It seems to me that the emergence of Middle Eastern football has benefited the footballing world in one particular way, lucre. The sudden economical boom over the last few years in the Middle East has produced many wealthy businesses, and with wealthy businesses comes wealthy businessmen.
With the 2022 FIFA World Cup set to take place in Qatar, many Qatari moguls have undertaken it as their duty and, indeed, challenge, to try to bring the footballing market to the Middle Eastern scene. And already we are seeing the results of this with many legends such as Raúl electing to play their football in the Middle East. It seems as if they Middle East has become the new MLS for the big footballers who wish to wind down before ending their careers.
But I ask, are these Middle Eastern investments really as good for football as they appear to be?!
I ask in the wake of the various rumours that the Al Thani family (the extended family of the current Qatari rulers and owners of Paris Saint-Germain
and Málaga CF
) are looking for a footballing project in the English as well as the German
and Italian leagues, thereby completing a monopoly in Europe in an attempt of bringing the Middle Eastern market to European Football. The rumours adhere to the possible near-future purchase of either Newcastle United
. These men, whose financial assets would mean that either club would be able to acquire the resources to push for European Championship football, have in the recent past also been linked with big money moves for Everton
and Aston Villa
Whilst having a near £500m injection into either of these clubs would all but ensure high quality Champions League football and a further challenge to the Chelsea's and Manchester City's of this world, I cannot help but think that this is an altogether terrible idea.
Recently, the owners of Málaga CF
have fallen out with the club and have thus taken a step back in an attempt to rid themselves of the Southern Spanish side. In the wake of this falling out it has been revealed that many of the player's transfers have not been fully paid, which means that players like Santi Cazorla, Rondon
and other high profile players will have to be sold so as to repay outstanding settlements. The club finished a record fourth in La Liga
last season, qualifying for the play-off stages of the Champions League
for the first time, but now it seems the dream is over as the Qatari owners are set to sell the club to any of a number of interested suitors.
As a Fulham fan, I really would not like to see a rich mogul invest in the club for a season or two and then back out when something goes wrong, leaving the club in disarray. Clubs like Fulham and Newcastle United have a good club ethos and in recent years have been able to make it on their own, without out-of-this-world transfer budgets.
It's good for a club to have a huge buy out when it's a long term project, such as Roman Abramovich and Chelsea, but for a season or two and then just up sticks and go, it seems a waste of time, money and a huge slap in the face of the die hard fans who want to see their club do well.