PLANO, TX–(Marketwire – Mar 29, 2013) – Whether it feels like it or not, Easter is here; and while many participate in PEEPS® contests around the country, only 10% of Americans will actually devour these cute and colorful marshmallow treats this Easter holiday. A recent Research Now study reported that chocolate is the fan favorite when indulging one’s sweet tooth.
Unlike Germany’s thriving Bundesliga, the Premier League is run for the super-rich, not fans
Birmingham City FC fans are in revolt. Their once proud club has not been well managed – to put it mildly – by “businessman” Carson Yeung, currently awaiting trial in his native Hong Kong, for an alleged £59m-worth of money laundering, and the process is not over yet. It is the degeneracy of British economy and society in a football microcosm – nothing to stop Cayman Island ownership, strange “sponsorships” and lush, anonymous director fees.
In Britain, there are no legal or governance structures that put football or the fans at the centre of a club owner’s concerns. Rather, in keeping with the wider culture, football is “open for business”. Market forces are deified as the only value worth celebrating and a business – even a football club – is no more than its owner’s private plaything. The result is a moral and economic disaster – in football as in the wider economy.
Economists call this “rent-seeking” and those who don’t know what the term means need only spend a few seconds surveying the history of the club since Mr Yeung, his son and third director Peter Pannu took it over in 2009. The club is owned by a holding company based in the Cayman Islands, but burdened by vast debts used by Yeung to buy it, now facing financial problems following the problems with Yeung’s business affairs.
Their sole interest is selling off assets, chiefly good footballers in the transfer market, and now the club, to get their money back into the Cayman Islands – while paying large director fees for unnamed services. What they want is economic rent: a surplus created for doing nothing of value.
Britain is a rent-seeker’s paradise, as many more football clubs other than Birmingham City can testify. We have created a looters’ charter, with football as a playpen, within which the super-rich can do what they want. A recent flash point is the price visiting fans are charged for their tickets. (Manchester City fans protested at the £62 they were asked to pay for today’s game at Arsenal.) If the price of admission, along with travel, is prohibitive, then the game is played to only one set of supporters in the stadium with one set of chants. The experience of a game shrivels.
For the rent-seeker, this is emotional sentimentality. Everybody now knows that market forces are both best and irresistible, a perfect justification for putting up ticket prices to whatever the market will bear. Christian Siefert, CEO of the German Bundesliga, told the Observer recently that football is one of the last areas where people are brought together: “We want to have our whole society as part of our football, in our stadiums”, explaining why the owners of football clubs forgo the highest possible ticket prices. It is not a sentiment that Mr Yeung, or the many other foreign owners of British clubs, would share. Why worry about British society? We exist to be looted and privately mocked for our connivance in our own destruction.
Flexible and free markets, we have had drummed into us for 30 years, are the reason why Britain is now the world-beating economy that it has become and Germany and the European Union are in the doldrums. The Premier League, slavishly following these principles, is self-evidently, or so runs the line, the best football league in Europe. Pity the poor Germans and the daffy Herr Siefert, who worry about who owns their companies and football clubs, care about fan culture and invest in their young talent.
They don’t welcome “wealth creators” such as Carson Yeung with no questions asked, and because German clubs reserve parts of their grounds for standing room only cheap tickets, they don’t maximise the economic value of their sporting assets. Down that road lies ruin – or so a bevy of economic commentators and Eurosceptic Conservative MPs will rush to tell us.
But the German approach to football, as with their wider economy and society, is beginning to win admirers, not least among football supporters. There are three German sides in the last 16 of the Champions League this year and fuddy-duddy Dortmund played Manchester City, exemplar of British-style market forces, off the park. What’s more, they care about their fans. It is a great club rather than a sheikh’s passing whim. The Premier League is now considering something very German: capping the prices that clubs can charge visiting supporters. Football as a sport might just, in one tiny step, challenge the law of the market.
British football needs to go much further. German football clubs require that a majority of votes are exercised by fans. There can’t be Carson Yeungs because they would be outvoted. German clubs invest in homegrown talent. Sixty per cent of Bundesliga players are homegrown compared with 39% of Premier League players.
The lessons go wider still. Eighteen years ago, I argued in The State We’re In that it was obvious that Germany would outperform Britain economically, just as it is obvious that it will do the same – unless we reform ourselves wholesale – over the next 18. What is so depressing about today’s economy is not just that we stand on the verge of a triple dip recession, but that, like our football clubs, so much of our economic base is organised around rent-seeking.
Nor do we seem to have learned much. There should be a vibrant debate about how to reproduce in Britain what evidently works in Germany. We need companies organised around long-term business purpose and to create a whole network of public and private institutions, law and practice that buttresses them. Yet the heart of the Eurosceptic, anti-EU case is that, instead, we need to leave to reinforce the market “flexibilities” and “freedoms” that have created such fantastic British success. Let the looting get more intense.
We are far gone. There is no majority in the Premier League for serious reform. Foreign owners are not going to vote to qualify their autonomy, allow more supporter voice or limit their capacity to compete by offering sky-high player wages. On the other hand, there is a growing argument for change – witness the possible concession on ticket prices.
It’s the same with wider economic reform. The average size of a British manufacturing firm is 14 people: the majority of large firms and factories are foreign-owned. We have constructed an economy in which the rent-seekers and Carson Yeungs are the majority. It is very clear what needs to be done. The signs are confusing, but, as in football, maybe the grip of the looters is weakening as the evidence mounts of their vandalism. Here’s hoping.
Premier League players, the world’s richest man and thousands of supporters played a part in rescuing the club from disaster
When Michu turns up at the Emirates Stadium with his Swansea City team-mates this weekend he will seek out Arsenal’s playmaker Santi Cazorla, give him a hug and talk. They will talk about life in a new country and life back in the old country. Conversation will no doubt turn, as it has done often since the start of November, to the club where they started their career and the momentous month it has just been through, a club that has been reborn thanks not least to them.
Michu, Cazorla and Chelsea’s Juan Mata all began their careers with Real Oviedo in Asturias, northern Spain. Right now there may be no club in the Premier League that can lay claim to having discovered and developed three current players of that level. “Oviedo taught Santi and Mata to play,” says Michu – all of which may not seem that remarkable but for one thing: Oviedo are not a first division side and have not been for a decade. It is 10 years since they even played in the second division and they currently play in Spain’s second division B, a third tier made up of four divisions of 20 teams each.
It is a territory Michu knows well; he has been there with them. He was with them this month, too, as they faced an even worse fate: at the start of this month Oviedo were on the verge of disappearing forever, their president seeking legal advice as to how to carry out a liquidation. One current Oviedo player says Michu has been on the phone constantly: “What’s happening? Are we going to make it?” The answer, in the end, was: “Yes, thanks to you.” That a historic club survived owes much to the three Premier League players and the Premier League’s reach.
Michu, Cazorla and Mata all put their hands in their pockets and carried the torch. A month later the outlook could not be more different. Oviedo have more shareholders than any other club in Spain and one of them is the richest man in the world. Now, say the new owners, it is time to take Oviedo back to where they belong – the first division.
They have not been there since 2001, when they were relegated at Mallorca on the final day. Their financial problems had begun and there were political battles too: the club’s president and the city’s mayor represented opposite sides of the political spectrum.
Another relegation followed the next summer when players formally denounced the club to the players’ union for non-payment to go with on-pitch failure. And the year after that the local government withdrew support for the club and put its weight behind third-division Astur instead. “All that is left,” said one board member at the time, “is to sign the death warrant.”
It went without signing. Juan Ramón González formed part of the supporters’ association, now he is on the board at Oviedo. He has been the key figure at the club over the last three weeks. Looking back on 2003, he is fond of quoting a line from the Spanish version of Neil Young’s Like a Hurricane: “The poison saved you”.
Subsidies were poured into Astur, their kit was changed to blue and white, like Oviedo, the badge was altered and they even changed their name to Oviedo AFC. The man who had played more games for Oviedo than anyone else, Berto, was signed up and plans were made to take Oviedo’s municipally-owned Carlos Tartiere stadium away. But instead of killing the club, it was a reawakening.
The “Real” in Oviedo’s name took on greater significance than ever. Oviedo fans rebelled, mobilising to save their club, protesting, raising money, forcing the local government’s hand. They called it Espíritu 2003 – the spirit of 2003. The council backtracked, but the club’s situation remained far from ideal: playing on what were little better than park pitches, thousands turning up to see them in arenas not even built to house hundreds.
Since relegation from the top flight Oviedo have never gone under 10,000 season-ticket holders. Right now, only two teams in the second division A, let alone the second division B or the 17-division third division, can claim as many. Amid the uncertainty, in 2003, Oviedo lost Cazorla and Mata to Villarreal and Real Madrid respectively; Cazorla was 17, Mata was 15. This summer they won the European Championship together; between them they have raised almost €50m (£40.5m) in transfer fees. But they did look back. Every summer they return and they have remained members.
Michu’s path to the Premier League was different. He made his debut in the third division at 17 and spent four seasons at Oviedo; the club’s current idol, the striker Diego Cervero, is among his best friends. Together they won promotion from the third division to the second B in front of 25,000 fans.
Michu has lived Oviedo’s darkest hours, later joining second division Celta. He turned down the opportunity to play first division football because the club that
Category : World News
The NTSB recommends inspection of all GE GEnx-1B and -2B engines, and says repetitive inspections of the engines should be required. The alert stems from two incidents where fan-midshaft cracks were found in a GEnx-1B in two different Boeing (BA) 787s, and where similar cracks were found in GEnx-2B engines in a Boeing 747-8F cargo plane. 2 comments!
Here is the original post: The NTSB recommends inspection of all [[GE]] GEnx-1B and -2B engines, and says repetitive inspections of the engines should be required. The alert stems from two incidents where fan-midshaft cracks were found in a GEnx-1B in two different Boeing…
Investors are slow to let go of the happy notion that wealthy Chinese consumers are God’s gift to European luxury goods retailers
The brief period in which go-go Burberry was worth more than dowdy Marks & Spencer is over, at least for a while. Burberry’s stock market fans have learned an uncomfortable fact: the rich aren’t buying expensive frocks, coats and handbags like they used to. Same-store sales have been falling in recent weeks. Cue a 21% plunge in the share price.
The fan club was warned but didn’t listen. In her July update, chief executive Angela Ahrendts made all the usual boasts about strong “brand momentum” but also included the dreadful phrase “a more challenging external environment.” That should have caused the highl rated shares to stall. Instead, they climbed 15% higher over the course of the next month. Bizarre. Investors, it seems, are slow to let go of the happy notion that wealthy Chinese consumers are God’s gift to European luxury goods retailers.
As it happens, Burberry thinks the weakness in its sales extends well beyond China – the rest of Asia, Europe and the Americas are all affected. If anything, that’s more alarming for immediate prospects since global trends are harder to buck than regional ones.
If a proper storm now follows, there is a limit to how far Burberry can protect itself. Staff have been to told to curb their international travel and rein in publicity jollies (the poor dears). But the heavy corporate expenditure is on stores and it’s too late now to cancel plans to expand space by 13% this year, including the addition of big new shops in London’s Regent Street, Chicago and Hong Kong.
But perhaps Ahrendts wouldn’t wish to anyway. She’s shifted sales from the fiddly wholesale channel to flagship retail shops, and the formula is clearly right for the long term. But it means there is little alternative but to ride out the storm. The company thinks it can still hit the low end of City forecasts for pre-tax profits of £407m this year (up from £376m a year ago). But it’s the following two years, when the City is still expecting steady 10% profts increases, that now look a serious struggle. We’re seen this plot before: when the luxury market turns, it tends to turn sharply.
New York Times
Alabama Shows It May Not Be No. 2 for Long
New York Times
ARLINGTON, Tex. — That Alabama was ranked No. 2 as it opened defense of its 14th national championship did not register much ire among its fans heading into Saturday night's clash with No. 8 Michigan. Still, a fan joyously held aloft a sign deep into …
This is Alabama: No. 8 Wolverines lose 41-14 to defending BCS champ, No. 2 Tide
No. 8 Michigan loses 41-14 to No. 2 Alabama
No. 2 Alabama Wins 41-14 Over No. 8 Michigan
NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwire – Aug 25, 2012) – Microsoft is set to release a Limited Edition pack for the latest game in the popular “Halo” series on Nov. 6. The news of this package, which will include additional gaming opportunities and numerous features, is exhilarating news for the dedicated fan.
Read more from the original source: Modded Xbox 360 Controllers of Intensa Fire Store Offer Improved Gameplay for "Halo 4: Limited Edition"
Romney’s running mate, along with Rush Limbaugh and Alan Greenspan, lapped up the works of the controversial writer
Ayn Rand is the high priestess of undiluted capitalism and a champion of looking after number one. With an estimated 25m copies of her books in print, including Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, her ideas about small government and unfettered markets still resonate in conservative circles, with a young Paul Ryan, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, being a big fan.
“I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand,” Ryan told an audience in 2005. “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”
The Russian-born American author, a refugee from Soviet communism in the 1920s, wrote at a time when collectivism was widely seen as a blueprint for the future. However, her vision was for a free society where the strong flourished and egoism ruled over altruism. In Rand’s world, material achievement had spiritual value and unproductive citizens were “parasites,” “looters” and “moochers”. There are no state benefits, no national healthcare.
She believed that humans are rational and self-interested, thriving if left to their own devices. Rand said, : “Making more money means we are making more use of our brains.” Admiration of the rich only stopped with those who inherited their wealth, whom she viewed as living well from cronyism and nepotism.
Rand argued her theories with almost messianic passion, winning a coterie of acolytes , including eminent members of the Reagan administration (notably Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chairman, who became a lifelong fan.) Another devotee is the influential conservative talk radioshock jock Rush Limbaugh.