‘New’ Transfer Dealings Mess

The transfer window closed a week ago. I’ve waited until now to soak this mess in and see how I actually feel about this so-called ‘new way of doing business’. I think my initial reaction was right.

When I first started watching European football–especially the Premier League–I embraced every delicious aspect. My love was non-judgmental and unconditional. Many things seemed like a breath of fresh air after watching American sports for so long. The thing that took the most getting used to, was the whole transfer system. It is completely alien to anything I had seen before. I didn’t like it then, but I trusted it was all for the best. It has some merits and I made my peace with it eventually. But it is not perfect.

All the power lies with the players. It is as free-market as the free-market gets. Contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Without going into all the rigamarole, the money teams buy whomever they damn well please. (This causes the ridiculous situations of big teams stocking up quality players that would excel anywhere else and let them mire on the bench–the Saha’s, the Parker’s… the list is endless). The poor teams that are suddenly hit with financial doom (ie. relegation) lose everything they have of any value, but get enough cash to scrape by when the stars leave for the greener pastures. Somehow, all this had been kept in some sort of tenuous balance.

Not anymore.

The players in the last year of their contracts have always commonly been asked what their intentions were. If the player had an inkling to move on, the teams would sell them as quick as they could knowing they’ll get nothing for them in a year. The Bozman ruling lets them leave the team (free agency, in effect) after the contract runs out. It rarely gets that far. The team just sells them a year early for millions and then they go out and try to buy a happier replacement with the new money.

More and more you see players basically threatening the teams to sell them. There’s always been the idea that if a player was unhappy, they’d be better off sending him away before the whole squad was infected. Lately, you have guys like ‘William the Gaulling’ Gallas, Cashly Cole, Andy Cole… again, the list is long. These guys aren’t content to just mope about dissatisfied until they’re sent away. They threaten to quit, or sit, or now–throw games, until they get their way.

All that was bad enough, and was already beginning to leave a bad taste in the mouth. But, that was nothing to what was coming next.

Now, an even more troubling development has occured. To the shock of the world, lowly West Ham United somehow landed two of the biggest and most expensive players available during the last transfer window. Tevez and Mascherano are two Argentinian stars that all the huge teams have been eyeing. They aren’t owned by their clubs, though. Some outfit called MIS has their rights, and they basically lease these guys out to the highest bidder whenever it suits them. Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich has murky ties to this shady outfit, although that’s being denied now and everybody seems to be buying the company line.

Chelsea didn’t need the pair this year, but they certainly wouldn’t have liked to see any of their close rivals pick them up. Low and behold, out of absolutely nowhere, a non-threatening team that couldn’t ordinarily begin to afford one of these guys, lands them both. Then, next year, these slaves take the tube over to Stamford Bridge to begin their Chelsea careers.

Even without the Chelsea conspiracy theory, this is a horrible tactic that has to be nipped in the bud. Dealings of this sort will completely destroy the bit of balance that there was in football. Admittedly, it wasn’t in balance to begin with. It’s not good that the same handful of monster teams buys everyone and wins year after year after year. It would have been nice to make some sort of correction to that.

This rubbish is going to rip the whole system to shreds. Not only are the West Ham’s of the world the big team’s whipping boys, they now become playthings of agents as well. Teams will have absolutely no say in where their players go or who they can sign themselves. Players will have no say, and will have to go off to wherever they’re told. It’s the conglomerate of agents that would be controlling the whole ball of wax. What could possibly be worse than that?

The lid on this Pandora’s Box needs firmly slammed shut now. The end of the world is upon us.