Karl Marx on the Premiership
This month The Sav was able - via paranormal sources - to interview Karl Marx. Did the father of Communism want to talk about socio-economic structures around the world? No. Did he want to rail against the folly and greed of the Credit Crunch? No. He wanted to talk about football.
TS: Karl Marx, how come you want to talk about the beautiful game?
KM: Because football is a metaphor for life.
TS: In what way?
KM: Because what you have is a capitalist hegemony - the so-called Big Four - that dominates the structure, and alters the structure so that any rewards will only go to them.
KM: The top four receive the highest TV payments. Therefore they can afford to buy better players, who will want to play for them because they are a Top Four team. What we have is a circular situation: more money, more and better players, more trophies, more money and so on. This is capitalism - with a touch of the cartel.
TS: But there are other teams who are looking to break into the top four.
KM: Here you refer to Manchester City. My theory is still valid. Manchester City are owned by oil billionaires. They are attempting to use their massive wealth to purchase what they deem to be the best players and become part of the Big Four. They do not wish to change the system. Their aspirations are not revolutionary: they are mercenary. Indeed, they perpetuate the system by virtue of their lavish transfer fees.
TS: Yes, there have been one or two mistakes there.
KM: You bet.
TS: So, who are the proletariat, the bourgeoisie and the capitalists in this metaphor?
KM: It has become complicated. The capitalists appear to be the club owners, but the influence of certain media groups who then pay to show football games has grown to become as powerful as the owners. Together they own the means of production - the football pitches and the television companies that show them. The bourgeoisie were the fans, who invested their time and money in attendance at a game for a return not of money, but of prestige. The proletariat - the workers - were the footballers. But now it has all changed.
TS: How has this occurred?
KM: It has occurred because the aim of football clubs is not to win trophies.
TS: Er... I think you might have had a bit too much schnapps down the pub with Engels.
KM: What I say is true. And please refrain from attempts at jaunty Scouse humour. I am German.
TS: Okaay then.
KM: In the past, the aim was to win trophies. Now it is to make money. Or to spend money. Or rather, to generate money. If a club runs out of money, it is docked large numbers of points. People have died in football grounds, players have practically rioted on the pitch. Was a point ever deducted? No. But get caught with a cash-flow hiccup and next thing you've had 8 points chopped off your total.
TS: Anything else?
KM: Yes. When did you ever see a Man City game on first on Match of the Day?
TS: The last two seasons.
TS: Because they are the richest club in the world?
KM: Precisely. Until they were bought by oil sheiks they were never on first. They were even after Everton on a regular basis. The purchase changed all that. Now, they are front page news. The aim of football clubs is not to win trophies: it is to generate money.
TS: Wouldn't that then make the players no longer the workers?
KM: Very good. Were you ever in The Party?
TS: No. I'm middle of the road.
KM: Then you will be run over.
TS: I thought you didn't appreciate humour.
KM: I wasn't joking. Anyway, the point is this: the proletariat is now the fans.
TS: How so?
KM: Because if the purpose of clubs is to make money, then the producers of the money - the proletariat - are the fans, who pay money at the grounds, to the TV companies and for their license fees.
TS: What does that make the footballers?
KM: Very conflicted individuals. They are generally from a class that is the same as the fans, yet they are projected into a social stratosphere by the enormity of their wages. Are they 'one of us' or not? Even they do not know.
TS: So is there any hope?
KM: Yes. There is one club that has not fallen for the temptation of staggering debt and phonebook wages. They still pay silly money, but not as much as most of the Premiership.
KM: Everton. They spend within their budget, keep debt down. And they are the People's Club.
TS: But wasn't their owner practically begging for buyers?
KM: In the paper.
TS: He didn't mean it?
KM: He is an actor. Truth does not reside in Shaftesbury Avenue. The lack of a buyer will be the best thing for Everton. They will not be subject to the whims of the super rich. How long before one of the owners of the big four or Man City (or Villa or Spurs) decide they are bored with this English game and move onto curling or airlines or cotton futures or precious metals?
TS: I don't know.
KM: Nor does anyone.
TS: So, after all these years, it turns out the progenitor of the Red Army, Red China et all things red is in fact a blue.
KM: Dead right.
TS: And Engels?
KM: He's a blue too.
KM: COYB. (And an end to all oppression, violence and exploitation).