Money: Football’s Achilles Heel

In the same week when Premier League clubs voted against payment to help the wider football pyramid, two more clubs were pushed closer to the edge

Patrick Hollis
3 min readMar 16, 2024
Football is a sport, like many others, that is now all about the money down to a certain level (photo: Pixabay)

Many people of a certain generation will tell you that ‘money has ruined football’. For the most part, you can probably shrug it off, however in recent years the influence of billionaire owners and clubs has started to take its stranglehold on the game, in the UK and further afield.

This week has seen the latest step taken by Premier League clubs to try and hoist the drawbridge between the top flight and the divisions below. A new funding structure that would have seen further money filtered down through the pyramid has been rejected. Half of the clubs in the division said no to this, and while they’ll no doubt have their reasons, it’s another example of the top flight of English football taking on an ‘I’m alright Jack’ approach to finances.

The need for more equal funding through the English football pyramid isn’t something new. As more and more teams face financial pressures it is becoming even more pressing. Reading of League One and Torquay United of the Vanarama Conference South have both been in the headlines this week.

Reading’s money woes were compounded by their owner Dai Yongge selling their training ground to Wycombe Wanderers. Meanwhile, Torquay have been deducted 10 points for entering into administration, essentially a club that is being tanked is punished further, and a move that dropped them to just three points from the relegation places.

Torquay and Reading are simply the latest in a long, shameful line of clubs that have been taken to the brink by poor league management or woeful ownership decisions. Bury FC are often used as a blueprint for what happens when a team is left to go under when they ceased to exist in 2019, the club was kicked out of the football league after a 125-year stay.

Shotton Colliery FC is a place where you’ll still find proper footie

Sky Sports in 2024 likes to keep focus on the top Premier League clubs that have the biggest fan bases and huge financial backing. In 2019, they gave some rare attention to football league clubs when they displayed countdowns to essentially what could have been the end of both Bury and Bolton. Hundreds of behind-the-scenes club jobs were lost when Bury went bust, a fact that seemed to have been lost on the media company- or perhaps they simply didn’t care.

Fans of top six clubs and Premier League teams in general often overlook the lack of money further down the pyramid. It is lost on some that some football clubs rely heavily on ticket and beverage sales- they can’t always rely on TV money. With Premier League clubs unwilling to help support the football league, and the EFL failing to either vet possible owners or act efficiently when things go wrong, the existence of an ever-rising number of clubs down the pyramid will become increasingly more difficult.

Football is not the fully working-class game it once was, with billions lining the pockets of many clubs. Yet if you’re after what would be known as ‘proper footie’ it’s still around to be had, with local clubs needing your support now more than ever.

The sport at the highest end of the professional level has changed dramatically in recent years, and the urge to turn the Premier League into a closed shop doesn’t look like it will go away anytime soon. If talk of a European Super League returns, then the greed of certain club owners will be put in the spotlight for all to see, and the most hardened football followers will never either forgive or forget.



Patrick Hollis

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. I’m a published author and journalist with several years experience in the industry