Football's big money clubs have succeeded in finding another way of disenfranchising the fans – but this time in a really subtle manner.
The transfer window passed with Real Madrid setting a new world record fee to sign Gareth Bale, while Spurs have managed to outstrip their Premier League rivals by spending their windfall.
The problem is that the figures are now so big that they have become almost surreal – and in the process I believe the top clubs have managed to rob the ordinary fan of his or her right to justifiable indignation as to what is a ‘real’ waste of money.
I have never been good with maths, but I know that a million is a big number.
However, once you get beyond a certain mark the figures become a little harder to envisage and the Gareth Bale figures – 100 of your millions in Euros and 85.3 million in your English pounds – really leave me in the same confusion that maths did at school when you were given a number and then a smaller number was tagged to the back of it and you were informed that it was to the power of ten – or whatever!
The concept is a little like being handed a huge jar of sherbet pips and being asked to count them. Why would you do that? You know it’s a lot but the only time to start counting is when you have eaten down to the last 20 or so.
But we are talking football, not sweets, and perhaps the most obvious example of the madness I can give you is this.
The name of Steve Daley has long been an accepted description of ‘a waste of money’.
In September 1979 he was transferred by Wolves to Manchester City for a fee of ï¿½1,437,500 – a then British record – but his subsequent performances led to not only derision from followers of his own club but by the English game in general.
With hindsight this seems unfair on Daley on two counts. Firstly, City coach Malcolm Allison was the man who spent the money, and secondly, in this day and age ten times that amount can be spent on players who would rightly earn the nickname ‘The Judge’ due to spending so much time sitting on the bench.
Daley served two seasons at City playing 48 games and scoring four goals from midfield, while Roque Santa Cruz cost the same club £17.5m and in four seasons made 20 appearances scoring three goals as a striker.
Daley was at least sold for £300,000, but Santa Cruz has just left this summer for nothing – so which player was the biggest waste of money?
Given that Daley has been pilloried down the decades, while Santa Cruz’s case causes a minor titter, it would suggest that it is the man whose maths we can most relate to who is the perhaps undeserving loser.
So when everyone is screaming will Bale live up to his price tag and be value for money? I don’t think he has anything to worry about because, for my part, I don’t have any concept of what 85.3 million of anything is!
In all the hype that surrounded the build up to Huddersfield Giants home game against Wakefield Trinity it was Scott Grix who offered up the genuine pearl of wisdom .
As the national press arrived in unexpected numbers at the John Smith’s Stadium for the chance to interview the team who were set to lift the Super League Leaders Trophy – obviously not the Wildcats – and be enlightened as they sought to find the truth behind the club’s success, it was Grix who stripped the flannel down to realism.
Hoping for some insight into the mystic ways of the coaching methods or the secrets of the inner sanctum of the dressing room, the assembled scribes were offered the following by the Halifax-born sage of a mere 28 years.
“This season we have played pretty rubbish in a few games and we have still won, when in previous years we would have lost,” said Grix.
It was not perhaps the praise of fellow players and the club’s coaching staff that was being sought, but it does explain the fact that the mindset at the Giants has significantly changed this year.
It shows there is a modus operandi where certain standards must be maintained and if you aren’t at the top of your game then at least make sure that your game is good enough to better the opposition.
And it is an attitude that transcends the players involved in the sense that it doesn’t matter if you have been at the club 10 years or 10 minutes, if you take the philosophy on board you can be a winner.
As former Halifax forward Brendan Hill would regularly opine ‘winners are grinners’ and if the current philosophy in the Giants camp takes hold there is every chance another former Fax prop Paul Anderson could have Huddersfield smiling for a while to come.