We all like a moan about the Premier League broadcasting contract and, in a more general sense, the amounts of money that flow through the game now. That’s really because, despite their growing wealth, clubs are still largely doing as much as they can to take as much as possible from their supporters, and that feeds into the overall distrust.
Still, there are positives.
This morning, Crystal Palace confirmed the signing of Yohan Cabaye from Paris Saint-Germain for a club-record fee and the French international will dramatically upgrade Alan Pardew’s midfield next season.
There will be those who try to dilute the enthusiasm in South London by saying that Palace have overpaid for a player approaching his thirtieth birthday and that his decision to move to Selhurst Park is symptomatic of his diminishing stock. But those aren’t fair arguments: Cabaye might not quite belong within the elite group of players at the top of the game, but he’s still a midfielder of a high calibre and his signing seems to represent Palace’s transition from being a side who are just content to be in the Premier League to one who truly belong there.
Also, there’s something pleasing about a player of that quality moving to a side of Palace’s standing. Certain clubs have one eye on next year’s new television deal and so will likely spend above their normal level to ensure that they benefit from it, but - going forward - it’s healthy that a Cabaye-type can now look beyond the top-six.
Yes, any doubts about this transfer were probably assuaged by a generous basic wage and maybe this financial swelling will, in the future, prove to be unsustainable, but these kind of signings are undeniably good for the competitive balance of the league as a whole. The separation of wealth hasn’t really changed and the league’s glass-ceiling is still as apparent as ever, but the traditional have-nots - a group which Palace still belong to - now have the means to be more aggressive.
Equally, the last few years has seen the spread of a negative attitude in the lower-half of the table, with chairmen doing as little as they can possibly get away with to stay in the division. Palace haven’t really been one of them, but they now seem to be leading the resistance against that mentality - and, by doing so, they will inevitably provoke a response amongst those who have been typically been more reserved in the transfer-market.
There’s a counter-argument to that and, yes, the elite sides’ have had their own purchasing power accentuated and are now able to do their shopping right at the top of the game, but a wider distribution of very good-to-elite players is clearly in the common interest. A couple of years’ ago, Yohan Cabaye - or a player of similar standing - would have rejected a move outside the top-six out of hand, so it’s encouraging that such players are no longer the preserve of the lucky few.
Money took a lot from the game and has clearly done a lot of harm, but - even though it’s quite materialistic - at least it does provide the occasional benefit.
Exciting times for Palace.