The incredibly high transfer fees that Premier League and European clubs have paid and received lately are staggering. It seems at times, to me at least, that the beautiful game has become not quite so beautiful because of the outrageous amount of money paid for and to players.
In 1893, Aston Villa paid the princely sum of £100 for Willie Groves, which was a record breaking fee. The public was aghast. Imagine paying that type of money for a football player?
Trevor Francis is reputed to be the first £1 million player, lured to Nottingham Forest by Brian Clough in 1979. From then on, fees began to rocket with Bryan Robson going for a record breaking fee of £1 500 000 in 1981 to Manchester United, and Cristiano Ronaldo going from that club to Real Madrid for a staggering £80,000,000, twenty-three years later in 2009.
These enormous amounts of money are justified by the clubs that spend it on the basis that in order to stay on top of the game, the sum is warranted, and they must spend these sums to keep ahead of the pack and to win trophies. As foreign investors continue to buy shares in, and own, English football clubs, the question of money becomes secondary, as they have as much money as is needed to fund these clubs. Manchester City is one example. Chelsea is another.
And that’s where the iniquity lies. What if you are an ordinary club with limited resources in the Premiership struggling to keep afloat?
What if you are a club in the deeply in the red but still paying exorbitant transfer fees? That’s why I am all in favour of the Premier League bosses stepping in and either capping the transfer amounts, certainly for clubs that on paper can’t afford them, or by putting a twelve month limit on the payment of transfer fees in place, thus preventing clubs from structuring deals over many years with money that they don’t actually have.
The teams at the bottom of the Premiership and in those leagues below that can only dream about getting players like Van Persie or Ronaldo in their team.
To them, these players are out of their class, and as long as this is allowed to continue, the chasm between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ in the Premier League and divisions below is bound to continue.
The £100,000,000 transfer fee is fast approaching…and that’s staggering…