Football is a lucrative business, one which has made many people around the world very wealthy, and especially in recent years.
In the summer of 2023, football at the highest level finds itself on the brink of becoming unrecognisable from the game we once loved.
Paris Saint-Germain accepted a £259 million bid from Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal for their star striker Kylian Mbappe, and whilst reports are that he’s refusing to meet with officials, the Frenchman was offered a contract which, once broken down, would see him bank over twenty euros per second.
As well as being a wage that mere mortals could either only dream of or fail to wrap our heads around, it’s another blow to a sport that is moving further away from its humble origins.
The figures attached to this deal and others which have tempted top flight European players over to Saudi Arabia are eye-watering, bordering on vile. The money that is being thrown around is pushing the sport towards financial heights from which it may never be able to descend.
If Mbappe sells for £259 million, how long will it be until the £300 million barrier is broken? Money talks in football, and right now it doesn’t look like it’s going to shut up anytime soon.
The UK has taken centre stage as a nation which is being picked at by the money-laden clubs of Saudi Arabia.
N’Golo Kante, Ruben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly and Roberto Firmino are four players who’ve made the move and with rumours still circulating, we can almost certainly expect more players to make the switch.
Elite level football is already cold and soulless, but the money being thrown around in the modern game is only going to widen the gap between clubs and fans. Supporters are already seen as a commodity, with the cost of season tickets in the Premier League going some way to ripping off hardworking fans.
For example, some Fulham fans will potentially be paying over £1,000 to watch their club play at home during 2023/2024. How has it been allowed to get to this point?
Being swamped with cash hasn’t been a problem for Sunderland in recent years, with our financial status being fairly fragile up until recently.
However, things are on the up now, and some of our players are attracting interest. Under previous owners, this would often mean that players would be sold without much hesitation and the money never seen again.
On the day that Mbappe was the subject of a world record bid, someone whose boots he could just about lace was receiving top flight interest of his own.
Jack Clarke has been on Burnley’s radar for most of the summer, and the fourth bid for him was swatted away in double quick time. We don’t need to sell, and many of the signs suggest that he’s pretty happy on Wearside.
It might not be the ‘open chequebook’ approach used by many of the top clubs in the UK, but it feels as though there’s a more organic and considered method being utilised.
We can’t offer the huge wages to already established players in the game, but the recruitment and development of youth players is serving us well.
Being able to achieve results and grow as a club without investment from a faceless multi-billion pound regime feels more rewarding, even if it’s a slower process.
Clarke may leave this summer, or he may stay and become our main man again. Between now and the end of the window, we’re going to be inundated with media reports about certain players. Some may be genuine but many are likely to be regurgitated from hearsay.
We’ll be in good shape come the end of the window and no matter what happens, we’ll continue to build a squad in a way which we can be proud of and that doesn’t involve ridiculously inflated wages and transfer fees.