So Man City appear to have sent a representative to Italy to begin negotiations with AC Milan over the possible sale of Brazilian superstar Kaka. This in itself is amazing enough, the club that still idolises Georgi Kinkladze is being genuinely linked with one of the world’s best players. However, the sums of money that are being talked about with regard to the deal are quite literally breath taking.
The talk is that they will offer £100m for his services as the basic transfer fee, while the player himself will be payed £500,000 a week in wages! That’s a cool £1m for two weeks work! Or £26m for just a year in the light blue of Man City. That year’s worth of wages alone would bump him straight into the Football Rich list at number seven, never mind the money he has already earned so far in his career, through wages and advertising.
Now two questions spring to mind regarding this story. 1) Is it really fair that one team (and one player) should have such spending power? And 2) Is any player really worth that much money?
Looking at number one first, I have to say that I think we may have perhaps finally gone ‘too far’ with regards to money in football now. While up until now the general attitude towards the wealth of football clubs has very much been ‘the more the merrier’, I think that Man City’s almost limitless wealth could become very detrimental to the world game.
Up until now, the richest clubs in the world like Man United and Real Madrid etc. have always been able to outspend other clubs with relative ease, but they themselves have been operating within a certain limit. They are not just spending boundlessly and thus, the ‘World Record Transfer Fee’ is one that isn’t often broken, and has remained below £50m – which is still a massive amount of money, but is sort of somehow a significant milestone really.
However, now Man City seem to have almost limitless riches. That it can even be suggested that they could pay £100m for one player (more than double the current record), never mind the epic wages on top of that is beyond belief. That they have the potential cash reserves to tempt any club in the world to sell any player in the world seems to me to make it somehow less fair. The best thing about competitions like the Champions League and other similar ones is the chance to see the world’s best players come up against each other in competitive situations. If Man City were to go out and buy all of the best players in the world, which it seems they could, this sort of spectacle could die out.
And let’s face it, the current trend in the Premier League which has seen it dominated by a few clubs is down in the large part to the disproportionate wealth of that minority in relation to the rest. So just imagine what Man City’s new wealth could acheive, given that it outweighs the wealth of the current minority so considerably. Given a few seasons with which to snap up a collection of absolutely world class players for huge sums earning enormous wages could soon see them eclipse everyone and establish an incredible dominance over the Premier League and even the European competition. Although the unpredictability of football would act as a leveller to a certain extent, if they have such an incredible squad to select from, they could even account for dips in form etc. too.
So what could be done to control the advantage gained by such wealth? Well of course, one cannot limit an owner’s wealth, perhaps there could be a limit as to the amount of money allowed to be invested per season in each club. Obviously wealth that was earned through high achievement in competitions etc. would not be limited, but that would mean that to an extent, reward went to the best teams, and not simply those who happened to be bought by a super rich owner. The limit at which investment was set would obviously be one for discussion, but as I am absolutely useless as far as finance and economics go I couldn’t speculate as to what the limit would be, or even whether this is a plausible idea at all.
Of course the other way to limit the financial pull of mega-rich clubs would be to finally install a wage cap in the Premier League. Wage caps have been dismissed in the past because they would be contradicting to the Premier League’s obvious desire to be the most desirable league in the world for fans and players alike by restricting the ability of clubs to sign the players of the highest calibre. However, by no means does a wage cap have to be small. I do not know what the average wage bill for a Premier League club is at the moment, but if it was to be set around the average of say the top four clubs should be plenty sufficient really. It would allow clubs to maintain world class rosters of players as the top four currently do, but would prevent clubs like Man City coming along and spending the equivalent of another clubs entire wage budget on one player.
For me then, I think that there are some simple ways in which we could control the influence of money on the game without reducing the current level of skill and appeal that the Premier League holds. As I said, I am not switched on at all in a financial sense so I have no idea whether these solutions are viable or even realistic at all. If you have more of an idea on these things do let me know how viable they are, and even if you don’t, leave a comment regarding whether or not you think these ideas would be good for the game. I really am interested in hearing what people’s thoughts on this subject are.
The second issue that I mentioned then, was whether one player could ever be worth, realistically, the sort of money that is being talked about with relation to the Kaka-Man City deal. Surely even Kaka, who is admittedly one of the greatest players in the world at the moment surely does not justify such a colossal amount of money? Really, what sort of a difference could one player make?
Looking at it almost from a business perspective, one may consider whether or not the influence of that one player could spur the team on to earn financial rewards of greater than the sum of that players transfer and wages to an extent that it becomes fiscally viable to justify the initial expenditure. In other world, could the money spent on Kaka by Manchester City be rewarded by his helping them to qualify for the Champions League for example. Well in that sense, considering it would take a £100m transfer fee, plus a seasons worth of wages which would come to about £26m, the expenditure for one season comes to about £130m with (relatively conservative) bonuses.
When you consider the financial reward for the Champions League in prize money can come to a maximum of about £20m for the winners, surely it would not be sensible in a financial sense to spend such money on one player, even if they were to guarantee you the success (which they could not, because one player cannot win games by themselves). From that point of view then, the expenditure of approx £130m is nowhere near justified by a possible Champions League win, even with Premier League prize money included too.
So why would City spend such an astronomical sum on one player? Yes, it would bring a huge amount of attention and fame to the club, but for the owner, who is surely investing in the club as a business operation, it surely could not make sense to do so. They couldn’t hope to achieve money back from merchandising either, as though football fans are perfectly willing to plough unreasonable sums of money into the purchase of merchandise, one fan base could not have nearly that much wealth collectively to spend.
Another way to consider that second question is on Kaka’s ability. Is he genuinely good enough to spend such money on? And to an extent, I believe a player can only really perform as well as those players around him allow. Even Kaka, surrounded by a team of old grandmothers could not win a match on his own, against the poorest of opposition. So if City really wanted to guarantee the maximum reward for their investment, in other words, to have Kaka perform to his best consistently, they would need to surround him with a team of other world class players. Unfortunately, that is not the sort of thing one will stumble across, they will have to be bought for enormous money themselves, and thus the spending continues, and instead of being justified, would become completely unreasonable (if it weren’t already!).
In this sense then, I don’t think that it can really be said that the purchase of Kaka for such astronomical amounts of money could ever truly be justified in a financial or performance related sense. Do let me know if you think I have missed out some crucial points in my examination of Kaka’s worth to a team, because this has all come out all at once so I haven’t exactly thought it through carefully, but it just seems to me that such money could never truly be justified. Do you agree with that instinct?
All in all then, with regard to the initial two questions I proposed I would say that no, it isn’t fair for one club to have such wealth and again no, one player is not really worth that much money. In my view, City would be extremely foolish to pursue such a transfer then, even if they could convince Kaka to leave AC Milan, which I think they’ll have a job doing anyway. As a man of obvious faith and principle, he is unlikely to be swayed by such wealth and that appears to be their only major bargaining chip. I would be very surprised if Kaka did end up at City then, either now or in the summer, and even more surprised if it turned out to be a good bit of business for City.