In July of 2000 Luis Figo shocked the world with what was then a world record €60 million transfer (a transfer is when a player moves teams), the equivalent of almost $82 million. Back then, as one of the greatest in the history of soccer, the record transfer fee was understand. Just this summer, Gareth Bale moved to the same team as Figo had just 13 years before, Real Madrid, for a world-record €100 million, more than $135 million. Tottenham lost their star player, and Real overpaid by tens of millions: this is what the culture of soccer has become. While some argue that big clubs need the revenue they get from spending big, UEFA, the federation in charge or european soccer, needs to restrict free-spending by clubs because small clubs are left powerless to retain their key players, which leads to a lack of revenue that smaller clubs need more, and the money spent and received has a direct effect on one’s success.
What teams spend and receive is a big factor into one’s success. This creates the notion that all clubs should be overspending to get better, and unfortunately this idea has spread. Last season AS Monaco was in Ligue 2, but after being promoted to the top-flight of french soccer they spent exactly €150 million ($206.5 million) on just 4 players. This season so far they are in 2nd place with just 3 losses (Transfermarkt). When examples like Monaco show up it urges other teams to start overspending. When small clubs can’t pay in large sums, they’re left without the capabilities to retain or buy new, better, acquisitions. Another prime example of this is Manchester United. After spending €32.4 million this offseason they’re in 9th place. Last season they won the Premier League title after spending €76.5 million -- more than 2 times as much as they would spend a year later (Transfermarkt). This kind of encouragement causes a type of snowball effect on inflation, preventing poorer clubs from getting better, and making the richest the best.
When big-name clubs overspend on players from less well-off clubs, the smaller clubs lose the key players that make the team any good. Most importantly, these smaller clubs can’t compete with the big-name clubs for players. After scoring 10 goals and 19 assists in the 2009/2010 season, Real Madrid bought Di Maria from Benfica for €33 million. Since then no other player from Benfica has matched his production, the closest being Nico Gaitan a season later with 4 goals and 17 assists. Another place where free-spending clubs prey is the Belgian Pro League: “It’s impossible to compete with clubs like this...Clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona have huge budgets and Belgian sides can’t compete with that” (Coerts). Many Belgian teams have lost vital players at an an early age, keeping them from having a chance to have success in their league and in Europe. When rich clubs go and overspend, small clubs become powerless and lose all their key players, hindering their chances of winning games.