Poor results as market moves the goalposts

August 22, 2013

Allow me, as a former Millwall and Queens Park Rangers footballer, to expand on your editorial on the effects of the market on football and education (“The market just around the corner”, Leader, 8 August). 

There is nothing crazy about football transfer fees or players’ wages. The world is awash with capital seeking quick profits, but there is only a limited number of top-class footballers. So, according to the laws of supply and demand, footballers’ wages and transfer fees will be settled in the market at what appear to be insane levels: one cannot embrace the market and then call it crazy. 

The Barclays Premier League’s chief source of revenue is television advertising targeting a global audience: a club dependent on ticket receipts alone will not survive. Many of the lower-division clubs are struggling financially. State schools have sold off their playing fields because of the government’s austerity policies, a fact that badly affects the supply of homegrown talent. In many top clubs, English players are in a minority, resulting in poor results in international competitions.

The effects of the market on education will be equally bad. If pedagogy is treated like a commodity, standards, by definition, will fall. Postgraduates will teach undergraduates as lecturers concentrate on research. Donations will be accepted from questionable sources and student enrolment figures will be massaged for funding. Satisfaction levels for international students at British universities are falling, with the UK ranking 13th in Europe behind the Republic of Ireland (“Welcome to the UK: student satisfaction not guaranteed”, News, 8 August): Home Office immigration policies, together with uncapped fees, will ultimately divert them elsewhere.

Attempting to introduce the market into what are essentially social activities will only devalue both.

Patrick Brady
Senior lecturer in social and economic studies (retired) 
London Metropolitan University

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