Sunday, May 06, 2007

Manchester United Win The Premier League

This blog o' mine mostly covers politics, with some baby pictures gratuitously thrown in, but one of the big passions of my life is football; that is soccer to you Americans, Canadians, and Australians. Today, Chelsea FC drew at Arsenal 1-1 guaranteeing the league to Manchester United.

What intrigues me about the race this year is how it parallels events going on in the business world. Manchester United used to be the big boy on the block. They had Beckham, Scholes, Gary & Phil Neville, all players who were developed under their academy system. However, they augmented this with big cash payouts to players from around the world, and through their size they crushed the competition.

That is until Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and started spending money that made Manchester United's payouts seem dainty in comparison. After a few years, Chelsea's all stars dominated, until now. This season, they signed top Ukrainian striker Andriy Shevchenko, and German captain Michael Ballack for ridiculous amounts of money. €45 million transfer fee for Shevchenko alone. Ballack came over on a free transfer, but at a high salary.

They lost the league this year all the same. With a strong economic regulatory process in place, the same thing happens to our business sphere. Woolworth gets replaced by K-Mart, Wal-Mart passes them by, and now Wal-Mart is starting to see flattening sales for one example.

Capitalism is about picking winners and losers after all. I just wish that our oil industry would get that way. It would be nice to have an Exxon, or a Shell post a losing quarter because of the cutthroat competition. But when they all are making record profits, it doesn't do consumers very much good. The cost of getting into the business is so large, that there is no Jet Blue or Southwest, to give an equivalent in a different industry, that can force these companies to slash prices, and run at a lower profit margin in order to compete with their lean and mean competitors. So prices go up.

Here's to Bolton, Everton, Newcastle, or Reading winning the Premier League next year. It would be an inspiration to all of us who root for the underdog.