THERE’S a great line from, I think, the original Arthur movie which the boozy billionaire delivers perfectly to a band of barflies.
Regaling them with a sorrowful tale of being cut off by his family due to his drinking, a well-oiled Dudley Moore tells his new friends how much he’d been set to inherit. It goes something like this.
“Of course,” slurs Arty. “This was in the days when $ 100m was considered a lot of money.”
There was a time in football-land when £1m was considered a fortune and to 99 per cent and more of the seven and a half billion people tottering about this rock, it still is.
Even a card-carrying socialist such as myself – well not card-carrying because that would take organisation – has described some ridiculous lottery win transfer as a bargain.
Most football supporters are guilty of this. Our club spends £500,000 on someone and we call it cheap. In England, where the prices are obscene – and there really isn’t another word for it – a bang-average player, at least in Premier League terms, costs the best part of £20m and such a relatively low price is used as an excuse if said commodity turns out to be incapable of being able to control a football.
A seven out of ten performer at best . . .
“Well, he only cost £17m so we were never getting the top notch.”
We’re a funny lot us human beings. We will spend hours on hold while having an acapella House of the Rising Sun played down the phone just so we can complain about a £20 toaster which only singes the bread.
But in 2018 if a still expensive footballer doesn’t cut it, we are sort of okay with it because our frugal club owner is only prepared to fork out £12m for someone to kick a pigskin about a field.
I don’t know about you, but if I had that kind of cash and spent £12m on anything, I’d expect to be better than quite good.
Football’s problem is that the market is so inflated, what were record fees a decade ago will most of the time buy you promising to decent players. This is, has been, and will be a huge challenge for Celtic.
The club released their half-season financial figures last week and, to borrow the words of a Harry Enfield character: “They have considerably more money than you.”
This is down to many factors. A sensible business model, their ridiculously large and faithful support and qualification into the group stages of two Champions League campaigns.
As they say in the posher accountancy firms of Glasgow – ya dancer.
The Celtic supporters know this is a good thing but their congratulations, and of course the inevitable discussion about Sevco, was followed up quite quickly with concern over a healthy bank balance but the reluctance of Peter Lawwell and the directors to lavish Brendan Rodgers with money. And lots of it.
I have Zenit St Petersburg as strong favourites to get through this upcoming Europa League tie. Why? Simply because they have spent the best part of £60m on their squad – and that was just in the last two windows.
In case you are wondering, Celtic have not.
They simply don’t have that kind of money, however, they most certainly have the funds to, say, spend £10m on a player, which is what a lot of the supporters have been debating.
But here’s the rub. What does £10m get you in planet football these days? And that’s assuming such a highly-priced player would even come to Scotland.
Rodgers spent £4.5m on Olivier Ntcham who has tremendous promise but right now is not better than Scott Brown, Stuart Armstrong or Tom Rogic. Is a £6m signing going to replace Brown? Don’t be a silly person.
Moussa Dembele may well one day cost over £20m, it’s the going rate, but in my eyes, Leigh Griffiths is better. Ergo, Celtic could destroy the country’s transfer record for a striker that isn’t as good as the lad already there and who was bought for a fraction of that fee.
If Celtic do lose to Zenit then the board will find themselves under the spotlight. But, on this occasion that would be harsh. There is around £30m in their current account.
Today, that wouldn’t get you Andy Carroll.