For anyone who believes that the English game is in serious financial trouble, they should take a look at the current state of Argentinian football and breathe a sigh of relief. The opening weekend of the new season has been suspended as the Argentine Football Association (AFA) seeks to address the amount of debt the clubs have amassed. Sources claim the clubs owe the government up to £100m in taxes, as well as debts to the AFA and their own players.
In an attempt to find a resolution all games are on hold as the AFA attempts to find a get-out clause in their television contract and re-negotiate for double the amount. The decision has not gone down well with the fans who, upon hearing the news, headed straight to the headquarters, pelting it with stones while calling for the head of President Julio Grondona.
The problems have not been caused by all the clubs. There are seven clubs, including River Plate, which are seen as carrying the majority of the debt and need to get their financial house in order before the season can begin. Yet these clubs seem oblivious to the problem. Two of them, Independiente and San Lorenzo, continue to buy players as they look to get their squad competitive for the new season. They are counting on the AFA reaching a conclusion to the deal for further television money, or at very least an advance (although this would only exacerbate the problem as they would then receive less in the following years).
The other well-managed clubs are furious. They do not understand why these clubs are still allowed to buy players when it is their debt stopping them from playing games. Whatever happens, a conclusion will be reached soon. The AFA will have to take some action – otherwise the fans will only become more riled – but it is the clubs that really need to address the problem. They are pushing the rules as far as they can to put together a decent side. Regulations desperately need to be put in place to stop this from happening.