This year saw the birth of Indian Premier League cricket. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a shortened version of the regular game played by the best cricket players in the world with all the glitz and glamour you would never have associated with cricket ten years ago.
In essence it was a million miles away from the traditional game with cheerleaders and fireworks — an aspect of cricket you would never see down on you local village green. The reason I have mentioned this is because the IPL had some very wealthy backers and to get the league off the ground they offered crickets best players sack loads of money to take part in the competition. I read an article which said that the average player taking part in the IPL would earn around £250,000 for six weeks work. As such many of the worlds players dropped everything and went off to India to take part. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the player taking part and he said the money was so good he would have been a fool to turn it down.
The fact is he is right. If someone offered you a year’s salary for six weeks work you are hardly likely to turn it down. The problem many people had with the game was that the players had no connection with the teams, or franchises as they were known, they were playing for. People from Mumbai and Delhi had come to support their local sides but the players who were competing were from Australia or West Indies rather than India.
This brings me onto the Premier League, already we can draw some similarities between these two leagues just by reading the papers and looking at the ridiculous wage demands some players make.
I am too young to remember this but I am always told that footballers used to take the local bus to games with the fans and that nearly always the whole squad was made up of players from the local area. Now you look at sides and you struggle to find anyone born within 50 miles of their side’s stadium. I am not a xenophobe by any means. I think that players from overseas have made the Premier League brilliant but the thing I have a problem with is a lack of loyalty they have with any of the sides they play for. Let’s go back to the IPL again and there were examples of players in that league who were prepared to miss months of games for their teams, even their countries, in order to earn the big bucks and the Premier League is no different. A current example of a mercenary is Emmanuel Adebayor. He is holding Arsenal to ransom over his wage demands and it looks like he will only stay if they give him the £120,000-a-week he is demanding. Today that doesn’t shock me but when you think about it things like that it should disgust you. Head this way for all the transfer odds.
Firstly how can someone demand that much money just to play football and secondly how can they treat a club which has helped establish them like that as well. I know Adebayor started his career with Monaco but if it wasn’t for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger he wouldn’t be the star he is today. The classic example of a player lacking loyalty has to be Nicolas Anelka who is the most expensive player in the world following all his transfers across the globe. I believe that he doesn’t care who he plays for as long as they have the cash. I know this is an old cliché but top level football has too much money, so much money in fact that they are willing to pay players what ever they want and yet they are somehow all in debt. The amount of money in sport in general is astronomical and cricket seems to have become the latest sport to take some of the free flowing cash.
The IPL will have generated millions of pounds for the Indian cricket board and many of the organisers which is great but I fear that, like football, cricket will begin to lose touch with reality. Football and now cricket are no longer sports in their original formats but rather businessman play things, where people are prepared to plough millions, if not billions, into a side just to get a brief taste of success. For who will taste that success here are the football odds. To me the IPL has taken what they saw in the Premier League and transferred it to their national sport because it seems that if you have enough money people will do anything. I know I am being idealistic in thinking we should revert back to the days when players used to take the local bus rather than a Ferrari to games but it would just be nice for players to show a little bit of loyalty and respect to clubs. It is very rare to get a player remain at one club for the whole of his career, soon it will be practically unheard of. The likes of Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs will be things of the past in years to come when three years will be considered as doing the club a good service.
Football is riddled with problems that are no closer to being solved but as long as there is success on the pitch people don’t seem to mind. That is where we see another similarity with the IPL because as long as their side was winning people didn’t care how much they were earning or where they came from. In sport winning is everything and I am one of those people that can’t stand to see their side lose but if I knew that the team I was applauding off felt the same way I did then perhaps myself and many more would have a bit more respect for those players and perhaps that would be reciprocated.