Times are hard, we are told. Even in the supposedly inflation-free world of football. Liverpool is for sale, Manchester United has huge debts, Portsmouth hover close to bankruptcy. But none of this seems to apply to Manchester City. This is a club that has just signed Yaya Touré on a wage of, it is said, £221,000 a week. I'll just repeat that. 221,000. Pounds. A. Week. Or £11m in wages every year. Clearly this is not enough for Touré, because there is more.
Much more. He apparently gets £823,000 as a bonus if Manchester City qualify for the Champions League, and £412,000 if they win it, plus £1.65m annually for his "image rights". Oh, and City also paid Barcelona £24m.
Now, Touré is quite a good player. Not bad. He is 27-years-old and he has played 94 times for Barcelona in three seasons, scoring a grand total of four goals in that time. Last season he was not even a first-team regular. He only started 13 games for the Catalan club. Before that, he played, for a bit, for some other clubs – not great clubs, minor clubs. But he is now, officially, the highest-paid player in the Premier League.
During the global financial crisis, quite rightly, a lot of people got very angry about the amount of money earned by bankers. There was a moral outcry. People were up in arms. The government threatened to step in. But it seems that football lives in a kind of alternative world, cut off from the realities of society, cuts in public services, banking meltdown and belt-tightening.
In football, the sky is the limit. When Bryan Robson became the first £1,000-a-week footballer in 1981, there was outrage in the land. I remember fans singing "what a waste of money" at Robson during games. Now, nobody even notices.
There are two possible reactions to the news of Touré's contract. One is simply to shrug your shoulders and say: "That's how the market works." The other is disbelief. An average player on £221,000 a week! Football has clearly gone mad, and nobody is doing anything to stop this madness.
Football has no wage cap, unlike the wealthiest sports in the US. Clubs can pay what they like, buy who they like, sell who they like. In Italy they have a name for this. Financial doping. But Touré's wages also pose a moral dilemma for all of us. How can such excess ever be justified in the name of football? Should we not feel ashamed to even watch football next season, as schools and hospitals close down and students are denied university places?
Yet there is very little we can do about this madness. Even if every fan in the UK were to tear up their season tickets, or stop watching Sky, it wouldn't make any difference to Manchester City's finances, which are totally unconnected with the sport, or its supporters. Football is a global phenomenon, where the game itself counts for little or nothing. The Premier League's bloated stars have almost all been flops at the World Cup, but their wages will remain at their current, absurd levels. Football, as it once was, is dead, but the show goes on, and on.
Recently, 43 clubs in France's top football leagues have threatened to go on strike should the proposed "millionaire tax" have effect on footballers.
This will essentially force employers to tax 75% of their employees' wages if they are above a million euros.
After a survey was taken by Tilder-LCI-Opinionway it was discovered that 85% of the people that were interviewed were in favour of this law, while 82% thought that the proposed strike is unjustified. Taking everything into consideration, at the heart of this issue is the main argument: "Are footballers overpaid?"
In a short and simple manner, the answer is 'no' and this article will argue why footballers are not overpaid but instead justify their extravagant salaries.
All footballers that make it on to the big stage have immense talent (some more than others) and have had to work really hard in order to make the grade.
It has to be remembered the number of footballers who never make it as a professional and have to get a "regular" job while their former peers are making millions.
In many other jobs the success rate has never been as low as football, you don't have only 10% of graduating medical class who become doctors, it's always higher.
Although, doctors perform a crucial role in society by saving lives (and the careers of footballers), ultimately more talent is required to become a footballer than a doctor.
For example, there are probably around 3,500 professional footballers in England alone while there are 240,000 registered doctors in the same country.
This article in no way, shape or form is trying to diminish the value of doctors, but it has to be acknowledge that only a small number of people actually get to play football professionally as opposed to other professions.
Real Madrid recently posted a record total revenue of over €500 million coming from TV rights, ticket days sales, merchandise sales amongst many others.
At the epicentre of this revenue is the footballers themselves, they are the ones responsible for all the money being generated, so should they not benefit significantly from it?
Others may suggest that with the aforementioned example, why can't a company like Tesco that has a revenue of over £64 billion also be generous to its' employees that have been central to building it?
Well the answer is simple; firstly, they have over 500,000 employees (impossible to pay each of them very handsomely) and secondly, their employees are easily replaceable.
For footballers, you have a group of 25 players (give or take) who form the basis of the team and are integral in shaping the clubs' revenue.
This essentially means that some are indispensable and can't be easily replaced like most regular employees.
For all the revenue that players bring to the club from kit sales to winning goals in championships, they deserve to have a good cut in the money or should the club owners simply get to share dividends all year round?
Usually most football players have a very short career span that lasts approximately 15 years, some are cut short by injury while others last slightly longer than others (hence, Giggs and Zanetti).
My main point here is that in other careers, you work for 40 years and then you're given a pension for the rest of your life to live on.
Footballers have only a short period to amass the all the money that they are likely going to live the rest of their lives on.
While most if them are not university graduates, what sort of job can they get after football that will even come close?
Should footballers wages be dramatically lowered, the amount of fame and recognition involved in players lives would not allow them to live a proper life.
Take for example footballers are now celebrities and can hardly get any sort privacy, they are always being photographed wherever they, and with a big financial resource not only can you acquire some privacy but can also get a sound bodyguard too.
Lower league, lower wages
Basically, an average player the third or fourth tier of the English division does not earn up to 5% of Cristiano Ronaldo's salary.
It has to be acknowledged that in football, the difference between the best and the rest is significant.
This means that when crazy figures are being listed in various media websites, these figures are only acquired by a small minority of players, not a general wage that most expect.
The lower you go in the divisions, the more you discover that not every player is paid an outrageous sum rather should the average wage be decreased, some players might find themselves in need of benefits!
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