Sunday, 14 December 2008

Football Fire Sale

As the January transfer window approaches, many Fulham supporters are beginning to twitch as rumours that Jimmy Bullard and Brede Hangeland may be departing gradually increase. This momentum is illusory however, and merely results from a ‘story’ being cribbed by one journalist from another as it gets peddled around the various media outlets, morphing the details through rewrites like a game of Chinese Whispers. This conjecture has been mildly aggravated by some choosing to interpret Roy Hodgson’s view on the matter - delivered with his usual candour - as a trojan horse delivering subliminal messages to potential suitors. Although his intellect would make him an astute practitioner of such shenanigans, experience suggests that he is above such game-playing. He always appears to credit his questioners, and his audience, with a degree of intelligence, at least.

For those experiencing such jitters, consider the position of Middlesbrough, as reported in last Friday’s Guardian: "Gareth Southgate has admitted he will need to offload players if he wants to make any new signings in January and also conceded that all significant offers for first- team players will be considered."

It seems that the “economic downturn” is extending to Premiership Football then. Is the goose that lays that the golden eggs becoming menopausal?

A few years ago, it was the profligate spending of Roman Abramovich that inflated the market, like a sow fattened with steroids. Ironically, it now appears that Chelsea themselves are not immune to the vicissitudes of the economy. There have been recent reports claiming that they will be making stringent cutbacks in their operations, including charging players for meals in the club canteen.

Indeed, with indications that transfer fees may be dropping through the floor this January, it is Chelsea who appear to be making early cost-cutting representations in the market:

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