I love my football. Despite being mediocre as a kid, I spent every possible hour kicking (or mis-kicking) a ball. Commentating on my own game of Subbuteo. Attending matches, typically at Stockport County and Manchester United. I still dream of my own dominant defensive performance against the 1990s stars who were the last generation of players I was close to idolising.
Parenthood brought an opportunity to take Chris to the match. His hometown team being Oldham Athletic made them the obvious choice of Saturday afternoon viewing.
And through the the years of disappointment wins over the likes of Everton and Liverpool make it all worthwhile. Defeats can be forgotten.
But the obscenity of the gap between the top few teams and the “proper football” we watch rather irritate.
And this brings me to the Neymar question. I’ve seen him play twice in the flesh. Once as a Brazilian Olympian and once for Barcelona. On both occasions he didn’t exactly star. But that’s my judgement. The top team in Paris has just decided he’s worth £200m. Plus the same again in wages over the next five years.
I look at my afatinib tablets. Smile at their success. Worry at the knowledge of their future failure. And I google the cost of a typical cancer researcher in the USA.
That £200m transfer fee would pay for over 2,000 researchers into cancer causes and developing new treatments for a year. 400 of them could be retained for the following five years if his wage was used to pay their salaries. And there is still change left over for all these scientists’ research equipment.
I’m not saying Paris St Germain should be handing over their money for one part of medical scientific research. But there is something mad about the extreme wealth at the top end of football that should hurt the senses of the most ardent free market economists.
And, for me anyway, a frustration that lung cancer research has been relatively underfunded over the years compared to “trendier” cancers and football clubs that are inevitably more popular than an evil death causing illness.
My impending demise might explain my frustration. But I challenge anyone to agree that Neymar Jr is worth £400m over five years when … well insert your own cause to finish the sentence if you think it’s worthier than mine.