What the people of Manchester think of the Kaka transfer saga

Should a football club in the depths of a recession spend £100m on a player?

For a few delicious days the front page of the Manchester Evening News has sparkled with the tantalising prospect of football's biggest transfer ever. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahya, the oil billionaire owner of Manchester City football club, has offered to pay £100m-plus for the Brazilian superstar Kaka. And he is prepared to pay him £500,000 a week in wages.

But if you turn to the business pages of the newspaper the mood becomes much more gloomy. There, the reports of closures, sales slumps and redundancies portray a region contracting at a faster rate even than the UK average. A survey by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce showed that a quarter of manufacturers expect to axe staff over the next three months.

So this week I contacted half a dozen of the people featured on the business pages to ask them what they felt about Kaka – and how such footballing über-confidence squares with a nation in recession.

At Eighth Day, a health food shop and café, which was in the news for turning a small workers' co-operative into a thriving business with a £1.5m turnover, the verdict on the transfer was scathing. "It points up something absurd about the values of modern Britain," said Brenda Smith.

"We're a workers' co-op where everyone earns the same [£7.75 an hour] whether they are a fully-qualified nutritionist or someone who does the washing up. There are parts of Manchester which are among the poorest places in the country. The only upside is that he might pay lots of tax, though it'll probably all get tied up in offshore trusts. This is indicative of what's wrong with this country today. I say boo to the whole business."

In the Trafford Park industrial zone, hard by the home ground of City's major rivals, Manchester United, the GMB union's local organiser, Eddie Gaudie, was doing battle to save 415 jobs at the logistics firm Wincanton. He was also looking askance at plans by the retail chain Argos to axe 200 workers at its nearby distribution centre, which is, in the bitterest of ironies, to be turned into a "museum of industrial heritage".

"By all means pay people for their skills," the union man said, "but it's utterly ridiculous to pay a man half a million a week in a city where the average wage is between £13-15,000 a year, not a week, and where some people are struggling just to put food on the table."

But others take a rather different view. The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce acknowledged that the club's offer might, "further reinforce the view that Premier League players are paid excessive sums of money". But its spokesman, Paul Kirkham, pointed out that the sporting economy also brings a significant amount of income to Manchester. The proposed transfer of a world-class player like Kaka could only be good news for the city as a whole.

"He's a world-class player for a world-class city," said David Potts, the retail and logistics director of the supermarket chain Tesco, which was in the Evening News announcing a £65m investment in Greater Manchester which should create 1,700 jobs over the next12 months. Mr Potts is biased. He joined a Manchester branch of Tesco aged 16 and has worked his way up to board level and a £500,000 salary. He is also a City season ticket holder.

"What a great front four," he said. "Kaka, Robinho, Wright-Philips and Sturridge, who is a local lad who came up through the club's academy". Manchester City is famous for nurturing local talent through its youth academy.

"Those who keep investing through bad times as well as good will reap rewards," said Mr Potts, speaking of his football club – though the sentiment was just as apt for his day-job. Tesco has just opened a big new store down the road from the City ground, in Cheetham Hill, a regeneration area where 179 of the 380 staff have been taken from the long-term unemployed register – and where local people were trained by Tesco in social skills and shopwork to the level where they could successfully apply for the jobs they have secured.

Success breeds success, he might well say. Which is probably why those at the centre of the few other "good news" stories in the newspaper were also upbeat about the Kaka offer.

"At the end of the day you have to pay the going rate," said Lee Shuell, who in March was one of 800 people made redundant by the sub-prime lender GMAC. He bought into a property rental franchise with Belvoir Lettings, where business is now booming in the ill wind of recession as tenants hold back from buying and many home-owners are becoming landlords, renting out the houses they could only sell now for a much diminished price.

"£100m is not a mad amount of money in a world where Cristiano Ronaldo can write off a £200,000 Ferrari and then drive home in his Bentley. It's all good for Manchester. Of course City are paying an inflated fee, but the market is inflated already, with other clubs asking City more for the players they want than other clubs would countenance."

Might that fantasy feel-good factor manage to trickle its way down through the region?

There's only the slimmest chance, said Paul Chadwick, the managing director of Chadwick Family's Emporium of Fine Foods, at Standish, near Wigan, which has seen sales soar since it won a major national food award recently. "It doesn't really reflect on the local economy; football is a globalised business. It's a ridiculous amount of money, but then again football has always involved ridiculous amounts since the days when Tom Finney [the Fifties footballing legend] was paid £9 a week.

"At the end of the day the fans will vote with their feet, which is what people do in my shop. The important thing is to keep buoyant and confident and keep the customers happy." As for Kaka? "We'll just have to hope he comes here to buy his meat."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before