This insanity could kill football
As I sat there and watched Gareth Bale being unveiled as a new Real Madrid player, for a colossal fee of £85 million, I could not help but ask myself is this reality or am I dreaming? When will this insanity stop?
Don’t get me wrong, Bale is an extremely talented player. He is arguably the best British player of the 2012/2013 season but is he a world-class beater? Is he worth over €100 million like Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo? In this time of economic crisis? No!
This transfer highlights how sick our world of football has become and how out of touch with reality it is. It is at risk of a crash worse than the one that hit Wall Street!
I fear that, at this rate of "financial indiscipline", football might be nearing its end, at least as we know it today.
Estimated price tags of world stars (buy out clauses)
Ronaldo: €250 million, Messi: €250 million, Iniesta: €200 million, Fabregas: €200 million, Neymar: €190 million, Xavi: €80 million, Rooney: €58 million, Fellaini: €25 million.
These are their reported buy out clauses or the valuations that their clubs have placed on them. Some are understandable and most are puzzling.
One would think we are talking about the selling prices of car-producing factories in South America but no, these are prices of soccer players! Where will this end? When soccer ends?
Bale's price tag due to value on pitch or...?
Cristiano Ronaldo was the World Player of the Year, a Champions League winner and had (and still has) a commercially lucrative image due to his great looks. He was a player for Manchester United and was courted by another great (Real Madrid) when he was bought for an erstwhile world record fee of £80 million.
Bale, on the contrary, was impressive this year but is far from the quality and influence Ronaldo brings to the pitch and off it.
One, therefore, can only deduce that Bale's price tag is justified in the eyes of the buyer for the off-the-pitch merchandising and other effects it brings with it.
If the world economy was booming, one would find this (maybe) understandable but, with most of these clubs splashing out astronomical sums to procure the services of soccer stars with money that they do not own (in most cases), there is no other foreseeable result short of eventual bankruptcy. That could leave fans with a scenario where clubs will be forced to fold and some (God forbid) forced into oblivion.
You cannot continue spending money you do not have when income does not equate to expenditure.
Why it is not sane
Way before the sale of Gareth Bale was made official by Real Madrid, his selling club, Tottenham Hotspurs, had spent over £100 million on new players to replace him. That is £18 million more than they are set to receive, not taking into account the wages that are to be paid to the new acquisitions.
What would happen if, at the season’s end, they do not achieve the minimum goal of fourth place, synonymous with Champions League football?
Have we forgotten what such management styles did to Portsmouth and Middlesborough, among others in the Barclays Premier League recently?
Uefa president Michel Platini is full of rage at this development and the direction that football is taking and has promised that a solution is being sought to stop this and the eventual collapse it might bring to the football system.
Personally, I am happy for the players that they get to play in their dream teams but it is at prices that are astronomical and, in most cases, they do not benefit.
With the big clubs continuously spending, many smaller clubs and leagues gradually folding up (Samuel Eto'o's Anzhi comes to mind), world economies struggling (we saw strikes in Brazil during the just concluded Confederations Cup)and less people being able to afford match tickets, how do these clubs hope to keep afloat?
We need, desperately, to become financially disciplined in football, sooner rather than later.