Premier League ignorance: You lose, China

Ben Mountain

What riles up us British people the most? Bad tea, worse weather and Robbie Savage to name but three. Nothing, however, seems to annoy us more than the Chinese Super League.

Or maybe we’re wrong. Maybe no one cares about it anymore. That’s the way things seem to be right about now.

Do you remember around half a year ago when this great new threat to modern life suddenly reared its ugly, very wealthy head? Do you remember proclaiming Armageddon with the rest of the sandwich-board donning nut cases?

You probably do. The rest of us are sure we did.

But you were right to be afraid. This new, terrifying endemic seemed to be tearing down civilisations at a time.

And, worse yet, it wasn’t even a British one. We know, some bloomin’ foreigners were doing it.

Of course, the crisis we’re talking about is the cash influx of the Chinese Super League. When the likes of Carlos Tevez, Oscar and Hulk were sold for pretty eye-watering sums of money and we all absolutely wet ourselves because our beloved football was being ruined.

This was the scene. The Chinese market had soared and exploded exponentially. Its former record transfer fee was smashed by £31.5 million and then again by another £9 million the following season, as players were flying in from across the globe for twice their actual value.

Young, talented players were being led by the wallet into the hands of disinterested but highly wealthy owners who knew their latest play-toy investment was going to earn them an absolute killing. Sound familiar?

We got a little nervous over here in Blighty. Their money was killing our game. It wasn’t uncommon to hear Big Steve wailing about it as he drowned his Chinese-induced sorrows down the pub. Genuinely, we all got a little bit scared.

And so this fear turned into slander. It’s the British way.

We all dubbed China some sort of blackhole for footballing talents, sucking the life blood out of our game for the sake of profit. They became the new public enemy number one.

Until recently, that is. Then China just became this sort of irrelevant footballing anomaly again.

The reason? We started to play them at their own game.

In case you haven’t noticed, our own Western transfer market has gone a bit funny lately. It’s become the sort of thing Daniel Levy has nightmares about.

Things have changed this season and the market has wobbled and thrown up a new set of rules. Those rules being, pay whatever the hell you like, you’ll end up making millions from it regardless. Oh, and forget about that Financial Fair Play nonsense; we’ve thrown that out the window.

We’ve seen the most bog-standard of players go for tens of millions and to hear of a ¬£50 million-plus move today fails really to raise an eyelid. In fact, with the Coutinho/Demb√©l√©/Mbapp√© sagas, to hear of ¬£100 million and beyond sort of goes in one ear and out the other.

Money talks. But we’re not listening. Not anymore. Because this money is Western, not over in that distant, mystical land of China.

We don’t care about Chinese money ruining the game anymore¬†because we’re ruining it with our very own money again. Yippee! Ah, if something is going to be trashed, at least it’s us who are doing it. We’ve restored the status quo. Breathe.

To be entirely honest, we’ve become raging hypocrites. From the press to the pub punters and even the likes of us, everyone has turned a guilty blind eye to the shock and horror we felt when China started splashing the big bucks. And that’s because we’re splashing them far, far more.

The total value of the CSL’s market is ¬£334.1 million. For the Premier League, it’s ¬£4.89 billion.

Their record transfer? ¬£54million. The Premier League’s? ¬£89million.

And, whilst we’re at it, the world transfer record, as you all know, is ¬£198million.

So we couldn’t possibly care less for the Chinese Super League anymore, could we?

Not because we no longer question their moral integrity or effect on the game, but because we’ve actually one-upped them. Because now it’s us again who’s splashing the cash like there’s no tomorrow.

But there’s very little uproar against that. And we can’t begin to say why. Perhaps we don’t mind dropping our once rock-solid ethical stances if it means we’re the ones benefiting from it.

But for the Chinese to dare treat the world’s most lucrative sport with any kind of financial lavishness, we’re all for getting angry about that.

So, what riles up us British people the most? Bad tea, worse weather and Robbie Savage to name but three. Nothing, however, seems to annoy us more than the Chinese Super League. Though, actually, there is just one more thing. Not being the greatest, biggest, most imposing financial powerhouse in world football anymore. That really grinds our gears. So we go and spunk all our cash away. You lose, China.

Start the discussion

to comment