Last Friday Coventry Conversations welcomed Dr. John Beech to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, where the focus was firmly fixed upon the financial climate within the football world, with some very enlightening research analysing the predicaments British football clubs find themselves in. It was greatly informative of the modern day game emphasising the vast sums of money that have transformed a sport into a multi-billion pound business
A self-confessed Pompey fan (Portsmouth FC), Dr. Beech highlighted the huge problems many clubs have had with their finances, putting them on the brink with many going under, saying, “So far 52 clubs have suffered insolvency events, seeking protection from creditors by going into administration; with many more suffering from the dreaded ‘A’ word which is not administration, but ‘ambition’. There is a myth of a club finding a benefactor, and then searching for new investment hopefully bringing about a new stadium. But there is an exploitation of fans of taxation without representation, and a ‘cargo-cult’ belief of building a stadium, filling it bringing on promotion and attracting a better quality of player in some kind of virtuous spiral”. Writes Luke Smith…
Dr. Beech provided some very interesting figures on income and expenditure of English football clubs, “Over five seasons the 92 clubs have lost a staggering £1,014,000,000 which is an amazing figure given the revenue generated from broadcast rights as the Premier League clubs receive a guaranteed income of £44m per season, and Championship clubs receiving £4m per season”
He also introduced his theory of ‘financial doping’, which is “the attempt to buy success by distorting the balance of competition i.e. Chelsea and Manchester City of the Premier League and Crawley Town and Fleetwood Town of the Conference Premier. Clubs could face possible future action from the UEFA Financial Fair Play Protocol with sanctions of banning teams from competing in European Competition, which on the other hand would not be very meaningful to clubs like Crawley Town and Fleetwood Town”.
The alternatives, Dr. Beech concluded, from his research comprise of, “avoiding long term uncertainty over benefactor dependency; develop a local and committed fan base; employ a manager appreciative of the club’s financial constraints; stadium ownership and even possible government intervention if absolutely necessary.”
Dr. Beech is a Senior Research fellow within Coventry University being the Head of Sports & Tourism at the Applied Research Centre in Sustainable Regeneration. He was also a founder of the Centre for the International Business of Sport, and has written and co-edited a variety of textbooks and journal articles on English football management including, ‘The Business of Sport Management’ and ‘The Marketing of Sport’.
He has reported for a range of audiences in many different platforms and countries such as the Times, Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung in Germany, Expansion of Spain; appeared on the BBC’s Football Focus programme including many broadcasts on Radio 5 Live and the BBC World Service.