Football: Vox Pop: Are Murdoch-style buy-outs of football clubs good for the game?
Sunday 13 September 1998
Crystal Palace director
United is bound to change. It's been a family-run club for a long time even though specialist financial people have recently become involved. I'm interested in the effect Murdoch has had on the LA Dodgers. He's thrown a lot of money at it but that hasn't led to any great success. United's success has been based on a unique blend of home-grown talent and imported stars who don't upset the apple cart. They might now go for the likes of Ronaldo, but such people don't guarantee success.
Man Utd shareholder
It's an appalling move and another sign of how football clubs are becoming big businesses whose sole objective is to create vast profits, dole out dividends and pay enormous salaries and bonuses to executives. Clubs should be owned and run by people who support them. Equally important is the conflict of interest which will arise when the Premier League renegotiate the TV contract. It's tragic how few club chairmen or broadcasters have spoken out against this.
It's inevitable it will go through. What would happen, though, if Andy Gray was interviewing Alex Ferguson on Sky? Both would have the same boss. Nothing much will change on the playing side except that United will pay even higher salaries. It won't have a knock-on effect on clubs like ours, but we might benefit if Sky make a greater contribution to the Nationwide League. It's not really desirable to have so much power concentrated in one place, but I haven't a clue what you do about it.
Football League chairman
For the widest good of the game, this must be resisted strongly. It will widen the gap between the rich and the rest, but he's been very clever. If the Office of Fair Trading say the Premier League's TV deal is illegal because they're acting as a cartel, then the top clubs will do their own deals. If the OFT sanction the present arrangement, as we hope they do, then he still has a place at the table. I can't see how this is good for anybody other than United, Murdoch and BSkyB.
Head of Sky Sports
When Best, Charlton, Law & Co took the title in 1967, United's average gate was 53,854. Capacity will rise to 67,400, and those new seats must be priced accessibly. Alex Ferguson must be free to bid for the best players to stay ahead in the Premier League and Europe, but the proud youth tradition begun by the Busby Babes should also be safeguarded. Sky will invest, lend marketing and promotional skills, and exploit worldwide contacts (which does not mean shuffling match days and times to suit overseas TV).
In a free-market economy it is difficult to stop a willing buyer and seller from doing a deal. But it is dangerous to allow one person to control everything. It certainly increases the distance between clubs like Manchester United and our own. United played a friendly here last year which raised pounds 100,000, and paid three of my players' salaries. I can't see that happening in the future. I don't think Rupert Murdoch's got any real interest in football.
INTERVIEWS: PAUL TROW
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