You’re probably expecting to read an article attacking Manchester City and Chelsea fans for ‘ruining’ football by supporting clubs on the pure basis of spending power and success.
Instead I’m going to debunk the constant criticisms levelled hypocritically at supporters of new comers to the elite world order of club football.
Essentially very close to all detached supporters of European football clubs are ‘glory hunters’. By detached I mean living in Australia with no geographical ties to the clubs that people ‘support’ and by ‘glory hunters’ I mean supporting a side only because they will be successful.
European football is unique in world sport for the free market that runs unobstructed by the constraints of a draft or salary cap.
Essentially the rich become richer by securing the best players for continued and improved income streams of prize money, television contracts and sponsorships. This creates a cycle in which competitions exist with internal chasms.
In the English Premier League there are a select group of clubs competing to win the title, realistically at season’s start it totalled three and is perhaps down to one three quarters of the way through.
This cycle is only realistically broken by the artificial enhancement of a clubs finances by people like Sheik Mansour or Roman Abramovich.
As you go down the table you notice the competitions inside a competition that pit sides in a battle for the economic boom that is fourth place and the Champions League, top half finish and inevitably the sides destined for relegation battles from the season’s onset.
Sports fans support sides for any number of reasons, because they live in or are from the area, because their favourite player plays or played there or because they were encouraged by an over exuberant parent keen to leave a permanent imprint of their child’s sporting preferences.
Ultimately detached sporting fans by definition can’t support a side of geographic importance to them, or they indeed wouldn’t be detached.
The conditions of European competition mean that your favourite player is infinitely more likely to star for the ladder leaders than cellar dwellers.
Evidently the absence of salary caps creates competitions that are incredibly uneven and largely predictable as opposed those sports in which a side’s fortunes ebbs and flows across seasons and playing talent is spread more evenly across sides.
And the conditions created above determine that the final option I have propositioned, that of family influence, is also unlikely to come from outside the sporting elite.
Largely the conditions today are the same as thirty years ago; a select few clubs dominate competition after competition.
A Manchester United or Liverpool ‘fan’ accusing a Chelsea or Manchester City ‘fan’ of being a ‘glory hunter’ is perhaps the most hypocritical insult in the sporting world. Everyone viewing from afar is drawn towards the most successful and financially powerful clubs.
Just like elite players aren’t flocking to Liverpool for the grand history of English football’s second most successful club, detached supporters won’t flock to the lovable underdog of Norwich City and Grant Holt.
The next time you open your mouth to deride a glory hunting friend at the unholy hour of two am at the local RSL club, think about what you’re saying and your own motivations.
Remember, no one likes a hypocrite.