Although millions of people around the world enjoy the simple pleasures of a game of football, the activity has been transformed in the past few decades through the influence of big business.
The game was originally played amongst amateur competitors, and the only money that changed hands would have been small bets, minimal ticket prices and negligible fees.
But now an entire industry has built up around the sport that features multi-million pound transfer deals, huge corporate sponsorships and a vast online network of bookmakers offering a huge range of free bets on just about any football fixture.
The vastly-inflated wages of the professional football player is indicative of the way in which football has become one of the world’s leading types of entertainment.
Megastars such as the Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo earn £650,000-a-week thanks to their phenomenal strike rate on the pitch, and as such, the transfer deals between clubs have also reached eye-watering amounts.
This was seen recently with Manchester United paying a massive £59.7 million to for the Argentine striker Angel Di Maria. But despite the huge amounts of money changing hands, such a gamble can never guarantee success as was seen when the star quickly left the club to join Paris St Germain.
And this January’s upcoming transfer window should also provide a degree of speculation amongst the clubs’ managers and chairmen as they seek to use vast sums of money to ensure their side’s success.
Just as a football club can spend millions on players in the hope that it will pay off in terms of results, many businesses have also gambled with their brand names by trying to tie them to teams through sponsorship deals.
The huge amount of TV exposure that a team can bring a brand through a shirt sponsorship deal can make a great deal of sense. But with the likes of Manchester United earning £53 million per year through their Chevrolet sponsorship, it can be a risky move if the team doesn’t perform as well as anticipated.
Unlike the Bookies.com site that offers football fans free bets if they sign up here to check out the latest match odds, there are no guarantees on football sponsorship as was seen when Tennents, Audi and the Royal Bank of Scotland all limited their dealings with the Rangers club when it was faced with liquidation.
All of which just goes to show that regardless of the action that takes place on the pitch, the effects of what occurs in the boardrooms can often have a more devastating impact upon the beautiful game.