It's not obscene, it's economics - and Neymar IS worth £200m
PUBLISHED: 09:33 05 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:33 05 August 2017
It's summer, that time of getting away from it all with a trip to the peak of Mount High Dudgeon.
Countless people are either already atop the mountain or are climbing it with a furious intensity; powered, yet again, by football transfers.
The rival destination, which is also heaving at the moment, is Righteous Indignation.
Both resorts owe much of this summer’s popularity to Paris Saint Germain, the French football club that is spending £200m to buy the Brazilian forward Neymar.
The transfer, not to mention the other immense deals being struck to secure stars, has made so many people so very angry.
“That money would pay for a hospital.”
“Think how many nurses you could employ for that.”
“How can a bloke who chases a bag of wind around a field be worth that?”
“While people are sleeping on the streets, this is abhorrent.”
As I write these (overheard, slightly paraphrased) quotes, I’m yawning. For it’s the same tired chorus of anger that has been resounding for decades.
It’s an easy argument to make, that footballers (overpaid prima donnas, boo, hiss) get too much money: money that could revolutionise healthcare, feed the world, save our planet and fund a delicate operation on a lamb.
Stop being so damned boring. Big transfers are not obscene, they are economic outcomes.
Clubs have a lot of money and spend a lot of money. They have a lot of money because millions of people pay to watch their star-studded teams play, while the richest companies in the world queue up to sponsor them.
Expenditure creates interest, and so the growth keeps growing.
PSG know that £200m for Neymar is a relatively small price to pay for the global interest and investment in their brand that it will generate.
They are entitled to spend their riches how they like, just as we can choose how to spend our money.
The moral argument is a nonsense that, if taken to its extreme, is self-defeating.
Is it immoral of us to buy a car, when the money could be given to homeless people? When we shop, should we buy just enough gruel to keep us alive, and give what we save to a donkey sanctuary?
Should I buy luxuries like books, beer and clothes?
If “it could be used for...” was the starting point for all expenditure, money would stop flowing - including to the very people who need it the most.
Money generates money. Rich footballers are able to - and often do - make a huge difference to good causes.
Whether Neymar is worth £200m will always be a matter of opinion. I’d say, given that he brings joy to billions of football fans, he is.
He’s surely better value for money than the $300m forked out for the world’s priciest painting, When Will You Marry, by Paul Gauguin. I wouldn’t have it on my wall and I can’t imagine that it has done anything more constructive than hang about, looking ordinary.
The world’s most valuable wristwatch, the Graff Diamonds Hallucination, is worth $55m, which is about $54.99m too much to pay for a large bit of bling.
How about $750m for a house, the Villa Leopolda on France’s Cote d’Azure? Or $500,000 for a six-litre bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992?
You could pay $400m for The Cullinan Diamond, £518,000 for a number plate with the registration plate ‘25 O’, or $4.5bn for the History Supreme yacht.
The buyers of these jaw-dropping items would say they were worth every penny (or dime). But they are essentially purchases to puff themselves up, and will only be enjoyed by a select few.
Neymar will put bums on seats - in football stadia, in pubs and in sitting rooms. He will further energise the fast-growing global game.
And he will make people happy, so let’s not be so holier-than-though about the price.