Saturday, January 17, 2009

Mark!!! Leave him! He’s not worth it!!! - mountainstriker

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’

‘Disgusting money’

‘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?


guitou said...

Spot on!
If Manchester city really wants a role model, they have one in Kaka-The Irony is that an Arab cheick is paying
one hundred million for the son of Jesus-
Personally, l'll take the nurse.

beyond the fashion page said...


But is she a chick, a Czech, a cheque or a Sheikh in nurse's clothing?

gui-tar-ist said...

Or a chic Sheikh with a big chéque-
They start building a camels parking around the stadium -

mac millings said...

Good piece (as always), mountainstriker.

I think you're right when you say, "economics is generally thought not to apply to football."

I'll disagree slightly with your supply-and-demand model, though, as it doesn't take into account the stupidity of the purchaser.

The player in question isn't 'not worth it' for moral reasons, but for economic ones, surely - this would be an investment that, in the current climate, couldn't possibly pay for itself, let alone turn a profit (the hordes of people who'll find having 'Kaka' on their shirt hilarious notwithstanding).

My take on the "economics is generally thought not to apply to football" thing is that there will always be those who demand investment in the side they support (or run), even in lean times like these, as if, just because football's a game, the money isn't real.

I believe it's called "living the dream".

beyond the pale said...

Saw Ancelotti on Mexican TV last night being interviewed about the transfer. The lips were moving, saying "I'd rather keep the player but nobody asks me," but the eyes were as dead as that dream Mac was talking about.

mimi said...

Buying Kaka won't make Man City a member of the Top Four. But the money is meaningless for the Sheikhs. They spend hundreds of millions on horse racing. This obscene spending might make other clubs stop and think.

John Maynard Greengrass said...

I once studied for three years at the London School of Economics.
We did all sorts of courses in various branches of Economics,but Sheikonomics was, sadly, not among them.
Whereas economists have often pre-supposed rational behaviour on the part of market participants, prestige - a factor which is hard to quantify - appears to be important in Sheikonomics.
Rational behaviour appears to consist of Posh buying a handbag for a few thousand quid, Berlusconi renting her bloke for a few months or a man from the Persian Gulf who has never paid at the turnstile to watch a rainy north English City's perpetually second-best side actually buying that side.
Three years at the world's most prestigious seat of learning in the field of Economics failed to equip me to understand Sheikonomics.
Never mind - I furthered my understanding of The Meaning of Sport and sat next to Francoise Hardy for five minutes.

guitou said...

Five minutes next to Francoise Hardy and your interest rate went up 100% I suppose-
who needs economics anyway-

andrewm said...

It's never been the case that a genuinely great player at the peak of his powers took such a backward step in his career because he was offered more money than most of us can contemplate. The transfer fee is twice what any other club in the world would even offer if they had the money.

It's just not football.

beyond the pale said...

GG--And it's been bruited that, in reveries of rueful retrospect re. great opportunities lost (and perhaps she didn't mean only by abandoning academics for showbiz), Francoise herself pointed often to that same brief encounter.

(BTP himself, in the same or same-ish epoch, once danced with Julie Christie, but didn't know till told later who it was--these pure pleasures of pseudonymity can sometimes be confused with simple idiocy.)(And what later relief thus in being convinced by the seeming verisimilitude of Ms. C's acting-out, in her latest film, of senile dementia, that next time around the feeling, if any, will at least be mutual.) (What was that we were talking about...?)

"Seriously though": some further musings on this econ debate, just after watching Big Sol and Little Defoe, postmatch at the
Lane, amicably exchange shirts (bit of utopian barter theory there?)... and speaking of the ebb and flow of football (and other) "value", one recalls the words of gg's cousin Maynard K, "The importance of money essentially flows from its being a link between the present and the future" (On the Want of Money). And reflecting then upon money, flows and links: one's first thought--upon hearing, amid the day's latest quotations of the rising price upon the head of the One Who Belongs To Jesus (a hundred million for some Kaka, how oddly the words roll off the tongue), that City will now also acquire the Hammers wantaway Craig Bellamy, he of the long-iron once taken in anger to the head of former teammate John A. Riise--was that whoever's insuring that Eastlands outfit might do well to hide the clubs, at that club.

greengrass said...

rueful, was she?
I´ll give you five Kim Basingers, two Dusty Springfields and an Ena Sharples for your Julie Christie!

offsideintahiti said...

Great memories, young men, but what I really want to hear about are those dinner parties with Cleopatra...

greengrass said...

sorry - "Ena Sharples" was a Freudian slut. I meant, of course, Elsie Tanner.
But if you really want some Ena...

Cleo Laine I can do, but Cleofuckinpatra?

beyond the exhumation said...

Prof. Greengrass,

For a trained economist you make a shrewd horsetrader. Having mulled over your terms through the long winter's night, remembering all the while how pleasant it was, once upon a time, to relieve the ennui of the junior common room by turning on the telly to watch Ena and Elsie trade insults (surely fictive yet also surely less so than, for example, doctored newsclips of the "Pueblo incident," another of the limited tv options of that benighted era), nostalgia as well as the imminent closure of the transfer window (currently jammed up with kaka, though I understand a plumber has been called) finally induces me to accept your terms.

I may even throw in a year's subscription to the Economist as makeweight.

And by the by, I fear "Freudian slut" may be a bit rough". Just hark back to two seconds' worth of this unforgettable visage:

(That clip I might add was it seems posted as a video response, speaking of Freudian sluts, to an elegant bit of cinematic art titled "Miley Cyrus cuts her VULVA--HOT! Prince Harry is a FIRECROTCH--REALLY HOT!" And perhaps anticipating our proposed exchange, a You Tube viewer named "imalittlemidget"--nothing Freudian there surely--has responded "Ena Sharples rocked! I would give anything to have Ena, Minnie & Martha in the old folks home where I work." To which one Nottslad189 has cleverly retorted: "Wouldn't they smell a bit? After all--they've been dead for years! Surely not healthy for the old dears in your home." But in my home, GG, such unkind literalism would have no place. When one can no longer smell either the flowers or the coffee, a bit of decomposing Ena would be no problem at all. So do have your solicitors send on the transaction papers for signing instanter.)

offside o'glyph said...

Just kidding, gg, I'm grateful and delighted to have older heads around in order to keep us youngsters grounded.

Still, I hear she was hot, non?

mountainstriker said...

Blimey - I feel a bit like a parent who's come home to find the teenage baby sitter sitting on a pile of coats crying while the impromptu party continues to rage around her.

Picking my way through the broken glass, a couple of points by way of response:

Does the model take account of stupidity? Yes I think it does - it's called demand no matter what the context. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Sensibly you only NEED one pair - all the others are just a whim. But the whole financial model for the shoe industry is based on the notion that people will spend money on things that in truth they do not need. Demand doesn't make the distinction between sensible and stupid.

Financially is Kaka worth it? No, my guess is that City could win every trophy available for the next 20 years and I doubt that they would recoup the outlay in terms of fees and wages. This is a matter for the owners rather than the Club however. City's model is based on billions being pumped in to cover their spending. Their problems will start if and when the oil tap is turned off. As long as it's open it makes perfect sense.

Will Kaka make City one of the top four? Obviously this particular ship has sailed now but I think the answer is that eventually their money will make them one of the top five in the same way that Roman's money extended the Arsenal/Man U duopoly of the late 90s early 00s

Has a genuinely top player traded down in pursuit of the cash? Juhinho and Ravenelli to Middlesboro perhaps? Going further back - Andy Gray to Wolves back in 1979? I'm reaching aren't I? I guess you could make the case for that those that went to Chelsea around 2003/4 – ie before they were in danger of winning anything. None were at the level of Kaka though (and of course this is still the case).

I do disagree when you say that it’s not footie though. It is - if not it will be - and I think it increasingly likely we will see more top players trading down. The issue, as City already know, will arise when success is not instant. City are not in Europe and won't be next season either. Top players in their pomp want to win stuff.

As for the rest of you, as my Dad would say, 'Go outside and shake yourselves!'

Cheers everyone,

andrewm said...

mountainstriker, you're correct that players have traded down and will continue to do so, but I think that if Kaka had gone through with it it would have been truly unique.

I'm partly joking when I say it's not football, but I really do/did despair at the idea that possibly the greatest player in the world would trade down to such an extent. As Torres said and you've said, the top players want to win trophies and compete at the highest level. I can't stand the idea of a multi-millionaire player abandoning all that just for more money - especially when he'll be packing his contract with get-out clauses.

If City get relegated and the owners remain, will we see some of the world's best in the Championship on 200 grand a week? Because, in a nutshell, that is not football.

Thorny Jack Greengrass said...

I hope, in the not-too-distant future, to see Paul Scholes "trading down" to the club he has always loved - Latics d'Oldham.
And I'd love to see Giggsy "trading down" to the Rugby League team his dad came north to play for.
Personally, I'm willing to trade up to any Crown Green Bowling team that will have me.

offsideintahiti said...


let me get this straight, you're writing about 21st century English football and expecting serious comments?


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