£35m For Andy Carroll, So What ?

The morning after the frenzy of the night before and the media, sports writers, Joe Public, armchair experts and pundits are all weighing in with their own assessments of the 11th-hour spending frenzy, which overtook the British Premier League yesterday as the transfer window came to a close.

Even the radio talk-show hosts have fielded calls from irate and mystified members of the public looking to make some sense of the frantic spending, as well as, the monumental wages commanded by some Premier League footballers.

With a total transfer market spending of £200m, on a handful of football players, in these hard economic times, it is crystal clear that football is one recession-proof vocation.

I strongly feel that market forces should continue to decide the market value of players. Market value considers a number of variables including: the age of the player; whether the player is a finished product or has future potential; the player’s current contract situation; injury record and so on.  I truly believe this to be a fair yardstick for assessing a player’s monetary worth. On the other hand, I also believe that football clubs should make informed business decisions before buying players in the transfer market. Buying players on the ‘hop’ or to simply prove a point could have potential adverse financial ramifications for a football club ( of course if you are Roman Abramovich this is just a past time. Who cares if you make a profit or not, right? )

So Liverpool Football Club paid £35m for a 22-year old striker, Andy Carroll, hardly a finished product in some people’s estimate. But why the uproar? Maybe Liverpool sees huge potential in Mr. Carroll that no one else does.

Agreed, Liverpool may have thrown caution to the wind in a desperate bid to garner a replacement for Fernando Torres, who they let go for £50m, but hey, it’s their money.  If Andy Carroll’s signing turns out to be a toxic investment, Liverpool will have to take the financial hit, lick its wounds and live to fight another day – hopefully not in the Championships. However, if Carroll does offer future economic benefit, then all well and good.

From a business perspective it makes economic sense for football clubs to nurture and develop in-house talent. After all, accounting rules allow football clubs to recoup their investment in training and developing in-house groomed players, when they are eventually sold on. However, the fierce jostling for Premier League pole positions, exacerbated by the influx of petrodollars from the Persian Gulf and Russia, has intensified the demand for established players of good pedigree. And this has brought about the, sometimes, seemingly preposterous player transfer fees as recently witnessed.

Despite being a Manchester United fan myself, I applaud Mr. Arsene Wenger’s discipline in trying to strike a fine balance between silverware and balance sheet. For that reason alone, I would like to see Arsenal win something this season. Albeit, to make an economic point, nothing more 🙂


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