Saturday 1 September 2012

Opinion & Sport: Football's Cash & Trends

Ibra to PSG, one of the biggest names in transfer this season
Image from arabnews
In soccer, there is something called transfer window, which is the period which football clubs are allowed to trade players (players can be bought, sold, loaned, released on mutual consent, released on free). Apart from rounds after rounds of battles of the football season, fans are most excited during the transfer windows, as they can wait and see which player will join their favourite clubs and help to achieve better results in the next season.

These few years, football fans definitely saw huge changes in and out of the game, mostly due to the financial crisis that swept across Europe.

Except the seemingly inexhaustable Spanish clubs such as Barcelona and Real Madrid, other giants with the likes of Manchester United, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus and Bayern Munich have been very cautious with their spending. Arsenal has even gone so far selling their top players (eg. Frabregas, Nasri, Vela, van Persie, Alex Song) and buying in second-strings that my Arsenal die-hard friends call the club "stingy".

Arsenal Manager -- Arsene Wenger
Image from Getty Image
While big names seem to have disappeared from the ears of the Italian and German clubs and their fans, European clubs which seldom won champions suddenly became extra rich, making every money-loving player drool. First was Chelsea's takeover by Russian mogul Roman Abramovich, who spent £681M on transfer fee alone in the last decade,

Image from BBC Sport
Chelsea's key signing since takeover:

Eden Hazard
Image from Fox Soccer
  • Frank Lampard (£11m) 
  • Joe Cole  (£6.6m) 
  • Juan Sebastián Verón  (£15m) 
  • Hernán Crespo  (£16.8m) 
  • Claude Makélélé (£16m) 
  • Petr Čech (£7.1m)
  • Arjen Robben (£12m)
  • Didier Drogba (£24m)
  • Ricardo Carvalho ( £19.85m)
  • Shaun Wright-Phillips  (£21m)
  • Michael Essien  (£24.4m)
  • Andriy Shevchenko  (£30m)
  • Ashley Cole (£5m + Gallas)
  • Nicolas Anelka  (£15m)
  • Deco  (£7.9m)
  • Michael Ballack (Free)
  • David Luiz  (£21m)
  • Juan Mata   (£23.5m)
  • Ramires  (£17m)
  • Fernando Torres (£50m)
  • Eden Hazard (£32m)
  • Oscar (£25m)

then came Manchester City's £572M in recent years,

Man City's key signing since takeover:
Sergio Agüero
Image from

  • Sergio Agüero  (£38m)  
  • Samir Nasri  (£23m)  
  • Robinho (£32.5m) 
  • Carlos Tévez  (£25.5m) 
  • Emmanuel Adebayor  (£25m) 
  • Kolo Touré  (£16m) 
  • Yaya Touré  (£24m) 
  • David Silva  (£24m) 
  • Mario Balotelli  (£24m) 
  • Edin Džeko  (£27m) 
  • Aleksandar Kolarov  (£16m) 

as well as Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Anzhi and Queen's Park Ranger. Cash floods into these clubs like ocean into streams -- so much money into so few clubs.

This has not only impacted the clubs, but also international teams.

Wayne Rooney may not command the respect he once did
-- Caption from ESPN; image from zimbio
ESPN columnist Norman Hubbard voiced out his concern over the future England international team as the English players are not getting enough playing time in the Premier League due to the influx of overseas talents, and less playing time means less practice to prepare them for international duties. Among the famous names listed above, barely Lampard, Joe Cole, Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips are English, aged at least 30. Lack of big English names signing means the future of English football is bleak.

I once questioned and complained about this trend, as it disrupts the equilibrium in the sport, turning leagues with teams of even competitiveness into a severely lopsided no-match. At this moment, I still think this is unhealthy and I still miss the good old days when I could never guess who the winner of a game was until the last minute, but I understand this is simply another natural phenomenon and one day, things will return to normal again.

Chibi -- Red Cliff
Image from Wikipedia
I've always been impressed by the words of wisdom from Romance of the Three Kingdoms,

"The world under heaven, after a long period of division, will be united; after a long period of union, will be divided. " ( 話說天下大勢,分久必合,合久必分。) 

as it resonates with the law of conservation of energy in physics, according to NASA,

"Within some problem domain, the amount of energy remains constant and energy is neither created nor destroyed. Energy can be converted from one form to another (potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy) but the total energy within the domain remains fixed."

Fulham's talented Moussa Dembele valued at £15 million, is on the verge
of signing Tottenham Hotspur after the club has £27 million received up front
for the selling of Luka Modric
Image from icnetwork
Applying the same concept into the world of football, although the even distribution of talents has now shifted to total dominations among a handful of clubs, but the money spent makes smaller clubs richer which will in turn attract better players or strengthen their academy, the key to long term stability or success of the clubs.

Let's not forget, the money-flooded clubs are also players flooded. When good players spend too much time on the bench, they will eventually leave, that's when the smaller clubs get their chances to sign them.

So, maybe football is less (or more) interesting now, over time the situation should improve if the smaller clubs manage their income from the selling of players to the super-rich. UEFA has similar thoughts and that's what the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations are about -- the clubs cannot spend more than they earn.

Let's hope that the future of football will improve. Already I'm seeing a huge gap in the quality of the existing talents and the next generation of footballers, say the Spanish Olympic team.

takeover --(n)[C] when a company gets control of another company by buying most of itsshares (= the equal parts into which the ownership of the company is divided)
mogul --- (n)[C] an important person who is very rich or powerful
influx -- (n)[U] the arrival of a large number of people or things at the same time
bleak -- (adj) If a situation is bleak, there is little or no hope for the future
disrupt -- (vb) [T] to prevent something, especially a system, process or event, from continuing as usual or as expected
equilibrium -- (n) [S or U] slightly formal a state of balance
lopsided -- (adj) with one side bigger, higher, etc. than the other; not equally balanced
no-match -- (n)[U] from be no match for sth/sb -- to be less powerful or effective than someone or something else
domination -- (n)[U] power or control over other people or things
academy -- (n)[C] an organization intended to protect and develop an art, science, language, etc., or a school which teaches a particular subject or trains people for a particular job

Sport & News & Vocabulary: Can Arsenal turn around? @ Locky's English Playground

Premier League spending breaks £4bn barrier over last decade @ BBC Sport

Chelsea FC  @ Wikipedia

Manchester City @ Wikipedia

Three Kingdoms @ Wikipedia

Romance of the Three Kingdoms @ Wikipedia

England stars being marginalised @ ESPN Socceernet

Conservation of energy @ Wikipedia

Romance of the Three Kingdoms -- Part 1 @[DW3K.COM]The_New_Three_Kingdoms_Ebook-Part1of6.pdf

UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations @ Wikipedia