I was sat watching SkySports News yesterday as the headlines came up about Chester City being wound up in the High Court. Nobody turned up to represent the club and within just 30 seconds, that was it, another club was out of business.
I listened to David Evans of Chester City Fans United with admiration as he vowed “Today is the day to say to everybody that our club will be run in a professional way and be a credit to our city and to football. Our model is AFC Wimbledon or AFC Telford, where a new club has been run on a very prudent basis. We want to atone for the way the club has been run – we see this as our responsibility even though it wasn’t our fault.” And as I recounted this to a friend over the phone later, I was duly reminded “that could have been you once.”
And of course he was right, because we’ve had our share of financial disasters in the past. Notably, Ken Bates acquired us for just one English pound back in 1982 and having spent money we clearly didn’t have on fancy hotels and even fancier players, had us teetering on the edge of bankruptcy before Abramovich stepped in at the final hour to bail us out. Fortunately, he’s been bailing us out ever since so we haven’t gone down the same road as Chester. Instead, it gave us the financial clout we needed to start realistically challenging on all fronts.
So, already established in the Premier League with the money that brings in, add a rich Russian funding whatever players we desired and the future looked secure. But clubs just can’t function like that in the longer-term can they? Well, Man City’s spending could feasibly last a bit longer (as long as their owners don’t bail out) but if these new big money owners are taking the club’s futures seriously – and Roman has made it clear enough often enough that that’s the case where he’s concerned – sooner or later something has to give.
So, with that in mind, I couldn’t quite get my head around the apparent surprised reaction to reports in the press over the performance-related style contracts Chelsea are now proposing. I mean, this isn’t a new idea is it? Back in January 2009 TheChelseaBlog ran an article on exactly the same proposition that was being put to Michael Ballack and it seems the club are simply sticking to it.
The general idea seems to be that Ballack’s earnings would halve to £60,000-a-week, although he could increase that to £80,000 by playing 20 games in a season. Seems more than fair for a player coming towards the end of his career but one who is still ambitious enough to want to see that career out in the Premier League. It also means the club won’t be paying for a service they aren’t necessarily receiving.
However, whilst Ballack seems likely to agree to this sort of deal, what we’re told is neither Nicolas Anelka nor Joe Cole are as amenable to the club’s attempts to address a wage structure that has previously been a bit of a joke. So, it looks as if Chelsea could be in for a difficult time when it comes to convincing these players of the benefits.
Obviously Anelka and Cole could point to players like Lampard, Terry and Drogba when they sit down to negotiate their contracts although neither of them have quite the same standing in the club – besides, if the club do manage to set the precedent with Ballack’s contract, even players like those three will know what to expect in the future.
It’s a brave move by the club and maybe not one all supporters will agree with, but in times where we’re seeing not just lower league clubs going to the wall but even the first Premier League club going into administration, you’d have to say that Abramovich’s stance really is in the best interests of CFC’s future.