—- Exactly a century after the start of the First World War, a four-part documentary from Australian film-maker ROD HAY picks up on the effect on the development of football finance and the transfer market.
How Much is Enough? follows the founding of the modern game and how the players union was forced almost into bankruptcy in 1915 when it supported Herbert Kingaby, an Aston Villa player caught up in a typical player ownership fight.
Kingaby’s legal team did not argue effectively his case that a player’s contract was little more than a form of slavery and, as a result, the union was pushed into the wilderness for many years.
Elsewhere, as Hay records, the game elsewhere was transformed from essentially amateurs playing under English guidelines, to a gradual form of professionalism.
A World Cup without England had been created by FIFA and would become emblematic for the future – apart from traditionalists within the Football Association who refused for far too long to acknowledge that there were better teams out there.
Refusing to accept the reality of global progress would prove costly. The rest of the world not only caught up but surpassed the English game in form, style, and earning power.
Though football was now – across the world – the people’s game, players’ minimalistic salaries remained a festering sore, with no football ‘doctor’ prepared to offer a decent solution.
South American club owners also battled to maintain amateurism, which only resulted in further conflict, resulting in the 1947 breakaway league in Colombia that ignored its FIFA suspension.
It attracted many of the best players in the world, especially those from Argentina. Money was no object. It was the carrot which brought many thoroughbreds to the starting line. For a fleeting moment the best exchanged passes and tackles with the rest, irrespective of background. It was the Premier League without television, 50 years ahead of time.
It also created, arguably the best player of the time, in the Argentinian, Alfredo Di Stefano. But when FIFA managed to broker a deal with Colombia’s renegade football league the six-year dream was over.
With Colombia firmly back in the FIFA fold, Di Stefano would go from Millonarios to Real Madrid and became the on field architect of owner Santiago Bernabeau’s dream to create the best team and biggest club in the world.
Hay’s documentary moves on to compare the imbalance between football’s rapid demographic development and the money involved.
The old social order was being pushed to one side, football was now a game where the biggest money bought the biggest players. England, meanwhile, still steadfastly refused to recognise anything but the home bred player, and ignored the willingness to pay money on a scale that only the Europeans were prepared to offer.
It meant the new order had now firmly shifted to Europe.
The original Pele law
The only player who proved impossible to move was Pele, not because Pele refused to go, but because the Brazilian government brought out a decree which stated they regarded Pele as a national treasure and he would not be allowed to leave Brazil.
The only exception was permission to friendly matches in Europe with his Brazilian club side Santos which would earn him more money than he could have imagined.
In the meantime, the intransigence of the English establishment towards player rights was starting to crack.
Newcastle’s George Eastham, a target for Arsenal, stood up bravely against his club and refused to play, until Newcastle eventually agreed to his transfer. This was not a complete capitulation of clubs to players but it did open doors.
Now agents, previously only a minor influence, began to flex their muscles.
Meanwhile, Italian and Spanish clubs confirmed their stranglehold on the transfer market, enabling them to buy the best in Uruguay’s Juan Schiaffino, Argentina’s Omar Sivori and Diego Maradona, Welshman John Charles and Holland’s Johan Cruyff to name but a few.
A handful of British players did make the move, but they were more the exception than the rule . . . until the advent of satellite television.
Part One: http://keirradnedge.com/2014/04/19/how-much-is-enough-new-documentary-examines-how-football-followed-the-money-part-one/
The credits . . .
ROD HAY is an award winning writer-producer-director, based in Australia, who has been creating unique images and stories for over two decades. His experience stretches across four continents and a range of features, television series, documentaries, commercials and music videos. He is equally at home with action, drama, sport, and animation.
In sport he has covered many subjects, covering football, athletics, horse racing, boxing, motor racing, rowing, rugby, swimming, tennis, and gymnastics, all at top level, although football is his passion and preferred choice. He played for West Ham United as a junior.
He has won a number of global awards including Sportel’s Golden Podium d’Or in 1997 and Ficts Film Festival’s best football film of all time, in 2008.
His programmes have screened in more than 100 countries, including History Channel in the United States and the rest of the world, Discovery, Sky, Fox, ESPN, HBO, Globo, TF2, ART, Premier, SBS, Canal +, to name but a few. He is also a freelance photo journalist and correspondent, author of four books, and an inveterate traveller.
In 2006 he was president of the prestigious Sportel International Film Jury, in Monaco, and has been a jury representative on various other festivals, including AlJazeera. Hay has been running his parent company, Moving Targets, for more than 25 years.
How Much is Enough? is currently playing on ESPN. The series goes global from April/May, and then onto DVD and the internet.
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