Money Money Money in (English) Football
With the business end of the various European domestic seasons coming up, the summer transfer window lies in wait just around the corner. From the impending implementation of UEFA’s financial fair play regulation to the new crop of billionaires backing clubs all around the continent, this transfer window is shaping up to be one of the most ridiculous ever. While Manchester United and Manchester City battle through what United manager Alex Ferguson has deemed “squeaky bum time”, the chairman of the top English clubs are preparing their own kind of financial assault on the European theatre. In preparation for the impending summer onslaught, here are two of the most egregious offenders in the English top flight.
Bought by the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi United Group in August of 2008, Manchester City has become a name synonymous with mind blowing financial numbers. Since 2008, City has spent a little less than £480 pounds on transfer fees. That comes out to roughly $760 million dollars. This isn’t even taking into account the city wage bill which is estimated to be £82 million pounds or $130 million dollars. This wage bill is higher than the NFL salary cap of $128 million and there are less than half the number of players on the City team. It’s also not only the superstars that are costing City these hundreds of millions. The City players that have been loaned out to other clubs (Nearly always football-lingo for bugger off, your not good enough.) are costing them roughly $27 million dollars a year. Taking all of this into account, most commentators believe that it would be rational for City to start reigning in their spending somewhat. Apparently, the Sheikh didn’t take too kindly to this attack against his cheque writing ability and late last week word filtered out about a potential City move for Real Madrid superstar Christiano Ronaldo. The proposed move would see City paying Madrid somewhere between £100 and £140 million pounds (Note how the murky differential is significantly greater than the NBA salary cap). After paying Madrid twice the GDP of the Falkland Islands, City would then dole out about £500,000 pounds a week to Ronaldo in wages.
While they certainly are the biggest offenders, it is not only Manchester City that has been spending like an Irish man drinks. After being knocked out of the champions league last season for the umpteenth time, the granddaddy of all football sugar daddies, Roman Abramovich sanctioned a move for hot shot up and coming coach, Andre Villas Boas. To secure AVB’s services, Abramovich paid his previous club a release fee of £13 million. He also had to pay the old Chelsea manager and team a severance package of about £10 million. Then when he finally decided to fire Boas after a mere 40 games in charge, Abramovich had to throw another £10 million at the manager in compensation. Perhaps most amusingly, come end of season, Abramovich is more than likely to start this little dance all over again. All in all, while city might now have the edge in overall transfer window spending (£400 vs £250 million over the last 3 years), Chelsea’s Russian benefactor still has the edge in finding more creative and stylish ways to throw money away.
It is apparent to anyone with an inkling of financial sense that this pattern of mad spending cannot last. When the billionaire backers of the top teams depart, everything will come crashing back down. Until then however, it’s probably best to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the jaw dropping action both on and off the field.