The last 3 months have been bizarre, controversial, and frankly, soul searching for many clubs and for England.
Shockingly, no sticker shock with the new Chelsea transfers. They have acquired some big names names through mostly Bosmans. The only exception, Florent Malouda, at a relatively modest sum of 13m pounds. There was talk of bringing Guus Hiddink as a technical director in a complex two coach scheme. Fortunately, Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich kiss and make up.
The clubs in the 'break the bank' transfer market: Spurs, Man Utd, and Liverpool. Darren Bent, Owen Hargreaves, Nani, Anderson, and Fernando Torres all totted up cost a little less than 100m pounds. Add lesser lights like Younus Kaboul and Gareth Bale, along with the expected 30m Carlos Tevez transfer to Man Utd and these three clubs would have splurged close to 200m pounds.
David Dein resigns after an Arsenal hostile takeover fails. The off season repercussions include the Premiership's crown jewel, Thierry Henry exiting to Barca after nine seasons, Wenger's much rumoured exit, and a flurry of media generated Kroenke and Ecclestone bids. Meanwhile, in the absence of Henry and a takeover, Arsenal's death watch begins.
Man City is acquired by Thaksin Shinwatra, exiled from his native Thailand where he faces charges of graft, tax evasion, and more seriously, possible human rights violations. He installs Sven Goran Erickson as manager, whose previous history is more replete with off field dalliances with high profile women, rather than any substantive soccer accomplishments. Erickson hopes to resurrect his winning ways with Lazio back in the mid '90s. The takeover spawns a million articles documenting the death of the soul of English soccer.
In a separate police investigation, three clubs were raided including Newcastle and Portsmouth and warrants alleging financial irregularities and kickbacks were issued to these clubs. Meanwhile, the Quest investigations unearths circumstantial evidence that Pini Zahavi, the kingpin amongst player agents might have financially benefited from greasing the palms of club officials. His license to practice could be revoked. He threatens to counter-sue.
Man Utd and Liverpool are now butting heads with each other over Gabriel Heinze. At stake a sacrosanct tradition of not allowing player transfers between both clubs. It appears a legal showdown is the only way to resolve this issue.
But if there is one club that will be inextricably linked to the 2007 off season, it would be West Ham, who might change the character of the English game, with their 2006 acquisition of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano, now being fought out in the courts. Third party ownership of players might become a distinct possibility forcing changes in PL law to deal with this eventuality.
The controversy has led four clubs with Sheffield Utd leading the way, to appeal against West Ham's continued presence in the Premiership, MSI filing legal papers claiming that they own the economic rights to Carlos Tevez, and Man Utd appealing to FIFA to step into the dispute. Arrest warrants are out in Brazil for Kia Joorabchian and Boris Berezovsky, partners in MSI, on charges of money laundering, using payments from players like Carlos Tevez. In a bizarre way, the tapping allegations by Bolton against the Hammers for Anelka, might reflect their need for a quality striker, now that it seems likely that Tevez might end up in Old Trafford.
Certainly the amount of media and blog space season suggests an extra-ordinary off season. The hope is that what has been an eventful three months now translates into the more meaningful season itself. Its time to play soccer.