest of the United Kingdom, continue the Brexit process by making a break from qualifying this time around.
In a league of its own
But financially as well as literally, England is in a league of its own. The Premiership continues to strengthen its economic prospects. This is rather strange, as its success is not matched by the performance of its international team, or of its Premiership big hitters. In recent years these have been Manchester United, joined by billionaire backed Chelsea, together with the Mancunian noisy neighbours City, and the well-heeled Gunners of Arsenal.
Even the iron rule of ‘big bucks rule’ broke down this season, with the thousand to one outsiders of Leicester winning the premiership. [Manager Claudio Ranieri pictured above.]
What is happening? Where will it all end?
Deloitte, a financial organization, takes a favourable view. The future is bright.
This is based on financial projections. As another commentator remarked,
Football is the global sport. Interest is still growing. The Premiership is the hottest football franchise of all, with huge TV rights, sponsorship, and is increasingly attractive to all vut a few of the the top players.
As with the current EU debate, the argument could be contested, but it carries some weight. Football Premiership style is fast and exciting. It is also technically rather flaky, and more physically demanding than other top leagues such as those in Spain and Germany. The recent results in the top team competition, The Champions League, confirm this point.
The Leadership Question
On the leadership front, the general position is that top clubs seek out the top international coaches. Manchester City has moved to obtain Pep Guadiola to add the final piece to the jigsaw puzzle to become world beaters.
The response from Manchester United was to hire the self-styled special one Jose Mourinho to nullify any competitive advantage.
A great coach might be a necessary ingredient for success. Necessary but not sufficient. And a coach may achieve great results with fewer resources than the competition. Jurgen Klopp (now galvanizing Liverpool, and Mourinho started his rise to fame that way, as did Brian Clough a generation earlier, and arguably the great Sir Alex Ferguson, whose shadow Jose now has to step away from. Such a coach will attract and retain the key match winning players also needed.
Hours after the monumental Press Conference and publication of WADA’s report [9 October 2015] Steve Cram gave his views on the crisis in sports management globally. He was asked why the whole situation had been allowed to go on unchecked. He replied that he was over fifty years old and had been living with drug doping since he was a young (and world-beating) athlete. We are all involved, he added. Media, athletes, administrators … we appointed them, we get the leaders we deserve.
Steve Cram gave a video interview [10 October 2015] in which he elaborated on his earlier remarks:
Cram says “we are all to blame” for allowing people “not up to scratch” to get into powerful positions in world sport, but believes that IAAF president Lord Coe is the man to enact change within athletics.
For those interested, the ABOUT box on our home page traces the conversations with subscribers since the blog started in 2016 and introduces its basic ideas:
The concept behind the Blog’s title is that leadership can be treated as a social concept. We create our leaders, and to some degree build them up and destroy them. In that sense, we are responsible for the influence that leaders exercise over the rest of us. If we understand more about this, we may better understand and mediate the behaviour of leaders (In very early discussion thread, someone rightly pointed out the importance of clarifying ‘who are the ‘we’ in all this).
My previous studies had been mainly of business leaders, but I could see how there could be some similarities, and some differences, in the leadership stories in other fields, such as politics, military and sporting endeavours.
Move over FIFA, make way for the IAAF, which braced itself on Monday [9 November 2015] for an explosive independent report set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
UPDATES WILL BE PROVIDED REGULARLY AT THE END OF THE ORIGINAL POST
This week two leaders and their possible successors were tested. Alistair Cook opened the batting for England in Cardiff, and David Cameron started for the Government at Westminster
Here are my notes made at the time, [8th July 2015] which have been slightly edited for clarity purposes.
A day before the start of the Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand Geoffrey Boycott provides a typically dismissive critique of the competence of the recently appointed England captain Eoin Morgan
Morgan, according to Boycott is “not as good a batsman as he thinks he is”, adding that maybe he is not even as good a batsman as other people think he is (excluding the prescient Boycott, naturally).
It is not difficult to come up with an explanation for Boycott’s remarks. Since retiring from Cricket, he has become a successful commentator known for his portrayal of a stereotype forthright Yorkshire man, never slow to articulate his opinions on the stupidity of others who might be tempted to offer alternative views.
This is probably a matter of calculated style, honed on the sports after-dinner circuit, where a certain kind of blokeish humour is almost obligatory. The exceptions are those with the languidness of the privileged classes who dominate Cricket’s elite, and who remain among Geoffrey’s bitterest targets for scorn and abuse.
I don’t think Boycott chooses a target just in order to be controversial. He is often making an intelligent point in his well-crafted remarks. He is more than intelligent enough to realize that he himself is now patronized in a tokenistic and school-boyish way by his fellow-commentators who tend to refer to him as ‘Sir’ Geoffrey.
The run maker
Geoffrey Boycott broke countless records as an England opening batsman. His self-obsession also explains why is ranked among the most inept of captains, although there is much competition for that title.
As a batsman, Boycott was seen as a consummate accumulator of runs, placing his own average above any other consideration. He was tolerated by players and public rather than liked, grudgingly accepted for the occasions when his self-obsession worked to the team’s advantage.
Unsurprisingly, Boycott thought he would make a jolly good captain of the England cricket team, better than the public school oiks who always got the nod over him. Unfortunately, the temperament that helped him accumulate all those runs did not serve him well as captain.
To borrow from his own words, Geoffrey was not as good a captain as he thought he would be, and maybe not even as good a captain as other people thought he would be.
American Football is shaken to the core by the discovery that match balls during a National Football League Game appeared to have been tampered with.
Shock horror. Accusations are made that The New England Patriots had deliberate deflated the balls. This gives more grip for a star quarterback like Tom Brady to make a winning throw. Cries of Deflate Gate are heard, followed by denials of wrong-doing from Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriot, Coach Belickick and players.
“It’s not Cricket”
On hearing the news, my first thought was the parallel with that most traditional sport of Cricket. Tales of ball-tampering to gain an advantage have periodically outraged the authorities, as bowlers are caught out doctoring the ball. “It’s not Cricket” is a cry which is used in England as a cultural short-hand for cheating in any walk of life. Playing cricket embodies a set of ancient and noble amateur values that are even more fiercely guarded as professionalism invades the sport.
The dilemma might be expressed as this: cheating in professional sport is unacceptable but necessary.
Staying with cricket, I can remember the various ways, some creative some crude, in which the bowler helps the cricket ball to spin, swerve, bounce so as to deceive the batsman. The captain of the England cricket team is regarded as the epitome of fair play, but one struggled once in recent times with accusations that he had led his team into play with a pocketful of dirt to scuff up the ball.
Dishing the dirt
A brilliant report for Hutchinson News [URL not available] starting with the NFL, goes on to dish more dirt on foul play in cricket (‘zipper gate’) rugby union, (‘Wilkigate’), Tennis (‘fluffigate’), and Baseball (‘spittigate’).
Does it matter?
Obviously it matters to those outraged or ostracized by a cheating scandal. And beyond the often pompous and self-righteous outbursts lurkc a cultural truth. Sport embodies ancient values of honestly and fairness that are tested by equally ancient human needs to win at all costs.
In my research, I found the splendid image of W G Grace, an early heroic figure and superstar shown above. Gloucestershire archives tell of his blatant bad sportsmanship which seems to have been condoned.
See also the continued story of the NFL deflategate as Sunday’s Superbowl approaches.
When a qualifier meets a top seeded tennis player, sometimes caveman tactics result. We review Andy Murray’s march with Yuri Bhambri, and consider the implications of all-out aggression in other sports and in business
The start of the Australian Open, the first major of the season. Somewhat against my better judgment, I get up in the small hours in the UK to see how Andy Murray is doing. His opponent, Yuki Bhambri, is a qualifier and ranked 317 in the world.
Half an hour into the match. Bhambri’s aggression is impressive. Murray breaks Bhambri’s serve but failed to capitalise, being broken himself, ringing the first set to a tense four games all. Murray then breaks and holds to take the set 6-4.
Both players are making excellent winners, but both are rather prone to unforced errors..
Bhambri serves first and holds. A discordant but enthusiastic chant rises up from tee-shirted Murray supporters. In the next game, good defense from the Indian draws errors from Murray, but the Scot’s resolve helps him survive; 1-1.
Bhambri continues with his aggressive style of play and wins service after more winners and errors. Murray replies with a love game bringing it to 2-2. Bhambri is still the aggressor and seems to be benefiting from winning though three rounds of qualifiers Murray breaks, then holds, making it 5-3.
Take out the errors…
Minus a few errors from each game, the quality of the match is more suited to be a second week tie. An edited film would be misleading. The commentators suggest Bhambri is playing like a top fifty player.
Defend Rally Attack
Murray continues to plays rather defensively with flashes of brilliance. I remember the coaching maxim: Defend Rally Attack. Murray too inclined to defend and Rally; Bhambri too inclined to go from defend to attack. This is evident again as Murray moves to 40-15. In returning, the all out attack opens up court, higher risk [one attacking return forces Murray to attack not rally, and he hits winner down the line. Murray wins serve reasonably easily and takes the set.
0nce the pattern is seen, it becomes clearer. Bhambri does not rally enough. I think of chess. All-out attack is the weaker player’s weapon which too often accelerates defeat, although the infrequent wins reinforces the pattern of ‘cave man’ play. [which suggests another idea: the infrequent upsets against seeds more obvious in first rounds, more chances for the cave man play to succeed.
A good example in first game of third set, when Bhambri grabs an ad point then a net point for him wins game and a break. Murray continues to rally and wait for errors. The pattern for me seems to persist but Bhambri wins and extends lead to 4-1. Murray wins own serve. 4-2. Pattern persists, and Murray breaks back. 4-4 and eventually into tie break.
Prediction for tie break
My prediction is that failure to Defend Rally Attack more dangerous in the tie break Murray goes to 5-2 then 6-2 and 6-3 but two then Murray closes it out as Bahmrhi ballons out a return.
Opponent is a junior world champion, but injury explains his low ranking.
Caveman chess was a popular term among British chess players to refer to violent attacks often unsound but always unsettling.
Rather than show an image of one ‘caveman’ chess player I had in mind, I choose the image from Wikipedia Commons.
Also thanks to Conor for helping in the editing process.
A new report puts pressure on football authorities and clubs to address discrimination in leadership appointments
The report is to be presented to MPs and Sports Minister Helen Grant today [10th November, 2014]. It gives clear evidence of institutional discrimination in the appointment to senior level positions in the 92 clubs of the football league.
According to the study, Of 532 top coaching positions, 19 were help by members of the black and ethnic minority [BME] communities. This 3.4% is from a representation of 25% of players of BME backgrounds.
The report was prepared by Dr Stephen Bradbury of Loughborough University, and funded by Football against Racism in Europe [FARE].
The language of institutionalized discrimination
The language of instructiionalized discrimination is for some people contentious. It is better than the blunter term racism, and permits examination in terms of conscious and unconscious factors and consequences
Pressure on the Football authorities
The report adds pressure to the Football League and its chairman Greg Clarke. The FA is ‘looking into’ issues of diversity in appointments. It has also been criticized for delays in examining measures such as the Rooney Rule .
The Rooney Rule
The Rooney Rule has nothing to do with Wayne Rooney, England’s football team captain. It was introduced into America’s NFA by Dan Rooney, anti-discrimination campaigner and owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers
‘Getting in the room’
The remark was not the title of report, but it might have been. One qualified coach who has not reached interview short-lists was reported as saying he was not looking for favours, just an opportunity of getting in the room.
To be continued