FIFA and UEFA at loggerheads over Real Madrid's opulence

Who would have thought that in 48 hours one could have the whole of the world of football divided over the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Manchester United sources are queuing up to destroy the character of their once acclaimed superstar. Hypocrites! It was on Thursday that Michel Platini the UEFA President was quoted as saying

“These excessive transfers are happening almost every day”
“These transfers are a serious challenge to the idea of fair play and the concept of financial balance in our competitions,”
He suggested that UEFA was planning action to put an end to football’s excesses.
“UEFA is working hard with clubs to set up a new set of rules as soon as is possible to clean up the system and give it a more solid, more transparent base,”  “That is our top priority today.”

Platini’s comments came after Real Madrid bid 94 million euros for Manchester United striker Cristiano Ronaldo, just three days after they agreed to pay AC Milan 65 million euros for Kaka. But Sepp Blatter President of FIFA supported the transfer and said the very next day

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“It means that our product is still a good product,” Blatter said ahead of the Confederations Cup. “If this is the game of the people, they need stars. Let us be a little be a bit generous about that, OK, it is a lot of money, but he is performing.”
“That means there is still demand to have a star, we are on the market, and we are on a very sensitive market nowadays because there is an economic crisis. … In football, we are in still on the good market.”
“It was already $50 million more than 10 years ago,” he said. “So what is 80 million pounds now? That means there is still demand to have a star.”

Yet it was only last year that Sepp Blatter said the following about Ronaldo

“The important thing is, we should also protect the player, if the player wants to play somewhere else, then a solution should be found because if he stays in a club where he does not feel comfortable to play then it’s not good for the player and for the club.
“I’m always in favour of protecting the player and if the player, he wants to leave, let him leave.”
“I think in football there’s too much modern slavery in transferring players or buying players here and there, and putting them somewhere,”
“We are trying now to intervene in such cases. The reaction to the Bosman law is to make long-lasting contacts in order to keep the players and then if he wants to leave, then there is only one solution, he has to pay his contract.”

Real Madrid’s ex President Calderon has said that the deal was actually agreed last summer, a claim that Manchester United have vigorously denied. In any event, they are now going after Antonia Valencia of Wigan as the first player to spend some of their new found riches and it is thought that Lyon striker Karem Benzema and Franck Ribery are also on their shopping list.
Real Madrid are said to be able to spend  almost 300 million pounds this summer with targets David Silva, David Villa and our own Gael Clichy said to be next in line. It’s said that when Real Madrid come calling they always get their man. Morally the way in which Real Madrid distorts the transfer market is going to cause untold consequences.
There are reports that Ronaldo will be paid £180,000 a week with a 25% pay increase over the six years of the contract. These are incredible sums, and even if they get image rights and shirt sales one wonders if Real Madrid will again fall into debt and need to have a subsidy from the Spanish government as in 2001 as this article in business week then recalls

“In an extraordinary general meeting held on Sunday, 92 percent of those who voted supported the deal between the club, which won the Spanish league title on Saturday, the Madrid city council and the regional government. Club president Florentino Perez said the deal, which is expected to generate around 500 million Euros, had assured the economic future of the club. “Today is an historic day for Real Madrid because the plan has been approved by a vast majority and it will banish forever the cursed debt of 270 million Euros that has been hanging over the club. “Decisions like this will allow the club to establish itself as the best club in the world in the 21st century. The monstrous debt has left the club in a state of economic intensive care”

Real Madrid have benefited from being able to increase its commercial revenues by tours to the far east, and it’s healthy merchandising such as the selling of shirts and being able to obtain 1.1 Billion Euros in selling its broadcasting rights to Mediapro a Spanish film company. Not to forget that having the Bernabeu’s capacity of 80,000 fans provides very healthy match day revenues.
Yet Real Madrid is owned by its 85,000 members, who pay annual subscriptions, some of whom are being openly critical of the image in Spain of Real Madrid spending such large sums when the Global Recession was hitting many Spaniards very hard. One fan was quoted as saying that he was “Embarrassed to be a Real Madrid fan”
One problem for Real Madrid is that whilst they may have made a lot of money from David Beckham, he was a world icon. Even the pathetic tonsil washing by Paris Hilton in an LA nightclub will fail to elevate Ronaldo to any such level. In fact this imaging may not create a “Brand Ronaldo” The associated tantrums and diving may actually rebound upon this Portugese megastar.
The chances are that they are many twists and tales to come as we see Ronaldo’s volatile persona express itself at his new found place of employment. I predict that it will only take one season for this young player to find himself in the middle of controversy off the field. Alex Ferguson has been able to protect his stars and without his influence, anything could happen.
The only risks to world football from this transfer apart from the apparent division between the President of UEFA and the President of FIFA, is the almost certain inflation of other player’s opinion of their worth as they jostle for position to achieve similar kinds of wages. Agents will upwardly revising the values of their clients. So now even Manchester United may find it hard to get value for money as it seeks to spend the £80 million on new players.
I doubt that the Glazers will allow Alex Ferguson to use all of this cash which they will want to put towards reducing their massive 800 million debt. Part of the time to conclude the transfer may well hinge upon the size and the duration of the term of the instalments that Real Madrid will have to pay.
So despite the protestations of Platini and our own Arsene Wenger, it seems that football will continue to buck the trend of the recession for now. However the cash bubble is going to burst, and when it does, then it has to start in Spain. The woes of broadcaster Setanta is the first warning shot.
Increasing unemployment will soon have a knock on affect on pay for view revenues and subscriptions to digital sports packages. Don’t forget als o that there are only so many 55 euro shirts that can be sold around the world, and people will have to choose between squeaky clean born again christian Kaka and the raunchy temperamental Ronaldo, and then these deals will begin to look very silly.
Fabregas the King.

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