One of the things that most impresses me about the Ibrox fan sites is their lack of basic understanding not only of transfer bid mechanics but of basic market forces. It remains a constant all the way through the existence of their NewCo.
That’s why I’ve decided to make it simple for them. Here goes.
Imagine you take over a corner shop, and when you do it is filled with supplies. You don’t ask why you got it cheap or why it came with everything; you buy it and you settle in and wait for the money to start pouring into the till.
Every single bit of stock you have on the shelves has a nominal value. You set that price. If you were the sole trading shop in your area, then you could probably do reasonably well provided you were not blatantly taking the piss with your demands.
But the reality is that you’re not the only trading business in your area. There are other shops within walking distance and even more within range of those with cars. Your prices have to reflect what’s in the area, what’s available elsewhere and a host of other things … you cannot charge a quid for a bar of chocolate when the same one is available for 50p at another store.
See, it doesn’t matter what little stickers you put on your goods. They are worth only as much as someone wants to pay. And if you think you can buy cheap imitations and yet charge full price for them you’re going to find that nobody wants to pay Mars Bar prices for one of those knock-off versions made with inferior ingredients.
Take Calvin Bassey; one of the more pitiful articles from the week just past was in The Record, where they highlighted his “secret” quality; that clubs in the top flight down there have to register a certain number of players produced in England.
Does the Record realise – or just not care – that this rule has been in place for years, that all the clubs know about it, that they’ve been shopping on the basis of it for a long time and that it was an English club, knowing this, who released Bassey not that long ago?
There are 20 clubs in the top flight and another 24 in the league directly under it. There are another 24 underneath them and 24 more under that and under that again … the setup down there is massive. All of them are looking for players all the time, and all of them are producing players all the time. Is there an English born player as good as Bassey available down there who won’t cost some team £25 million? Of course there is. Ibrox is looking at one of them right now, in the left back role; Josh Tymon, who’s a year older than Bassey but has played two full seasons in the English Championship and has nothing to prove.
What’s the price-tag on him? £25 million? No, because if it was their club wouldn’t be linked to him, would it? He can be got for a mere £5 million. Who is going to pay that kind of money for Bassey when a player like him is available for one fifth of that?
You can’t charge Mars Bar prices unless it’s for Mars Bars. If Bassey was genuinely something special, and had more experience rather than one decent season, they could hold out for a premium fee, but there are so many miscalculations about him that they won’t even consider.
Take his place in the Europa League Team Of The Year; the media seems to believe that’s worth something.
Are they suggesting that there was no better right back playing in the Europa League last year than Tavernier? That Bassey is one of the best defenders who played in the competition?
That’s what they believe, but let’s deal with reality. None of those things is true. Those teams are almost always made up of representatives from the two sides who get to the final; I’ve written about how those from lower-ranked leagues almost never benefit from that with moves to bigger clubs. Those clubs know what those lists are worth.
Little by little, Ibrox – via their pals in the media – are putting up the For Sale signs. Morelos, Kent and Aribo pretty much need to be sold this summer or the club will get nothing for them when they leave at the end of the season.
Bassey is seen inside the club as their only realistic bankable asset; having attempted this trick with Aribo, Kent and, most particularly, with Glen Kamara they should already know it is of limited utility but they proceed anyway, hoping for the best.
So to go back to the corner shop; what if no-one comes in, unimpressed by your prices? What if you sell nothing? What is the actual value of your stock then? Ever diminishing. Eventually you will hit a price-tag that people are willing to pay … but if you valued something at ten quid and have to sell it for two, how do you tell your investors that?
This is the problem with all the over-hyping these players; you raise expectations sky high and then have to scramble to convince people you got the best possible fee when you’re forced to sell for way under what you’ve been saying these guys are worth.
Ibrox’s internal pricing policy for its footballers is batshit. It is based on an improper understanding of what Celtic has been doing, and on an arrogant presumption that their own players must be worth just as much as ours. They also underestimate – massively – the respective financial positions of the two clubs, and that is hugely important.
If people know your business is on the bones of its arse – and if your business only functions because of loans and charity from family and friends that’s what it is – you’ll have trouble getting premium prices for your products even if they are worth premium fees … because people know you are desperate and they can squeeze you.
The perception – a realistic one – that we had to sell Edouard and Ajer and Christie last season, in order to fully fund the manager’s plans definitely affected the money we were able to command. We got good cash for them in those circumstances, but had we sold them at the start of the previous campaign, with success behind them and without the impact of COVID on transfer valuations, we would certainly have got a lot more.
Ibrox never considers any factor other than what it wants. The sense of entitlement that runs through everything they do extends to their transfer demands. They never learn, even when you make it as simple as I’ve tried to here.