Friday, 22 April 2016

On The March With Parachute Payments FC

Have you ever noticed that when someone or something is doing well, people always try to find something negative to say about them? Maybe to use it as an excuse as to why they feel that they aren’t doing as well? We had that for years when Latics where on their way up to the Premier League (Whelan’s money!) now we’re back at the summit of League One, it’s all because of the Premier League parachute payments we’re still receiving and nothing whatsoever to do with the players and management team working hard over the course of the season.

True, we've been in an excellent position to be able to go out and strengthen at the right times, because we’ve had that money blanket to fall back upon but that money exists because the gap in revenue between the Premier League and the Football League is too wide to bridge. We earned that money fair and square by being in the Premier League for 8 seasons. Is it our fault that the gap in money exists?  Instead of having a go at Wigan Athletic, why not turn your attentions to the Football League for not trying to negotiate a better deal with their television partners and sponsors, so that gap can be made a tiny-bit smaller? SKY television show live games and now their betting arm sponsors the leagues...dare I say that the Football League should be trying harder to push for increased deals from them for such exclusive access?

Do parachute payments equal success anyway? No, I’m not sure they automatically do – no doubting that they’re an advantage but we had the payments last year and got relegated from The Championship, so did Wolves a few seasons earlier. The payments haven’t helped Bolton or Blackburn either, nor QPR who have had generous backing from their owners, as well as the (increased) parachute payments. Football, as it should always be, is all about clubs being ran well on and off the pitch. Good clubs are organised from top-to-bottom, regardless of how much money they have available to spend. Burnley, for example, have been able to spend the money they received last season to keep the majority of their squad together and to pick up a few exciting players and are now currently battling away at the top of The Championship. They are a well organised club. We just didn’t compete well enough last season, we used some of our money to make some shocking signings and paid the price. We just weren’t organised enough.

Despite the club’s bad decisions on the field, we at least can take pride in how its profit margins are maintained, because as soon as the possibility of relegation was looming, we immediately sold a vast number of players, brought in some lower-earners to try and keep us in the league and then got rid of them in the summer when we were relegated and replaced them with even lower-earners with League One experience. We adapted to our surroundings and knew that we had to save what is left of the parachute payments to build a younger, hungrier and less-expensive squad. We now have a future with these players, something we wouldn’t have had if we had used the payments to maintain a squad with Premier League wages. Surely that’s a tactic that should be commended and adopted by clubs who find themselves in similar situations?

What our negative detractors won’t take into account too, is that our payments go a long way to help to facilitate the cost of ticketing. We’ve all heard, I’m sure by now, that clubs in the Premier League don’t really need gate receipts to pay the wage bill any more – that money comes from television and sponsorship deals. So why charge the high prices they do for tickets? The answer is simply because they have people in the background wanting to make money. For nearly a decade now, Latics have been lauded for keeping prices as low as possible. Recently, the club announced that season tickets from next season will be £179 for renewals and £199 for new season ticket holders. A brilliant deal and one that I expect/hope will help the club to maintain a 10-15,000 supporter base next season, especially if we are successful in winning promotion this year. What’s the point in charging £300 for a season ticket when nobody is going to buy it? You might as well charge as low a price as possible and if we sell 2 season tickets for every 1 £300 season ticket, then that’s a profit right there.

Saturday after next, we’ll be heading to Blackpool, a club that shines a spotlight on how to run themselves badly, in spite of parachute payments. Well I say ‘run badly’ – critics of the Oystons accuse them of doing it purposely so as owners, they pocket the money earned by the club, without re-investing it back. Not me...I’m not accusing them of anything. That game could conceivably see us promoted to The Championship – and they relegated to the fourth tier. This August will mark 6 years since they beat us 4-0 at the DW in the Premier League. That just shows why it’s better for clubs to reinvest their incomes – because where would that money go if it isn’t reinvested? As a supporter, I don’t want to see faceless people pocketing the majority of the money that my club earns - I’m delighted that our club doesn’t do that. That’s why I can say it is MY club, because I feel involved, I feel that everyone is working to get it to be as successful as it possibly can be.

The question remains for some though; should Wigan Athletic spend their parachute payments, because the other 23 clubs don’t get the same money? Of course we should spend it; the club has earned the money and instead of the owner pocketing it, he has reinvested it into the club to build an exciting future, with exciting players, a new training ground, with cheap tickets thrown in for everyone. That’s all we should want from our football clubs, surely?