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Money talks in modern football

Everton's failure in the FA Cup at Arsenal highlights the widening financial gaps in modern football.

Paul Gilham

If you weren't already aware of the fact that modern football is run by money, then you are now. One thing that Everton's defeat at Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday has taught the fans, management and board it is that without investment, proper success is an unrealistic and far away dream.

That label of ‘proper' is an important one. Whilst some of us would consider qualifying for the Europa League a good season, what many of us crave is trophies, be it FA Cup or Carling Cup. Qualifying for the Champions League would then be a bigger success on that scale as well, but, nobody remembers a team for qualifying, they remember them by trophies.

The problem for Everton in both respects is that they can do neither in this current climate because of one important factor, money. To say that the days when a minnow would go on an FA Cup run are long gone would obviously be incorrect. Wigan's heroics last season and this, and the overlooked but equally impressive run of relegation threatened Sheffield United in this years tournament are testament to that. However, looking at the winners previous to last year shows an obvious trend, money equals success.

In the last ten years, the FA Cup has been won by Chelsea three times with separate wins for Arsenal, Liverpool Manchester City and Portsmouth in there as well. Every single one of these teams, minus Portsmouth, were and continue to be, big spenders. In the case of Portsmouth, they had spent considerable money that they did not have and have obviously suffered since, in the process making them the example of investment gone wrong. Regardless of that, their fans and club still have an FA Cup win on the back of their spending power at the time.

The Premier League shows a similar trend. Those that spend the money, win trophies. Chelsea were the first to do this during Jose Mourinho's first reign utilising the spending power of Mr Abramovich as they won the title for two years in a row, with Manchester United responded in kind by winning three. Manchester City soon followed the example of Chelsea by spending their way to that first FA Cup triumph and Champions League qualification before their first title in 2011-12. Not to be outdone, Manchester United spent £30million pound on Robin Van Persie last year and he arguably won them the title in his first season.

The obvious names missing from these lists are Arsenal and Liverpool, and what is the thing neither had done? Spent money. Whilst their rivals were free spending, Arsenal were frugal and selling off their star assets, barely scraping into the Champions League as a result. Liverpool were of course in their own financial troubles and haven't qualified for Europe's elite competitions since. However, this season has seen both flex their financial muscle once more, Arsenal considerably so with the signing of German Mesut Ozil, and both now find themselves as serious title contenders this year.

Whilst Manchester United have had a predictable fall from grace this year thus far, even they have managed to spend £27million pounds on Marouane Fellaini and £40 million on Juan Mata. Tottenham meanwhile spent the money accrued from Gareth Bale's sale to Real Madrid on rebuilding their squad, with varying levels of success. Despite both sides struggles this year, at the beginning of next season it is inevitable that they will be spending big to get back to the top.

This is where Everton come in. Whilst their nearest rivals will continue to spend their way to success, be it trophies or Champions League qualification, Everton will not have such financial clout. A study of the net spend in the last five years shows Everton at 19th, barely above Newcastle but behind teams such as Cardiff, Sunderland, Fulham and Crystal Palace, all of whom find themselves at the bottom half of the Premier League table. How can Roberto Martinez be expected to compete with a budget that doesn't even match that of the leagues relegation sides? This weeks FA Cup loss came against a side whose star player cost the same as the entire Everton squad, just to highlight the differences.

Many will of course argue that the Fellaini, Anichebe and Jelavic money will be available to the Spaniard in the summer when he will be able to make a better assessment of his needs. Whilst those people have a point, is this not something we as Evertonians have all heard before? My fear is that the glass ceiling that we have long criticised David Moyes for not being able to break through might prove to be just as tough for Roberto Martinez, despite his opinions that money does not matter. Without investment, Everton's ability to compete diminishes whilst that of others continues to grow, thereby increasing the competition and difficulty on a whole. Where that money should come from is another debate, but the fact that there would need to be enough for a new stadium, clearing debts and transfer funds makes it a hard search. Only time will tell, but for now, money certainly rules in modern football.