Could it be that Steven Fletcher will leave Hibs in the Summer to sign for Real Madrid? Well, articles in the Scottish tabloids seem to be claiming that they have inside info that Real Madrid scouts have been tracking him and are willing to pay £4-£5 million for his services. The most recent article in the Sunday Mail claims Real have lined up two LaLiga teams to farm him out to and that Hibs have met with Real Madrid to discuss the signing.
Putting the fact that there are no direct quotes from anyone and that the story seems at first glance slightly fanciful, is this good or bad for Hibs?
I don’t know for sure but there seem to be more positives that negatives. Having one of the worlds elite clubs after a player who you have on a contract for the next 4 or 5 years is great publicity for the club and only hightens the profile of Hibs and the success of our youth system. If Real Madrid are willing to sign our players then no-team is too big and that can only be good for a selling club. Perhaps Benji’s much mocked comments about a move to Madrid weren’t as far fetched as we thought?
Sadly, if past records are anything to go by, little if any of the money raised by any sale would go towards improving the quality of player at Easter Road. Rod Petrie has often mentioned that one off payments can’t be used to increase wages as wages must be balanced with regular income in a sustainable business. He has never explained (to my knowledge) why some of the money can’t be ring fenced to pay wages over the length of a new players contract ie. we get 3 players on free transfers when they are out of contract. Put £1 million towards wages for 3 year contracts, paying them around £6,000 per week. Total cost £936,000 – still £4 million or whatever to go towards stadium building or paying off debt. We might even make some money by selling one of these players on – think Skatchel, Bednar or what we’d be selling Derek Riordan for now if only we’d upped his wages by a grand at the right moment. In the last few years we have had teams that have been on the verges of being able to put up decent challenge in cups and the league if only we had two or three extra quality players. That isn’t outwith our means and is the least the fans deserve.
I know the scenario above is a bit simplistic and there are loads of other factors that make signing these players a bit of a gamble. But if the board is only willing to gamble on buying great swathes of land in East Lothian and building new stands that might not be filled, then haven’t we lost sight of the business we’re supposed to be in?