As I gaze at my blank computer screen, spending a few minutes pondering over how to start this article, it suddenly hits me. In the last 5 minutes I’ve spent thinking of how to open this piece and getting distracted by Roy Copper’s love life, Wayne Rooney has earned £150. By the time I’m in full throttle, ranting about astronomical player wages and transfer fees, he would have made another 150. The England captain earns £42,857 in a single day, making his weekly wage a mighty £300,000 – 11 times the average yearly wage in the UK. As we hit the height of the transfer window, we can’t escape the pound signs. All we see on the back pages are clubs demanding more and more money for their star assets. It’s all very evident the money in football, but how exactly is it effecting the game that we love?
It’s got to the point where we say these transfer fees forgetting the sheer quantity that they represent. Raheem Sterling’s move from Liverpool to Manchester City was worth £49 Million. Yep, 49 Million Pounds. It’s completely mind-boggling to think that someone is going to pay that sort of money (plus £200,000 a week) to another human to kick a ball into the back of a net, which he only did 23 times for Liverpool! And the funny thing is, Sterling is one of the most unlikeable footballers around. To be earning so much money, and then complain that you’re ‘tired’ whilst being pictured taking hippy crack and shisha just a few months later is a complete insult to the working class people that pay to watch him play every week.
How can someone be worth so much money, though? It’s probably the only business in the world where humans are trade-able assets that can only be transferred from one owner to another by money, resembling the slave trade. You can look at a mega mansion in Hollywood and still know that it’s worth less than little old Raheem Sterling. How often do really big money transfers work? The worlds most expensive footballer, Gareth Bale, was getting booed by his Real Madrid faithful at the end of last season, and whats not to say that the pressure put on Raheem Sterling isn’t going to be the same.
It’s quite frightening the cash being flung at players in this modern game. Every year, the prices seem to inflate even further. The teams at the very top are very satisfied, but teams lesser down in the top flight and in lower divisions are starting to feel the full effects. It’s fair to say Aston Villa have had a nightmare two weeks. First their captain, star man, and now England international pledged his future to the club, just to scurry through the exit door to big spenders Manchester City three days later. Although a comical series of events, it shows just how money talks. Fabian Delph is probably going to sit on the bench for most of the season, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s no real biggie – I mean he is going to be returning to his soon-to-be Cheshire mansion with another £100,000 or so in his bank account every week.
Neither could Villa do anything to save their top striker, Christian Benteke,from leaving for Liverpool, signing for £32.5 Million. The lesser teams are being treated horrifically, and it just means the gap between the top clubs and the not-so top clubs is just going to increase and increase. Any player that impresses at a lower team will always get snapped up in the modern game by one of the big boys at the top. Does it work out all the time for the glory guys though? No. Look at Wilfried Zaha, the winger came through the ranks at Crystal Palace before he was bought by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, after making an incredibly limited amount of appearances there, he was loaned out before sealing a permanent move away from Old Trafford. Where to? Crystal Palace.
The reasons that young English boys are getting into football now is simply for one reason, money. With such a high foreign influx of players, the prices for English players are spiralling rapidly out of control. £49 Million for Raheem Sterling? £30 Million plus for John Stones? Manchester City were sweating at one point, and in some respects still are, that they won’t even have enough English players in the new season under regulations. Is young Patrick Roberts going to develop any better at the Etihad than at Fulham? Probably not. In fact, the environment that he now finds himself in is in fact a hindrance to his development.
It’s ripping the heart out of football. Football was once played for one thing only – passion. The passion has completely disintegrated. You just need to take one look at the retirement homes of football, the MLS, the Turkish League, the Chinese League, the Middle East Leagues, the Australian League and even now the Indian one. Where players go for one last pay packet. Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba, David Villa, Andrea Pirlo and Xavi are just a tiny selection of players to make the move from their beloved clubs to these so called retirement homes. They don’t go there because they love the football, or the classic first interview with the club line ‘it’s always been my dream’, they go there for the money.
I was trying my best to resist referring to the 70’s and 80’s when getting my point across, but it had to be done. Back then, players were seen as ‘one of us’, the players symbolised what the club and its fans stood for, there wasn’t a ridiculous amount of money being splashed and players wanted to play because they loved football and they wanted to become legends at their respective clubs. Just like life in general does, things move on and nothing can ever remain the same, so it was always going to change. However, the extent that it has moved on is frightening.
Is it all bad though? I touched earlier on mid and lower league teams and their poor treatment from the big clubs, but they were handed a very handy boost earlier this year. Premier League clubs share of the incredible £5.3 Billion TV deal is going to, and already has, completely changed some clubs perspective of the transfer window. Sunderland, West Ham, Newcastle, Stoke, Aston Villa and even Watford have all already spent big. So surely this is only going to make the Premier League even more competitive, when these sides are building squads arguably good enough for a Europa League push. We shall see, but maybe a small benefit of the ridiculous inflation of money in the game could be this.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that money in football has been taken to a new level, and every season more of the heart and soul of the game is being ripped out. I simply can’t stand the attitude shown by these players who are being paid so, so much. What is there to do though? The worldwide obsession makes revenue and as more Arab princes and Russian businessmen take over clubs, football is just going to inflate to the brink. It scares me to think where the game will be in twenty years time. It certainly needs looking into, because it simply isn’t attainable to carry on paying these human beings (that’s all they are) so much money. Nothing, especially money, is ever going to get in the way of my love with football, but come on, it’s getting stupid now.
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