Market Madness

The Premier League seems to receive a lot of negative attention for the fees that clubs pay for players. When you look at other big clubs in Europe, there isn’t ever really fees that boggle the mind, minus to occasional monster signing – Neymar, Bale, Suarez. Those signings aren’t even within the last year alone, but the Premier League seems to be spending money like it’s going out of fashion.

Realistically, it’s simply down to the game developing. Similarly, you could claim it’s a transition that’s happened hand-in-hand with todays consumerism society. Anyone, of any age, who assumes that Cristiano Ronaldo is going to cost the same now as he would have even tens of years ago is out of touch with reality. Not just football, all sports develop with society and as money becomes a bigger factor in day to day life, it becomes a bigger factor in sports too. It comes as quite a mystery that people cry out for video analysis technology to come into the game, yet they burst out in rage when a club spends over £60M on a player. To assume that the only aspect of the game that won’t develop is money is completely ludicrous. Yes there are parts of the game that shouldn’t be progressing as much, in terms of money – tickets etc – but that’s completely different to the point here. Yes release clauses and paid fees are excessively high, however, the people buying over clubs have the money to be paying these eye watering sums. There’s a lot more purpose to buying those players than just the quality of the player though.

The first point in relation to that is that certain players are extremely marketable. Just go back to last summers biggest saga, Paul Pogba to Manchester United. It wouldn’t be silly to assume that the club have probably recouped the fee paid for the player and maybe even made some profit. So for the club to have been forking out £89M last year, it wouldn’t have mattered as much, without even considering the fact that £89M to United isn’t too big an issue. A good way to look at it, is you have to speculate to accumulate. The second point I want to discuss here is with regards to homegrown talents. There’s two bases to cover here and thats all. First off is that if a young Englishman is good enough, the fee for him is absolutely insane. In recent days, it’s been reported that for Tottenham to sell 23 year old Harry Kane, a fee closer to £200M (two hundred million pounds) would be required. Staying with Spurs, rumours of Alli being a popular target for this summer were met with speculation of fees soaring above £100M. Then if we take a look at done deals, we have Jordan Pickford to Everton. Pickford was Sunderland standout player in a dire season that seen them relegated, which isn’t the greatest of praise. He earned himself a good reputation though and there’s no doubting his ability, but a fee of £30M seen Everton on the receiving end of some stick. Then look at Jan Oblak’s transfer to Atletico Madrid, for a fee of €16M, which has seen him progress into one of the best goalkeepers in world football. So, if we’re not paying way over the odds for homegrown talent, even more so than clubs are for foreign talent, they’re simply not good enough.

To me, we’re looking at a situation now we’re only the biggest of the big clubs can get the best of the best players. We’ll end up with a tier structure and clear gaps in club quality. The Premier League earns its reputation as the best league in the world because of its competitive nature, anyone being able to beat anyone. If the aforementioned tier structure fell into place, England would end up with a league reminiscent of the Scottish League. Scottish football arguably takes more beating than any other league in the world, but if English football continues as it is, it’ll end up in a similar state. Just as Celtic pick the best players from the rest of the teams in the league, plus have pick of the bunch of foreign players, England would end up with Man City, Chelsea & Man Utd doing the same. It takes away both the competitive nature as well as driving away fans who simply lose interest as there’s nothing to play for. Every gameweek becomes a cup final, with 3 points the only thing worth celebrating.

I feel like the opinions of tired, worn out pundits are still heavily influencing how people view the game these days. The modern game is very different to the game when they were playing or first starting out punditry. The opinions of people with clear bias and unwillingness to adapt to the modern era shouldn’t hinder how we all feel about the game we all love. At the end of the day, high transfer fees is something we’re going to have to adapt to wether you like it or not. But just some of the points covered in this post should be enough of an indicator as to why the market is the way it is and why players are bought for such fees. It’s the game we love, we should adapt with it.

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