Bale out

Bale out

Spain Soccer Real Madrid BaleGareth Bale appeared as happy as any player I can recall putting pen to paper for a new club.

He had just signed for Real Madrid. His childhood sweetheart was with him, as was his young child who, in an inspred touch, had been attired in a manner many Spaniards will recognise.

He’s had several weeks to plan his welcome speech and he carried it off much better than those who had gone before him, such as Michael Owen and David Beckham.

But Bale looked genuinely excited. This didn’t look like the usual, where am I now?… kiss the badge… pledge loyalty to my new club… transfer window signing.

And thrilled he may well be. He has signed for one of the most historic clubs in the world of football. True, a club at which expectation has long outpaced achievement, but it’s still Real Madrid. They may be living on the scraps of past glory, but they will be back on top one day.

If Bale stays fit, he will be a very good addition to a squad where there are too many players available for certain positions, and too few in other areas. A headache for Carlo Ancelotti to cure.


The sum paid for Bale is daft. But then this is football and this is Spain. A sport that has lost its marbles. A country that is broke.

Spanish football clubs are in huge debt. The entire country, were it a business, would have been declared bankrupt years ago. The shutters would be up and the creditors would be forming a long queue. Being Spain it would not be an orderly one. Everyone would have pushed each other out of the way to be first at the counter.

That Real Madrid can spend such money when, a couple of miles from their stadium, people are sleeping on the street, is itself obscene. Those of you living outside of Spain will not see the third world level of poverty that is prevalent in Madrid. You’ll catch sight of it out of the train window when arriving at the city centre railway stations. But there are areas of Madrid where young children are being paid cents to embroider clothes sold at famous European clothing stores.

That Spanish banks are willing to prop up Real Madrid when they spend 100 million Euros on a footballer is a slap in the face for the hundreds of thousands of homeowners who have been evicted by banks chasing mortgage debt of as little as 300 Euros.

It’s an appalling way to run a country. But that’s Spain for you. A country of backhanders, a thriving black market, crooks in positions of power, corrupt politicians, members of the Royal family in the dock and banks which only survive courtesy of Germany, Angela Merkel (for all she gets abused when landing in Spain) and continuing bailouts by the EU. Loans that will never be repaid.


It’s like handing out money to Paul Gascoigne and telling him to stay out of the pub.

But none of that will concern Bale, caring chap though he may be. He’s on £300.000 a week basic salary. Image rights will make him a very wealthy man for the rest of his life. I hope he has better success abroad than many British players who went before him. He clearly loves to play football, which is more than can be said for some players in this day and age.

I wish Gareth Bale all the best in Madrid. He seems a nice guy. Possibly too nice for the ‘me, me, me’ driven Real Madrid dressing room. I look forward to the first time he and Ronaldo line up to take the same free kick. ‘It’s my ball.. no, it’s not, it’s my ball’!

Bale will return to play in Britain one day. Though I doubt Tottenham will be able to afford him when he does.

Real Madrid have recouped around half of the ridiculously inflated fee they have paid for him. So the financial institutions that prop up that club will be content.

Gareth Bale will have to hit the ground running. And scoring. Real Madrid fans of my acquaintance associate the big fee with a player in the class of Lionel Messi. Bale may say the size of the price tag around his neck does not concern him but, believe me, it will do should he not make an instant impact on the most notoriously impatient fans in Spain.


In the land where the word bailout is a licence to waste money, those fans will demand immediate proof that the club has not wasted theirs.

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