A question hinted at by Barney Ronay in his Guardian article.
Because something does seem to be happening here, and it’s not just a Manchester story.
The wider note in this story, a little overlooked to now, is the fact Liverpool are also up for sale. Is this starting to seem strange yet? Are the rabbits rustling in the treeline? The two most valuable privately owned properties in English football are put up for sale within a month of one another. The key US billionaires, boarding group one, are cashing out simultaneously. This is significant enough as a standalone event. But there are no coincidences. And as ever, always follow the money.
It is hard not to conclude that this is related to the failure of the Super League. The prospect of fresh growth under that model was clearly a major part of the strategy. Many people think it will still happen in some form, but perhaps not in that same blunt and brutal way the Glazers and Fenway Sports Group had aggressively championed.
Is this exodus a white flag of sorts against the might of the oil clubs? An indication that ownership models in the football world can no longer compete against nation-states?The real driver behind the ESL was the prospect of capping the power of nation-state clubs, of finding a way to compete with an entity that has no commercial jeopardy, where simply keeping up – and most football clubs are horribly reckless – means killing yourself. Its collapse, and the likely departures of FSG and the Glazers, are all signs that the nation-state clubs are winning this. The cartel is, frankly, in disarray. Barcelona have sold their future in return for a wonky version of the present. Juventus Ronaldo’d themselves in search of an illusory next level.