At a time when the Eurozone in general has just emerged from recession, but with some member states still struggling with negative growth, football transfer fees show no sign of abating and if anything, transactions during the summer have eclipsed previous seasons.
While protests at the expenditure on stadiums and infrastructure abounded in Brazilian cities during the recent Confederations Cup, Real Madrid’s protracted attempt to sign Tottenham’s Gareth Bale for a world record fee has been more or less welcomed at a club with massive debts, which are also symptomatic of the Spanish economy.
Similarly, their rivals Barcelona have spent approximately 40 million net euros and this in a country where there is over 25% unemployment and the government is having to imposed strict austerity measures in order to reduce its debt and comply with Eurozone requirements.
Admittedly, other Spanish clubs, notably Sevilla and Valencia, have sold their most valuable players this summer but several are now plying their trade in the English Premier League which is now awash with television money and rich owners.
Manchester City signed both Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas from Sevilla for a combined 45 million euros fee in a net expenditure of 80 million euros during 2013. City’s United Arab Emirate owners are competing alongside Roman Abramovich of Chelsea who is once again investing heavily in his first team squad and there is little apparent sign of any wavering in the size of transfer fees being negotiated.
In fact, it is the away supporters at Chelsea and Manchester City who are partially paying for such extravagance especially when Newcastle United supporters were recently charged £45 to attend their away match at the Etihad Stadium. At a time when austerity measures are also hurting many families in the UK, it would be logical to assume that wide-scale protests at these entrance fees and inflated transfers will be inevitable.
Yet the opposite may appear to be the case in a Europe slowly emerging from the financial crisis of 2008. Clubs are under pressure to spend more by their supporters and there is growing resentment at Newcastle, for example, at the lack of summer investment in the team, despite the fact that Tyneside families have suffered serious financial hardship during the past few years. No doubt there will be similar cases throughout Spain, France and Italy.
It may just be the case that football supporters will always want the best for their own club no matter how much it costs and no matter how poor their own financial circumstances. Complaints only arise when they witness rival teams possessing more spending power to the detriment of their own team.