The grey swans
Consider each of the following events:
- The creation of a European Super League, leading to the collapse of domestic television rights
- A severe and sudden decline in attendances owing to demographic changes and the rise of other forms of live entertainment
- The removal of transfer fees through legal challenges from FIFPro
- The Chinese Super League attracting dozens of top division peak-age European footballers
Each of these events might be considered a ‘grey swan’, an unlikely but significant event that could be anticipated but not forecast. They are the earthquakes of the football world, and in some cases the foreshocks have already taken place.
Events like the Bosman ruling, or Roman Abramovich’s purchase of Chelsea had profound effects on the world game, but not many would have predicted their occurrence or impact in the months or years before.
In the midst of a busy season it might seem trivial to think about these events, but smart clubs already have them in their minds. They’re wondering how they could position themselves in one of these new environments, to take advantage of those clubs wedded to the structures of the ‘old’ world.
There will be other grey swans, some specific to your own club. Quietly planning for them might be the cheapest gamble you ever make.