A very interesting piece in the telegraph today where Rory Smith argues that it is time to abolish the transfer fee. This passage of the article had particular resonance, mainly because it smelled like there was some economics present:
In what other sphere do companies have to pay other companies to recruit their staff?
There would be some logic to it if it was a figure reflective of the time left on a player’s contract, the wages they were due to earn, the potential loss to the club, that sort of thing. But an arbitrary sum plucked from an oligarch’s imagination? An amount a local baker decides he desires for a teenager with a season’s mediocrity under his belt? Nonsense. Victorian nonsense. It’s people trafficking in Baby Bentleys. It’s a Roman slave market.
He seems to be saying that transfer fees represent some form of barrier to switching. While transfer fees are higher for better players, and lower when contracts have less time to run (i.e. Liverpool paying more for Stuart Downing then Manchester United paid for Ashley Young, primarily because Ashley Young only had a year remaining on his contract), I can see some logic to what Rory is getting at. If we abolished transfer fees, then players would presumably still move to where they are most valued by virtue of the wages they would be offered?
What are your thoughts…are transfer fees a historical relic or is there an efficiency justification hiding in there somewhere?