This one-off edition to the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is incredibly insightful, even if it does not do exactly what is said in the show’s description. This is an education in the football finances of the biggest clubs in the world rather than a conversation about the PC game Football Manager which many of the audience expect.
This being said, the audience learns a lot more from University of Edinburgh researcher and FC Barcelona Innovation Hub ambassador Mason Robbins than Sega’s classic simulation could ever tell you.
Robbin’s interactive lecture focusses around his job, which is to find out whether there is an easier way than the ‘‘giant sheet of madness’’ when it comes to financing the biggest clubs in the world, as well accessing the vast fanbases of the biggest clubs in the world. Pointing out the unbelievable fact that just 3% of Real Madrid’s fanbase live in Spain ensures everybody learns something from the football academic.
Robbin’s facts are far from perfect, though, as he tries to claim that Wolves fielded the team with the highest average age of the twenty Premier League teams on the opening weekend, when in fact that title went to Watford. This detracts slightly from his authority, however this is restored when the discussion moves into economics.
The biggest clubs in the world are soon to turn over £1 billion, and yet of that, just £10 million is profit. One of his more interesting points, which could do with being explored more, is contemplating the motivation of the City Group, who are building a football empire across the world, owning clubs in seven countries.
He pinpoints the transformation of football clubs into businesses as beginning in 2007. Robbins himself, being an employee of FC Barcelona and yet having nothing to do with their performances on the pitch, is a fine example of this.
He believes many of the world’s super-clubs have lost what it means to be sports clubs, and from the evidence, he offers it is hard to disagree.
Build a Football Club, IRL! is a fine example of someone with a passion for sharing some of their observations. Robbins’ is not a ‘dangerous idea’, as the series suggests, but is a very interesting one.
Build a Football Club, IRL! (Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas) took place at New Town Theatre
On 13th August