Some teams will always have an unfair advantage when it comes to securing a big transfer. Bad news Liverpool fans, those European Cups don’t shine like they once did it appears. It’s all location. Location. Location.
The start of January will for many people trigger the start of endless fitness routines, dietary overhauls and the unveiling of day-glow coloured lyrca outfits.
For others, it signals start of Sky Sports’ interactive transfer deadline window. That time of year, when we relish the sight of a hapless reporter deployed to a far flung location to herald the signing of an equally hapless young South American centre forward.
We’re now subjected to the customary sight of laddish behaviour outside stadiums as the chimes of Big Ben count down and the television conglomerate declare the transfer window to be ‘officially over’.
Clubs the length and breadth of the country scramble for last minute deals as financially induced agents lick their lips at the thought of a mid-season move for their client. Will he or wont he sign? ‘A source close to us’, ‘we’ve been informed that the club’. At this stage we know the spiel and yet we still tune in, transfixed by yellow scroll bars and equally garish yellow tie’s.
For the clubs looking to complete deals, hoping it will transform their season, it’s a hapless task. Club administrators are over-worked trying to force through paper work before the 11pm cut-off.
Trying to eject Gary Cotterill from the premises down at QPR or Spurs or wherever Harry Redknapp chooses to turn up. Where once we looked forward to this event, we now wince at the thought. Sky’s unique take on the transfer window is a snippet of where modern football is right now.
The events of January 2011 transfer window showed what a volatile industry football is right now. Twice within the space of two hours, the British Transfer record was broken. The transfers of Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres, that night, left football supporters pondering, ‘what next?’. The obscene value attributed to both transfer fees’ highlighted what value clubs place on reaching the Promised Land.
Since the completion of that transfer window, things have slightly regressed. The introduction of the Financial Fair Play rule and the subsequent £49m fine imposed on Manchester City has led teams to take stock. Yes, Manchester United went against the grain this summer, but that was an isolated incident, only made possible by the vast revenue being generated at Old Trafford.
Financial inducements being offered by some clubs have often been seen as the reason a player will choose one club over the next, particularly when it comes to the top bracket of teams.
Agents playing one club off against another. Whilst the ability to financially reward a player will always be one of the primary reasons one club will be chosen over another, a new trend has appeared on the horizon, that of geographical location. The importance placed on the location of a club was probably less relevant in the days when the top tier of English football was mainly occupied by home-grown players.
As were now aware, the advent of the Premier League and the riches that have enveloped the domestic game, led to a huge influx in foreign players. With this influx, comes a different breed of footballer.
One who places the geographical location of a club, as a ‘deal breaker’. It’s often been noted that the London clubs offer a better location for prospective signings due to its ‘shopping facilities’ being of a higher standard, than say Sunderland or Hull. The example of Florin Raducioiu during his brief West Ham career left a sour taste amongst their supporters.
With its glorious history, Liverpool Football Club is not an institution one would expect to suffer in this scenario, yet it has. Since taking charge in the summer of 2012, manager Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly been thwarted in his attempts to attract star names to Merseyside. Unable to compile the same financial packages on offer at Chelsea, City and United, he’s found himself having to scour the next level of the transfer window. Despite shopping in Sainsbury’s, Rodgers has found this to be a challenging task. In the last few windows, he’s found the club rebuffed by Gylfi Sigurdsson, Clint Dempsey, Willian, Yevhen Konoplyanka and more recently, Alexis Sanchez.
Of the above five transfer targets, four signed for London clubs. Sanchez declaring that he choose Arsenal due to the Gunners capital location. For Rodgers, this was a significant blow. Openly admitting that he purchased Mario Balotelli because ‘nobody was else was available’, was a mistake on his part. In the manager’s defence, if Sanchez chooses a London club due to its location, then no amount of financial sway will be enough.
The immanent transfer of Wilfred Bony to Manchester City, for an eye watering £30m, shows that financial muscle is still main driver in the transfer window. The premium placed on English born players is driving the value of West Brom’s exciting young attacker Saido Berahino, past the £20m mark, a vast sum for a player who’s yet to make his international debut. A risk worth taking? Probably not when you consider Rodgers is governed by a 6 man transfer committee, who might see things differently.
Liverpool should be able to attract the finest players in world football, yet I stress the word ‘should’. Gone are days when parading 5 European Cups in front of prospective new signings, would leave them misty eyed. Increased financial competition from City and Chelsea has left them behind. The presence of the Transfer Committee ( explained here ) has left outsiders, looking in, sceptical.
As long as John Henry and the FSG consortium continue to back Rodgers, then the committee is here to stay. We just hope that the owners of Harrods are considering opening a branch in Bootle.
Featured image by Ronnie Macdonald via Flickr Creative Commons