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Published on November 23rd, 2018 | by Bill

scudaMORE’s Golden Farewell

Rich Premier League boss leaves a poor legacy, outshone by the Bundesliga. Rank £5million gift sums up the greed is good culture that has ravaged football on his watch.

Tom Reed, writing for STAND

Skulking, the best way to describe Premier League club owners as they departed London’s Grand Connaught Rooms after endorsing a £5 million leaving gift for CEO Richard Scudamore. Their blazered privilege, for once exposed, cornered and questioned on an obscene golden handshake for a man who has been, according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire, paid over £26million in his top tier tenure.

West Ham’s David Gold, found by Maguire to be the recipient of £15 million loan interest in 6 years alongside fellow Hammer’s owner David Sullivan, whispered that Scudamore “deserved everything he gets” and that the £5 million award was “all very appropriate”. Likewise, a pale Daniel Levy of Tottenham, remunerated to the tune of £6 million by Spurs in 2017 and more used to Bentleys than a street barracking squirmed as he described Scudamore’s tidy early Christmas present as an “absolutely fair payment”.

Meanwhile, Liverpool’s Peter Moore just said he “a train to catch” when asked to justify the gift that has the Spirit Of Shankly Liverpool fans’ union up in arms. Man City supremo Ferran Sorriano under the cosh of Der Spiegel’s Football Leaks, predictably went no comment on the subject.

On site BBC reporter Dan Roan tweeted that he’d been told that the man himself Scudamore and his friend, Chelsea’s Bruce Buck of the “great unwashed” infamy, had “left out the back”. Why a man so deserving of such a payment would scuttle out the rear door instead of exiting proudly through the front god only knows. Surely the so called “architect of modern football” would have a goodbye tour with an on pitch fanfare at each of the Premier League clubs he has helped to enrich? The reality might be that if he stood in the centre circle at most of the grounds in England he’d be booed to the rafters, even louder than when the Man City fans jeered him after the 2014 sexism scandal that should have seen him sacked but didn’t.

The reaction to the £5million payment story, as the sexism scandal, was industry wide and resounding, yet similarly left Scudamore unmoved. Perhaps the most erudite critique came from the High Pay Centre, which advocates policies to reduce economic inequality and stated:

“Football clubs are community institutions whose money comes from ordinary fans.  It’s so crass and inappropriate for the Premier League to lavish millions on an administrator, while ticket prices remain out of reach for many lifetime supporters; grassroots facilities languish in a state of disrepair; and food banks proliferate in communities in which football clubs are based.

People will point to Richard Scudamore’s success as Premier League CEO, but football had managed ok for over a century before he came along. With access to televised sports in countries like China over the course of tenure, it’s no wonder revenues increased. So, the idea that this is a proportionate or necessary award is completely laughable and shows total contempt for football fans”.

John Nicholson of Football 365 then wrote an eviscerating piece accusing the Premier League and Scudamore of “exploiting” the passion of fans and “selling it back to us like they invented it and owned it”.

Not far wrong of course, there is nothing clever about taking a price inelastic sport with local, addicted working class spectators and then gradually substituting them with keen, interchangeable middle class consumers from across the world.

“Football family” is a term used in the industry when it suits and many priced-out fans did look forward to matches as a family gathering, with several generations in attendance. Now though, the family have been put in a high end hotel with exorbitant prices to visit them. You’ll try and cough up for as long as you can but when you can’t, don’t worry, you’re replaceable. Try and watch proceedings on video or something.

Scudamore’s outstanding achievement in football is on a similar level as buy to let landlords who acquire fleets of houses, doing them up and inflating their value before charging people without ownership rights through the nose for a basic need.

That said, Scudamore did not join the Premier League until 1999 and much of the gentrification of the game was set in place seven years earlier with the creation of the new division. The breakaway clubs were aided by the Football Association whose 1991 Blueprint talked up a “move upmarket so as to follow the affluent middle class consumer in his or her pursuits and aspirations”.

What Scudamore has done is solidify the Premier League into an unhealthily inviolable operation, seemingly above calls for reform. A impermeable, nuclear sub of an organisation that has governments terrified when it’s officers surface. When Greg Dyke’s FA England Commission worked out that the Premier League weren’t fielding enough English players, the recommendation? No change for the Premier League & League 3 and B-Teams imposed on Football League fans.

Scudamore was heard to utter “not on my watch” when asked about bringing in safe standing in the Premier League.

What his watch has entailed, in reality, is a tiny bubble in the sport’s long history, where millions have been made by a relative few, particularly agents. If and when the membrane pops or indeed shrinks to a shadow of its former self, the sport below the top division will be little better off.

Lower league clubs, merely ticking over in Scudamore’s time and subject to wage inflation emanating from above, are all too aware of their reliance on Premier League solidarity handouts for solvency.

Championship teams are currently embroiled in a breakaway threat, not dissimilar to the 1992 coup that saw the Premier League burst into existence. A group of second drawer rebels are dismayed with the gulf in TV money distribution between the leagues and have accused the EFL Chief Shaun Harvey of “auditioning” for a job at Premier League HQ.

The most galling thing for Scudamore is that a lot of the good work he has done is for nothing. The sheer waste is astonishing. Despite attempting a myopic equal distribution of huge TV funds that mainly brought a lot of workaday players in from overseas and upset the equilibrium of the league pyramid, the Premier League last season was won by 19 clear points by a club effectively owned by a nation state. “The Big 6” has become an established term because of the domination of the richest clubs who see the multi-millions dished out to Burnley etc as peanuts. Football has become brandball.

The German Bundesliga have had the last laugh however and pissed all over Scudamore’s shallow legacy like a Mannschaft fan after 12 pints. Bundesliga revenues have risen for 13 straight seasons. They’ve done it without a grassroots crisis. They’ve done it without Game 39. They’ve done it with 51% fan ownership as standard, albeit under threat and while English football has bowed down to the cult of the mythical paternal oligarch, they are taking the best young English talent like Jadon Sancho. Ticket prices remain relatively cheap in the Bundesliga while it costs a minimum £1000 to purchase a season ticket at Arsenal, a team set up by blue collar munitions workers.

Scudamore, and it is always about more, the architect, sadly left too many people on the outside.

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