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I'm No Socialist But...

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Real Madrid have broken the world transfer record to sign Tottenham forward Gareth Bale. It's a headline we were all expecting, but that doesn't make the reality of the situation any less obscene.

The Welshman, who has never appeared at a World Cup, played only one season of Champions League football and scored almost half of his total career goals last season, will pocket a reported £300,000 weekly wage, translating to a yearly salary that could comfortably support a family of 4,000.

Beyond the concerns of obvious overpricing though, as Spain's and in turn Madrid's unemployment figures have approached an all-time high, Real's commitment to seismic spending represents the zenith of corporate detachment in sport.

The human cost of Spain's second recession in three years is far reaching - over 6.2million people are unemployed - yet the conclusion of this summer's most protracted transfer saga, suggests that the club are not similarly afflicted.

And indeed they aren't. Real's rude financial health - largely down to the bullish presidency of Florentino Perez - explains their offensive outlay.  

When Perez arrived at Madrid in 2000, he was tasked with a balance that was £270million in the red, but he managed to clear the club's debt when he not only convinced the city council to re-categorize Real's training ground as suitable for housing, but also got the city to team up with four external investors to buy the training ground for what the EU, who investigated the matter, suspected was an inflated and anti-competitive price.

Still, there is something to be admired about the club's economics. In the four years between 2006 and 2010 Los Blancos made a profit of about £200 million, and that is despite the fact they broke the world record twice during that time to secure the services of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo respectively. Some of that came from the turnstiles, some of it came from replica shirt sales, but most of it came courtesy of the gargantuan TV rights that Madrid hold broadcasters to ransom over every season.

Constitutionally, Real can only spend what they earn and in spite of Spain's precarious financial situation, they earn a lot.

But it's not a breach of financial fair play that makes me criticise the Bale signing - because there isn't one - it's the recklessness that the deal represents. 

Bale is a very good player, says Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino, "but the numbers involved in this transfer show a lack of respect to the world in general" - that includes the host of superstars that Madrid already have.

As far as football squads go, Real's is pretty competitive - Isco, Angel di Maria, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo to name but a few - so, the summer long pursuit of Bale appears more than a little profligate. Where exactly is he going to play? And is Cristiano going to be pleased with someone stealing his thunder?

Unlike most British clubs, Real have no sugar daddy or shareholders, but are instead owned and run by its 60,000 'Socios'. It's a fan based model that is not uncommon in Spain - Barcelona, Bilbao and Ossasuna all operate in a similar fashion - but Madrid's socialism is evidently only skin deep.

Last year, almost a million graduates swelled the ranks of Spain's unemployed, in a country that produces an average number of degree holders at 40% against the rest of the EU's rate of 34%.

I'm certain that some of those people will have studied Law, Marketing, PR, Administration and various other subjects that would be useful to Real Madrid Inc. And academics aside, I'm similarly sure that a stadium that seats over 85,000 could do with a few more grounds men.

I don't blame Bale. I think I'd find it quite hard to turn down enough money to potentially buy a small island myself, not to mention the prospect of joining the world's most famous club, but the marquee mania at Madrid has finally gone too far.

The monopoly money involved, the positional overhaul predicated by the winger's arrival and the enduring basket case that is Spain's economy shows that the deal has been brokered without any consideration of how the money might be better spent.

As I conclude this blog post, Sky Sports are cycling footage of Bale's unveiling to thousands of adoring fans. It remains to be seen whether Bale will be a success at Real Madrid, but I'll tell you now, it's going to take one hell of an I.O.U if he's not.