furq - The wages of sin are death

So whats really wrong with the Premiership? Or football in general perhaps.

Last week I rambled on accusing Chelsea of destroying the English structure and a lot of people at work who read my article (I sent them the link..) pointed out that for many of them Arsenal were their Chelsea in the past few years.

Or at least they did until we debated the point when most admitted that our overall spend and sale record was a fraction of Chelsea’s and that we had never once been able to buy a new team over 2 years and bring that sort of unexpected and undeserved change overnight.

The papers were full of it last week – seat prices – boring formations – cautious tactics – fear of failure – lack of entertainment – but the most common theme was the cost of taking an adult and child to a match almost anywhere these days.

And why does it cost so much to see a football game these days - quite simply in my view because the wages that players currently earn cannot realistically be sustained at their current rate and wage capping can only be a matter of years, if not months away.

Footballers, we often hear, are paid so much due the brevity of their careers – what sustains them into their dotage? Well if my viewing is anything to go by 90% of them end up as pundits on TV – and if they’re Scottish and unintelligible so much the better. (How is it that a country that has such an unsuccessful national team produces so many highly paid experts spouting off on the box – but I digress.)

They can at best expect a career that will be over by the age of 35 and most cannot expect a living within football afterwards so a good healthy income that allows for diversification and investment in their prime years is perfectly acceptable and understandable.

Except now we’ve crossed that line and frequently see many, many players earning well over £80,000 per week – well in excess of £4.0 million a year.
We see the estimated fortunes of Beckham, Campbell and co and they’re so far beyond 10 times a rollover Lottery jackpot that it starts to become nothing more than obscene – especially when the money in their bank is the money handed over by fans to their club of choice.

In many respects we want our players to be and appear to be successful – to show the trappings of success. But there surely must be a level when not only does that amount of money become impossible to spend but that you are in danger of creating 10 generations of landed gentry from the pockets of hard working supporters who are struggling to pay their bills never mind hand over £50 to watch their team play.

But the real problem creeping into football that doesn’t apply anywhere else to those who earn a small fortune is that there is little relationship between performance, ambition and the monthly pay cheque. If a film star makes a bad film that flops he or she won’t work for a while – or in the first place their pay is based around box office success. Today’s footballer gets paid whatever – Cuddicini is a prime example of everything that’s wrong with the system now.

He’s a fine goalkeeper – in anyone else’s first team. Today he announced that he is not only happy to stay at Chelsea on the bench but that he wants to. In his allotted years Cech will play 99% of their games and Cuddicini will be a bench warmer – on well over £40 k per week – apart from the obvious issue of never using your God given talent why have a stressful life when you can earn over £2.0 million a year for hiding behind a better player. If he earnt £10k a week or even less or was paid on games played he’d feel a bit differently but no – massive salary play or not and his contemptuous lack of ambition combine to make up the complacency that is nurturing greed in English Football.

And even Chelsea, my favourite bete noir, are hiking up their prices to meet the 20 or so players they have who must be approaching £100 k per week.

How do the Essex Mancs feel about twisted lip and his £110k? He’ll still cash his cheque this week in spite of playing like a grey beard loon against the Lancastrian hoodlums on Saturday – indeed cashed his cheque for 8 months while serving an avoidable ban

And our Captain – love him as I do - £80k per week and given some time off 5 games into the season as he “needs to get away”? The next time he goes can I life swap with him? I’d love to be an injured Captain – watching from a prime box on £80k per week yet apparently a victim of something or other that sounds magical to me.

I have no objection to the stars being well paid – I do object strongly to them winning the Lottery week after week and accruing fortunes that outsize the budgets of medium sized thriving countries. Ludicrous as it may sound £2.0 million should be the maximum wage payable – it is still riches beyond most of our imaginations – and it should be linked, in my view, to performance, effort and attitude – even if basing it on results would be unworkable.

If wages continue as they are no one will afford to go – and they’ll go from £5 million to zero million a year – there is not one player on this planet who is worth more than £40k per week and I even have my doubts about that figure.

Players wages are like oil fields – if they go on thinking it can last forever then they’re in for a big shock when the cash cow finally dries up and wanders off to watch the local team and its part time amateur players – and probably enjoys it more.


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