So the Joleon Lescott saga is over, or so it seems, now that the Everton defender is reportedly at the Middle Eastlands undergoing a medical. Lescott, it seems, is set to move to Manchester City for a fee of £23m, making Lescott one of the twenty most-expensive players in the history of the game. Fools and their money...
The problem with transfer fees in football is a long-standing one but in these recessionary times, surely it is madness for so much money to be spent on a player. This year, 2009, has seen the three most expensive transfer deals occur (Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kaka) and also the worst economic slowdown for about eighty years. Surely these are two opposing events and shouldn’t happen at the same time. Yet they do.
I don’t know why you love sport but for me, it’s main attraction is in the fact that it gives a sense of community. Manchester United fans, for example, are bonded by their love of the side, the club, it’s history and the buzz of match days. We’re all united by this and it’s the same for every club in every sport across the world. This bond should also include a bond with the players, a respect for the heroes who represent your community on the pitch.
The problem with this, however, is that in an age where players are moved for so much money and earn stratospheric wages, this bond is weakened. Lescott is a perfect example. He should be a hero down Goodison way, having made over 100 appearances for the club, played with his heart on his sleeve and helped the club to some of its highest league placings in over 20 years. I’m sure that there are many young Everton fans who have his name and number on their jerseys. They had the bond with him that fans of not so long ago had with many players on their teams. Had.
The bond that used to exist has gone. There’s no link between players and fans because players, at the game’s highest level, are disposable. They play for the pound and the euro more so then the club. The National Game is weakened in many ways for the same reason. Champions Leagues, television rights, extortionate season ticket prices and lucrative pre-season tours to far-flung destinations are all signs of how clubs extract as much money as possible to pay these wages and to pay the increasing number of foreign owners. Ultimately, however, it is the fans that pay. In real terms, we shell out for jerseys, tickets and TV subscriptions but in a less-tangible but more hurtful sense, we lose the bond we once loved so much.