It's fitting in a way that this should be one of the last headlines of 2009: Real Madrid deny rumours of €1bn offer from Manchester City owner. If the Noughts was the decade of wildly-inflated transfer fee, the teens will be the decade of the conglomerate owners.
There has been quite a lot of talk since 2008 about how football would eventually succumb to the economic crisis, with once-mighty European clubs swimming in debt, forced to make yearly interest payments equivalent to once-in-a-life-time transfer deals.
But such is the desire for football, the sheer need for it to go on, that the only money that can sustain the Premier League is from the one part of the world where it is so plentiful it has lost all meaning.
Well, that's not true really. The money made from oil could have taken on quite a bit of meaning actually, perhaps in helping to slow the AIDS pandemic in Africa, or even the more modest goal of alleviating the grinding poverty in the very same countries under which the money resides. Or part of it could have been spent on carbon-capture technology, which might have removed some of the moral responsibility for wrecking the planet, thereby sustaining the global hunger for fuel and ensuring more Sheiks can own more of the football for longer in the ugly-looking years to come.
We'll never know will we? But we might well have. Such is the greed for English football that Richard Scudamore could have forced Sheik Mansour's hand on these and other matters. Maybe, that is, had the Fit and Proper Test had exceeded itself in being anything more than a signifier, like an outdated, muscular Christian slogan still attached to a modern club crest. Always Prepared for the Next Highest Offer.
Yet we always did expect a bit of that from the English considering the neoliberal, capitalistic New Labour tosh that formed the Premier League's foundation "principle", but Real Madrid is different. Real Madrid is a public institution—yes, one that spends grotesquely, that markets globally, that has long since signed on with the machine, but only to further the interest of Real Madrid, football club. Today was a rumour, but it was also a a warning shot. The continent is not safe. The owners are coming, just as soon as they finish their business in the Premier League.
I mean, Liverpool needs sorting. This is a club with brand power. It's not worthy of a pair of old school North American tycoons, out of their depth in debt. Same with the Glazers, same with Lerner, even Abramovich is in over his head now. The 2010s will be about sell sell sell, damn the anti-trusts, the same couple of owners owning the same conglomerate of clubs. Mansour will buy six, Dubai will get five, the rest will enjoy the bouncy castle of relegation/promotion until the Super League finally arrives, brought to you by ADUG, with the big boys already purchased and the shareholders long ousted.
It might not happen that way, but I know there are moneyed interests who are hoping it will.