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"If you want some accessible but informative insight into football then I suggest you couldn't do better than the Political Economy of Football website, which is not only intelligible but comes with the added bonus of being written by Addicks fan Wyn Grant."
Ben Hayes - Charlton Athletic programme

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A toxic brand

Foreign owners sometimes acquire clubs in order to boost their brands, both in their domestic market and globally.   However, when the Indian conglomerate Venky's took over Blackburn Rovers, it quickly became apparent that, while they might know something about chickens, they didn't understand much about football.

The one time Premier League champions have been effectively run into the ground.  At the bottom of the Championship, attendances are falling and financial problems are increasing.   Turnover has fallen from £58m a year to £12m a year under Venky's.

The match fixing problem

The immense growth in football betting in recent decades has increased the incentives for criminals to attempt to engage in match fixing and sometimes they find players who are willing to take part.  It's a long way from the days of people filling in the football 'coupon' and hoping to find instant riches.

According to Swiss outfit Sportsradar something like €375 billion of bets are placed each year on football matches.   Their fraud detection unit thinks that about one per cent of matches have been rigged.

Liverpool bid confirms interest of reds

We have been focusing a great deal in the last month or two on the state-led long march of Chinese investors into English football.   This has been confirmed by the interest of China Everbright, a state-backed investment company, in making a bid for Liverpool.

Debunking football finance myths

The Guardian has published an interesting blog that seeks to debunk a number of football finance myths in the context of the transfer window.  The article contrasts the lack of transparency in terms of transfer fees in English football with the NBA and the NFL but, as is pointed out, they operate salary caps so full financial disclosure is essential.

Football tv revenues will continue to rise

Tonight sees the first of a regular series of televised Friday night Premier League games between Manchester United and Southampton.   The innovation has not pleased Saints fans, many of whom have had to take time or a day off work to get there.   Those going by coach won't get home until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. It demonstrates the power of television companies over the game.

Competition between Sky and BT is likely to continue, pushing prices in an upwards direction.    Down the road, Google, Netflix and Apple might decide to get involved.

The north-south divide in football

When the Football League was originally launched in 1888, half of teams came from the Midlands and half from the North of England.   There were no teams from south of Birmingham.   The sport was essentially a game for industrial England.

As The Economist points out in its latest issue, outside of Manchester (once designated as the 'northern powerhouse') and Liverpool, northern clubs are in decline.   The most successful last season, Sunderland, finished 17th.  

Is Carlisle bid for real?

One of the difficulties with reports about takeover bids is sorting out those which are substantive and those which are flights of the imagination.   There have been cases in the past of bidders for football clubs not having the funds they claimed to possess or promised to invest.   In one or two cases they actually proceeded to acquistion with disastrous results for the club concerned.

Hull next in line for Chinese ownership

Despite their surprise victory over Leicester City on Saturday, Hull City are in deep trouble.  There is no permanent manager, the squad lacks depth and the Allam family want out.   Their relationship with Hull City fans has been poisonous since they tried to change the name of the club to Hull Tigers.   Demonstrations by fans against the owners have continued.

Are managers irrelevant?

Yesterday's dramatic 4-3 victory by Liverpool over Arsenal at the Emirates will be seen as a great triumph for Jurgen Klopp and another nail in the coffin of the reputation of Arsene Wenger.   The booing at the end of the match gave a clear indication of what many Arsenal fans felt and the 'Wenger out' crowd will have been strengthened.    The Arsenal board will pay no attention.

Club clamps down on fan social media dissent

A good reputation is important to all businesses, not least football clubs.   Social media can play a crucial role in shaping that reputation, both positively and negatively.   But should a club seek to control the expression of dissent by fans?