Date: 10th February 2008 at 11:46am
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We all know the benefits of market driven capitalism and for creating wealth no better system has yet been invented. But stripped of state control, it is a relentless and unfeeling juggernaut, which will roll over everything in its path, in its pursuit of its amoral ends – ever more money.

Some things it can’t do, when left to its own devices. Therefore, in times when other things matter more, it has to be checked and controlled by the state.

For example, for the duration of the WW2, America, the Mecca of the free market, became a command economy. There were no markets for liberty ships and tanks, we didn’t have the money to buy, only a desperate need. In peace time, if left to do its worst, it tends to create the need for charity, for some, and the means to give it, for others. It is the engine of wealth-making, not social justice.

You don’t have to be a communist, not to trust capitalism. You don’t have to be Michael Moore or an unemployed resident of Flint, Michigan, to know that the means of production, can be moved elsewhere. You don’t have to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan to know that professional sports teams are sometimes relocate.

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In Germany, Japan and Scandinavia, (known as the Rhine-model) capitalism is more regulated, and they are better off as a result. From employment rights to pensions and health-care, the Rhine-model works better for the middle and lower strata of society than the Anglo-American model. In America, real income for the middle and lower classes has been falling since the Seventies. You don’t have to read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel And Dimed, to know that the American dream, for most Americans, is just to get by.

The failure of Northern Rock is a symptom of the lack of proper regulation in the British banking industry. This industry which demands less government interference and more freedom from regulation (neo-liberalism) is being propped up by the same government it would prefer not to regulate it.

In short, when capitalism is left to the vicissitudes of the free-market and fails, the rest of us are left to pick up the tab.

So the question remains, as to whether, in a country where regulation is seen as anathema, and where the dominant philosophy, as promulgated by the gate-keepers of the media, is to lessen control and regulation, should we trust unrestrained capitalism to pursue the best interests of football, when so often the interests of the game, conflict with the relentless pursuit of the bottom line?

Market capitalism has brought about a situation where the Premiership is the most marketable on the planet but where only a select few English players, can have any realistic expectations of playing for a club in the top division. If football serves a social or national function which goes beyond profit and loss, is this a good thing?

Do other values supersede the values of capitalism and the rights of shareholders?

Who can we trust to tell us what the dangers are, of taking the Premiership another step deeper into the global market?

Can we trust the football authorities, who as a matter of policy, suppress candid opinion and free-speech, to participate in a proper open debate?

Listening to Keegan declare, that a game lost in January would have no impact on the championship, I wonder if he has the intellectual capacity to understand the issues himself, let alone be a source of worthwhile opinion.

Can we trust Chairman, such as Gold, who are so mesmerized by the thought of the money and who owns a club geared towards lucrative failure?

And can we trust the media, who in all other areas, promulgate the creed of neo-liberal deregulation and have a vested-interest in the global media market?

In the Times today (Saturday) the editorial comment offers an all or nothing view of the marketing of the game. As is the habit of those who promote the creed of an unregulated market, Matthew Syed presents a typical take-it-or-leave-it analysis and suggests that by turning our backs on £5m (per club), we are somehow rejecting the benefits of all other forms of the global marketing of the game, enjoyed thus far. This is the standard ploy of those who wish to propagate the notion that to reject the worst that capitalism offers, is somehow to reject all its benefits too. It is the voice of a self-interested minority, inspired by the philosophy of the lock-out.

It just doesn’t seem like an opinion that is worth trusting: what is good for Murdoch is not necessarily good for me.

To echo Wenger’s words, I am not against innovation per se, but I do not trust the money men to modify their greed for the sake of the English game and I do not trust the football authorities, to regulate any
marketing innovation, in the interest of the English game or the English fans. I do not trust the government to step in and protect our sporting heritage, should market forces suggest that relocation is in the best interest of a billion fans on another continent.

Sometimes the only thing you can trust, is your own gut-instinct.


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