(£7.5 million for golf / karaoke enthusiast Craig Bellamy)

The Guardian’s Harry Pearson
has an unidentified acquaintance with an interesting theory on sky-high salaries versus the paucity of British players starting for some of the Premier League’s top clubs.

“Could it be a question of supply and demand? Has the global clamour for British talent created a world shortage? A look at the situation abroad suggests not. British players in Serie A: nil. British players in La Liga: nil. British players in the Bundesliga: nil. British players in whatever the name of the French league is: nil. I think we can conclude that the demand for British players outside these islands is more or less nonexistent.

“And on these shores? Well, the fact that at least once a week somebody blames the demise of the national team on the number of foreigners playing in the Premier League suggests that nobody here much wants them either.

“Unless, of course, this absence is due to a shortage of British players. But a wander round the local park on a Sunday morning suggests not. No, there are tens of thousands of British footballers available for hire, all more than capable of sauntering about for 90 minutes, bellowing “In the channels, Andy”, “Communication!” and “Tempo, lads, tempo” while occasionally pointing at the spot where they think the pass ought to have been played.

“Are they then more talented than the foreign imports? Is that why they cost more? I hardly need go into that.

“We can also rule out an altruistic desire on the part of our clubs to preserve the British footballer from extinction in much the same way the World Wildlife Fund battles to save Leadbeater’s possum and the monkey-eating eagle. I can therefore offer only one conclusion. It is this: You know that a large bag of nutritious fresh food bought from the local market will cost less than a load of junk from the corner shop, yet on occasion you go to the corner shop for your meal. Why? Because you can pop along in your slippers and be back in time for Football Focus. Ease and idleness overrides financial and nutritional sense.”