Saturday 31 October, 3.30pm until 5.00pm, Lecture Theatre 2
Since the 1990s, English football has been awash with money, bringing world class players to delight fans in the stands and those watching on TV. But many observers have worried that the ‘obscene’ amounts of money spent on and earned by players is ruining the game, arguing that super-rich clubs have an unfair advantage, and that fans cannot relate to players on film-star wages. As the recession bites, will football prove immune? And if clubs are forced to tighten their belts, might this be a good thing?
Some clubs are already feeling the pinch, especially in the less glamorous Scottish league. But the takeover of Manchester City, followed by an extravagant spending spree, reminds us there are still rich businessmen willing to splash out on the beautiful game, while Real Madrid continue to pay stellar prices for their galacticos, including the record £80 million acquistion of Christiano Ronaldo from the hardly cash-strapped Manchester United. Can and should football serve as a beacon of plenty in straitened circumstances, providing a welcome diversion for cash-strapped fans? Or would it be better for clubs to introduce wage caps to rein in greedy players and agents, and cultivate local players who have more in common with the fans? The success of clubs like Liverpool in the 1980s was a source of pride for working class fans facing hard times, but will pride turn to resentment as millionaire players cruise through recession-hit cities in their flash cars? Or will fans simply relish the success brought by billionare owners and massive transfers? Is today’s megabucks culture in football sustainable, or are Manchester City likely to go the way of (shudder) Leeds United? How will the recession change the culture of football?
deputy chair, Football Supporters' Federation; lifelong Reading FC fan
assistant comment editor, The Times
founder, First Actuarial; three-time finisher, Great Manchester Run
chair, Rising Stars (educational publisher), the GL Education Group, and Book Aid International
director, membership and events, Institute of Ideas; convenor, IoI Book Club; IoI’s resident expert in all sporting matters
Alistair Darling’s decision to bash bankers at Labour’s party conference was predictable, misguided and dishonest.Rob Lyons, spiked, 29 September 2009
The government has consistently warned against the dangers of rampant commercialism in football, but could do more to curb it.David Conn, Guardian Inside sport blog, 24 September 2009
Britain’s Home Office operates a surprising policy: helping Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool to dominate football’s Premier League whilst also inflating footballers’ wages, so pushing up ticket prices. These all flow from its ill-considered immigration rules.Chris Cook, Financial Times, 2 September 2009
English Premier League clubs have spent about £450m in the summer transfer window - down from last summer's £500m record, a report says.BBC News, BBC News, 1 September 2009
The summer trade was a period of collective belt-tightening for all but the spendthrift Manchester City.Owen Gibson, Guardian, 1 September 2009
When clubs in Spain and Argentina are bailed out like banks, is it time for tighter regulation?Stefan Szymanski, The Times, 12 August 2009
New project started after defender was 'exploited' by salesman: restaurant chain Nobu among trusted companies.Mikey Stafford, Guardian Unlimited, 10 August 2009
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Raymond Tallis, emeritus professor of geriatric medicine, Manchester University