Hank Paulson announced yesterday that distressed banks would undergo partial nationalization by the US government taking equity ownership. A move last seen in the Great Depression about 80 years ago. The US government took its cue from a rescue plan announced by Britain last week which has now been adopted by Germany, France, and 13 other countries to unfreeze the credit markets. The US taking a page from those European socialists! Good heavens!
It is interesting to note that similar noises are emanating out of the FA to rein in the Wild Wild West nature of English soccer. The FA chairman, Lord Treisman called for a swath of reforms, changing the archaic fit and proper test for club ownership, improve transparency in takeovers, reduce debt by imposing restrictions on ballooning wages and transfer money. Michel Platini wants more drastic action and the UEFA is considering proposals to ban clubs that fail to solve their debt problems. Increasingly I hear calls for salary caps and a player draft to boost weaker clubs and create a more egalitarian environment.
Salary caps? Player draft? The FA and the UEFA seem to be taking their cues from the socialist NFL. A big part of the NFL's success and popularity comes from its revenue sharing structure that ensures a fair shake for all the competing teams. Only four teams have won the EPL since it began in 1992-1993. In the same time frame, ten teams have won the Super Bowl. Lord Treisman's proposals aren't that radical, he is not proposing a pot of money split up equally twenty ways. But these measures are already ruffling Richard Scudamore's feathers, who does not quite see the spillover affecting the EPL.
Of course, staving of an economic crisis that threatens all of us is more of a priority than saving a club that goes belly up but the parallels are quite striking. The days of laissez faire capitalism seemingly numbered; and at least for the present moment, a move borne out of expediency rather than an ideological shift.