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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Ask the Extra – Part 1, Top 4 in England, LA Galaxy Payroll

Written by on December 1, 2011 | 5 Comments »
Posted in Ask the Extra

Q from Alec

It’s pretty evident that the two Manchester clubs will occupy two of the four UCL places at the end of the season (not necessarily first and second). 

Beyond them are Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and maybe, just maybe Newcastle.  So my question is, which two of those teams stand to lose the most from not qualifying for next season’s UCL?

Bobby – First of all I don’t think Newcastle will be in contention for a top four spot when we reach the business end of the season.

Squad depth as the season progresses will prove to be an Achilles heel.

Here is my take based on the side with the least to lose first:

Spurs have relatively low wage costs and should come very close to breakeven this season even without Champions League participation.

They seem to have resisted the temptation to increase costs in an attempt to improve their top four chances.  The downside for Spurs is that another year of no Champions League football might make it more difficult to hold on to some of their more valuable players.

And the more valuable players will be expecting to see bigger pay cheques at contract time. 

The other black cloud on the horizon is the new stadium that Spurs are likely required to finance very soon.

Arsenal – With their self-sustaining model they have consistently turned profits even after accounting for windfall type profits from the development of Highbury.

Although they did spent money during the summer transfer window they can still look to a number of youngsters set to come through the system in the next season or two. 

The budget can probably take a season of no Champions League without any great harm being inflicted.

Rather like Spurs though the downside is the ability to hold on to their bigger names. The upside they have a stadium that generates a lot of money even though commercial revenues are lagging based on some long-term deals done years ago.

Liverpool spent heavily since John W Henry with the stated intention of pushing for a top 4 place. A top four finish would then become a launching pod for a league challenge.

Failure becomes a dilemma – spend more money on the basis that the team needs better players still or stand pat in the believe that they existing squad will come good next year.

Chelsea is in transition but going by the signings they have made in the last 12 months the hope was clear that the shift could be managed while maintaining challenges in both the Premier League and the Champions League.

The Champions League has been the ultimate objective for Chelsea under Roman Abramovich and no spot at the top table would be extremely painful although perhaps not fatal for the Russians interest n the club.

Chelsea have a very high wage bill and with UEFA Financial Fair Play now a factor it might need require some tough decisions.  

Q from Richard N

The combined salaries of the LA Galaxy’s Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane, and David Beckham has been reported at $12.2 million a year, which is THREE TIMES the total team salary of the Houston Dynamo. 

What effect will salary disparities like this have on MLS? Can the league survive it, or will it make MLS a stronger league.

Bobby  – There are many greater disparities in other leagues around the world and they manage to prosper so I don’t see it as any great detriment to MLS.

There again it won’t necessarily make it a stronger league either – depending on how you measure strength.

If strength is parity then probably not.

If strength is having a team that is recognizable to the sporting public in general and attracts peripheral fans to stadiums and to watch on TV then the answer s more positive.

The knock out nature of MLS play-offs also work against domination by one club. If the Premier League was decided based on a play-off system Manchester United would not have won as many titles as they have done.

Knock out systems improve the chances of the underdog.    

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5 responses to “Ask the Extra – Part 1, Top 4 in England, LA Galaxy Payroll”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby – How do you rate Steve Bruce as a manager. I for one always thought that his incessant shouting and instructing from the tech area was detrimental and outdated… especially with foreign and creative players.

  2. J Rob says:


    How good do you rate the current crop of goalies in the EPL?


    Steve Bruce has floundered for all of 2011 since Darren Bent left for Aston Villa. Losing Gyan didn’t help either. That said he had the money to improve things mid-season and didn’t. Larsson was a very astute signing, likewise Sessegnon. But they have no reliable goal-scorer. Bendtner isn’t quite the player he thinks he is.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    J ROB – I just don’t think Bruce has the man management skills or tactical nous for the modern game…. regardless of how big the club’s transfer kitty. A championship manager at best.

  4. There are times when I thought Bruce had what t took but to often improvement has been a mirage and decline as followed.
    Given the players he has signed I was surprised to see him categorized as a dinosaur by the Guardian.

    He signed Wilson Palacios and Figueroa for starters and Wenger entrusted him with some young Arsenal players when he was at Birmingham.

    I have come round to the view that Bruce’s talent might be better suited to a Director of Football position rather than that of manager.

  5. J Rob – talked about current crop of PL keepers on podcast and there s also a question about MLS keepers coming up.

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