What price club loyalty?
There have been a large number of opinion pieces in the media, blogs and football forums recently decrying the fact that the game has become a haven for mercenaries.
They are all over Europe especially where big money exists like Spain, England and Italy. Should this be a sad but utterly understandable development? Of course it is!
A number of factors have aligned themselves in order to produce this situation. Mind you if you look back over the years you will find that players moving from club to club and from one country to another chasing the big dollars has been going on for decades.
Remember the start of the football revolution in the United States when mediocre players were flocking there from all over the world? Going further back to the late 40’s we had the the Millonarios of Bogota in Colombia where even the great Alfredo Di Stefano went from his native Argentina.
One of the most significant factors for this growing mercenary mentality must surely go back to the Bosman ruling which allowed players to move on without the need for a transfer fee at the end of their contracts thus enabling them to demand higher and higher wages…and the clubs obliged!
Together with this, the use of player agents became more and more prevelant within the game. While a few of them have been very professional in their dealings on behalf of their clients, it’s fair to say that many were nothing more than unscrupulous, smooth talking con men whose sole intention was to make as many bucks as possible in the shortest amount of time.
But wait, there’s more. The old world of football changed dramatically post Bosman with many clubs either ditching their Youth Development programs completely or only paying lip service to it. Clubs like Ajax for example are nowhere near as competitive now as they once were. The few clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona who perservered have been handsomely rewarded.
Loyal one club players like Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and a handful of others have become rarities and clubs have generally only themselves to blame.
As much as all this tend to leave a bad taste in the mouths of most people, let us not be hypocrites.
I for one confess that during my working life I have accepted offers to change employers for a much higher salary.
If I was being mercenary then I was just as guilty as the players that many of us show so much disdain for. Please, let us all accept the facts of life. They are not always pleasant but hey “Let He Who is Without Sin Cast the First Stone”….