Published: July 16th 1999
Having Your Cake & Eating It Too
- The Devil May Care -
I thought we'd have a quiet close season basking in the glories of the
Having your cake and eating it too
Having your cake and eating it too is what business people attempt to do
all the time. But after they've gorged themselves who has to do the washing
I was brought up on football as a game but now it's a business, or at least
that's what we are told. It's what is rammed down our throats every day.
But if it is a business then those who make the business successful should
surely be paid the going rate for the job they perform within the business.
That's how it works, doesn't it?
But Martin Edwards and the plc seem to want their cake and eat it too. So
who goes on corporate jollies all over the bloody world on club expenses in
order to promote the "brand" (as he nausiatingly loves to refer to it) of
Manchester United then? Martin Edwards of course. But how can he be seen to
do what's best for the club when he can't find a way to hold on to one of
the business' greatest assets.
Surely that can't be looking after the business interests of the club can
it? What makes more business sense, paying our most influential player a
top wage or allowing him to leave at the end of the season for nothing and
then having to pay £20 million to replace him and then put that player on
the wages Roy Keane is trying to negotiate for himself anyway? Come on
Martin, if you want to run the business and promote the "brand" you have to
play by the rules. - you bastard well made them after all.
And whether us purists like it or not, I don't think there can be any doubt
that Manchester United is now a business, a global money making machine
that sells wherever it's marketed. But why does it sell - the team on the
pitch of course. And why do we buy into the "brand" the team on the pitch
of course. And why is the team on the pitch that good they make so much
money for this Manchester United "brand" - one, because the team is made up
of some of the best players around including the pivotal force, Roy Keane
and second, because they are managed by the greatest living manager. And
has anyone consulted him about this impasse I wonder.
I think we also need to ask the question why is this all being aired in
public? Why is every newspaper making mileage out of this? Who leaked the
story in the first place? I trust it wasn't Martin Edwards. He was busy
throwing his toys out of his pram a while ago - now I know he's got lots
and lots of toys, but is he still throwing them out? Manchester United
promoting the "brand" my arse - they're holding the club captain up as an
example - standing him in front of the class and threatening him with
It's simple then - without the team on the pitch "the brand" will not sell,
the business becomes less successful and Martin and his like make less
money. You can't gorge yourself on the corporate cake Marty and then expect
not to have to pay for it. It's simple business practice - keep the workers
happy and they will keep you in riches. And keeping them happy means you
have to pay them what they see as a "fair" wage.
Now as far as I'm concerned a 'fair' wage is not the reported £40,000 a
week we seem to be talking about - I mean how much money does someone need?
This is football after all, but it's also entertainment which attracts
countless people all over the world and that is how it is viewed these
days. The precedent has been set. In the music business - the top
performers are paid an enormous amount of money because they bring
entertainment to millions. So it is with football since the advent of
worldwide TV coverage - they are the entertainers, the pop stars of sport.
Image is god.
But why is it that way? Let's face it the powers that be have made the
'game' into what it is today and so they have to live with their decisions
and abide by the rules they have created - you can't have your cake and eat
Roy Keane didn't decide the destiny of football and neither should he be
held up as an example of what to do when someone is seen to rock the
corporate boat. He only wants a slice of their cake and as one of the
world's top midfielders who's to say he shouldn't have it? He is a major
force behind the success of the business and therefore Martin's beloved
So with Edwards and his like setting up Manchester United Football Club and
turning it into a marketable item we are forced (perhaps kicking and
screaming) into a new age. We have to accept their rules - or do we?
What is the future of the game?
Will the players bite the hand that feeds them? Will the sponsors and new
age followers still attend when the game is totally bereft of atmosphere
because those of us who want to vocally support or team are either so
pissed off we don't go or can't afford to go?
In my opinion the ultimate answer to this mess - and it is a mess, should
come from the governing bodies: the FA, UEFA and FIFA. But getting them
together around a table to discuss anything sensible about the future of
the game would be impossible. They are too busy bitching about each other
to even consider the future.
So the ultimate answer must rest with us - the fans.
What exactly do WE want from what was once called "the people's game"?
We are the customers of the business after all. So why then are we treated
so badly? That's easy - we are the captive audience, the ultimate dream of
the money men. Hundreds of thousands of indoctrinated, drug crazed idiots
who follow the "brand" whatever - who loyally attend games, buy the
merchandise and spread the gospel everywhere we go.
What if we ultimately take control of our own destinies? Rise up and
reclaim the game for ourselves? Wouldn't that be the real answer?
And isn't it beginning to happen - we've defeated them once over the BSkyB
bid haven't we, and what of the FA Cup? IMUSA met with the FA yesterday and
Banks is meeting next week - would that have happened a year ago? I don't
think so. This month a conference organised by United supporter Jonathan
Michie, was held to discuss the future of the game and some high ranking
people attended. A Coalition of Football Supporters has also been formed,
the FSA has more power and the Football Taskforce has David Mellor - it's
not all going so well then, but it's a step or two in the right direction.
But what of Roy Keane then?
There's no doubt in my mind a compromise should be reached and if it isn't
we may as well kiss him goodbye and say hello to an even more temporary
playing staff, because make no mistake Roy Keane is a Manchester United
player, he's just negotiating with the business. he's playing by the rules
- their rules, not his.
If Roy goes, the greedy self interested money men will have won. They will
once again be top dogs and we will be back to the same old dictatorial
regime. We will never see Manchester United anymore, it really will be the
"brand" forever and we will simply be pawns in the rough, tough business of
football - there solely for the benefit of the butcher's boy, the plc and
So - option 1:
Negotiate a compromise with the captain. Force a review of the game. Force
negotiation with the customers and let us decide the fate and future of
Or - option 2:
RIP Manchester United may you rest in peace. Thanks for everything - the
Babes, Sir Matt, Denis, Bobby and George, Doc's Army, Norman, Sparky and
Robbo, the doubles and the treble. I've enjoyed supporting you for the last
40 years. Thanks for the miracle of Barcelona, I'll remember it for the
rest of my life, but I'm afraid nothing will ever be the same again. Thanks
Martin Edwards and the plc, you have finally managed to destroy the legend
and turn it into your own personal cash cow.
Option 1 or option 2 - the choice is yours.
I know which one I'd chose - stand up and fight for the game you love.
The Devil May Care - DMC.