So the holiday season has come and gone, and we’re all already struggling with our resolutions of drinking less, eating better and doing more exercise.
The weather is shite, you’re probably full of the cold, run down after weeks of excess over Christmas and doubtless skint.
Wouldn’t it be nice if a friendly, oil rich Saudi decided to give you £1billion of his not so hard earned cash and splurge it on a team of your choice?
Obviously that is never going to happen, but let’s step out of the realms of reality and into a make believe world where that was the case – what would you do?
I remember speaking to friends of mine back in 2011 just after the Qatar Investment Authority bought Paris Saint Germain, basically turning Les Parisiens into a global footballing super power almost over night, and asking each other: If you had the money, what club would you buy?
Naturally, without hesitation, everybody chirped up and suggested their own boyhood clubs and how they would bring Cristiano Ronaldo to play at (insert extremely mediocre club ground here) and life would be brilliant.
In terms of creating an internationally recgonised, marketable team, however, this probably wouldn’t be the best way to go about things.
The Qatar Investment Authority were no mugs when they chose PSG as the team to pump a shed load of money into, were they?
Paris is a truly global city with fine dining, great shopping, bags of culture and a real history to boot – who in their right mind wouldn’t want to live there? Never mind if you were going to be playing for a massively successful football team (give it time) and earning a couple hundred thousand pounds a week.
Add to that a great venue like the Parc des Princes and you’re laughing. All the pieces are already there – all that’s needed is the money.
If Middlesbrough had that sort of capital, do you think Zlatan Ibrahimovic would up sticks in Milan and chase an even bigger buck on Teeside? I’m sorry Boro fans, but I think not.
So that got me thinking, where would be the perfect place to invest in a football club?
We have seen fat-cat owners try it all over the world with varying success.
Chelsea and Manchester City have both used an already large and loyal fanbase, as well as the best part of a billion pounds, to bring the Premier League trophy to their respective grounds, although the same can’t be said for a team like Anzhi Makhachkala, who have to train their players 1000 miles away in Moscow because of conflict in the Dagestan region that the club plays in.
Anzhi’s project is as young as PSG’s, but the logistics of playing out there – coupled with a nasty culture of racism in the Russian game – make it hard to see local billionaire Suleyman Kerimov’s team ever reach the top of the game.
Let’s not forget teams like Gretna, whose investment may never have been as vast as those we’re talking about, yet showed that with a bit of funding it’s definitely possible to reach the heights of the national game. Would they have gone even further with more money?
So what would you do?
Would you try and live the dream and take the likes of Gala Fairydean to play at the Nou Camp? Would you gamble on a team like Leeds, where you could get the best part of Yorkshire behind you? Maybe try to topple Real’s dominance over Madrid by investing in Athletico, or Espanyol in Barcelona? Or maybe someone totally different?
Having given it some thought myself, I’ve chosen Hertha Berlin as my project.
Playing in the 74 000 capacity Olympic Stadium, the scene of Jesse Owens’ four medal haul in the face of the Fuhrer, as well as two world cup finals, you have a ready made venue in one of Europe’s most important and beautiful capital cities.
Add to that the growing strength of German football and the fact that the Bundesliga is the best supported league in the world and I think you’re onto a winner.
So who’s it going to be, boss?
P.s. I know the financial fair play rules are coming into play in the not to distant future, but let’s be realistic enough to realise that you’ve not got a billion pounds to spend on a football club anyway.