Euro football giant offers stars as debt collateral, NBA to follow suit

As the United States continues to wallow in its self-inflicted financial misery, some Americans are looking to their European counterparts for a solution to its sovereign debt woes.

The same people who are currently doing their best to prevent three different countries from defaulting – the consequences of which would more than likely lead to the demise of the European Union as we know it – appear to have found a short-term solution to what ails the American economy.

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the Spanish banking giant Bankia would be using Real Madrid stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka as collateral in order to receive loans from the European Central Bank.

Bankia, along with several other major Spanish banks, is facing difficulties meeting its financial obligations.  As the primary financial backer of the highly-leveraged footballing powerhouse for the acquisition of its players, Bankia technically owns both the Portuguese and Brazilian superstars.

Ronaldo, now property of Bankia thanks to Real Madrid's deleveraging policy

Although many Real Madrid supporters were happy to hear that Kaka was going to be taken, it is unlikely that either player would ever be seized by the European Central Bank.  That said, it is this outside-the-box thinking that has a small number of Americans thinking.

Although it cannot be confirmed that any Treasury Department official has contacted the NBA league offices, it is rumoured that David Stern, the NBA Commissioner and a shrewd businessman, would consider mortgaging a substantial number of his highest paid players during the league’s work-stoppage.

Stern has already forfeited his salary during the lockout, which is believed to be somewhere between $10 million and $23 million dollars.  Add that to the sum of the thirty highest paid players in the NBA and the U.S. government just netted itself a desperately needed $500,709,441 for the year.  Although it is assumed the Player’s Association would protest such a move, it would serve Stern well for a few other reasons.

First, it is in the NBA’s best interest to have a thriving American economy when the league resumes play.  A stronger economy means more people have higher amounts of disposable income.

There is a positive correlation between increased amounts of disposable income and the purchasing of leisure items such as NBA season tickets.  Moreover, if successfully implemented, Stern can market this as part of his NBA Cares program.

Though traditionally, the community outreach program centers around the development of inner-city schools and tough neighbourhoods, Stern would hit the proverbial jackpot if the NBA was able to bring America out of a recession and keep the President in a job.

NBA commissioner David Stern is set to adopt tough austerity measures

Secondly, it would be exponentially more difficult for that player to move outside of America to play basketball.  This move would give NBA owners significantly more leverage throughout negotiations of the new collective bargaining agreement.

It is well-known that NBA league owners are not happy with the current agreement — hence the work-stoppage — however, at this moment it is difficult to see what their bargaining chips are.  The league has grown by leaps and bounds since the 1998-99 strike and the players now have a realistic alternative to the NBA.

Ultimately, Stern, as the representative of the NBA’s owners, would be doing a disservice, not only to the NBA but also America, if he did not sell his best players to the United States government.

By RJ Karas

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