A good friend of mine is currently awaiting news of whether he will lose his job. He works for a local authority which employs over 7,000 people and is looking to axe 600 by the end of March. That scenario is being acted out in both public and private organisations throughout the country as the financial crisis sweeping the UK tightens its grip.
Which is why I am sure a lot of people (unless you live in a certain part of London) found Chelsea’s decision to pay £50million for Liverpool striker Fernandos Torres in the last few hours of the transfer window positively obscene.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is perfectly entitled to spend his own money as he chooses and apparently Torres had a clause in his contract which allowed him to talk to any club which bid £50million but that doesn’t prevent the feeling of disgust that this transaction has generated.
Is this all about Abramvovich’s obsession with his plaything, an obsession that Chelsea must win all the honours going irrespective of the cost or just an example of macho one-upmanship against Manchester City’s mega-rich Arab owners who splashed out £27million for Wolfsburg forward Edin Dezko at the beginning of January.
Whatever it is, it stinks, it’s indecent and immoral.
Interestingly this week UEFA reminded clubs that new financial regulations which come into effect in 2012/13 and mean teams in European competitions must break even over a rolling three-year period, will be enforced rigorously.
What are the chances of the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City achieving that? Chelsea have also spent £21.3million on Benfica defender David Luiz and Liverpool,. who had already acquired Ajax striker Luis Suarez for £22,7million, then splashed out £35million of the Torres money on Newcastle’s Andy Carroll.
Chelsea by the way announced total losses of £70.9million for the year ending June 30, 2010, up £26.5million on the previous year. Doesn’t look as if they’ve yet grasped the concept of good housekeeping does it?
“There is no doubt that transfers made now will impact on the break-even results of the financial years ending 2012 and 2013 – the first financial years to be assessed under the break-even rule,” said a UEFA spokesman.
.”The clubs know the rules and also know that UEFA is fully committed to implementing them with rigour.”
There has already been criticism within the game for the English spending spree.
AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani said: “Everyone’s talking about balancing the books but then they spend like crazy people. [Chelsea] strengthened in an amazing way spending 80 million euros, I just don’t know where financial sense will end up.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger weighed in with: “Chelsea supported the financial fair play. In the morning they announce a £70m loss, in the afternoon buy £75m worth of players. Where’s the logic in that?”
There was a predictable response to the spending splurge by Premier League boss Richard Scudamore.
He said: “The point is inward investment is generally encouraged. What I don’t buy is that they (the clubs) shouldn’t be out there spending in these austere times.
“If Roman Abramovich has the money to spend and he wishes to that, then in some ways that’s the game and that money gets recycled around.”
There have been suggestions that levels of debts were so high that government intervention might be necessary to force clubs to impose spending limits. But in a response to questions by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Scudamore went on: “There’s a point where it becomes – in anybody’s mind – ridiculous but I don’t think we are that level.”
This man is so out of touch with public opinion it is almost beyond belief. But there again, he is a football administrator.
Ironic postscript to Torres – he made his debut for Chelsea against Liverpool on Sunday. Chelsea lost 1-0 and Torres was substituted in the 66th minute.
More evidence of financial madness came last week in a statement from Adam Pearson, head of football operations at Hull City, who were relegated from Premier League last season. Hull have loaned midfielder Jimmy Bullard to fellow Championship side Ipswich in a move which Pearson says will save them £300,000. Bullard is on £45,000 a week, courtesy of a deal he signed with Hull when they were in the top flight and before Pearson came to the club.
Pearson told BBC Radio Humberside that they were getting nearly £20,000 a week towards Bullard’s salary from Ipswich.
“People may sniff at that but in the Championship that’s an awful lot of money and more than pays for the three or four players we’ve brought in.” He also revealed that Bullard’s wages are a fifth of the club’s entire playing budget for next season. “We’ve set the budget for next year at around £12m to get the club back on an even keel and Jimmy’s salary is circa 20-21% of the budget,” he said.