Scot Willie Groves [1893 West Brom to Aston Villa £100]
Welshman Gareth Bale [2013 Spurs to Real Madrid £85m]
Football’s transfer market is a bit like the old slave trading bazaars isn’t it? Players are bought and sold like sides of meat, but the prices are in millions here. It is a scandalous business really though, because it is all rigged and massive amounts of money are slipped silently into undeserving pockets – how comes it is not all illegal beggars belief.
The biggest criminals are the so called ‘football agents’. You don’t need any experience, skills, knowledge of football, or anything else to become a football agent do you? Knowing how close you can sail to the wind is an advantage though, so you don’t end up in a cell. One of Tony Blair’s young sons is an agent – that sums it up surely? These are the slave traders and their role is to ensure that their charges are kept on the move, so both they and the player get a colossal chunk of the transfer costs. The agents are very skilled at whispering in the player’s ear, unsettling them and persistently telling them that it is time to move on; they also keep in touch with each other and all the clubs to ensure that the merry-go-round keeps turning at a dizzy speed, and wages & fees are escalated rapidly. The money that should be there in football to support the grassroots simply disappears into players’ and agents deep pockets – certainly the taxman never sees much of it. So what do the football authorities do? You guessed it – NOTHING.
Certain periods (called ‘transfer windows’) are set aside when such transfers can actually take place (but a lot of wheeling & dealing goes on outside those times) – the current window runs to the end of this month. The big boys, the big funded by foreigners clubs (ALL but a couple of those in the Premiership!) have been at it already: Russian funded Chelsea have outlaid over £80m; runners-up Liverpool £60m; Man Utd £55m; cheapskates Arsenal have spent £30m on one player; Man City £20m; and broke Spurs £nil, but they haven’t finished by a long chalk!
A club transfers a player for one of three reasons; either they need the cash, the players wants the cash, or the player has proved to be rubbish (mind you they keep that hidden from the buying club, don’t they?). If it is a half decent player then a bit of skulduggery creeps in though – clubs will NOT sell a good player to one of their rivals (except if its idiots Arsenal of course who sold their best striker Robin van Persie to Man Utd which allowed them to win the League while Arsenal themselves languished in fourth place!).
Let’s turn then to an even greater scandal ‘player loans’ – no not money, it’s when a club who ‘owns’ a player (has their registration) decides to let them play for another club. There is no ‘transfer fee’ involved so the receiving club is laughing, they get a player they need, and only pay part of their wages – GOOD RESULT!
Why does this happen? Well. The rich clubs can snap up ALL the best players so their rivals can’t sign them; obviously they can’t then play them all in their first team, so they offload them so they keep fit, motivated & focused. Clubs won’t though loan players to their rivals of course (for instance Chelsea refused last season to loan their ‘now sold’ Senegal ‘frozen out’ striker Demba Ba to Arsenal, but another player was loaned to not a threat –WRONG- Everton), but instead they can select clubs they want to help at the lower end of the league (or lower leagues), so those who won’t rock their own boat [though Everton with four loan signings made it into fifth spot no less & other clubs like Sunderland, Fulham, West Ham can field nearly half their side on loan – madness?). Clubs will also snap up a promising young immature inexperienced player and then loan them out to develop, for later use without having put in ANY contribution whatsoever. Loan players can often determine what teams get promoted & relegated – do you think that is right?
Such players can as said be on loan even to a club in the same league so will actually influence results against others BUT can’t play against the owning club – a beautiful result for them because an established team performer suddenly can’t play against them so their opponents are thrown into disarray when the teams meet. Madness & abuse of the system don’t you think?
[Could the football authorities do it all differently then? Of course. All players available for transfer could go into a general pool and be the subject of sealed bids dealt with by the FA with clubs having no veto. Similarly with loans arrangements.
Costs would plummet, you can be sure of that – it is the secret closed doors deals that have allowed the development of obscene transfer fees and wages]