How could Chelsea's transfer kitty have helped people around the UK
The money involved in elite level football has often been criticized in recent years, with transfer fees and player wages continuing to grow beyond eye-watering levels, but new Chelsea owner Todd Boehly has shocked everyone with his blasé approach to spending, which begs the question, what real world problems could this money have solved?
What could Chelsea have done with the money they have spent?
American businessman Todd Boehly took charge of Chelsea in May 2022. Since then he has presided over two transfer windows, first in the summer of 2022 and the recent January 2023 window. In the first window, the west London outfit splurged just shy of £250 million bringing in eight new players. The spending continued in the January window, with another eight players coming through the door, this time totaling £291 million including a British record transfer for Argentine midfielder Enzo Fernandez, taking the total spend for the season to £540 million. So how else could such vast sums of money been spent.
Chelsea are one of the biggest clubs in London, but for the same price as record signing Fernandez, you could buy every person in London a 9.5 inch Pizza from Dominoes, with fellow big money signing Mykhaylo Mudryk's price tag more than covering Drinks and sides for everyone.
Between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022 over 280,000 emergency food parcels were handed out by food banks in London in the Trussell Trust network alone. As an alternative to the winter spending spree, Boehly could have attached a £1,000 cheque to each parcel. Of course nobody would expect Boehly to give away so charitably, but even 1% of that generosity would have an enormous impact on so many people, some of whom would undoubtably be fans of the club he owns. If Boehly were to give £1,000 pounds to 1 in every 100 people who used a food bank in London over the 2021/22 period, then 2,800 people would have there lives completely transformed with a total cost to him of only £2.8 million, less than half of what any of his permanent Chelsea transfers have cost.
How big is the problem in the UK?
Across the UK as a whole, in the same 2021/22 period over 2.1 million food parcels were given out by Trussell Trust food banks, an increase of 81% over five years. The growing reliance on food banks for people to feed themselves shows how more and more people are struggling to survive on the salaries they earn. As time continues, the gap in finances between the world of football and everyone else continues to grow. The growing disparity between the two makes it more and more baffling why football clubs, in particular those in the Premier League, do not do more to serve the communities that they are supposed to be a part of. Many people who don't have a large amount of disposable income continue to spend what little they do have on supporting their teams, as it is their only means of escape from day to day life. No matter what happens through the week, fans can look forward to those 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. Is it too much to ask for clubs to repay the unwavering support of fans by investing more in the community?
In recent weeks, eight-year-old Newcastle united fan Wilfy has gained fame for collecting money for the local food bank whilst wearing his 'magic hat' in honour of his favourite player Bruno Guimarães. Wilfy has received praise and support from fans and players alike, raising over £3,000 in total. The mere fact that a child feels the need to go and help people who can't afford enough food for themselves and their families shows the scale of the problem. However, as incredible as Wilfy's work has been, surely someone other than an eight-year-old could've taken the same initiative in order to raise more for people in need in the local area.
Which people in football are helping?
It must be said that Chelsea are not the only football club in the world to spend money, nor are the only club to overlook important social issues, but their recent spending puts them at the forefront of most conversations around money and football. Unfortunately, the vast majority of elite level clubs and Players seem to be relatively inactive in helping to solve problems around the world despite having the resources to do so. However, there are a few who have done incredible work to help those less fortunate than themselves. Perhaps most notably Marcus Rashford was crucial in the free school meals campaign helping to get vulnerable Families free meals for children even through the school holidays. Ex-Chelsea star Juan Mata helped create the Common Goal project to use football to enact positive social change around the world, it aims to get sporting stars to donate 1% of their salaries to the cause.
“Common Goal adds a new dimension to my game: translating the power of football into sustainable social change. And that’s a special feeling”
High profile players from both the male and female game such as Mats Hummels and Megan Rapinoe have become members, pledging 1% of their earnings to help unlock excellence and opportunities for all, everywhere. At current, 214 players and managers are members of the Common Goal cause, but surely many more could join to help make a meaningful impact on the world without requiring lots of time and effort taking away from their playing commitments.