Football – a sport first or a business deal?
Written by Kelly
Contributing writer: Theo Webley
As the FA crisis deepens amid claims of corruption rife among UK chiefs, managers and agents, the ‘beautiful game’ is under more scrutiny than ever for alleged dubious deals.
Some are questioning not only the poor judgement of Sam Allardyce, but why he felt compelled to supplement his sizeable £3million per year package by offering paid-for advice to businessmen on circumventing FA rules
The answer could be down to the grotesque money that changes hands in the sport and the greed the game inspires. Take the price tags of the players themselves, which has reached astronomical heights over the past 40 years.
French international, Paul Pogba, broke the world record this season, becoming the world’s most expensive player in a transfer from Juventus costing Manchester United £89 million – beginning his payback only recently with his first goal in the club’s 4-1 Leicester clash.
The eye-watering deal comes after the 23-year-old went in the opposite direction just four years ago for around £1 million. So how is it possible for a player’s price to rise so much in such a small amount of time?
Since leaving Old Trafford, Pogba managed to register just 28 goals in 124 appearances for the Italian giants, but won the Serie A league title in all of his four seasons there alongside winning the Coppa Italia and the Suppercoppa Italian twice. His individual awards include being named in the Serie A Team of the Year for both of the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.
So clearly Pogba is a very talented player, but is he really worth £89 million? And what does that say for how money infiltrates the rest of the game?
Arsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger was reported as saying: “It’s a complete madness when measured against real life, but we live in a world in which everything that happens is geared towards moving money around.”
Indeed in this world of football, the marketing potential of players means that the value of them extends way behind on-pitch performance. While a huge signing may traditionally have been unveiled at the stadium or press conference, United and the club’s main sponsor, Adidas, turned to Twitter to push Pogba’s arrival.
The video announcing the deal featured South-London rapper and Adidas ambassador Stormzy, wearing United’s new away kit with Pogba’s name adorning the back. Pogba himself was in the viral video dancing to one of Stormzy’s tracks, in a sports marketing campaign designed to spur shirt sales to the benefit of both the club and sponsor.
Back to the current furore engulfing the game, and it seems unsurprising then, that behind-the-scenes deal-makers are chasing a slice of the billion-pound transfer pie, with seemingly little disregard for regulations.
It’s long been recognised that football is not just a sport. It is both a business and a brand. And one that is currently in crisis.