I must admit that this is really - no I mean REALLY starting to annoy me now. Manchester City have apparently bid 100 million Euros to secure the services of AC Milan’s Brazilian star Kaka. ‘He’s not worth it!’’ screams Alan Shearer, frantically juggling a kebab in one hand while pulling his mini skirt an inch further south in a valiant, but ultimately doomed, effort to retain his modesty with the other. ‘No-one, NO-ONE, deserves to earn £100m a year for kicking a chuffin' ball about the place.’ wheezes the BBC’s red faced resident blogger Robbo Robson - his article merely inciting angry mobs to desert their local churches and storm branches of Homebase across the nation:
‘I for one will definitely lose faith in football, these people already earn ridiculous amounts of money. This is the final nail in the coffin.’
‘…a loss of faith and the final nail in the coffin should this happen...’
‘My faith in humanity would be severely slashed’
Of course that’s assuming they have the strength – this is actually making us collectively ill…
‘I'm already sick of the dosh being splurged on footy’
‘This is all causing me to have a bit of a crisis of conscience about football in general. £500kp/w does actually make me feel slightly physically sick.’
For once the UK press and its blogging community seem to be at one. Kaka is a) a jolly good player and what my Mum would describe as an absolutely lovely boy b) not worth 91 million quid.
This is just mass stupidity. Reaching for my dog eared CSE economics text book I see that Manchester City may pay AC Milan £91 million for Kaka’s services because:
a) City want Kaka to play for them
b) AC Milan won’t sell him for less than £91 million
c) Manchester City can raise £91 million in the necessary timeframe
d) AC Milan are prepared accept the offer and sell
Change any one of a-d and the deal’s off.. This is no more a matter of faith, conscience, or morality than my visit to Tesco last week. In a market in which high quality goods are scarce, demand is high and cash is plentiful, prices go up. If you keep pumping in cash while retaining the same (or a greater) level of demand without raising supply, prices will keep going up until you either make the deal, run out of cash or lose interest. When low quality goods are plentiful and cash is scarce prices go down - which is why the entire squad of my Sunday League pub team would collectively raise less than a packet of custard creams (Any offers? No, seriously. Two Gardibadis and a choccy Hob Nob and I’ll throw in the Under 10s too..).
In the last 20 years, football has attracted huge levels of investment, increasingly from overseas, and most noticeably the Russian and now the Middle Eastern energy sectors. These industries deal in billions where previous investors, often the local business magnate, would deal in thousands or occasionally millions. On the other hand the number of trophies to be won and the number of high quality players capable of winning them has remained pretty constant. Throw in a bit of inflation and the numbers become utterly irrelevant. I wouldn’t argue that Kaka is probably 91 times better than Trevor Francis, but is he six times better than Alan Shearer, 93 time better than Johan Cryuff or 180 times better than Kenny Dalglish?
I know this is a lost cause. For some reason economics is generally thought not to apply to football – a fact that became clear to me during David Mellor’s baleful years at the helm of 606. Here was a former Minister in a Government notionally committed to free market economics repeatedly arguing that the number of overseas players should be limited for the protection of the English game. Not once did he consider that the reason for the rise in overseas players was that British players were underskilled in comparison with their overseas competitors and therefore overpriced. Robert Peel who?
The fact that a top footballer earns around 1500 times more than a senior nurse is a question of societal priorities as reflected by our spending choices. If we honestly value nurses more than footballers, are we prepared to forego our season tickets and Sky dishes to alter their respective markets accordingly? Moreover, are we be prepared, indeed are we able, to move our spending away from industries that choose to invest their billions football rather than healthcare? I don’t think so – so , please can we all just get a grip?