By Martin Samuel - Sport for the Daily Mail Updated: 19:03 EDT, 10 July 2011>
Perhaps UEFA could be persuaded to rule on a fair price for Manchester City defender Jerome Boateng. Those guys seem to know the value of everything these days.
They know how much a stadium naming rights deal is worth at a club that may - or may not - be on the brink of becoming one of the most significant in Europe.
They know what a kit deal should mean to a team that may - or may not - be about to win Europe's richest domestic league.
Welcome to the Etihad Stadium: Manchester City struck a huge £400m deal to rename Eastlands last week
And they can put a precise price on a fledgling project involving transport infrastructure, retail and sports education in the Greater Manchester area that may - or may not - create a new and vibrant entrepreneurial hub to the east of the city.
Indeed, it is hard to imagine why we continue listening to those bozos who made such a pig's ear of judging the financial fortunes of the Mediterranean countries, when all the finest economic forecasters in Europe can be found hanging around Michel Platini's office in Nyon.
UEFA have announced they will look into Manchester City's £400million, 10-year sponsorship arrangement with Etihad Airways, to see if financial fair play rules have been contravened.
Squabble: City and Bayern Munich are in dispute over the transfer value of Jerome Boateng (left)
'Our experts will make assessments of fair value using benchmarks,' said a spokesman.
What benchmarks are these?
City are all about potential right now. They could be anything, or nothing. They could usurp Barcelona or end up in the Europa League next season. And there is no precedent for City as a major European force. What would be the going rate, were City to win the modern Champions League? Who knows? They have never even been in it before.
Yet there is already pressure over the Etihad deal from the old European elite, who feel threatened. They want the arrangement investigated because of very obvious links between Etihad and Manchester City. The airline is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, whose ruler, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan is the half brother of City's owner Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan.
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The claim is the figures have been artificially inflated to help City comply with UEFA's financial rules. And maybe they have; but so what? Business is about contacts. There are plenty of deals struck at a certain price because one side is playing a long game, hoping to do better down the line. A company might agree a significant discount to reel in a wealthy client; another might make a generous offer to establish a relationship and benefit in the future.
The microcosm is giving a busy tradesman a generous tip at first, in the hope of then being able to call on his services and time more regularly.
Clearly, these examples do not apply to Etihad and City, but they might apply to other major clubs in Europe and to a business that wanted a foot in the door at, say, Manchester United or Real Madrid.
What would UEFA do then? Ban their clubs from cutting a good deal? It will be interesting to see such restrictive measures tested in court. Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, is believed to be among those protesting against the Manchester City deal behind the scenes, but he has vested interests on several fronts.
Right now, there is a significant rift between the clubs over Germany defender Boateng: Munich have offered £12m, City want nearer £20m. 'City demand a price which is not realistic,' Rummenigge says.
So now you see how it works. The big clubs want City's sponsorship by Etihad suppressed, but also wish to steal their players on the cheap. So City get gypped two ways - it is almost as if the clubs are scared of their capacity to generate money.
As chairman of the European Club Association, Rummenigge rarely misses a chance to raise an issue happily to Bayern Munich's advantage, and this is no exception. Not satisfied with Munich's immense wealth and standing in the domestic and European game - which will only be further cemented by the financial fair play rule - Rummenigge wishes to take out all interlopers, too.
City represent the greatest threat to that established order and, therefore, must be stopped.
Munich want a return to the days when the big clubs could just bully their way to a cheap deal. In Rummenigge's mind, City are impudent upstarts, their business unworthy of a £400m sponsorship, their players unworthy of a £20m bid; and UEFA are complicit in this arrogance.
Powerful enemy: Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is no fan of City
From the start, financial fair play was only going to benefit the very wealthiest or the smallest clubs without ambition. Those looking to build, to grow, to succeed, were going to be stifled. So it is proving.
Munich do not want City to make money in the marketplace or in the transfer market, then they want their available funds to be fixed to income.
It is a shameful racket, but no doubt the economic gurus at UEFA will find a solution; they are so wise.
It's just another excuse, Arsene
The problem with Arsenal is that they continue to want first prize in competitions that do not exist.
Previously, they demanded acclaim for playing the best football - a subjective boast based only on peak performance, not conceding four goals unopposed at Newcastle United or failing to get a shot on target in Barcelona.
Now, as Arsene Wenger's plan unravels, another imaginary title has been secured: for economic prudence.
This time Arsenal should be admired for the way Wenger has produced a sustainable business model, as if football is merely accountancy in shorts; but nobody ever hired an open-top bus to parade a positive bank statement around town.
All we can do is kick and Hope
Apart from the fact that France were fitter, technically superior, should have won in normal time, should have won in extra time and deservedly won on penalties, England's women absolutely deserved the heroic, Lioness analogies that were thrown about following their exit in the World Cup quarter-final.
Pride - and no little irrationality - coming before a fall, the whole campaign was written up as a lesson for Fabio Capello and our under-achieving men, when the evidence suggests both teams have similar flaws.
'Take note, Fabio - England women reach World Cup quarter-finals,' read one headline after England had progressed from the group stage. Capello, of course, did not reach the last eight in 2010, removed by Germany in the second round. It never occurred to the newspaper that it would be pretty hard for England's women to get eliminated in their second round, as there wasn't one.
Outclassed: Hope Powell (centre) was powerless to stop England's exit from the Women's World Cup
Instead, they were removed at the knock-out stage by the first good team they played, having been outclassed: which is pretty much the story of male tournament performances for 44 years, bar 1990 and 1996.
The most patronising aspect of women's football in England is that it seems to exist in the minds of most correspondents as little more than a means of having a pop at the men's team. No interview with a female footballer is complete without a wage check - Wayne Rooney earns more in a day than some of our players do in a year, yawn, yawn - or specious links between manager Hope Powell and Capello.
'They talk, but he hasn't offered her any advice, or vice versa,' as one writer observed. Watching Powell's exhortations to her players to hit it long or over the top, this is probably just as well.
It all led to a very over-played hand in Germany and, clearly, some of England's players found the scrutiny and expectation a burden during the World Cup.
Although growing fast, the women's game is still in comparative infancy and should be treated as such, allowed to develop its own rhythms and identity without constantly being required to prove some redundant point to the lads.
We are merely repeating past mistakes here, with similar results. This England campaign started slow, picked up towards the end of the group stage, and then ended in a plucky show amid a technical lesson, followed by penalty defeat. We have seen this film before, and just having an all-female cast does not make it any more palatable, or heroic.
Food for thought
What a lot of contaminated food there seems to be in the world right now, and how unfortunate that so much of it is being ingested by elite sportsmen.
Tour de France winner Alberto Contador got on the wrong side of some dodgy meat, as did some members of the Mexico squad that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and now Brazilian swimmer Cesar Cielo, the Olympic 50metre freestyle champion, has been affected, too.
He tested positive for furosemide, a loop diuretic on the banned list because of its ability to mask other drugs. Cielo claimed the substance was mysteriously present in legal supplements: it must have been a very bad batch, then, because three of his team-mates failed as well.
Must've been something I ate: Olympic 50m freestyle champion Cesar Cielo tested positive for furosemide
Fortunately, the Brazilian swimming federation were understanding and only issued Cielo and the other members of the team - Nicholas Santos, Vinicius Waked and Henrique Barbosa - with a warning, meaning Cielo can defend his 50m and 100m freestyle titles at the World Championships in Shanghai later this month.
The international governing body, FINA, is so happy with this that they intend appealing the decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.
The sad reality is that - as with the Spanish cycling federation, who first approved a one-year ban for Contador and then backed down under public pressure, blaming a steak meal for his positive result; and the Mexican Football Association, who refused to pull out of the Gold Cup even when five of their players had tested positive for Clenbuterol - glory overrides ethical considerations.
It was announced last week that no action would be taken against the Mexicans. Contaminated chicken, apparently. How ironic that so many great sportsmen have the self-discipline to lead blameless, drug-free existences, when an increasing number of farmyard animals are plainly bang on it.
FIFA head into orbit
Michael Beavon, a director of Arup Associates charged with developing the air-conditioned indoor stadiums intended to make the Qatar World Cup liveable, let the cat out of the bag at a conference in London.
He said that if the temperature rises to above 86F at the tournament (and the average temperature during the equivalent period this year has been around 109.5F) there is provision to split the match into 30-minute thirds, to allow players the time to rehydrate.
This was hastily denied by the organisers, and by FIFA, but Arup - a huge company with 10,000 employees worldwide, whose projects in Europe include the Allianz Arena in Munich, the London Eye, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Millennium Bridge, Heathrow Terminal Five and the City of Manchester Stadium - must have got the idea from somewhere.
Feeling the heat: The 2022 World Cup will be a logistical nightmare in Qatar, thanks to FIFA
It would seem that, faced with a rogue decision by the FIFA executive and an ensuing logistical nightmare, everything is up for debate. That is why there is speculation over each aspect of the tournament, from starting dates to the structure of matches.
Organisers are locked in rooms desperately trying to make this work because, simply, there are practical issues around a World Cup in the desert summer that cannot be addressed without finding a way of cooling the sun.
Maybe that is FIFA's next project: a mission to the hottest spot in the universe. In fact, we'd have a whip round for the rocket.
Djokovic's Wimbledon win was no close shave
Andy Murray is right to be frustrated by comments that his form would be improved by shaving.
David Lloyd said Murray needed to spruce up if he wanted to break through the Grand Slam barrier.
Yet there were 128 men at Wimbledon, the majority clean shaven, and only one won it: the best tennis player, Novak Djokovic.
Razor sharp: Andy Murray was clean shaven for his triumphant return to Davis Cup action last weekend
Villas-Boas wins important battle
Shrewd operator, Andre Villas-Boas.
Michael Emenalo, the under-qualified and over-promoted assistant to his predecessor Carlo Ancelotti, has been made director of football at Chelsea with the new manager's blessing.
As it was suspected Emenalo's real job was being Roman Abramovich's eyes and ears in the dressing-room, this is a handy resolution.
Right-hand man: Andre Villas-Boas (right) is surrounding himself with his own staff, including Roberto Di Matteo
Directors of football do not need to be hovering around the first team, or even on the bench. It is a job for a man in a tracksuit in an office during the week and in a suit in the directors' box on match days.
Villas-Boas can then be pleasant and accommodating, while keeping Emenalo - a bizarre Avram Grant appointment, from the Tucson Soccer Academy in Arizona, where he had been running the girls' Under 12 team - at arm's length. If he has engineered this, an important battle is won.
Venky's transfer budget is chicken feed
First, David Beckham and Ronaldinho were coming to Blackburn Rovers, then it was suggested substantial funds would be available this summer, and now the reality.
Venky's, the club's new owners, will fund spending predominantly from the £16.5million that Manchester United paid for Phil Jones. From this, Balaji Rao, a Venky's director, hopes to get 'one or two strikers and a few midfielders'.
'I am not into any name game,' added Rao. And just as well, really.
Time to get real at Birmingham
As just witnessed, the biggest enemy in a corporate crisis is complacency and denial. Those at Birmingham City who continue to claim the charging of owner Carson Yeung for money-laundering offences will have no effect on the club, please note.
Facing trial: Birmingham owner Carson Yeung (centre) has been charged in Hong Kong
Should've had a Luka the small print
Here is some advice for footballers who do not want to stay with a club for five years: don't sign a five-year contract.
This seems to be the problem for both Carlos Tevez and Luka Modric. They wanted the benefits of a long-term commitment - the security, the inflated wages, the loyalty bonuses - but not the reality.
Numbers should have meaning, even if words do not, and it is up to Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur to demonstrate this.
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