David Beckham’s sarong, Borislav Mikhailov’s wig and Cristiano Ronaldo’s comical posturing during that bizarre Body Revolution advert; football is littered with well-intentioned plans which turned-out to be unmitigated disasters.
Now, after another crazy week in the Championship, otherwise known as a the Casino League, I think we can add another entry to this undesirable list.
Heaven only knows what Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, made of Britt Assombalonga’s transfer to Middlesbrough on Monday. But, inside Chez Shield, reports the centre-forward had commanded a £15m fee upon leaving Nottingham Forest prompted another long rant about one of the sport’s greatest shambles. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about the parachute payments system.
Ostensibly designed to ensure clubs relegated from the Premier League did not go out of business, (although why chairman feel compelled to sign players who refuse to accept performance-related salaries remains a mystery to me), these hand-outs are now being used for an altogether different purpose. Namely to bolster the transfer kitty of teams desperate to return to the top-flight.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not accusing Boro of any wrong-doing. Not have they broken any rules. Chairman Steve Gibson, who of course has just banked around £9m by selling Jordan Rhodes to Sheffield Wednesday, might have been feeling in a particularly generous mood when he sanctioned Assombalonga’s purchase. But, given that the 24-year-old was valued at around £4.25m by independent observers transfermarkt, it is doubtful whether he would have been quite so benevolent had he not been in receipt of a cheque, worth £48m next season and £38m the one after that. (Especially when bearing in mind accountancy firm Deloitte estimate teams dropping out of the PL lose between £55m-65m in revenue). Parachute payments are financially doping the second tier of English football. The game’s governing bodies are allowing a situation to develop whereby failure is rewarded and prudence is not.
There is, of course, a quick and easy fix; insist they are spent only on honouring existing contracts and demand the paperwork to prove it. But it won’t be implemented because of pure self-interest and a desire, by some folk at least, to turn the PL into a rich man’s cartel.