Football Weekend….in the UK

It’s more often than not I wish we lived in the U.K. where the nation’s sport was football. No, not the American kind you find owners locking out players over their collective bargaining agreement and not being able to agree on $9 billion. That’s the NFL for you. This weekend kicked of the action in the English Premier League. Unfortunately being stuck at work on opening weekend I was only able to catch parts of about 4 games, along with highlights from the day.

For me the match of the day was Liverpool v. Sunderland. After the frustrating 2010-2011 season for L’pool it started off on the wrong foot with a draw against the Black Cats. After missing a penalty shot, Luis Suárez redeemed himself with a 12′ goal. That lead would last until 57′ minute when a beautiful volley found the far side of the goal from Sebastian Larsson. An early season goal that could end up being the goal of the year.

Not too surprising to see four games end in draws on Saturday, including the Gunners v. Newcastle and Joey Barton. Barton was deliberately stepped on by Alex Song, the officials missed it and that incident led to a later disagreement that involved Barton and Gervinho, who was red carded.

Today we will see how Manchester United starts against West Brom and Chelsea against Stoke City. Monday we will see other big off-season spenders, Manchester City v. Swansea City. It looks to be another great season in top flight football in the EPL. I plan to be very involved watching this season, as well as Serie A and the battle at the top in La Liga! Also great to know the Mexican League is very early to watch on Saturday afternoons. Viva Cruz Azul!

Insane Amounts of Cash

One reason I stopped watching MLB and to some degree the NFL was the ungodly amount of money thrown at players these days. Especially rookies who have NO experience at this level. One just has to look at the deals signed by Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-2017), Derek Jeter, $189,000,000 (2001-2010) and Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000 (2009-2016). The list continues, you can see it at Cot’s Baseball Contracts, the figures are astounding!

The NFL is no better. Oddly enough the former convict, Michael Vick signed what is still the largest contract at $130,000,000 (2005-2014). Other players with big contracts include, Carson Palmer, $119,750,000 (2006-2014) and Donovan McNabb, $115,000,000 (2002-2013). Much of this money includes a signing bonus, since there is not a lot of guaranteed money in these contracts is struck down by a career ending injury.

The NBA is just as guilty, but since I don’t care for the sport I see no reason to even mention their outrageous figures. In some respect it’s a worse offender than the NFL. This brings me to my point.

The beautiful game. Football as it is known world wide, only in the US is is termed soccer, where contracts in the MLS pale in comparison to their overseas counterparts, unless your name is David Beckham and you sign with the LA Galaxy to put “butts in the seats” and to sell merchandise. His contract was 5 years, $250,000,000. Considering the MLS as lost approximately $350,000,000 since its inception this was not a unexpected signing.

In the past week La Liga has seen record breaking signings of Kaka ($92 million) from AC Milan and just today Cristiano Ronaldo signed for $131 million from Manchester United. The size of these contracts are far above anything seen previously. Real Madrid has just added two of the world’s best players (both former Players of the Year) to their club and they might not be finished. They are still chasing Valencia’s David Villa, which would also bring a large contract.

UEFA boss, Michael Platini is outraged at the “excessive” transfer fees, “are a serious challenge to the idea of fairplay and the concept of financial balance in our competitions.” Much like the NFL and the MLB, the big teams, with money to spend end up attracting top talent, while smaller clubs are left with very little and no chance at titles and trophies.

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,” Platini told AFP. Hopefully this does not mean a salary cap because football is a business. Big name players are small clubs will end up transferring in order to record those bigger contracts or because their club cannot afford their salary.