August 6, 2009
Madrid has money to burn
By GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA
Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump are known for their free-spending ways.
It adds to reputation and prestige. And when stupid spending happens, it usually happens for a reason.
Heck, Mike Tyson bought a tiger -- don't ask why, but it was expensive.
This summer's spending by Real Madrid enhanced its reputation and it's banking on its new acquisitions earning its stripes.
Real Madrid tried the out-bid, out-buy, out-spend mantra to varying levels of success earlier this decade. President Florentino Perez' desire to build his Galacticos side brought stars Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo among others to the Spanish capital, shattering transfer records in the process.
The result -- four league titles and a Champions League this decade. Still, that's not enough for some onlookers. When you spend the most, nothing short of domination is expected.
And while Real Madrid has struggled at times managing its stars, delegating power, and finding the best possible manager, its off-field dominance cannot be questioned.
The club's revenue streams are unmatched. In terms of brand recognition, there's Real Madrid, Manchester United, then everyone else.
What better way to spend the money coming into the club than investing in the team?
After leaving in 2006, Perez is back as president, ushering in a new era of spending.
The recent disappointment, playing second fiddle behind rival Barcelona, has forced bold moves.
Yesterday, Perez continued his summer of spending, overpaying for former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso, to bring the grand total to $392 million on just eight players.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson claimed Cristiano Ronaldo isn't worth the $145 million Madrid bought him for. Ferguson did a good bit of business selling the malcontent they bought for only $22 million six years ago.
But don't be fooled, Ronaldo is the best player in the world.
As soccer onlookers, we're quick to dissect contracts and deals, determining a player's really worth.
For Real Madrid, over-paying for Ronaldo, Kaka, or even an Alonso was deemed necessary to get the club back to where it want to be.
Soccer, moreso than any other sport, is all about ambition. This summer, Real Madrid has shown its ambition.
League structures, with relegation and promotion, allow clubs to determine for themselves where they fit in the soccer universe.
Continental competition further separates teams -- those with true aspiration to win trophies that matter and those content with reaping the financial benefits of simply playing with the big boys.
Sometimes, overpaying is part in parcel of the process in getting to the top.
And with spending comes pressure to succeed.