Markets were in turmoil yesterday as the price of football players tumbled worldwide.
The artificially high value put on major clubs primary assets has fallen, as confidence evaporated in their ability to play.
The problem has been brewing for some weeks in the so-called sub-prime market for older players. Last month US soccer club LA Galaxy realised that their recent acquisitions, Dave Beckham (32) and Abel Xavier (34), are past their prime. Both are considered to be vulnerable to small increases in the heart rate
This week's crisis was triggered as UK investors became aware of the poor quality of the tickets they were holding. Manchester United supporters sat in stunned silence on Sunday, as they realised how little their company's summer spend of millions had achieved. The newest acquisition was unusable, and the highest-profile asset collapsed when under pressure.
Sir Alan Sugar, a UK expert in both business and poor-quality football clubs, said "The underlying quality of these assets is highly questionable. How often do top strikers actually achieve what they're paid for? My researchers tell me their rate of return is less than 3%. If any of my staff performed so poorly, I'd fire them!"
The paper value of major football clubs is now in free-fall, as the illusion of their intangible assets is exposed. The shareholders are blaming the deal brokers, who themselves blamed the greed of the managers, and the naivety of the supporters.
Soccer millionaire Sven-Göran Eriksson admitted today "The bubble has burst and now it could all fall in like a pack of cards - we will have to wait and see".
Sporting speculator Kia Joorabchian is thought to be preparing to support the market, by buying players off cash-strapped teams. He will be prepared to sell them back to richer clubs, once his legal team have established his margin.
A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the UK Government policy was to not intervene in the markets, except of course to increase mortgage payments for the middle-classes.
Sue Doe Hack