Skip to main content

The transfer market and when it went mad (9th November, 2017)

He warned us.

In the summer of 1999, Nicolas Anelka transferred to Real Madrid for a £22.3 million transfer fee from Arsenal. He became the most expensive player in the history of Spanish football, signing a monstrous £35,000 a week contract.

He called it "an insult to society". Javier Clemente, the former Spain national team manager, blasted the move. "To throw seven billion pesetas out of the window when you could do so many other things... With that much money I could feed all the hungry people in Madrid."

Anelka failed to score for Real Madrid in his first five months at the club, was suspended by the club president in March 2000, and was promptly sold to PSG for the eerily similar fee of £22 million. That's the same PSG who sold Anelka to Arsenal for half a million pounds.

The transfer market was blown open.

There is something sad about the transfer fees being brandied about today - simply because people don't realize who is really paying, and who the money goes to.

Yes, the selling club does get more money, but finds that any replacements they're interested in are more expensive. And yes, the player does get more money, but finds themselves staggering under expectation.

It's the agent who is always content, pocketing a commission and looking for the next big move.

Worse, it's the fans who end up paying the money. The fans end up forking out even more for the privilege of watching the new signing fail to bed in properly with his new team-mates.

We're the losers at the end.

We're the losers because flashy signings distract from the fact that this is an unregulated market. We're the losers because that money could be better used.

We live in a society where 400,000 people had their benefits sanctioned in the UK in 2015, which saved1 the UK government £132m a year. The brutal cuts which make hundreds of thousands of lives a misery cost just as much as Manchester City's net spend that summer (£131.2m).

We live in a society where at least 95 families were evicted every day in Spain in 2014 and yet the previous summer Real Madrid spent €101m on just one player2.

We live in a society where Barcelona's El Prat airport has security staff who have to strike to make their voices heard, who have to work overtime due to under-staffing and a basic monthly salary of €900-€1,100 (£812–£990). Just three weeks later, a football club in the same city delved into a market where a 20-year-old who has played two top-flight seasons in his career3 can cost €105m - and that is considered normal.

Passengers gather as they wait for passing the security controls at Barcelona's El Prat airport due to the strike of security agents.


We live in a society where Italy's unemployment rate in July 2016 was a staggering 11.5% and in the same month a 28-year-old striker4 cost Juventus €90m.

It really is an insult to society.



1 Maybe not - a shocking report by the National Audit Office actually found that while benefit sanctions saved just £132m a year, they cost £285m a year to run. Go figure.

2 Gareth Bale

3 Ousmane Dembélé

4 Gonzalo Higuaín. He is still the most expensive South American footballer of all time; his transfer fee was the highest ever paid by an Italian team and also the highest of a player transferring within any domestic league.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From Catalonia to Heybridge - the story of an eighth division club (19th October, 2017)

After spending his whole life at UDA Gramenet and a season at Europa, Guillem Ramón moved to Terrassa in the summer of 2014. It was just another Catalan player transferring between two clubs in the Catalan regional leagues - nothing extraordinary.

But it was consequential.

In March 2015, in a match against Sabadell, the full back suffered a complete meniscal rupture, and his season was over. So was his contract - and a big chunk of the 2015-16 season as well. He ended up signing for Cerdanyola, without pay (as he was recuperating), and the doctors said that January would be his return time. However, he debuted in November.

In hindsight, it was a mistake.

After two games, in a training session, on November 25th he got injured again - this time in the quadriceps in the same leg. After two months of recuperation, and still no guarantee of pay, Guillem left for new pastures in February 2016. A trial at Coplestonians FC followed; so did an opportunity at Needham Market FC, in the seventh t…

Non-league Incider: Dulwich Hamlet 2-1 East Thurrock United

When I was more young and foolish I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't visit a football stadium until I visited Vallekas. Frustrated by my inability to plan a trip, I broke that promise by watching a game in the sixth tier of English football.

This is that game. This is my story.

If I've learnt anything, it's this: never make promises to yourself. Promises to yourself are like bonds to an imaginary world - they're not attached to anything. Instead, they only serve to frustrate you, and sometimes those around you.

In 2016, I remember being outside Wembley and not going inside for a stadium tour. In 2014, I remember giving up the opportunity to watch Real Madrid play AC Milan in Dubai. For a year the stadiums of Chelsea and Fulham were on the same street as mine. For three years, every time my friend said he was going to watch Leyton Orient, every time my brother talked about his love for Arsenal, every time I looked at a map of London and saw how close I was to the …

Fuenlabrada - the mighty challengers: Part 2; aka Juan Quero - the roller-coaster (15th October, 2017)

In just a few months, Fuenlabrada have competed for promotion to the Segunda, signed a center-back from a La Liga side, and will now be playing Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey.

This is part 2 of a series about Fuenlabrada, the mighty challengers to Real Madrid, who they play in the cup on the 26th of October.

You can read part 1 here.



He was short. Very short. At 5'3", the left winger sometimes played in an over-sized shirt.

The ball never left his feet. His feet were tiny but they had magic. A dizzying array of body feints, close control, direction changes and sheer speed, often resembling a roller-coaster, left opposition defenders outwitted. And yes - sometimes, he frustrated. Sometimes, he was irregular.

But when he turned up, the world was at his feet.

If Juan Quero plays against Real Madrid he'll be playing against the club that let him go. The club that didn't think he had it in him to become a La Liga player.

The club that was wrong. Very, very wrong - he went fr…