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Old 03-09-2017, 12:00 PM   #1
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Default Freemasonry and football

Freemasonry and football
In a Different League

The London Standard
15 October 2001

by Peter Sharkey, Sports Finance


Next week sees the 138th anniversary of the inaugural meeting of what would become the Football Association. On 26 October 1863, delegates from 11 clubs met at Freemasons Tavern in Lincolns Inn Fields to establish a set of rules for the already hugely popular game of football.

The FA's original ethos was in keeping with mid-nineteenth century Victorian thinking, protecting the game from what it saw as the vulgar effects of commercialism. In a forlorn attempt to maintain amateurism, the FA established a rule in 1882 to banish any club found guilty of paying players.

The rule was overturned three years later after the big clubs of the day threatened to break away (does that sound familiar?)

Even after the Football League was set up in 1888, the game's rulers still believed that the well-off should support the less well-off.
Gate receipts were shared between home and away teams and the League raised a four per cent levy on gate money that was distributed to all clubs at the end of the season. The principle was clear - teams needed each other and the big clubs with larger attendances should not keep everything.

Egalitarianism did not go out of the window as soon as television arrived. Initially, the money paid by ITV and BBC was equally distributed to all League clubs.

It was only in the mid-Eighties that the century-old concept of sharing revenue was jettisoned and clubs in the Football League began to be cast adrift.

In 1988, ITV paid £44m over four years in what was the final exclusive terrestrial TV deal to cover live League matches, including the top flight, in England.

The contract distributed this money as follows: 50 per cent to Division One, 25 per cent to Division Two and 25 per cent shared between Divisions Three and Four.

This was the year that Luton Town's turnover was greater than Chelsea's and Nottingham Forest were the second most profitable club in the land after Arsenal.

If television receipts were still distributed in this way, Football League clubs would be £124m better off, thus eradicating last year's combined operating losses of just over £100m.

As it is, however, of the £286m paid to football clubs by the television companies last season, more than 93 per cent (£267m) went directly to FA Premier League clubs, who have benefited from the fact their deal is now separate from Football League clubs.

As a result, there is a significant monetary gap between the top flight and the Football League clubs that has continued to grow at an alarming rate. Since the first satellite television deal, which began in the 1992-1993 season, the gap in aggregate operating profitability has nearly trebled.

In 1993-94, the combined profit of all the Premiership clubs was £41m and the combined losses of Football League clubs were £16m, a gap of £57m. By 2000, this had grown to £165m, caused almost entirely by the fact that television money is now, for the most part, poured into the coffers of the top clubs at the expense of the majority in the Football League.

Last year, while League clubs lost a total of £112m between them, Premiership clubs enjoyed aggregate profits of £53m.

The gap between the two set-ups is set to grow. By the end of next season, the average turnover of a Premiership club is predicted to be £75m while the average for a Football League club, even allowing for this season's new £85m television deal, will be £7.2m.

Little wonder, then that there is a clamour to gain entry into the Premiership.

The concept of football's founding fathers, that revenue should be distributed on an even-handed basis, has long been abandoned.

Now, the question is how long can Football League clubs continue to compete with their incomes in relative decline?

First Division clubs, in particular, face tough decisions: can they afford to gamble on the uncertainty of future Premier League income by spending that prospective income today? Is it all out for a promotion push or settle for a long-term Division One berth and the occasionally lucrative run in the FA Cup or Worthington Cup?

Worryingly, even if every penny of the additional £85m of this season's Football League broadcasting deal found its way to the club's bank accounts, (as opposed to being spent), the 72 Football League clubs would still find themselves £30m short of balancing their books.

Television has benefited one tiny sector of football, the one aided and abetted by the previously egalitarian FA.

If the administrators do celebrate next week's anniversary, they should, as they count the billions pouring into the top-flight, consider the words of CP Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian in the early twentieth century: 'Television? The word is half Latin and half Greek. No good can come of it.'
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Old 03-09-2017, 12:06 PM   #2
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The Masonic origins of Manchester City:


The Masons achieve their goal:

Ask even the most dedicated amongst them, though, and it is unlikely that they will be aware of the crucial role played by Freemasons in founding the club, and later establishing the glory days of the 1960s and 1970s, when City swept all before them in both European and domestic football.
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