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Is Modern Football about to die?

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Normally when the word "administration" comes up in football, it concerns clubs which languish in League 2, or maybe League 1. In the past there as been occasion of teams in the English Championship that have been threatened, and even a few that have suffered the penalty.

Right now, Southhampton (L-1), Salisbury City (Conf) and Chester City  (Conf) are suffering the effects of Administration.  Not many in America would be that concerned, it would be like the Seattle Wolves folding, but the issue is much grander, and while not limited to England, and the United Kingdom, it is most apparent in the European nation most like our own.

The problems in the UK are significant, and they are plaguing clubs with history in the highest divisions on the Isles. From Scottish Premier Club Rangers, to English Premier Club Portsmouth there are clubs at the highest level of football that have missed payroll, and whose debts are so large that merely getting a massive reinvestment will not be enough.

Portsmouth has starting missing payroll, and as I have covered here in the past, they are on their second billionaire ownership from the Arab World. That hasn't been enough. Last season La Liga clubs in Spain were missing payroll as well, which is the reason that Julian de Guzman now plays in Major League Soccer.

Up north in Scotland it had been thought that the Setanta collapse would not hurt the Old Firm, but now it is apparent that most of the players worth a transfer fee will be out for Rangers.  They can not afford their bills, and the debt collectors are looming.

It has gotten bad enough that Wenger is talking about a reduced transfer market due to the massive debts that the banks of Europe have tied up in football. It is no longer a hypothetical, it is clearly apparent that the business model that fueled the EPL to become the grandest league in the sport is broken.

It is also the same model that most European Leagues use. Use debt to sign or transfer players to the club, and just pray that a rich owner will bail you out later. It doesn't work when those billionaires have been losing billions for several years. It also doesn't work when the banks are teetering on collapse themselves and need the hundreds of millions that football clubs owe them in order for the banks themselves to stay solvent.

"January won't be busy," warned Wenger, "because people don't realise there is no money in football, in Europe, in general. We still live in dreamland in football because if you look at how many clubs are struggling in the Premier League and the Championship in England, it is time for us to get a wake up call and not think the situation will last as it has until now."

Arsene's words of warning will not be enough. It will likely take a handful of collapses. Platini's dreams of debt limitation, salary caps and roster limits may become necessary in order for European football's grandest leagues to survive at the top of the heap.

"What is so terrible about debts is that at some stage you have to pay it back. If it was just an intellectual problem it is not terrible but at some stage somebody will knock at your door and say 'Please, can you pay me back?' And that is what is going to happen in football."

The collectors are knocking, and the potential new owners of EPL sides has grown smaller over the global recession. As MLS and the Players Union discuss the new CBA it is key that they look to Europe and see how wrong things are in the oldest footballing nation in the world.

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