Money May­hem

JAMES RICHARDS on why he’s be­come bored with the mon­ster mod­ern day trans­fer fees…

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - TRANSFER MARKET -

GON­ZALO Higuain has just signed for Ju­ven­tus from Napoli for £75.3 mil­lion.

I am sit­ting at my lap­top sift­ing through the day’s foot­ball news on the BBC web­site. I read the head­line and shrug with al­most non­cha­lant dis­in­ter­est.

In my head I pic­ture a Serie A league ta­ble with Ju­ven­tus streets ahead of the rest and head­ing to yet an­other con­sec­u­tive Scud­etto.

The trans­fer fee makes Higuain the third most ex­pen­sive player in foot­ball his­tory and I just don’t care - big trans­fer fees of this na­ture are be­com­ing so ridicu­lous that they sail so far above my head that by the time they float down they are cov­ered in snow, ice and just a lit­tle bit of moon dust.

Of course, this was just paving the way for a cer­tain Paul Pogba to join Manch­ester United for a re­ported £89 mil­lion! These as­tro­nom­i­cal sums be­come mean­ing­less when they are at these kind of val­ues.

We should not for­get, how­ever, that there is a sin­is­ter side to all this.

In Eng­land, the mon­ster trans­fer fees are be­ing gen­er­ated by the new Premier League TV deal that is worth £5.1 bil­lion and this money is be­ing gen­er­ated by the pay­ing fan, reg­u­lar guys like you and me.

Well, not me, to be hon­est. I am prob­a­bly the only man who takes a peeler with him to the su­per­mar­ket to shave the car­rots down a bit be­fore putting them on the weigh­ing scales and so I have been priced out of the pay TV mar­ket for a long while now - but the gap of its af­ford­abil­ity is now wider and fur­ther out of reach than ever be­fore.

It wasn’t al­ways like this. If we look back into our foot­ball past, into the mem­o­ries that de­fined our own love for the game when many of us were younger, I bet we can all still re­mem­ber a time when a large trans­fer fee made us sit up and take note.

For many it might be the deal that made Trevor Fran­cis Eng­land’s first £1 mil­lion player or for those fans that grew up in the 1950s it may have been the £50,000 that Ju­ven­tus paid for John Charles.

The trans­fer that sticks out in my child­hood, that sent rip­ples around the play­ground the

day af­ter it was an­nounced, was when Andy Cole moved from New­cas­tle to Manch­ester United for £6 mil­lion plus Keith Gille­spie in 1995!

This was sur­passed in ex­cite­ment and dis­be­lief a year later when Alan Shearer joined New­cas­tle from Black­burn for £15 mil­lion!

Af­ter this it stops, at least for me. My shock and awe at trans­fer fees went no fur­ther and, as the Premier League era re­ally took hold, money be­came just an­other hum­drum of the mod­ern game much like plas­tic seat­ing, mas- cots, Mex­i­can waves and Jeff Stelling.

I still pro­fess to en­joy trans­fer dead­line day be­cause there is al­ways that mo­ment of amuse­ment when a mid­dle of the range Premier League club pan­ics and spends a small for­tune on a striker from an Eastern Euro­pean league with all the cre­den­tials of a head chef at a mo­tor­way café.

The re­al­ity is that Cham­pi­onship clubs and those in the leagues be­low still strug­gle to bring in qual­ity play­ers for a rea­son­able fee as the price in­fla­tion from these ridicu­lous deals rip­ples down­wards. Many of us are wait­ing for the bub­ble to burst and, un­less you’re a Portsmouth fan, it still hasn’t.

No doubt the next TV deal will be even more valu­able and spur yet more Cham­pi­onship clubs on a risk-all spend­ing spree to get their slice of the Premier League pie.

With Pogba tak­ing over the “most ex­pen­sive player in his­tory” man­tle, there will likely be ex-play­ing pun­dits lin­ing up to tell us why they think he is worth the money and what a shrewd bit of busi­ness this will turn out to be (yeah, right).

I fully ex­pect the first £100 mil­lion player to be around the cor­ner and then I very much doubt it will be long be­fore this record too is con­signed to the his­tory books.

Worth a for­tune? Manch­ester United’s Paul Pogba

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