Utanians play it in the streets, on the fields, in their backyards, and in the grand
stadiums in front of 100,000 screaming fans.
It is the essence of Utania, and it seems futile to mention statistics that
Utanians spend an estimated Û680 million on club memberships, Û440
million on merchandising, Û300 million in members-only football clubs, some
Û150 million on entry to games, or Û290 on football equipment.
These are figures for the economics of the game, but they hardly capture the
spirit of the people playing the game they love.
Yet, there it is. Football in Utania is a multi-billion pund industry, and
the UFA is arguably at the centre of it. The decisions we make about how the game
should be managed will have an enormous impact on how the game is played. And, with
billions of punds at stake, there is no shortage of influences to be felt.
Should players be allowed to play for non-Utanian clubs?
Ultimately, there is nothing the UFA can do to stop it, but to date the rule
has remained in effect that a player who plays overseas will not be eligible to
play for the national Utanian team, nor permitted to play in UFA competitions or for
Should this continue? Most players are content to play for local clubs, but
as the world opens up to Utania remembering that the Dependencies were closed
to foreigners, and closed off from the world until independence the pressure
to play for foreign clubs, where the multi-million pund salaries can be found, will
be immense for players.
Why shouldn't Utanian players play for overseas clubs? The argument is that
all the best players will head overseas, leaving Utania with a competition that is
less than the country can provide. If that continues to the extreme, people may have
more interest in watching overseas competitions, and Utanian football may dissolve
into the background.
Such a scenario is regarded as the ultimate disaster for an Utanian cultural
institution that has enriched the people of this great country for so long. We
simply CANNOT allow it to be eroded so.
So, shouldn't players be paid according to their (international) worth?
This is a perfect solution, but for the lack of money in Utania. Utania's
Luka Central Football Club is the wealthiest in the land, and yet, even it at C26.6
million in revenues, is only "one of the leading clubs" compared to the Westrian,
Zartanian, Whitlamite, Solelhadan, Porto Capital, or Namurian clubs, some of which
have tens of millions alone in player salaries. This situation is made worse when
the rest of Utania's clubs are compared, such as the tiny Yan Gror, on C300,000.
In light of these facts, the UFA Board, along with the majority of clubs,
have determined that the overseas playing ban must remain in place, for now.
This is the realities of the economics of football in Utania.
Another issue that is greatly affected by money is player transfers, which goes to
the heart of the issue of keeping the Utanian competitions fair and equitable.
Û680 million on club memberships, Û245 million of that on the 32
UFA competition clubs, and over Û360 million on clubs with fewer than 10,000
Û440 million on merchandising,
Û150 million on entry to games,
Û290 million on football equipment,
Û300 million in football clubs' member-only clubs, and
Û140 million on corporate sponsorship.
Just as permitting foreign money to buy up Utanian players would ruin the
game, so too will allowing money to determine how teams perform in the competition.
No one wants to see the nation competition dominated by one or two teams
with the most money. Therefore, no one wants money to run the game. No one wants
clubs to bury themselves in debt, as has happened overseas, to pay star players to
keep the club's fans. Loyalty to Clubs should not be bought with the latest
multi-million pund player transfers.
The people of Utania have spoken: they want a game, not businesses!
To this end, the UFA has attempted to stem the transfer of players, but a
long-term solution to this issue is yet to be found.
Some proposals have been:
- Salary caps, restricting the amount clubs can pay players, though this could
force players overseas;
- Greater UFA control of revenues, such as stadium advertising and gate receipts,
allowing smaller clubs to be given a larger share of the pie, which, predictably,
has been opposed by wealthier clubs;
- Allowing clubs to be bought by millionaire sponsors, as has been done overseas;
None of these has yet been accepted as the final solution, and it is an issue
that the UFA is dedicated to resolving for the benefit of the clubs, the players
and the fans.
There are numerous other issues that impact the game, and you can be sure the UFA
will be working to resolving them as quickly and fairly as possible.
This is because the UFA is somewhat entrusted with the future of Utanian
football, and we know what is at stake.