Footballers: sportsmen or “brands”?

Every summer there are endless stories, true or rumors, with respect to footballers or coaches transfers. Kaká, Ribery, Buffon, Ronaldo are just few names with a multi-million price tag attached to them. 30m, 80m or 100m would never be spent in other industries just to sign-in an employee, especially one with potentially 5-10 years of useful service, with the exception maybe of the Entertainment industry . Of Course the madness is driven by the fans who push for even bigger names to be signed every year. Thus the football clubs fall into the hands of billionaires who can make the fans (and their own) dreams come true by spending some millions to buy players. Eventually the club rich owners become idols themselves.

This is the reason why we see clubs coming out of nowhere and becoming super-powers and after few years they disappear again. Its easier for a rich person to purchase a small club at low value than buy the current champion, and then buy some super star players, get a good coach to manage them and in one season convert this middle club to a local powerhouse with a promising future in international level. When that person walks away (for whatever reason) this club falls back into the middle or lower positions, full of debts with one star leaving after the other or even worst ageing and retiring with no value left in the market. Even historical clubs with a trophies rich record and millions of active fans that fall at the hands of rich investors fail to sustain when their investors walk away or get in trouble. This is of course part of the game, isn’t it?

In our opinion football clubs should invest in them selves than spending huge amounts to sign in talent from other clubs. Few additions every season may be good to fill in gaps or boost specific areas. The team though has to be a team that works together for long. Instead of paying 50m to land a super-star every year, a club could spend that money to develop 50 youth talents out of which 2 or 3 will end up at the superstar level. The rest will find a place in smaller clubs bringing cash back the club that has developed them. Popular clubs can easily attract the best of young talent if they can motivate and demonstrate that there is room to climb up to the first team. It is very tempting to sign the super stars to please the fans TODAY than investing in generating in house superstars. However… if the best clubs around the world are depending on imported players to reach their goals, who is actually producing these stars? If a middle club is able to produce a super-star and sell to the rich clubs, imagine what a top-club with a better infrastructure and investment on youth departments can produce!

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