The thoughts of Chris Gurton on motorsport, his photography, his work and his life in general. The thoughts, views and opinion's expressed in this blog are those of Chris Gurton and not necessarily those of any publication that he contributes to.

Football Fields of Gold

As the football transfer window has now been slammed firmly shut, the nation has been left astounded. The mega bucks have been splashed with Chelsea forking out £50m for Fernando Torres and Liverpool paying £35m to replace him with Andy Carroll.

Let’s put this into some kind of perspective here. It will cost you £40m to run a formula one team for a season. Are these players really worth it? You cannot deny that Torres is world class when he’s in form, but what about Carroll. People say he has potential, but potential is nothing if you don’t produce the goods. Will he be able to step up to the plate and give Liverpool some kind of return on their investment? I guess only time will tell.

Its not just the transfer fee’s being paid which are reaching dizzy heights, but so are the wages. Torres has been reported to be receiving £175,000 a week. A WEEK! That’s even before you consider what he will get in bonuses and sponsorship deals. I’ve been doing a few sums to put this into an easy (or somewhat uneasy) to understand concept. That pay works out at £17.34 per minute. That’s not per minute of a working day, that’s per minute, every minute of every hour of everyday of the year. I could only dream of £17.34 an hour for eight hours of a working day! So assuming the Spaniard gets a nice comfortable eight hours of sleep tonight in his big expensive bed whilst you and I struggle to get a few hours in between worrying about petrol costs, vat increases and making ends meet, Mr Torres will wake up £8333 better off. Even more scary is if you work these ridiculous wages out in actual playing time. On average he will play no more than 1 game per week all year. Assuming he plays a full 90 minutes for 52 games a year, league and cup this works out at £1944.44 per minute or a staggering £32.41 per second of playing time.

£175,000 a week? Not a bad job if you can get it.

Unfortunately, money has become everything that is wrong with the beautiful game. Players are no longer loyal to a club, they are loyal to one thing and one thing only. Money. Therefore they will go which ever club is willing to give them the most. They don’t care if a club gets promoted or relegated because they will just move on. As long as they get their huge wage packet they couldn’t care less about the club. Let’s face it, once a player wants to leave there is no point holding on to him because he will never perform well for you. You cannot build a club on player loyalty because it no longer exists. Players fail to sign new contacts because they get greedier and greedier leaving the door open for them to walk away and leave you with nothing.

Now an era of rich owners help ruin the game too. With plenty of money at their disposal they can spend what they want on who they want making it ever increasingly harder for the smaller clubs to compete thus increasing the gulf between the top clubs and their rivals. I heard with astonishment a couple of weeks ago on Radio 5 live during a phone in, a fan express his displeasure at Chelsea’s recent dip in form. What did he want? He wanted Roman Abramovic out. Yes, he wanted the very man who pumped money into the club transforming them into an all conquering beast to leave. Before the arrival of Mr Abramovic himself, Chelsea fans would have been delighted with fifth place in table. With yearly losses of £70m and the astronomical wage bills, if the Russian Billionaire was to leave, then Chelsea would without doubt cease to exist unless someone of similar Billionaire credentials took over. This man calls himself a fan? He clearly knows nothing. Unfortunately, with the arrival of billionaire owners comes the arrival of armchair supporters and the so called ‘Prawn Sandwich’ brigade as a certain Mr Roy Keane put it.

Now as you may or may not know, I am an Ipswich Town fan. I’ve experienced the highs and lows of football. The euphoria of promotion and the heartbreak of relegation. Administration, the sale of good players, and countless unsuccessful playoff matches all help to make it tough on those who follow the Blues. What heartbreak has the aforementioned Chelsea fan experienced in the last few years? The loss of a game? Big deal, that’s something I experience on a regular basis. Ipswich got thumped 7-0 by Chelsea in the 3rd round of the FA cup last month! Recently the Tractor Boys took on Arsenal in the semi-final of the league cup. Having won the first leg at home, Ipswich just needed a draw at the Emirates Stadium to make the final. Whilst I fully expected my beloved team to lose, it doesn’t make it easier to take when it happens. What fans of the big teams don’t understand is that if they were to lose in a semi final, they still have a good chance the following season to make the final. Whereas a fan of a smaller club knows that it could be years before they will get a crack at a final again. I for one have never seen my team in a cup final, and I imagine it will be a long time yet before I get a chance to.

I don’t often get see Ipswich play at the Theatre of nightmares that is Portman Road. I used to have a season ticket before it got too expensive. I still love the club, but in the current financial climate, I just can’t afford to go. At least we don’t have Torres in our squad. Would I want to spend my hard earned money on watching a player who could earn more than the cost of the ticket within one second of kick off? Highly unlikely.

Football needs to take a leaf out of the Americans book. Now you won’t often hear me say this, but they have got it right. The NFL, (National Football League) that’s American Football and not Soccer as they call it, impose a wage cap on teams meaning one team can’t have all the best players by offering huge salaries. Also, the lowest placed team at the end of the season gets the first pick on players entering the next season’s draft. As a result, the game is played on a more level playing field and the amount of different teams winning the Superbowl over the last few years is testament to this. Maybe FIFA need to take this in to consideration before the whole of Football implodes!

Ipswich could have bough 333 Andy Drury's for the price of Torres

Oh, and did Ipswich make any big signings in the transfer window? Yes, they splashed out a huge £150,000 on a midfielder called Andy Drury from Luton Town. That’s less than a week’s wage for Fernando Torres. We really could have done with a new Striker, unfortunately talks with Swindon Town’s Charlie Austin fell through. Why? Burnley were willing to offer him more money. So now we are still left with Jason Scotland who clearly learnt his trade by watching Emile Heskey Videos. Rumour has it Ipswich weren’t supposed to be getting him as he was aiming for Norwich. Unfortunately he missed.

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