The deal has all but been been done, finally, for Gareth Bale to move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid, for a world record transfer fee of GBP86million. Transfer fees have escalated at a rate that is hard to comprehend since Trevor Francis became the first player to cost GBP1million when he moved from Birmingham City to Nottingham Forest.
The fees are quite simply obscene. The players are not completely at fault, as who can blame them for trying to earn as much as they can before their career comes to an end. The vanity of club presidents and owners are often the main cause. Responsible owners run a tight ship and look to build success on strong fiscal foundations, but others simply look to boost their own public image via the clubs they run.
Never a truer word was said than when Barcelona’s boss Gerardo Martino said this week “Bale is a good player but the numbers that are being talked about; it is a lack of respect for the world we live in.”
“Respect” is a dispensable word in football, one that rolls off the lips of many in power without ever understanding the meaning of it.
The whole Gareth Bale transfer has been disrespectful to fans of Tottenham Hotspur and football fans in general, as the English Premier League is underway and yet Bale who was still contracted to Spurs failed to take the field. Is this Tottenham’s fault? Probably not as the last thing they needed was their biggest asset getting injured and the transfer falling through; they no doubt remember Paul Gascoigne’s injury in the FA Cup final scuppering another multimillion dollar deal.
The problem is, as Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew highlighted, that the transfer window is still open at the start of the European domestic seasons. Pardew had to watch Arsenal make a GBP12million dollar offer for Yohan Cabaye on the day of his team’s first Premier League game of the season. That cannot be good for a coach, fans or the game as a whole.
Fans buy season tickets and expect their team and squad to be finalised at the start of the season. They do not expect to see players expected to play a key part in their upcoming season transferred.
The situation has become exacerbated in recent years with websites and newspapers continually speculating on approaches being made to certain players by clubs, often at the urging of the player’s management.
To be fair the English Premier League has asked the European Professional Football Leagues to change the deadline, but their European counterparts voted against such a move. The EPL require 14 member clubs to vote for the change.
The leagues concerned have staggered starts to their seasons, hence the reluctance to change: English Premier League – Aug 17, Primera Liga – Aug 17, Bundesliga – Aug 9, and Serie A – Aug 24.
This year with the traditional deadline of August 31 ending on a Saturday the close-off was extended to September 02.
Everyone is already aware of the impact these deadlines have on clubs and fans but it also has the possibility of impacting on the national team as well. England’s players are due to meet up on 01 September to prepare for a game against Moldova on the following friday and Ukraine on September 10th. As a result of the extended deadline the FA and coach Roy Hodgson have had to agree to allow players involved in team transfers to leave the camp if necessary. This cannot be good for the national team.
The transfer window has always been a hectic time and one of great interest, but now it would appear to be affecting the game as a whole in ways that have a far greater impact than purely on the club the player is leaving and the one he is moving to. It is time for common sense to be used and the deadline to be brought forward and the transfer window closed the minute the whistle blows on the opening day of the season. All deals having to be done in the close season.
Only then will fans from the lesser clubs can sit back and look forward to the season ahead without having to worry about losing their star players.