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new era Mega-rich owners now setting the agenda for future of football - and I don't like it

City, PSG and Chelsea prove that money talks loudest in football

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Man City's Pep Guardiola and PSG's Mauricio Pochettino will clash in the Champions League semi-finals

Man City's Pep Guardiola and PSG's Mauricio Pochettino will clash in the Champions League semi-finals

Man City's Pep Guardiola and PSG's Mauricio Pochettino will clash in the Champions League semi-finals

The identities of the teams competing in this season’s Champions League semi-finals tell us a lot about where football is right now - and I don’t see it changing any time soon.

Real Madrid are the last team standing from the list of traditional European giants, with the other three places taken by the newcomers who have bought their way to the top table using money from their billionaire benefactors.

Clubs like Liverpool, Manchester United, Juventus and Barcelona are in danger of being left behind by newcomers who have a financial backing giving them an advantage that is hard to halt.

This all dates back to Roman Abramovich buying Chelsea in 2003 and bankrolling a massive spending spree, with that blueprint followed by Man City’s investors from Abu Dhabi and PSG’s Qatari backers.

I don’t like it, but football has become a game about money first and foremost, with glory and pride well down the pecking order of importance.

If UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules had any teeth, they could have got to grips with this cash explosion at the top of the game a long time ago.

Yet the rich clubs tested those rules to breaking point and won the court cases they needed to win to confirm they will not be punished if they overspend.

Those rulings have paved the way for the three clubs that can outspend the rest to reach the Champions League last four, with the controversy over the potential European Super League suddenly put into perspective.

In truth, I was surprised to see Chelsea and City signing up for the breakaway league because at a time when the clubs operating with traditional revenue streams are struggling to deal with the impact of the pandemic, these two are coming out smelling of roses.

Abramovich and the Abu Dhabi owners can keep ploughing money into Chelsea and City and the old guard that have dominated European football for decades will struggle to compete with opponents operating under different rules.

Let’s say Liverpool went for Kylian Mbappe (below) or Erling Haaland this summer and Chelsea and City were also in the mix.

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Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain


In that scenario, Liverpool would have no chance of getting either player, as the wages on offer from the other clubs would blow them out of the water.

We have reached a sad point where you wonder whether Liverpool and Manchester United - two of the great names in world football - might need to be taken over by one of these billionaires with an ego the size of their bank balance to put them back in the mix for the top trophies.

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I hope I’m wrong, but it is starting to look like that.

Of course, Liverpool proved over the last couple of seasons that it is possible to compete and win big trophies, even if your net spend in the transfer market is way down the list of Premier League clubs.

The trouble is sustaining success when you are operating on a tight budget.

When you throw in Liverpool’s big-money sales of Luiz Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, owner John W Henry and his Fenway Sports Group have not put too much money into the club since they bought it for around £300m in 2010.

A little over a decade later, and the club is reportedly worth £2billion, which shows there is huge money to be made in football if you can get it right and buy the right club.

The global popularity of this sport is incredible and it will continue to grow, so I can see more and more of these mega-rich guys buying up clubs and playing fantasy football with them.

The Super League fiasco highlighted that the views of local fans are not even on the radar of these foreign owners, as they don’t know or care too much about what the club they own means to the people of a city.

When Jurgen Klopp took over as Liverpool manager, he went into the city and had a few drinks in the bars to get a feeling for the place.

He did his research on the history of the club and understood what made the fans tick, which is why he quickly became a hero for the Anfield faithful long before he started winning trophies.

The foreign owners at a lot of these clubs would not follow that Klopp approach and I’m not sure a lot of them know anything about the area or the history of their clubs.

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Jurgen Klopp guided Liverpool to their first Premier League title last season (David Klein/PA)

Jurgen Klopp guided Liverpool to their first Premier League title last season (David Klein/PA)

Jurgen Klopp guided Liverpool to their first Premier League title last season (David Klein/PA)


It’s a real shame that these great sporting institutions have fallen into the hands of people who don’t have any interest in the club other than making money, but the Super League plan confirmed this is where we are now.

In general, I’d say FSG have been decent owners for Liverpool, but they just don’t have the money to compete with the clubs backed by these billionaires.

This is why some people are now saying they would take a new owner from the Middle East or wherever it might be if it meant the club could sign the best players.

This is one of the reasons why many of us are disenchanted with the modern game, but we have allowed football to be taken over by those with alternative interests and sadly, we may never get it back again.

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