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Wikipedia has a fantastic article on the progression of transfer fees. I had written a huge post then Firefox crashed so I’m starting again. Firefox isn’t supposed to crash is it? Plus I have a Mac; it’s not something I know how to deal with.

Incidentally I do fear for the future of football. Where did the transfer craziness begin? Well according to Wikipedia Andy McCombie from Sunderland to Newcastle in 1904. £700. Yes, you read that right. Imagine that today. It would buy you a pair of decent boots and a few replica shirts. Back then transfers increased steadily £1000 at a time. Then £5000 at a time. Nevertheless it never really got any bigger than that. The problem was that even a steady increase begins to get noticeable after a fashion. By 1928 David Jack was the first man to break the £10 000 barrier Bolton selling him for £10 890 to, get this, Arsenal of all teams. It seems like they didn’t always share the rather frosty relationship they have in recent years. Football’s a funny old thing. Can you imagine Wenger shelling out for the current crop of Bolton superstars, Kevin Davies a gunner? It’s enough to raise a smile on the grumpiest of people.

I’ll skip forward to 1962 to save you the trouble of some random factoids about British transfers. Read the Wikipedia article if you’re truly into the nitty gritty of transfers. I’ll be frank in the world of obscene transfer fees the name Manchester United appears more often than most. We do have a bit to answer for. Just a year after Dennis Law became the first player, or one of the first, to reach the £100 000 valuation heading to Torino from Manchester City for a record £100 000 flat he was already on his way back to the British isles. Man United payed £115 000 for him. Even back then we weren’t smart. I he was leaving after a solitary year he was clearly unwelcome at Torino, or homesick. Either way a player desperate to leave or a club desperate to sell could have been bargained down quite easily. Instead United did what we still do throw around cash like there was no tomorrow. Yes, I get it. A great player but I think we all recognise these fees are excessive.

Let’s fast forward again transfer once again climbed steadily. Only now instead of £1000 increases it was leaps of £10, £15, £25 000 a pop. Nothing much changed then the mid seventies brought a change in the winds. The first £500 000 transfer, Liverpool cleaning up making a killing in the transfer market striking a deal with Hamburg for none other than Fergie’s best friend Kevin Keegan. Keep an eye on his name it’ll pop up once more before I’m done. That’s enough about Keegan and back to United. I told you we appear more often than not. Only this time we were making the money not splashing it for a change. 1979 was a red-letter year, mark it well. Trevor Francis left Birmingham for Nottingham Forest in one of the first £1 000 000 transfers. This followed a spate of transfers exceeding the £1 million mark. Naturally United, not to be outdone, decided to fork out £1 500 000 for Bryan Robson in 1981 just to remind people we had so much cash we practically bathed in the stuff. By 1984 United must have realised that all this spending had to be counter and went oh bollocks. The net result was that in 2 years we managed to offload both Ray Wilkins to Milan for £1.5 million & Mark “Sparky” Hughes to Barca for £2.3 million.

I will wrap up the history of transfer hereish because we all know about the nineties. Prices grew from £3 million all the way to £8 million steadily. Anyhow I hope you kept an eye on Keegan like I told you too because come 1995 he once again accelerate the transfer pricing process by shelling out £15 000 000 for Alan Shearer from Blackburn. Then came the turn of the millennium and United realised it had been far too long since they had made a singularly outlandish purchase of gargantuan proportions to make the working class weep with envy at the waste of it all. So United made two. Veron and Ferdinand. Both purchases were in excess of £30 000 000. Then finally to prove a point a certain Russian bought a certain Ukrainian for something over £30 000 000 who I respect greatly apart from his decision to come for the money and listen to London calling. Luckily he’s apparently got one foot back in Milan so to bring my transfer story to a close I have to ask what, cosmically speaking is the point? £30 000 000 for 2 seasons the latter season spent on the bench. Chelsea could have grabbed a homeless guy. He would have spent plenty of time on benches and he would have come for a warm blanket and a cheese sandwich. Instead they choose the £30 000 000 option. There is simply no excuse to spend that much on any player unless they happen to be Jesus.

Once more I say yes. I do fear for football. I can sum it all up with two words. Wes Brown. I like him. I really, really like him. He’s a local, loyal decent hard working squad player. So why then is he making such a ruckus? Look, Wes Brown makes
£50 000 a WEEK, yes? Many people wouldn’t see that in a year, some people would not see it in their lifetime. What on earth could possess a man to turn that down and ask for more? I don’t like the word greed but I’m left with little alternatives here. Still I don’t want to blame Wes because I like him. All I can do is ask a question and hope that someone can answer. An obvious reason to want more money is to buy more stuff. Therefore we are lead to believe that Wes is unable to fulfil his wants on his current salary. So what is there that Wes can’t afford on £50 000 a WEEK? This is not a rhetorical question I would like an answer. Is he jealous or upset that Rooney and Ronaldo make more than him? In the wake of Ronaldo gaining a wage package that would rival a small African nations defence budget I could understand that. You know what though, I don’t hate the idea of a player on a large wage, John Terry’s wages were branded obscene so I don’t know what that makes Ronaldo’s wages but personally if a club offers them money nobody expects them to say ”Gee, could I maybe get less?” However could Wes Brown’s agent speaking through his mouth, urging him on to greater heights?

It seems up until this point I have conveniently left the agents out of this. The purpose of the agent is to get a deal for their player. This is their sole job. They do it well. However one must ask what else are they there for? They get the players more money but that is it really. So are they simply a tool for greed? Some might argue that they provide the bridge between big clubs and small teams. I personally believe that scouts do that, not agents. An agent can’t just approach a big club and say sign my player. It’s up to the club to express interest in which case why don’t the clubs speak directly with the players? For me the Tevez/Mascherano saga sums up everything that is wrong with football today, agents included. When a couple of players wish to play for a club they like and are told they can’t until people can figure out exactly who “owns” them then after long deliberation they are casually informed they aren’t in fact owned by either of the two clubs involved in the debate. Sports Management Group owns them, a sports agent company. Who apparently own these two players and their “rights” however being kind the agency were willing to let them be “borrowed” by the club of their dream for a rather reasonable sum that could only be considered extortion in the nicest sense of the word.

Of course after a period of waiting there would be the mall matter of the larger permanent fee because they couldn’t just let them leave for a pittance now could they? Another £18.6 million and Liverpool had one new player. Brilliant. Now it’s just United who are waiting on Tevez. With his desire to return to Boca Juniors by the time we actually buy him outright he’ll be leaving. He’ll be the first player to talk about his fantastic United years only to have to add “although I was never officially a United player, I’m still the property of my agent”. In the eyes of Benitez and Ferguson Mascherano and Tevez are footballers. In the eyes of Sports Management Group they are commodities. I’m sorry but when a group of people own other people and make profits by selling and trading various people I believe that’s called slavery. Although apparently in Europe they call it Sports Management. I’m done here. I won’t start on Ashley Cole because it’s midnight and I don’t fancy a sleepless night. Goodnight.
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