Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Soul-less soccer

Yesterday was the final day of the summer football transfer window - the month long period that clubs have to buy and sell their players. Liverpool bought in three players, one of whom had been on loan last season and has now signed a permanent deal. Probably the biggest sotry of the day though was Manchester City being bought by the investment arm of the Abu Dhabi royal family. As if that wasn't enough, Manchester City go out and immediately splash over $60 million on the Real Madrid forward Robinho. Robinho had been courted by Chelsea for much of the summer, and had even told journalists that he wanted to leave Madrid for the London club as late as Saturday.

This summer has seen once again football transfer fees spiralling out of control, with utterly obscene figures being quoted for various players. apparently Kaka of AC Milan was wanted by Chelsea, who were willing to pay in excess of $150 million, even Liverpool splashed $40 million on Robbie Keane. In order to pay for these exorbitant fees and the salaries which players receive, ticket prices continue to rise, the cost of a replica shirt goes up and more and more ordinary working fans are being squeezed out of the game.

It is getting to the point where you juts have to accept that football has lost its soul, gone are the days when a club like Celtic could win the European Cup with the majority of players coming from with 5 miles of Parkhead. Clubs as famous as Nottingham Forest, who themselves has won the European Cup, have faced bankruptcy in the face and plummeted through the divisions. Today there are teams such as Oxford United who I remember watching on TV as a top flight club playing in the Conference.

It is getting to the point where I often wonder why I bother going along to the pub twice a week to watch a game to watch a group of millionaires flounce around the pitch. Perhaps I am getting to the point where football has outlived its usefulness, no longer is it a conduit for my bad days, no longer doesn't Liverpool beating Manchester United leave me buzzing for days.

But then at the same time the romantic in me can still enjoy the wonders of football. I must admit to having something of an affair with another club, Charleston Battery. Mrs Velkyal and I went to see a match when we were in South Carolina last year, the Battery versus Houston Dynamo. Since then I have kept an eye out for their results, doing very nicely in the USL1 - the American equivalent of the Championship - and tomorrow they will play in the Lamar Open Cup Final against D.C. United of the MSL. This is the American equivalent of the F.A. Cup and I am hoping that Battery will take another scalp and be the first USL side to win the Cup in many a year.