Does everything come down to money?
Starting from next season, the lowest ranked Premiership club will receive close to EU122m for TV rights alone for their domestic matches. This comes from a total package of EU6.51bn. Contrast that with the EU2.82bn that Serie A will receive and you will quickly see the potential problems facing not just Juve, but the league as a whole. The lowest ranked club in Serie A, until the 2018/19 season will receive EU26.5m.
That difference of EU100m is staggering and will continue to support the trend of the Italian league dropping by the wayside. With stadium attendances ailing on the peninsula, whilst remaining steadily huge in the Premiership, and Italian teams failing all too early in European competition, the chances of Serie A sides improving our UEFA coefficient and clawing our way back from 4th in the table of leagues, seems ever more slim.
Juve, if they maintain top spot, should be on course to receive EU122m per season from the TV rights. Which is on par with the bottom ranked Premiership side. The top Premiership side in the same period will receive EU184m.
I have no interest in delving into the distribution routines agreed by the leagues in question, suffice to say, it seems far more slanted in the top sides favour in Italy than in England.
The reasons for this horrid and growing chasm can be discussed briefly…Failure in Europe. The rise of investment of oligarchs and sheiks in the Premiership. What is of most interest to me personally is that the decline of Serie A correlates perfectly with the Moratti led calciopoli attack focused on Juventus with others suffering mildly in turn. Juve were unjustly put down by a greedy, powerful billionaire, and thereafter the league as a whole suffered and has not yet recovered. We have recovered as a club, yet the new TV deals are going to make our resurgence ever harder to sustain.
Why did the Premiership prove the most fertile ground for investment from overseas? Perhaps the pace of the game. Perhaps the marketing of those in power. Perhaps simply good fortune. There is also the atmosphere generated by packed stadiums brimming with immensely passionate fans. Juve find an average of 38000, which ranks alongside 8th placed Everton in the attendance measures.
Bear in mind that the above figures take into account our bountiful European campaign of last season, which contributed close to 90m of the 199m. Without which, we would have dropped out of the top ten. Whilst our attendances are solid, we are well below every other team above us in the revenues stakes when it comes to commercial and match-day income. We are on the right tracks, yet there is huge work to be done in terms of catching the emerging global markets which other clubs have already plumbed superbly.
The top 30 clubs is where the English strength is really reflected with the number of representatives rising from eight in 2013 to 17 in 2015 (up 3 from 14 in 2014), including three debutants: Crystal Palace, Leicester City and West Bromwich Albion. As Deloitte observed, “This is again testament to the phenomenal broadcast success of the English Premier League and the relative equality of its distributions, giving its non-Champions League clubs particularly a considerable advantage internationally.”
“What is particularly striking is the low match day income for Italian clubs. Juventus’ move to a club-owned stadium has helped increase their revenue to £39 million, but the others’ revenue is miles behind: Roma £23 million, Milan and Inter both £17 million. It was recently reported that the average attendance in Serie A had dropped below 22,000 in the 2015/16 season.”
“The English clubs fill all the places between fourth and tenth for broadcasting income, thanks to the size of the Premier League contract. This is even before next year’s blockbuster deal, which should increase the TV revenue of the top clubs by around £50 million a season.”
Whatever the reasons, the future is now looking bleak for Serie A. For when the winners of the league earn the same revenue from TV rights, which make up the major factor of income, as the bottom placed side in the Premiership, what hope is there for the Italy? What this is leading to is a discussion of what players seek, above all else…
Despite the rancid contrasts in financial renumeration from the TV revenue, Juve have recovered and prospered. Yet we find ourselves now, facing what can only be described as a halfway house, where players can aim for glory, yet if they prosper and succeed, they will then be offered likely double the money to ply their trade elsewhere. Which leaves us two choices;
- we continue with the project and hope that loyalty and love for the club is enough to keep our best players in our colours.
- we seek foreign investment and ownership to match the economic power of the nouveau riche.
Undoubtedly we will go with option 1. And rightly so. However, we must prepare ourselves for a future wherein recruitment is going to play an ever more prominent role in our success both on and off the field.
There have been signs of this in recent times. Namely with Sanchez and Aguero, both of whom we were mightily eager to sign. Both of which chose the vastly superior riches of the Premiership. It was money which motivated those moves, not solely the chance of achieving glory on the greatest stage of all. I suppose it has always been this way, and I am well aware of how our own riches have been the founding pillar of our storied history. We must accept that times have changed. No longer is Serie A able to pay wages higher than or on par with anywhere else in the world. The best players wish to challenge at the top level. Some retain a sense of club loyalty as well as recognise the history of a club as an institution of global football. Others…have less interest in history. Such as the assorted mercenaries found at Man City.
I baulk at any suggestion of failure on the part of Beppe, Paratici and others at the club who have some involvement in recruitment because it has been there work, more than any others, which has launched us back amongst the elite. And there is every reason to assume that this crowd at the club are growing in expertise, forging new connections, scouring different markets and using the success gleaned on the field to attract promising and established talent to the club. Yet selling the Juve ethos; its ambition and history and culture is going to become a harder job, when talent is being offered double the money in the Premiership.
We have been strongly linked with Gundogan. Yet Klopp is at Liverpool, which is one potential draw card and his club can offer superior wages. They are a club of fine history yet have barely been anywhere near domestic dominance or glory for many moons. Other than the – some would say fortunate – champions league victory overseen by Benitez. They appear unlikely to challenge for the premiership title any time soon. And to achieve champions league qualification is looking equally daunting. Liverpool can offer more money. As can many teams above them in the table, in fact every one but Leicester. Does Gundogan wish to achieve success on the field at the highest level or earn the most money possible?
This question is going to become paramount in the concerns of any established player we chase. We can compete in terms of opportunity for glory on the field, and of course club status, yet we simply cannot do the same when it comes to money.
Our eagerness to improve Dybala’s contract to EU4m per season with bonuses attached makes sense, and I assume he will stay at least for another couple of seasons. Yet if he continues to blossom in the same vein, other clubs with deeper pockets will come calling. The same concern will manifest with Alex Sandro and Morata (if we can pay off Real and find him singularly a Juve player). Success of our club leads to interest from more financially potent clubs.
Now I can understand and accept players succeeding at Juve and wishing to move to another top club, such as Barca or Real or Bayern, to try a new league, culture and lifestyle. This is always a palatable proposition .Yet when it comes to a player like Sanchez, moving to Arsenal instead of Juve, where he is likely to win less, but earn massively greater wages, the scene becomes less wholesome. And tricky to negotiate.
The club must work diligently, as it has been doing, to sign world class players, promising players, to improve the squad year upon year, focus vigorously on youth investment and hope that the feeling of being a Juventino, part of a club which is respected and regularly challenging for top honours, is enough to deter a steady exodus of our finest talents to a gilded journey to the Premiership.
It is an odd sensation to find myself eager to see Man City join Chelsea in failure to qualify for the champions league. Perhaps also Man U. Which gifts Juve the chance to avoid those clubs, all of whom can outspend us with ease, when it comes to recruitment in the Summer. Although I suspect that all three will be back in the competition the year after.
This piece has become rather scattered, in terms of its direction, yet I trust that I have at least offered an insight into how the new TV deal is going to affect our own ability to procure the finest talent.
We are doing everything we can as a club. Acquitted ourselves magnificently against Bayern, despite our early exit and the squad is improving year upon year.
It bothers me to ponder how some fans will pour scorn upon Beppe and accuse our club of becoming a stepping stone to greater riches. Why not become the underdogs? Why not fight our way ahead with less resources? Money does not always lead to glory. Heart and zeal and spirit are of equal if not more importance than talent alone. And the victories will become ever more sweeter when we are facing a side of infinite resources, matching them. Success will come through toil, graft and true grit. Not simply by mopping up the finest players on the market at the highest prices. No, that kind of glory is less satisfying. Not all is lost, far from it.
Maybe the days of players growing up with Baggio and Platini on their walls and seeing Juve as the pinnacle of their aspirations are drawing to a close for the many. Maybe we will be unable to hold onto our best talents for the duration of their careers. I care not a damn, for I believe we have been progressing wonderfully, the seniors are vying for top honours and the youth sector is presently…in fine fettle!
Indeed, Fabio Grosso, whose credentials have been very much in question since joining the ranks as a manager, has the U19 primavera not only locking down top spot in the league, set for the final in the coppa, but also now set to face Palermo in the final of the Viareggio tournament.
Juve 2-0 Deportivo Camioneros (Vadala 2)
Juve 1-0 Crotone (Kastanos)
Juve 6-1 LIAC New York (Clemenza 2, Pozzebon, Morselli, Vadala, Tamba M’Pinda)
Juve 4-0 Milan (Pozzebon, Bove, Di Massimo, Morselli)
Juve 3-1 Bologna (Didiba 2, Di Massimo)
Juve 2-2 Spezia Won 5-4 on penalties (Lirola, og)
Other than the usual suspects, I will offer a few words on two trialists who have been thrown in at the deep end…
Matar Dieye is a pure prima punta, Senegalese. Comes on trial from Serie D side Sacilese. Talked of as showing raw talent, in need of improving concentration and holding the ball, yet has the eye for goal and physical prowess to become something special.
Roger Tamba M’Pinda is a french born regista, operating in front of the defence. Intelligent with the ball at his feet, covers well and keeps the game moving as the fulcrum of the side.
We face Palermo in the final tomorrow.
We have won the Viareggio! With a 3-2 victory over Palermo…Goals from Kastanos, Vadala and the ever impressive Di Massimo. Forza Grosso and la primavera!
[Photo credit: Mark Hodson]