Gareth Bale’s a very talented player and has risen up in estimation over the last three seasons but is a footballer – or anyone for that matter – worth £86m in the current economic climate?
If you consider the country that he is going to (if all the rumour is to be believed) is in a dangerous fiscal situation how do you think those not interested in football in Spain will feel about this kind of money being thrown around when people are struggling for the basics. In this country too it appears to be a move that will make those who don’t follow the game question the ethics and morals of a game that already has several questions on decency hanging over it.
We know that there will not be a cheque made out for the full amount to Tottenham if the sale goes ahead, instead it will be paid in smaller amounts over a few years or even involving a player swap as part of the deal – but even so when so many of the fans of Real Madrid and Spurs are struggling with bills, mortgages and the cost of living is it too extravagant a move to make? Many say that the value comes from the merchandise that the clubs sell with the bigger names and the increased gate receipts so the values are justifiable in business terms but I’d argue that football needs a bit of a reality check and needs to consider the image problem that it has and this adds to that negative image.
While football is big business there is a parallel in society with the divide between the “haves” and “have-nots” ever-widening. Looking at the English Premiership we know that the winner of this year’s league will most likely be Manchester United, Manchester City or Chelsea because of the money involved. They will be followed by Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs most likely with the odd chance of one of the “smaller” teams causing a wee upset and sneaking into the top six. While I still enjoy watching the odd game any connection that the working man or woman on the street used to have with these mega clubs is almost extinct. More so if you consider the lack of indigenous or even local players in the top flight sides. Look at the Man City vs. Newcastle game from last Monday – only three of the players on the pitch were English.
It’s this separation of the reality of the “man on the street” and the fantasy world where you can pick a figure out of the air to value a player that has made the game as good as it is for those in the top financial positions, but less of an emotional connection for you and I. When we see the Bales, Rooneys and Silvas of this world we can’t even aspire to be like them as their lives are almost fictional compared to ours. More money from these big clubs needs to go back into the grassroots projects to reach out to those in the shadow of the multi-million pound stadiums and bring them more benefit from this cash cow. Yes money has spoilt the game, but it’s eroded the passion for many long-standing fans too who cannot afford the season tickets or even to take the family on a day out to the match as they used to.
The terraces were once the place of respite for the working man on a Saturday Afternoon, now the executive boxes are the networking session for the businessmen on a Tuesday night.