Here's my article on Freestyle Football World about money in football, hope you enjoy.
There are a few problems in football. The corruption surrounding the game’s governing body, FIFA, for example. But another that has come to the fore lately has been inflation.
And not just transfer fees like Jordan Henderson’s – as the world goes through inflation, football as a whole does. That means shirt prices, food prices and, most importantly, ticket prices.
A key example of this would be Arsenal. Despite a sixth successive season without a trophy, the club made the decision that, in keeping with the global and footballing price rises, they would increase season ticket prices by 6.5%.
Considering the club’s recent failure on the pitch, the fans didn’t take kindly to these increases. There was a walk engineered by supporters group “Black Scarf Movement”, who have asked the question: “Where has our Arsenal gone?”
We can, in the same way, ask: “Where has our football gone?” Without even getting started on the corruption in the game, if you take a look at the absurd transfer fees and wages being paid these days, it’s little wonder that some are feeling a little out of love with what was once known as the beautiful game.
Of course, on the field football is probably as enjoyable as ever. But those who used to be able to go to many games are now being priced out of it. “Club Levels” are being introduced to stadiums, where rich people can wine and dine, whilst occasionally glancing towards the game.
And the players that fans used to become attached to are jumping ship as soon as a better offer arises. Not just because it’s good for their careers – for the money too. Ashley Cole is a prime example. While Chelsea may have been on the up, when he left Arsenal, the Gunners had just reached the final of the Champions League.
He had claimed to be a lifelong Arsenal fan, having come up through the youth ranks, and the fans could themselves relate to that. One of the best things of being a football fan is those players who spend their entire career at their childhood club, and show the same passion as them.
But no. Cole went to rivals Chelsea, for a few extra thousand pounds. He said he “nearly crashed his car” in anger when he found out that Arsenal were offering him £5,000 less than he wanted. The fact that he was on his mobile in the car is an entirely different matter.
The point is that footballers and those involved are becoming increasingly greedy as the inflation hits football. When players see the insane amounts of money players like Yaya Toure are being paid, they feel that they deserve a similar amount.
A recent example would be Samir Nasri. After a fairly decent few years at Arsenal, without exactly setting the world on fire, he had a terrific half-season, before fading away for the remainder of the year. However, this seemed to give him reason to believe that he deserved to be on wage parity with the captain of the club, Cesc Fabregas.
Even worse was the way that he seemed to use the perceived interest from Manchester United to engineer him that wage parity. While it may have been agent influence (another source of money-grabbing) or paper talk, there’s never smoke without fire.
Gone is the day when a player would say something and actually mean it. Contracts mean nothing these days – Felipe Melo left just days after signing a new contract with Fiorentina. If anything, they’re just to ensure that the clubs get the maximum amount of money for their players.
In the end, it all comes back to that word which has polluted football. Money.