One of our favourite past times here in the UK is criticising our pampered, overpaid Premier League footballers. For years the spending and wages in football have increased at an astonishing pace. And no matter the economic climate, and the challenges that business and commercial companies face, during times of austerity and fiscal fluctuations, football remains completely unaffected.
So where will it all end? Where does the game go from here? When the so called smaller clubs, such as Bournemouth can afford to smash their transfer record with a £15 million purchase of a largely unproven teenager in Jordan Ibe and at the other end of the scale with Manchester United prepared to spend an astonishing £100 million quid and a reported £300,000 a week in wages on Paul Pogba, who unfathomably was allowed to leave Old Trafford for free four years ago, it is understandable that the disparity between fans and clubs is ever increasing. In fact so detached are the foreign owners from the most loyal fans, it’s hard to imagine that in the near future, those turning up on match day will not be simply tourists and people seeking a day out, an experience, rather than those dedicated and loyal supporters who spend their hard earned time and money on a weekly basis following the club they love.
The Chinese Super League is also moving the goalposts. With Graziano Pelle, an industrious rather than prodigious talent, now confirmed as the fifth highest paid player in world football, set to earn a mind-boggling £34 million pounds over the course of his two and half year deal. 260,000 pounds a week for a man who in two seasons at Southampton, has scored a modest 23 goals in 68 appearances, add to that the fact that he’s 31 years old, and you have to wonder how this insatiable spending can possibly be sustained. Of course, one can’t blame Pelle, who in their right mind at that stage of your career, wouldn’t be tempted to take the riches on offer ahead of a more moderate contract in Europe?
If the Chinese Super League is serious about becoming a dominant force in the world of top class football, it’s hard to imagine they’ll achieve that aim anytime soon, with signings such as Stephane Mbia, he of QPR fame, a 36-year-old Tim Cahill, Obefemi Martins and Gervinho a player who failed to deliver during his time at Arsenal. Indeed some genuine talents have made the move, at a time when surely they should be plying their trade at a much higher level, the notorious Hulk, who once looked destined for a move to the Premier League, another Brazilian in the shape of Alex Texeira, subject of a solid offer from Liverpool in the January transfer window, and the hugely talented Columbian striker Jackson Martinez who has a superb goal scoring record of 69 goals in 105 games at the highest level in Europe.
It all seems a world away from the time Nottingham Forest signed Trevor Francis in 1979 making him Britain’s first ever one million pound player. There was uproar at the time, whereas many people now don’t blink over £30 million being spent on decidedly average players. It wouldn’t be overstating the case to say that the amount of money in the game is killing the sport at the lower and grass roots levels. The minnows simply can’t keep up with the big boys. Until that is a new billionaire with a fat chequebook steps in to turn Grimsby into the new Barcelona. Even ticket prices continue to go up despite a club going down.
With the crazy spending set to continue deep into the summer months, one questions what records will be broken, how much money will change hands. The question remains what do these wealthy owners get from this wild spending. Something about it all just doesn’t add up. How can the millions spent possibly be repaid, sponsorship and shirt deals are indeed big business, but it seems like an awful lot of hassle, and a very expensive hobby!
John Stones – Everton to Man City £50 million
Romelu Lukaku – Everton to Chelsea £70 million
Paul Pogba – Juventus to Man Utd £100 million
Giorginio Wijnaldum – Newcastle to Liverpool £25 million
Mauro Icardi – Inter Milan to Arsenal £41 million
William Carvalho – Sporting Lisbon to Everton £30 million
Alvaro Morata – Real Madrid to Chelsea £62 million
Saido Berahino – West Brom to Stoke City £20 million
There you go. The world of football has officially gone mad!