Taking a Dive : Europe's Elite Football Clubs May Be Spending Themselves into the Ground

By Underhill, William | Newsweek International, July 15, 2002 | Go to article overview

Taking a Dive : Europe's Elite Football Clubs May Be Spending Themselves into the Ground


Underhill, William, Newsweek International


This was the world cup the French would rather forget. Fans confidently expected the 1998 winners to bring home another trophy from Asia. Instead the Blues returned without a single goal to their credit--an ignominious first for a defending champion. Even Zinedine Zidane, the superstar with a reported $5.5 million salary, couldn't carry the team on his well- compensated shoulders. "Twisted and blinded by success and money," ran a typical editorial in Le Figaro, "the players and those around them neglected the most important thing: the football field."

The charge is a familiar one across Europe, where most of the sport's superstars play for salaries that have an obscene number of zeros in them. The worry, however, is less that footballers are becoming too spoiled to play well than that their teams are driving themselves to financial ruin. The desire to win--and the promise of vast TV earnings--has pushed clubs to spend outlandish sums to field competitive teams: last year Real Madrid forked over a record-breaking $70.2 million to acquire Zidane from Juventus. Major teams like Marseille and Lazio now find themselves in the red, and clubs have begun to explore once scandalous concepts like salary caps and performance-related contracts. Football is now all about money, and despite a 10-year boom there may not be enough to go around.

Each of the major footballing nations has its own specific problems, but the bottom line for many clubs is the same. "The increase in expenditure has simply exceeded the increase in revenue," says Thomas Kurth of G14, the loose association that groups Europe's top clubs. Earlier this year the German football league Bundesliga was forced to appeal for bailout funds from the state. Real Madrid had fallen $382 million into debt before selling off its training ground to developers last year. Last season one of the greatest names in Italian football, Fiorentina, ran out of cash to pay its players. "Their debt-to-profit ratio would sink any corporation," says a spokesman for Italy's elite Serie A league.

The scale of such debts is tough to square with the massive uptick in revenues the sport as a whole has enjoyed over the past decade. Rupert Murdoch set the ball rolling in 1992 when he outbid the BBC for the rights to show live matches of England's Premier League on his BSkyB satellite channel. Competition intensified as other TV magnates quickly recognized the game's potential as a means of pushing their new pay channels. Within the decade the value of European TV rights had risen more than tenfold, to $2.5 billion.

The television deals have pulled in other backers. Games from the Premier League, the world's most popular, now reach 450 million homes in 150 countries. A handful of megaclubs claim worldwide followings of more than 15 million apiece. Such numbers delight advertisers. Says Tim Crow of Karen Earle, a London-based sponsorship-marketing consultancy: "If you are a serious global sponsor you need to be attached to a big global player, and there aren't that many around." Top clubs now command massive sponsorship deals: this year Manchester United begins a 13-year contract with Nike worth a stunning $458 million.

Yet television money has proved both blessing and curse. Teams' fortunes are becoming increasingly dependent on those of their media paymasters. In the Big Five European leagues--England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain-- broadcasting now provides clubs with nearly half their income.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Taking a Dive : Europe's Elite Football Clubs May Be Spending Themselves into the Ground
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.