Global markets have changed dramatically recently, opening up new opportunities for clubs and owners all over the world.
Those teams owned by groups of fans, like many of the top sides in Germany and Spain, will have some issues to deal with, while clubs owned by one rich individual – like Chelsea – will have others.
Indeed if you’re one of only 775 billionaires in Europe right now – as Roman Abramovich is – you might see this sudden shake-up in the markets as an opportunity.
Yes you’ve likely lost more money than most in the last few weeks, but you also had more money to lose to begin with. As long as your losses are proportional to everyone else’s, you’re still winning the race. Yes it’s a risk – but billionaires can afford risky wagers.
Your cash will go a lot further in this new landscape too. It might even be a smart time to buy a football club. So many of the teams which only survive game to game and season to season are going to struggle to survive, and you could swoop in and save a couple (or turn them into soft-drink selling corporate zombies).
Once you’ve bought the club of your dreams, you can even probably kit it out pretty cheap. Maybe organise a ground share with a struggling team a few divisions above to help you both out. Then maybe swoop to buy a whole team of players from your biggest league rivals.
They will be keen to shift a lot of wages at this point, and you can probably buy any player you like at the right price – so long as that club isn’t also owned by one of the other 774 billionaires around.
The players you buy will also potentially have been out of work for months at this point, and you can sign them up to long term deals at below their true value. They get some stability in their finances and their lives, and you get a good team on the cheap.
Remember how we signed Willian and Samuel Eto’o on the cheap in the same summer because Anzhi Makhachkala were in serious financial difficulties? We could see situations like that all over the game, from the very lowest levels up to the top.
Once you’ve got your team, a new stadium and some decent players, all you can do really is sit back and hope they get the job done. There’s not much money to be made in the lower leagues, so you’ll want to get that out of the way as soon as possible. Still, if you’re only expecting attendances of 50 people, playing behind closed doors won’t be so damaging to the team’s morale.
Hopefully you can get a savvy manager in charge and work your way up the divisions over the next few years. Perhaps the number of teams going bust, and the potential temporary restructuring of the leagues over the next few years will create extra opportunities for quick promotion.
In any case, by the time you reach the top, football’s money printing machine should be back up and running again. The players and the club you bought cheap will be worth more, and the stadiums will be filling up again. Sponsors will be returning to the stands and the TVs, betting companies will be firing up their obnoxious adverts, and we can all pretend that this was a dream.
Through all that, football could prove to be a smart investment after all, if it dives now and then rises again as it seems set to do. Chelsea are lucky to already have a billionaire owner in Roman Abramovich, but if the Russian was ever thinking of expanding his footballing interests by buying other clubs, this would be the right moment. But perhaps he’s got his hands full at Chelsea, and perhaps he sees this all as a warning that football’s bubble can’t keep growing forever?
It’s a bitter shame for him that the stadium expansion plans at Stamford Bridge expired at the end of March. This should be the moment that the club is taken to the next level, and the fact that construction would have been halted at the moment is no comfort.
Instead, he will just have to console himself with being one of those 775… in fact, if the global situation keeps developing like this, that number could get a lot smaller.