Cooperative games first became mandatory in Harrow school, but they were encouraged in other educational institutions too, mainly because they somehow allowed students organizing their leisure. As a result, in 1840-1870, football has become one of the elements of educating loyalty to the team, as well as willingness to sacrifice personal interests for the sake of the team. In general, it became such internal unity of the spirit, which schools in England were famous for (Turnbull, Raab, and Satterlee 76).
How and why has the Relationship Between the Media and Football Changed Over Time?
By the middle of the 19th century, the educated classes established a cult of physical exercise, where football and cricket was the subject of worship not only in private schools, but also in the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. The number of participants was not limited; there were always fights and brawls, while one could play using both arms and legs. If there were any rules, they were going the rounds rather orally than in any other way. Two years later, several graduates of private schools, who arrived in Cambridge, tried to develop a common set of football rules, known as Cambridge Rules (Turnbull, Raab, and Satterlee 79).
Now we know that the game of football was not confined to the walls of private educational institutions, being beloved among a much wider population. Sports newspapers of that time were full of advertisements about calls for football competitions, and often the game was for money. It was the first mention of football in general, and in newspapers particularly (Turnbull, Raab, and Satterlee 81).
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According to John Turnbull, the First Division appliance between Arsenal and Sheffield United became the initial football match to be aired live on the radio. The given event took place at Highbury, on Saturday, January 22, 1927. The first football commentator in the history was Henry Wakelam, who became a sports reporter only three weeks after the BBC had received its Royal Charter, which allowed it to transmit coverage of major sporting competitions. In order to encourage the listener to track the play, the Radio Times printed an enumerated grid of the pitch with Wakelam announcing grid numbers in his commentary. Arsenal was also involved in the first radio broadcast of an FA Cup Final (Turnbull, Raab, and Satterlee 92).
Ten years later, on September 16, 1937, Highbury again organized a famous first, namely the first live TV broadcast of a football game. It should be mentioned that it was the period when television broadcasting was very much in its infancy. The event was an all-Arsenal affair, and the match itself was scheduled to examine the highly advanced technology of that time. Yet, there were only a few thousand TVs in the whole country; thus, not many people were able to watch this broadcast at the time but, as they say, the rest is history.
Football was originally designed more to become a form of leisure time, and not a professional occupation. Young people, who founded the English Football Association, did not seek to professionalization of the game, and did not wish their offspring such a fate. However, by the early 1880s, it became clear that a new sport had become something of a mania, especially for the population of industrial cities in central and northern England, as well as Glasgow and Central Scotland. Thousands of people were ready to pay for the opportunity to watch Cups competitions of the leading teams. In turn, local businessmen gladly spent money to maintain the football clubs of their cities. Leaving a home and a job, the Scots went to play in the English clubs; 55 Scots played for eleven Lancashire teams in 1884 (Goldblatt 42).
High and medium skilled workers and even many middle-class clerks had the opportunity to play football or just go to games; they regularly received sufficiently high salary, and Saturday night was a public holiday when the games were held. Football Association tried to prevent players from getting money, facing players to suspension in some matches or even disqualifying them for a long time. The decisive moment came in the 1884-1885 season (Goldblatt 45).
In early 1884, Preston North End took in its field Upton Park in the fourth round of the Cup of the Football Association. After the match ended in a draw, guests, gentlemen amateur team from London, filed a protest, claiming that the Preston North End were professionals. The Football Association conducted an investigation, and although the fact that the participation of professionals had not been confirmed, Preston North End was accused of illegally luring away players from other clubs. The team was removed from the tournament, but in response, several major clubs held a meeting, at which they discussed the possibility of theirs exit from the Football Association, as its headquarters were located in London. Representatives of 40 clubs met in Manchester, threatening the creation of alternative British Football Association.
A certain social, regional, and emotional subtext was standing over this attempt to split, since the essential role in the outlined conflict was played by confrontation between North and South, as well as strong anti-London moods. However, it was obvious for some FA managers, and primarily for its Secretary, Charles Alcock, that if the association wanted to maintain its position, it was necessary to find a compromise with supporters of professional football. A compromise was found in 1885, and professionalism in football was legalized within the English Football Association. It was the start of commercialization (Goldblatt 50-51).
Sponsorship and sponsors’ logos on the form of football clubs have long been a “non grata”, unless one considered drawings of the agencies and organizations logos on the official team T-shirts. However, only in the second half of the 20th century (in the 1970s, to be precise), it became possible to break the consciousness stereotypes of those, who did not want to see commercial trademarks next to their favorite teams’ logos. Therefore, the first football uniforms with the printed commercial names or signs of the sponsors, appeared in Europe in the 1970s (Fizel 61).
The first club that placed its sponsor’s logo on the shirt was the West German club, Eintracht Braunschweig. The management of the team has signed a contract with the producers of the famous Jägermeister, and the famous antlers, which symbolize this particular drink, became the world’s first image of the sponsor placed on a football uniform (Young 132).
A few years later, other major professional leagues have adopted the West German experience. For example, the first mention of such cooperation between a football club and a sponsor was applied in the UK, in 1976. With regard to Major League of the United Kingdom, today Liverpool players are considered to be the first, who started to wear commercial company logo on their shirts. Liverpool became the first British professional club, which placed the logo of their sponsor on the shirt, after they agreed to a deal with Hitachi in 1979. A long-liver among the title sponsors of the British teams is JVC. Its logo has appeared on the Arsenal shirts in 1981, and this partnership continued until the year 2000 (Young 134).
Spanish Football Federation endorsed the idea of selling advertising spaces on the teams’ game forms in the 1981-82 season. At the same time, Manuel Meyer, then head of the Espanyol, strongly opposed the decision, calling it a “betrayal of the club colors and values”. The decision was made on October 9, 1981, with 82 votes “for” among 124 clubs taking part in the vote. By now, since Athletic Bilbao signed agreement with Petronor in 2008, and Barcelona yet agreed to host logo of Qatar Foundation on their game shirts, La Liga does not have a single club that has never had a title sponsor (Fizel 68).
Big money came into football in the 90s, and after the “Bosman case”, football player did became a customary employee, who worked for the money and had all the privileges of the employee. The moment of football becoming a business could be clearly shown on the example of Manchester United. Back in 1990, when the present Manchester United was just reborn from the ashes under the guidance of Sir Alex Ferguson, the board decided to issue shares on the public sale of the club (that is the IPO), which made it clear that the club would be positioned as a mixture of a football club and the company’s business. The club had various owners until that day, and they were formally the owners of a company called MU. However, the simultaneousness of shares release to the exchange and the overall commercialization of football in the 90s, certainly clarified in what direction the club would go (Dobson 121).
It meant the fact that there was a chance that any more or less billionaire, who naturally could not have any idea that Theatre of Dreams was not a theater at all, having enough money, could fully buy the club and take it under control, that is even now impossible to imagine in Germany and in several clubs in Spain (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic). Considering that incomes of the Premier League clubs in the late 90s began to spring up like mushrooms overnight, attempts at such capture (capture by businessmen, who try to make profit) were inevitable and were only a matter of time. Certainly, this time had come (Dobson 125).
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The first man, who tried to grab a piece of sweet cake called Manchester United that was growing by leaps and bounds, was Rupert Murdoch from the BSkyB Corporation, and it happened 8 years after the release of club’s shares to the exchange. Then, there appeared the Glazer family, which seeing a huge financial potential of the club, slowly began to buy the club shares, reaching about 30% in October 2004. Then, in summer 2005, the Glazers brought theirs block of shares to 98% that gave them absolute power over the club. Later, there was information that the family took a debt of 265 million pounds by putting in pledge MU, and 275 million pounds of other debts. In general, the debt increased to an astronomical 660 million pounds, by which the club was obliged to return 62 million pounds every year (Dobson 129).
Today, the debt fell to 367 million pounds mark due to the stable service and the first output of shares to the exchange. Summing up all these figures and facts, it can be said that the majority of big clubs now turned into the company’s business due multimillion TV and sponsorship contracts. Such clubs put profits rather than athletic performance for the sake of all.
Generally, management style of big clubs can be divided into three types:
- Private owner who seeks only benefit;
- Private owner, who loves football, and spend a lot of money;
- Joint ownership of the club fans or small investors.
Each of the mentioned types has its pros and cons. However, the fact remains that Premier League clubs have turned to the company’s business and the price of transfers, TV and sponsorship contracts are growing very quickly. As in any economic sector, protracted period of growth will someday reach its peak, and the correction will begin, that is, the bubble will burst, bringing great upheavals in this sphere. Nonetheless, only preventive measures, such as Financial Fair Play from European football officials could save the situation. Undoubtedly, commerce is very useful to football, making it brighter, more interesting and more accessible, but it also brings some pitfalls that one needs to successfully circumvent right now, or it will be too late (Fizel 94).
Nowadays, more money is spent on players. It is the new reality and paradox at the same time. The best players in the world get paid more than they have ever been paid, when they played a brutal, utilitarian football. Consequence of enrichment of players on such a scale is the degeneration and destruction of command ethics, connection between player and fan. If such a gap occurs, one cannot possibly save the very foundations of this beautiful game. For example, Cristiano Ronaldo severed all relations that bound him to Manchester United fans, not to mention the relationship with his teammates. Commercialization of football led to a basis of transfers. There is a gulf between football science and football practice, and no one cares about this gulf. The most important things are money and entertainment events, which are ensured by the innate abilities of players-legionnaires.
National football schools, which demand is rapidly declining, more and more serve as props. If the club owners were worried about the national football, they would make some efforts to impose a veto on further transfers, and would be seriously engaged in development of football schools. At a minimum, they should reduce an annual legionaries’ quota. Currently, the world football moves on the road, sunk in the transfer fog. However, there is another way that is clear, and where money is not the top priority. This is the way of development of national football schools and establishment of coaching schools, alongside with their radical reformation.