Controversy in the EPL

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
October 7th, 2003 • 5:08 pm

After the big shock of Chelsea’s Russian makeover, now there is news that BSkyB, the pay-TV giant, has sold its 9.9% stake in Manchester United, and there are fresh rumours of a possible takeover bid for the club.

We are talking about very big money here. While it is good news that BSkyB has sold its stake, thereby alleviating suspicions of media bias in their coverage of EPL games, it should be noted that the media giant still owns stakes in Leeds United, Manchester City, and Sunderland.

There’s nothing particularly pleasant, as a regular football fan, in hearing about all this big money business. There is always the threat that football will eventually “lose its soul” to big money and, indeed, there are a number of people who believe that things have already gone too far, with the players’ obscene salaries and huge transfer fees.

There is little doubt that things have changed radically in the past 20 years, with the internationalisation of the players market. Many EPL teams have more foreign players than they have British players (let alone players that actually come from the club’s city). But the game on the pitch can still be quite exciting. Yes, the players make a lot of money, but they still have to work their asses off in training and on the pitch, and to maintain a remarkable level of fitness.

As well, doping issues fortunately have had little impact on the sport — whereas sports like track-and-field and cycling have become pretty much meaningless because of widespread doping problems. (I won’t even mention sports such as baseball, hockey or American football, which represent such a gross distortion of what an athlete is supposed to look like.)

In that particular respect, the controversy surrounding Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand and his failure to provide a sample during a random drugs test appears to be a fairly isolated incident. It still doesn’t reflect well on the player and the club.

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