These days, money runs the rule over transfers. As much as we like to pull the wool over our own eyes and look past the “cash-wars” and agent-fees that seem to dominate the transfer market, they exist. Think of it like the population of a country. Take the United States, for example. 5% of the nation is considered “rich”. Out of 312,000,000 people, only five percent are considered rich. In a way, the Premier League, and the other big leagues are no different. Of the 53 member associations in UEFA, only five are considered the “Big Leagues”. Five percent. Out of those five leagues, how many teams are actually considered rich. UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules aside, how many actually have the financial firepower to keep themselves amongst the challenging elite? Not many.
For Liverpool, who became the first team in England to wear a shirt sponsor (essentially kicking off the gold-rush in Premier League), this inflation of the transfer market has seen them become a club struggling to keep up with not only the Manchester duo, Chelsea and Arsenal, but more recently Spurs and even Newcastle. What Gylfi Sigurdsson said about his signing with Spurs was that he was attracted by the plan Andre Villas-Boas had for the season and the coming years. After just missing out on Champions League football, Spurs staked a claim again to be a “top-four” club. However, it was what Sigurdsson didn’t say that will worry fans. While reports are to be believed at readers own perils, Spurs offered the Icelandic midfielder an extra £20,000 to play. What Sigurdsson didn’t say in his interview was that despite having been given the opportunity to rise under Brendan Rodgers at Reading and again, so brilliantly, at Swansea, cash is what sustains clubs. Not history, not tradition; money.
Liverpool fans need not worry though, again if reports and rumors are ever to be taken seriously, as Brendan Rodgers has set his plan in motion, in hopes of bringing forth three or four players that can “improve and change” the squad. With a deal for Gaston Ramirez seemingly imminent and bids for Clint Dempsey and Stevan Jovetić tabled, the Reds are still moving in the transfer market. Fenway Sports Group wants the Reds to be self-sustaining in the market, and after the shambolic summer-window last season, three or four may be all the Reds can afford. However, if FSG plan on taking Liverpool back to the Champions League, money will have to be spent.
Getting back in and amongst Europe’s elite is the biggest goal Liverpool will need to set for themselves. Without it, Liverpool can say hello to another 10-20 year draught without a Premier League title. The fact is, even the youngest stars of Europe, Mario Götze, André Schürrle and Xherdan Shaqiri know that the Champions League is where the “big clubs” play, even if the former King of Europe, Liverpool, is absent from the dance-floor. While there are some gems, such as Luis Suarez, who signed for the Reds despite interest from Champions League clubs, many young stars agents will turn their noses at an offer, knowing bigger money can be found in the Champions League. Liverpool must not only sort out their transfer scheme while absent from the money of the Champions League, but also must sort out their issues at home. Some players are reportedly on much higher wages than should be allowed for their caliber, and questions regarding a move to Stanley Park are dragging on and ultimately drowning the club.
The situation regarding the stadium must be dealt with more quickly than it has been. Liverpool’s gate receipts are so far behind that of Manchester United and Arsenal that a new stadium, along with a naming-rights partner might be inevitable. With Chelsea looking to move from Stamford Bridge into the proposed Battersea Stadium and Tottenham looking to expand as well, Liverpool are in danger of falling behind even further in the financial battlefield. Leaving Anfield will leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, but remember, football has changed. History and tradition don’t command the game, money does.