The Barclay’s English Premier League is in its last rounds before the champion of the 2011/2012 season is found. Naturally, the fight for glory or to avoid relegation is fierce, and takes everything that the players, managers and clubs have to offer. Very often the fight on the pitch is brought off the pitch by all involved and intensifies the struggle.
Currently, Manchester City is the club that has problems that have been created off the pitch or due to individual weakness and lack of knowledge. In city’s case, Carlos Tevez and Mario Balotelli have held the club in the news on a daily basis not because they are awesome soccer players, but for all kind of other negative reasons that make your manager, the club and the business partners of the club have nightmares.
Every time such a nightmare situation arises, millions of dollars are at stake. In city’s case, the damage could go into the ten’s or hundred’s of millions. For a club that has spent way over $400 million in new players and delivered a $140 million loss last year, this is certainly a nightmare. Not that city is poor, their ownership pays for “city expenses” out of the change drawer, but nobody is happy to lose that kind of money if it can be avoided. Clearly, this is not the way how the ownership of the club became that rich.
Let’s talk about Mario Balotelli: The guy is 21 years old and is a sensational soccer talent. Nobody in the soccer world will dispute that. He makes $320,000 a week(!), all-in-all somewhere between $15 and $20 million a year and has no clue about what kind of nonsense he delivers. For himself, he believes he is the coolest guy since mankind. To mention some examples of his performance: Almost burned down his mansion by firing fireworks out of the bathroom window, parking tickets of over $10,000 in less than two years, visiting a strip club hours before the game, featured in an article about the hooker that already gave Wayne Rooney a headache, 4 red cards in less than two years and many other actions in full disrespect of himself, his family and everyone else around him.
Balotelli has a personal manager. This guy is negotiating contracts for him and makes sure he stays interesting in the soccer world. Obviously, he has no clue on how Balotelli’s actions influence his marketability or he doesn’t care as long as he gets his commissions and paychecks.
Balotelli has quite a few assets that are very marketable and could make him a real big gun, right now and way beyond his soccer career. All it would take is some minimal professionalism on the job and in public. If one would express the $ damage to himself, the loss is in the 100’s of millions over the next 40 years, clearly. It is a mystery why his manager and his family are not taking influence on this guy and try to help him. It is clear that Balotelli himself is unable to do so.
For the club the losses are much greater. $100 million can be lost in one season and looking at city’s season, that is exactly what is going to happen. Early exit from the European Championships, FA Cup and Carling Cup, and playing only second fiddle to Manchester United will cost the club way more than a $100 million. Selling Balotelli? Well, that would only go hand in hand with a huge transfer loss at this time and would make things worse for the club. The example Carlos Tevez has proven that fact and so city will go on and hope and pray Balotelli, and Tevez, will learn a lesson, somehow.
If you are Manchester City you have to wonder on how you can protect yourself from such “accidents”. Over the past 10-20 years the clubs have increased their payroll by many times, for all kind of additional staff. What is still missing are “shrinks” on the payroll. And this is exactly where the clubs should pick up. Look at this, Balotelli is 21 and makes $320,000 a week and the female teen scene is going crazy because of him. Which 21 year old wouldn’t lose track and experience a complete loss of reality? Especially, like in Balotelli’s case, if there is damage from early childhood as well. The guy is plain and simple out of control. If this happens, professional help, a shrink, is needed. I am not an expert and so I don’t want to paint the picture of what can happen to this guy down the road. He is certainly not up for a good life experience.
For the club the mess can be over in 2 years, after 100’s of millions in losses. Making sure the players get help is protecting assets for the club and increase profits. Balotelli focused on soccer and business would be of advantage for all involved.
Providing psychological support and help and also give the players the round-up on business should be included in every professional soccer club. The players are the clubs assets and should be treated like this. If you buy a machine for $10 million and you have a problem with it after 3 month you wouldn’t leave it alone, wouldn’t you? You would make sure the problem is solved and the machine maintained and the thing can produce for you. Yes, soccer players are humans, but very expensive humans and very often very sensitive. Physical fitness is just the half of the preparation for a season. If you neglect mental health, you will never have 100%.