Over breakfast this morning I heard the sports announcer say that footballer Roberto Kaka is to join Real Madrid for a record-breaking transfer fee of £56 million. This sum is quite apart from the player’s own prospective earnings, reputed to be in the region of £160,000 a week. And what really amazes me is that even after these enormous transfer fees have been paid, it doesn’t seem long before these top players are moving on again, to another club in another city.
I can’t help comparing it with the world of classical music, which in some ways is also a world of teams. Over the years, many players I know have left one group or joined another, sometimes moving to another country to do so, but never has any money changed hands. Transfers have always been a finance-free zone. Yes, perhaps a player may be lured by the prospect of earning more in another group, but no ensemble ever pays another to release a player. This is probably not so much a question of high moral standards as of lack of money in the profession.
I couldn’t help fantasising about chamber musicians being transferred between groups for vast sums of money. What fun to be poached every other year by a fabulous piano trio from abroad, and then to hear newsreaders say that a transfer fee of many millions had been offered for me!