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The Money Programme Friday, 28 January, 2000, 15:57 GMT
More 30/01/2000
Own Goal

Four years ago Sky TV pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into British football when they outbid terrestrial TV for broadcasting rights.

The new money brought an exciting new world of continental stars and new stadiums. But it also brought massive player wage inflation, agents and signing-on fees. Now all but very the richest clubs are finding it hard to compete for players paid 50,000 per week and more. And the Bosman ruling has meant that any player can move on for free at the end of a contract. Debts are rising, and the money men are getting nervous. Experts on football finance are predicting that radical change may be needed, and that within the next decade the number of football league clubs will have been whittled down from over 90 to around 60.

The Money Programme travels to Sheffield where pressure from investors has been growing for the city's two troubled clubs, Wednesday and United, to merge. Some city institutions are contemplating a much larger merger in South Yorkshire which would also include financially troubled clubs in Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley. How realistic a prospect would either of those mergers be? How would the fans react? Would any merger turn around the fortunes of the region's debt-ridden teams? And if clubs as big as Wednesday and United were to consider such a dramatic step, what of other poorer clubs in the lower divisions?

Mark Gregory
Producer

Links to more The Money Programme stories are at the foot of the page.


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