Jan  9, 1996	Sepp Blatter's oversized goals (Andrew Wayne)
Apr 29, 1997	The American cartel system (Colin Morris)
May 30, 1997	Ronaldo and transfers (Manoel Mendonca, Steve Jones, Nick Simoncini)
Jan 12, 1998	Money and competetion (Stephen Davies, Paul Mettewie, "Cyber Sioux")

Subject: Sepp Blatter's oversized goals
From: awayne@ps.ucl.ac.uk (Andrew Wayne)
Date: Jan 9, 1996

Sepp Blatter's great new idea - to enlarge the size of the goal by 
two ball widths and one ball height - is massively flawed. 

The first problem is that it is trying to fix something which has 
worked very well (any sport with as many players and spectators 
as football can be described as working pretty well) for 100 years.

The second problem is that it is a move designed to appeal to 
spectators, and on a very shallow level - more goals == more fun.
Football is not just a spectator sport. It is the largest 
participation sport in the world. And more than half of each team
is (usually) more interested in preventing goals than scoring them.
Thus, if more goals are scored, fewer people would take satisfaction 
from their performances on the pitch. 

FIFA seem to think that football is merely a money making vehicle, 
and therefore tend to view it only as a spectator sport. The largest
market for advertising and sponsorship is undoubtedly the US, and 
the general view is that a large percentage of the US viewing public 
only watch if large numbers of "points" are involved. Therefore:
more goals = more US spectators = more sponsorship money = better
for FIFA.

One argument put forward by FIFA is that players are now larger than 
they used to be, so goals should be larger too. They fail to notice 
how the play has adapted as players have. Formations have changed over
the past one hundred years. The game has adpated itself. It does not
need forcing. 

And lastly, a point made by someone else here, but worth noting, is that
if goals are larger, it may become more worthwhile for managers to play
more defenders and fewer attackers, resulting in fewer goals, not more.

This is what tends to happen when the off-side law isn't used. Most of
the time the ball is hoofed out of defense, defenders don't move forward,
leaving much fewer goal-scoring opportunities, even though the move would
suggest more.

I think this is possibly the stupidest suggestion yet from FIFA, and the 
competition is hot (kick-ins; time-outs; quarters, not halves; allowing 
the president to decide where the World Cup takes place without any 
consultation whatsoever, merely for the pursuit of his own glory; ...).

Here's hoping the presidency goes back to Sir Stanley Rous. Or at least to
Pele or Franz Beckenbauer.

From: Colin Morris 
Subject: Re: MLS Fans: What a load of hypocrites
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997

Beldin wrote:
> His point missed the initail point of the thread.  The complaint was
> teams moving from one city to another.  This has NOTHING to do with
> promotion and relegation.

Obviously promotion/relegation isn't the whole story - otherwise we
wouldn't see Wimbledon trying to move to Dublin - but I would argue
that the cartel structure of American leagues has a great deal to do
with teams moving from one city to another. With an open system of
promotion/relegation *any* team, located anywhere, can theoretically
hope to get to the "major" league *through its performances* on the
field of play. Wimbledon are the classic example of this (semi-pro to
top league in just over a decade) and now Barnsley, after 99 years, 
have made it. With the cartel approach the only avenue of entry is
to *buy* entry into the club. With a country the size and population
of the US this leads to a false "shortage" of Major League teams,
which leads to the bidding "wars" between cities to bring home the
major league bacon. This, in turn, leads to an irrestible temptation
for owners to move to where the pot of gold is the largest.
Additionally, the cartel structure almost certainly leads to a
dimunition of the influence of the minor leagues in relationship to the
majors. For example, I suspect the gap between the English Premier
Leagie and its First Division is rather smaller than the gap between
the NFL and the league below it (is there even one apart from the CFL?). 
Again, this increases the incentive for communities without a major
league team to throw their largesse at the cartel owners.

> Dustin Christmann wrote:

> > Big difference between Green Bay and Barnsley: Due to NFL territorial res-
> > trictions, the Packers are the only NFL team within a certain distance of
> > Green Bay.  There will never be a team in Milwaukee or Madison, for example,
> > meaning that Milwaukee and Madison football fans have no other recourse but
> > to support the Packers.  The Packers draw support from an entire region.
> > If you were to talk with people at Lambeau Field, you'll find that most are
> > from anywhere BUT Green Bay.  Green Bay's actual size is irrelevant, since
> > they draw fans from all over.
> And putting other teams in the area would dilute Green Bay's (and
> Chicago's, and Minnesota's) fan base, thus making the Packers less
> profitable and more likely not to be able to compete at the same level
> as the teams from bigger cities.

Only with the cartel approach. New York, for example, has only two
NFL teams. In comparision, London has around a dozen professional
soccer teams with around half of them in the major division. If there
is free and open competition for major league places, it is effectively
the market that decides how many teams an area can support, not the
suits in the cartel owner's offices.

Subject: Re: Benny's Week
Date: 30 May 1997 12:59:32 -0400
From: manoel@cs.umd.edu (Manoel Mendonca)

Steve Jones wrote:

>His contract with Barca is for 6 years, they wanted him to sign for 8, if
>he broke his leg next week Barca would still have to pay him his salary
>for the next 6 years.  What I find bad about Ronaldo is that he signs these
>long term contracts and yet clearly has no intention of honouring them,
>he was 1 year at PSV, one year at Barca, how long will he stay at Inter ?

I think you got things upside down. The contracts he has signed have
clauses that say that other clubs can pay a certain to have him before
the contact ends.

PSV paid 5 millions for him and revoked his contract when Barcelona
paid 20 million for him. Ronaldo NEVER broke any contract. PSV had a
net profit of 300% in one year over Ronaldo. They didn't complain
about that (quite the opposite).

Barcelona signed a contract that paid him 1.5 million a year and had a
clause that stated that for 31 million he could break this
contract. Well, after 4 months or so, it was clear that some one would
pay this money. So, Barca proposed him to sign a new contract paying
him 3.5 million AND put a revoke clause of 64 million in his
contract. This happen more than seven months ago and was well
publicized in the media. However, Barca NEVER sign this contract.

They, instead, opted for another strategy to lower Ronaldo's market
value. They started to paint him as a mercernary in the press. They
insinuated that he wanted to leave to Brazil. He that it was not the
case. They said he didn't care about Barcelona. He said he loved
Barcelona. They then insinuated that all he cared for was money. Some
of the more jealous members of the RSS even bought this with their
whole heart.

Well, it was Nunez and Barcelona that broke the verbal agreement made
more than seven months ago. At the end of the season Nunez try to make
him sign a "smart" contract. After 9 hours of dicussion, they say ok
"we will pay the money to get a new contract but we will pay you in
VIRGIN ISLANDS, so we don't have to pay taxes". So, Ronaldo FINALLY
says THAT is ENOUTH !!!

Note that despite all those dirty tactics, Ronaldo has (a 20 years old
kid) kept playing great. He scored 34 for Barca in the league, a bunch
more in the cup, another bunch in the CWC, and another bunch for
Brazil. He was instrumental in two titles (CWC and the CUP). He was
the key to guarantee a spot in next year's European Cup for Barca.

Ronaldo still has a contact with Barca. Ronaldo NEVER broke any
contract with Barcelona. If any team wants to sign a contract with
Ronaldo, they will have to pay 32 millions to Barca. That is a profit
of more that 50% in 11 months for Barcelona. This is an amazing deal
in any business (except may be in drug dealing :-) ).

>I do not object to large salaries being payed to players but I do object
>to the deliberate subversion in which Ronaldo takes part, if he had been
>honest he would have signed for 1 year for Barca, but then had he got
>injured he wouldn't have been paid, this way he has his cake and eats it.

He has been very honest with Barca. The contract has a very clear
clauses for revoking the initial agreements. You are saying that
Ronaldo tricked Barca. THIS IS RIDICULOUS. Barca's layers are much
better than Ronaldo's. You are talking about a Club that is for
decades in the business of signing soccer contracts. Who do think is
smarter Ronaldo or Barca ?

>And be honest is Ronaldo really three times as good as any other player
>on the planet, and better than the _entire_ Crystal Palace team in his
>salary alone ?  The kid is brilliant I just think the hype may have over
>priced this shooting star.

No, he is not three times as good as any other player on the planet,
but he worths three times more. Ask Barcelona how much money they made
over Ronaldo's image. Ask Inter Milan, how many TV deals they expect
to sign if they get Ronaldo.

Your message has no logic. Your basic statement is that a 20 years old
kid is out smarting giant sport business organizations. The people in
those organizations are not fools (quite the opposite).

Subject: Re: Benny's Week
Date: 02 Jun 1997 10:03:20 +0200
From: Steve Jones - JON 

Manoel Mendonca writes:
> The contracts he has signed have clauses that say that other clubs 
> can pay a certain to have him before the contact ends.

This is my point, Ronaldo's contract basically says

"I will stay at your club until someone offers me more cash, and you can't
do anything about it."
> Ronaldo NEVER broke any contract with Barcelona. If any team wants to 
> sign a contract with Ronaldo, they will have to pay 32 millions to Barca. 

Yes but my point is that his contract is engineered purely for cash, he
didn't play at Barca because he wanted to play there but because of the
cash.  The same goes for Inter next season.  Yes the Barca board are
a bunch of fuckwits (as proved by their treatment of Robson) but Ronaldo
is clearly dominated only by the cash.  The other example to use is
that of Juninho, he could have left Boro before last season, he could
have bitched and moaned about the money, he will leave now (with the
blessings of the Boro fans) because not doing so would harm his career
in football, and _that_ is clearly his primary drive, Juninho loves to
play football, that is all he wants to do, if he could get into the
Brazilian team which playing in the Nationwide league I have no doubt
he'd stay at Boro.

> Who do think is smarter Ronaldo or Barca ?

Umm this is also a club in (apparently) large debt and one that treats
one of the best managers in the game with disrespect.  And I am willing
to bet that Ronaldo's "handlers" are very adept indeed at drawing up
contracts.  Ronaldo has a lot of people (THREE Agents for gods sake)
working "for" him, they know what they are doing.  I don't think that
Ronaldo is smarter than Barca but Ronaldo Inc probably is (especially
remember as they are funded by a little company called "Nike").

>Ask Inter Milan, how many TV deals they expect to sign if they get Ronaldo.

Inter will get some extra revenue, but most of Ronaldo's TV money will
go to Ronaldo, Inter may get some more cash by doing better in Europe
and the League next season but I doubt that Alan Shearer would have
had less of an effect.  Inter are already tied into their TV deals,
they already sell all their tickets, they may sell more shirts now,
and where they really hope to recoup the money is on winning trophies
and thus via that the TV deals and increased corparate sponsorship.

> Your message has no logic. Your basic statement is that a 20 years old
> kid is out smarting giant sport business organizations. 

No my basic point is that Ronaldo Inc (a subdivision of Nike Inc) is motivated 
purely by money, and not by the love of the game. Don't you see the
danger of that for Ronaldo the _person_, is it Ronaldo who wants to
move from Barca or is it Ronaldo Inc telling him to move ?

Ronaldo is one of the finest players on the planet, the last trully great
player was Maradonna, he was mismanaged and became a drug addict and a
sad shell of the player he once was.  George Best was mismanaged and
driven to making cash and became a sad shell of the player he once was.
Gazza was _the_ player of Italia 90 (IMO of course) and was mishandled
and thus became a sad shell of a player.  Time after time the best
players fall and almost always thanks to the lack of decent support.
Footballers aren't that smart, but the leeches who feed off them are.

I don't object to the (allegedly) best player in the world commanding the
highest salary, I do object to a player who seem to be driven by money
rather than a love of the game whether on his own or by his "handlers".
These "get out" clauses in contracts are also a cause for concern as they
increase the power of the "handlers" as they can hawk their player to
other clubs without worrying about some tiny piece of paper they signed
two months ago.

Ronaldo Inc goes on, but will it effect Ronaldo the player ?

Subject: Re: Benny's Week
Date: Mon, 02 Jun 1997 15:56:24 GMT
From: Lazio@Imaginet.Be (Nick Simoncini)

Steve Jones wrote:
>[Inter's bid for Ronaldo]

The "Ronaldo Deal" has NOTHING to do with the club that is buying him
or TV deals. Ronaldo will be purchased by the company that sponsors
the club.

The reason why Inter (and Lazio, don't count us out!) are even in the
running for Ronaldo (and PSG, Milan, Man U, Rangers, etc. are not) is
because the club sponsors, Cirio and Pirelli, have multi-billion pound
interests in South America which make buying Ronaldo actually a
profitable business venture. Investing in Ronaldo would not only help
the club they sponsor ON the pitch, but most importantly it would also
be an an excellent long-term investment OFF the pitch. When I was in
Rome at the Lazio shop recently I bumped into a well-informed
journalist who explained that Cirio (we were talking about Lazio's bid
obviously) would get back the money they spent (transfer fee, get out
clause, ten year contract, etc.), **just through the revenue that
Ronaldo would generate**,  in something like 5-6 years. All this meant
that he would actually play for free in the last few years of his
contract!! The same wouldn't be possible with Shearer, Inzaghi,
Batistuta or anyone else because they simply don't havce the same
marketing potential as the Brazilian.

Obviously it's a lot of money but when you look at the "small

>No my basic point is that Ronaldo Inc (a subdivision of Nike Inc) is motivated
>purely by money, and not by the love of the game. 

Unfortunately players being attatched to the club they play for over
money is a thing of the past. :-(

Subject: Italian decline? - (was Excellent article from "Il Messaggero")
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 17:05:39 -0800
From: steve d 

Paul Mettewie responding to Nick Simoncini's article wrote:

> Good article -- basically it says that the big teams in Italy
> have converted from enemies to almost allies because of
> the transfers that have taken place between them. And
> when you say big clubs in Italy it generally means the
> northern clubs. Sort of an "old boys club" amongst
> Inter, Juve, Milan and now lately, Parma.
> The northern sides almost recycle players amongst
> themselves:

Surely this a worrying trend. The incestuous relationships building up
among the top clubs can only lead to a softening of the true Italian
spirit. We may already have seen the start of the decline with the
increasing German influence in the three European competitions.

It can only be healthy to have animosity among the top clubs in any
league as long as the animosity doesn't turn to paranoia as in the case
of Barcelona/Real Madrid leading to only one EC1 in 30 years.

The recent improvement in Manchester United fortunes probably arises
from the siege mentality at the club (every hates us, ABUs, Ferguson's
stopwatch, Blackburn refusing to sell them Shearer) forcing the club to
turn inwards and develop the team using the youth system. If
Liverpool/Arsenal/Newcastle/Blackburn had been as accomodating as the
Italian teams now are, would a home grown midfield of Giggs, Scholes,
Butt and Beckham have come about?

Subject: Re: Italian decline? 
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 1998 16:18:37 -0600
From: Paul Mettewie 

> Surely this a worrying trend. [...]

Well, I think this has to do with the ever-increasing infuence
of money, power, corporate sponsors, etc, than it has to
do with any 'friendship' between the big clubs. The people
who run Inter, Milan and Juve (and now Parma) hang
around in the same business and social circles. There is
the Fiat money of Juve, oil money of Inter, industrial
money (and government power) of Milan and the media
money and power of Parma (helped with generosity by
Parmalat as well as that of Cecchi Gori).

As to the increasing influence of Germany, I do not know
if this can be said to be caused by anything happening in
Italy alone. I think the Bundesliga is enjoying a period of
increased attendance and attention for its game -- hence
the corporate world is very interested in sponsoring teams
and giving money that is available for club development.
Given decent sums of money, it is not surprising that a
country with the excellent athletic record of Germany
would emerge as a power.

Therefor, in terms of the emergence of Germany, I think
the reasons are much more internal than external. It would
be interesting to get the opinion of our German based
RSSers on this.

> It can only be healthy to have animosity among the top clubs in any
> league as long as the animosity doesn't turn to paranoia 

Paranoia is indeed a horrendous disease -- see what it 
has done to Benny? BSF - I agree that some extent of
competition MUST exist if a league is to improve. I still
think that level of competition is still present in Italy, but
that the increased money flowing at the very top of soccer
is "pulling away" the top clubs in *every* league from the
also-rans. More grist for the mill concerning the eventual
establishment of a Euro Super-League.

I mean, how can anyone but an Inter or a ManU or a
Real afford the very top players in the world? There is
no way an Atalanta or a Wimbledon or a Borussia
Moengengladbach could buy a Juninho or a Bierhoff.
(Not unless they were injured or would take a pay

> If Liverpool/Arsenal/Newcastle/Blackburn had been as accomodating as the
> Italian teams now are, would a home grown midfield of Giggs, Scholes,
> Butt and Beckham have come about?

You would know more about the machinations of 
the Premiership, so I cannot really say whether or 
not the midfield of ManU would exist or not. But
the point of youth system development vs. that of
buying talent is an issue that could definitely be
directly effected by cooperation vs. competition
amongst clubs in a league. Why bother with spending
large sums of money on a youth program when you
can establish a larger youth pool (de facto if not
exactly de jure here) amongst yourselves. An
interesting theory.

Subject: Re: Italian decline?
Date: 13 Jan 1998 20:27:41 GMT
From: "Cyber Sioux" 

> It woul be interesting to get the opinion of our 
> German based RSSers on this.

I will give it a try. 

Indeed, since the WC 90 the average attendance and the
attention are increasing. Of course, the corporate world is
aware of such movements and the money supply for our
clubs is getting better and better. As for our top clubs,
I see them still far behind Italy's top or the two Spanish 
giants Real and Barca in terms of the economical situation.
Let's face it, no club in Germany would spend 50 mio
Marks for a single player even if his name is Ronaldo.
Our clubs spend by far less money than Italian or
Spanish ones. 

Interestingly, Bayern Munich (probably Germany's leading 
club) usually tries to sign Germany's best players. This 
team's line-up consists of only two foreigners which has 
become a rare phenomenon since Bosman. Those players are
much cheaper than foreign stars. The best foreigners they 
have are Giovane Elber, Sammy Kuffour and Rizzitelli but 
since the rise of Carsten Jancker only Elber or Rizzi is 
playing alongside him. Elber and Kuffour were bred in 
Germany. Nonetheless, they are the best German club. 

Dortmund have more foreigers. They came back by 
attracting the German internationals playing 
abroad. This was certainly much cheaper than 
buying foreigners. The most spectacular foreign
transfer was Sousa. Another interesting fact: neither
Dortmund nor Schalke invested much of the money 
they have earned in the European Cups in transfers
which would attract public attention. Dortmund relied
on the return of their injured players saying that they
would be the new reinforcements, while Schalke's philosophy
is a totally different one. After having lost the complete
first choice attack (Mulder and Max) shortly before the
UEFA CUP finals due to very bad injuries, they decided
not to make sparkling transfers but to make more balanced
reinforcements. Hence they signed Goosens and Eijkelkamp
who are of equal qualities as the beforementioned ones. Now
they are enjoying a deeper bench and it has already payed off
since Mulder and Eijkelkamp are again injured..

In addition, a player who wants to succeed at Schalke must
traditionally have a special mentality. The vast majority of
the club's fans are working class people like steel workers or
miners who appreciate players with a high working rate
more than stars who could turn out to be primadonnas. Well, they
are still doing well in Europe without big stars. Admittedly, I
cannot believe it myself. What the hell are they doing?

I mean that Italy, Spain and England are involved in more
spectacular transfers and they are spending more money.
However, Germany's top clubs like Bayern and Dortmund are
both preparing the floating of shares at the stock market
to follow the English example and to increase the external money
supply. We shall wait and see when this will happen and which impact
it will have on the clubs and their success.

There is another good thing. We have no Bundesliga side which is
owned by only one man with lots of pocket money. That's something
which is absolutely disliked here. If one takes a look
at Milan and Berlusconi or Marseille and Tapie I am 
glad that our clubs have different structures. 

Why is our league currently very succesful? Difficult
question. I wouldn't say that the level of play in the Italian
game is declining, although the pace with which players
are swapped, are dropped on the bench is
very high. Too high for my taste. They don't spend enough
time in rebuilding a team. Instead, cubs like Milan 
replace six or more player in a few weeks. This makes it
difficult to built a team even with the very best players.
I have no words spotting lots of decent footballers on
the tribunes without a chance of playing, lost for the game.

Our league is of great depth. That has something to do
with less concentration on few clubs. Structures as in
the Netherlands or in Spain are unthinkable. All young
Dutch talents are sent to Ajax where they get integrated
into the youth teams and learn to play their special positions 
up to the first team. They become part of the system. This 
is one reason of Ajax's success. Unthinkable in Germany. We 
have  a lot of different regions, all with a greater city 
(which has something to do with our history)  offering a bigger
club the local people are supporting and which usually develops
the regional talents until they can make it to the first team. 
Then they will be discovered by Bayern or Dortmund and finally
they will play for them. 

This structure makes our league very competetive
and deep. It is enough to field strong opposition for
the top clubs. A prime example is Moenchengladbach,
a club with a fine youth school. They breed new talents 
but have to release them later. It is enough to stay in 
the Bundesliga and the town offers companies
to support them with money. If they can qualify for the
UEFA CUP and survive some rounds they will have 
the money to buy some decent players while transferring
their talents to bigger clubs. 

Each club can beat the others. Sometimes less con-
centration of power in our league weakens the chances of making
an impact in the European competitions. We have been waiting
a long time for a Euopean Cup winner. We currently have a great
deal of very good players in our league including some very
good German and foreign talents but in the long run I forsee
a dominace of the classic European giants the likes of
Inter, Milan, Juve, Real, Barcelona and Ajax. They are enjoying
exposed positions in their counties. The only German club
of similar importance is Bayern Munich. Perhaps Dortmund
can join them but the structure in Germany doesn't allow
such a concentration of power as long as this situation isn't 
caused by a force from ouside through the introduction of an 
European Super League which would give the two German
teams joining it at first stage a major advantage.

I am quiet happy with the competition in our league even
though I see foreign teams with better chances in
the Champions' League. But as long as we can field
dangerous teams I am content with it, though we won't
ever have the team with the most trophies. This will be
a Spanish or Italian team, their giants can qualify
almost every year for important international competitions 
helping them to gain even more superiority. For our teams this
is much more difficult but the league is very interesting and 
due to its depth almost all German teams are dangerous
in international games.

Subject: Is the stock market good for clubs? (...was Italian decline?)
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 19:55:27 -0800
From: steve d 

Paul Mettewie replying to Cyber Sioux wrote:

> Will going public increase Bundesliga sides'
> presence on the international transfer market?

The opposite seems to be happening in England. Clubs who have floated on
the stock market now have CEO's and MD's and the accounts are carefully
scrutinised and outlandish transfer fees now seem out of vogue. Profits
are required for the shareholders - the dividend is god.

Here's a couple of examples:
1) Manchester Utd - richest club in the world - cleared a 30 million UKP
profit last season (this includes all transfer deals) and about 20
million the year before. Market capitalisation of around 500 million

However, despite this profit (mainly due to external merchandising) they
are relatively quiet in the transfer market compared to other European
"giants". You will often see them associated with players but they
rarely buy - IIRC they have bought Sheringham and Berg this year and
sold Poborsky. The emphasis is more on development from the youth

2) Newcastle Utd - classic example of a club languishing in a lower
division taken over by a multimillionaire. Rollercoaster ride when
Keegan was in charge - over 60 million UKP spent in 4 years. Planning to
build a new stadium. Promotion to Premier League followed by rise to
2nd. Club then floats on the market last year - stadium rebuild is
cancelled. Dalglish is now manager - he's returned a profit of 10
million on transfers. Buys this year - Tomasson, Ketsbaia, Rush, Barnes.
Sales this year - Ferdinand, Ginola, Asprilla. Club languishing 5 points
above the relegation zone. Are the purse strings too tightly held?

> To a certain extent, in this era of Bosman, any team
> with a good youth program is running a risk of losing
> talent because of the money being thrown around in
> the transfer market. Ajax has seen a drain of talent
> due to this.

Then again we have Man Utd - pay the players enough and keep them happy
(i.e. don't buy/sell eight players a year from the first team) and a
stable successful side may develop - players also like winning medals as
well as collecting the filthy lucre.

Liverpool are currently building a 13 million UKP new Centre for
Footballing Excellence based on the Ajax system - other clubs in England
have similar plans. So maybe Bosman has some sort of weird reverse
effect in the UK?