Business & finance

Malcolm Glazer may have been frustrated in his first attempt to take over at Old Trafford, but he and the United ownership saga are certainly not finished, as Adam Brown explains

When the board of Manchester United announced at the end of October that they were breaking off talks with Malcolm Glazer, the American businessman attempting to take over the club, many assumed that this was the end of the matter. However, far from this being the “final nail in the coffin”, as one put it, there are a number of options left open to the owner of Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At least one of these scenarios should be sounding alarm bells in the minds of all football fans, for the future ownership of Manchester United will have implications far beyond Old Trafford.

With Atlético Madrid plumbing new depths of design disaster, David Wangerin traces the history of kit advertising from Kettering Tyres to Spiderman 2 and wonders if club identity has been lost along the way

Look at any football photograph from the mid-Seventies. The glue-pot pitch, the plain white ball and the wild sideburns of some of the players certainly call to mind an almost primitive era, as does the enor­mous terrace of fans crammed into the background. Yet one anachronism in particular reveals just how the visual elements of British football have changed: the remarkable austerity of the playing strips. There are no manufacturer trademarks and no league logos or appeals for fair play on the sleeves. Most conspicuously of all, nothing is displayed across the chest. It’s undeniably an outdated image, yet one that happily draws the eye closer to the tiny club crest, instead of toward some gargantuan commercial mes­sage. An age of marketing innocence, some will bewail, but one certainly to be admired for its aesthetic appeal, to say nothing of its integrity.

They may be worth £1 million or so to David Beckham, but not every player picks up a cheque for wearing a brand of boots. Not even, as Chris Britcher writes, every England player

February 1977, Wembley. Stan Bowles, the QPR striker who helped push Liverpool to the wire in the championship, is about to pull on his boots for his fifth England cap. But Stan has a dilemma. Stan has been offered, in the run-up to the match, £200 to play in Gola boots. But on the day of the game, Adidas puts £300 in front of him. Does he upset Gola, with whom he has a deal? Or does he run with the higher bid?

Keegan and Brut, McAteer and Head & Shoulders, Owen and Daz: Cameron Carter traces the evolution of player endorsements

Before the current era of personal branding, foot­ballers were placed in front of the camera merely as cele­brated tradesmen whose fame, as a result of mastery of their craft, was viewed as sufficient reason for the impressionable viewer to go out and buy the very latest hair lacquer. 

Michel Platini hopes to become FIFA president one day by campaigning against clubs' financial recklessness, explains Ben Lyttleton

FIFA executive committee member Michel Platini has launched a one-man crusade to clean up football and vowed to punish clubs that consistently spend beyond their means. “Football is a game and I will do everything I can to defend it against businessmen,” said the former France midfielder and national-team coach. “Everything has been done to take away the real value of football. These days we’re always talking about the European Commission, G-14 and the Stock Exchange. Of course the game needs money, but money must never come before the game.”

As a survey reveals the extraordinary sums the game has paid some people for doing very little, Barney Ronay hopes one man can be persuaded to put a little back

As Woody Allen once said, money is better than pov­erty, if only for financial reasons. English foot­ball currently has both in equal measures: the League is rife with talk of exactly how many clubs are toting around life-threatening debts; meanwhile, the Sunday Times Pay List 2003, published last month, reveals that, of the 500 best-paid individuals in the United King­dom, 56 made their money from football, 44 of them players.

For clubs in trouble, bringing the fans on board can help stabilise a crisis and renew confidence. Ken Gall reports on the experiences at the Sixfields Stadium and Tannadice

In a world of Russian billionaires, Franchise FC and “living the dream”, it’s not hard to see why greater supporter involvement in the boardrooms of UK clubs is to be desired. The rise of the supporters’ trust move­ment and the arrival of fans – elected or otherwise – as directors has been a wel­come development and one of the few beneficial consequences of the financial shambles that is UK football.

Four years after the Football Task Force recommended them, the FA still haven't produced rules on who can and cannot own a club. James McNamara explains why

Despite their latest move to investigate an initiative designed to rid the game of opportunist asset-strippers, the Football Association have been accused of dragging their feet over introducing a Fit and Proper Persons Test (FPPT). The 1999 Football Task Force report Commercial Issues recommended the introduction of a vetting procedure for those wishing to become large shareholders in a football club, but the proposal has remained on the drawing board. On the back of recent speculation about “mysterious” foreign in­vestors circling the game, the government has hard­ened its pressure on the FA to address the matter. Following the Chelsea takeover, a source from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport reportedly told the Guardian that Tessa Jowell hoped football would introduce a "fit and proper per­sons" test in the near future. By mid August the FA’s newly formed Finance Advisory Committee (FAC) met for the first time and pledged to introduce the test at next sum-mer’s FA Annual General Meeting, ready to be implemented at the start of the 2005-06 season.

Heralded as an indicator of football’s rise when launched 12 years ago, it’s the best guide to the game’s health. Roger Titford looks at this year's Deloitte & Touche report

Deloitte & Touche’s annual review of football finances is now in its 12th year. The series will offer the foot­ball historian of the future a far more accurate and detailed source for the football boom-and-near-bust years than the usual run of football/business books.

Adam Powley finds out what changes in the transfer system will mean for clubs

Barely a day goes by without some doom-laden tale warning of financial disaster for football. Welcome news of a sort therefore came with the announcement last month that Premiership clubs have agreed changes in the transfer system that promise to bring much needed stability to a very jittery market.

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