Money In Football

Our George and I are concerned about the long-term effect money is having on the beautiful game, and together we offer this article as food for thought:

The summer transfer has again seen copious amounts of money spent as clubs look to strengthen for the new season and it hasn’t finished yet.

Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City have – at the time of writing – made just one money signing, Riyad Mahrez at a whopping £60 million. Not bad for a player who three years ago cost Leicester City less than half a million.

Liverpool, despite Jürgen Klopp having said previously that he’s not a cheque-book flashing manager, have laid out over £175 million on four players. This includes the summer’s biggest – so far – £67 million on Brazilian goalie Alisson, who they pumped seven goals past in last year’s semi-final of the Champions League.

Without endlessly listing all the signings (they’re easily visible on any number of websites) the point of this article is: Where and when will it all end? How soon before a transfer fee/salary package surpasses that of a third world debt? When will the game return to a state of sanity?

The spending, even by the very, very richest of clubs, or more succinctly their glory-hunting owners, surely needs to stop.

The romantic in us wants this twice-yearly Sky induced, Jim White screaming like a banshee nonsense to stop. Clubs need to work much, much harder at developing their own talent rather than just rushing out to the shops.

Coaches at all age levels must be developed and their works-in-progress encouraged and given every opportunity to make the grade. If we fail in this the game will fall further still into the hands of the agents who infest our beautiful game.

And the quest for trophies and glory will be evermore reduced to those that have the money.

How good might things become down the line if instead of lashing tens of millions on one or two players, the clubs actually pumped significantly more into their academies and development systems?

There are clubs of course who spend large amounts on their academies, facilities etc, but there is so much more that could be done. And the rewards of seeing your own home-grown talent make it all the way to the very top would be so much more gratifying wouldn’t they?

The game and by that we mean the authorities surely need to plough more money back into the grassroots of the game. More facilities, both indoor and outdoor. More coaching and tactical awareness training for our youth coaches to pass on to their charges.

Why isn’t there a levy of a percentage of every transfer fee going to ‘the game’?

Such a levy would ensure the game’s longevity and be instrumental in providing a ladder of progression from parkland to Premier League pitches.

Football, professional football, is in a crisis of capitalism, because of capitalism.

A hierarchy of money is being established, has been established.

The playing field, never really level, is now near perpendicular, and really all that needs be said about it is, ‘Can you believe Sanchez’s wages?’ And Ronaldo would bleat, ‘Look at MINE…’ and likely wink.

Every club bar about six (let’s just concentrate on Europe eh?) is a feeder club. Liverpool, for the perfect example – five times European champions – couldn’t hold on to Coutinho.

Players contracts mean zilch, they’ve become a joke.

The greed of agents is a vile addition to the game, any and all games that they infest. Shifting the balance from, ‘I want to play football’ to, ‘You can sit on the bench and make (us both) loads of handbag…’

And while we’re on about agents, let the game impose a cap on their fees. Let’s have full disclosure of all monies leaving the game. Let’s plug the leaking and syphoning, clean up the transfer business.

Why doesn’t football consider a central clearing house for all transfers? A body that would create said disclosure of fees, contracts and ‘other’ costs – similar to the land registry or indeed the Stock Exchange?

While agents hold so much power and determination over player movements no coach, certainly outside of the ‘big six,’ can properly plan without an acceptance his efforts can and will be cherry-picked.

As a total neutral – which no footie fan ever really is – it’s exciting to watch the standard of El Clasico for example – but the reality drop next weekend is too vast by half.

Will this change?

No. Get real. Money talks.

Is there any visible will to change this?

NO. Money talks even more further up the rulemaking ladder. [see Blatter, Platini and the World Cup to seriously homophobic Qatar?]

Why should it be changed?

So more events like Leicester walking the League might happen, anyone?

How might this be helped?

Read Jamie [gob] Carragher’s book, which is both entertaining and interesting.

In it he said, he and Stevie G might be the last players to go the whole journey [from youth team to first team] at a big club. Why? Because of the urgent pressing need for managers to buy ready made replacements rather than ‘buy’ youngsters the time to learn their trade.

That, judging by the teamsheets in the Premiership and the summer signing trend certainly, seems to be true enough.

A solution – and this is an idea Fergie backed and then went quiet on – there must be more than half any team fielded born in the country the league is in. Forcing scouting to become localised. At least six a side.

If you wanted to get hairy-arsed about it – and we would – half of them have to be born within a 50-mile radius of the stadium.

Remember that great European Cup winning Celtic team of 1967 – the Lisbon Lions?
All born within a postage stamp, well within a 25-mile radius of Parkhead, coached into a Team. The Team.

The late, great Malcolm Allison was once asked, ‘How do you solve the problems of modern football?’ He said, ‘Oh, that’s easy. Stop transfers for three years. Then,’ he added, ‘you’ll find out who can actually coach…’ As opposed to go waving a chequebook.

Money has too tight a grip.

In order to loosen it, level the field, ensure International soccer is fairer.

Take the World Cup in Russia… The French team, in HUGE part, displayed talents taken from their colonial past. The talents were marvellous yes – but wouldn’t the tournament have been fairer had those players represented their countries of birth?

Force both clubs and countries to find and nurture local talent.

And put an end to the grotesque farce of players ‘choosing’ which international team to play, please.

You have to FORCE power (Money) to cede – because it NEVER will willingly.

And if you don’t, then loyalty – the lifeblood of the fans – us poor fools who believe in it – becomes nothing.

Football without caring is – well, it can leave an odd taste in the mouth and an ever bigger and ever uglier hole in your pocket.