Footballers’ Wages- Are They Getting Too Big For Their Boots?

The recent transfer of Neymar to PSG from Barcelona has left football fans all around the world with their jaws on the floor. But the main talking point of this move surprisingly isn’t the fact that the Brazilian starlet is leaving probably the best squad in the world right now, it’s the monetary aspects of the deal that are meaning people are having to wipe the dirt off their chins.

Paris Saint-Germain F.C. - Neymar Jr Press Conference

The transfer involves a fee of £198 million for the skilful winger, but the wages stated in his new contract provide me with great difficultly in even finding a suitable adjective to describe them! I’ll just go ahead and say… £515,000. Per week, that is.

I, and probably all football fans alike, have often briefly wondered about the sky-scraping (well more like space-shattering) figures involved with the sport nowadays. And despite our love for the beautiful game, many fans find it extortionate how much players earn weekly.

My first thought when pondering about the wages of Premier League footballers, or any players from the top leagues in any European country, is simply ‘jesus that’s just ridiculously too much’.

There’s an undeniably strong element of undeservedness in the amount footballers earn. The work they do doesn’t really seem to merit such astronomical salaries. For example, to put it into a broader perspective; Neymar’s lucrative new contract will earn him £27 million per year. £3000 hourly, imagine that. It’s just a different world.

We’re all stuck in a world focusing on the ‘minimum wage’ and whether it’s more or less than a pesky fiver. And arguably most professions of working-class/middle-class people involve extensive labour compared to the average hour of a footballer.

Yes, there’s more to football than just the weekly match; they train daily too. But being paid £5 for an hour of shooting practice would be an absolute dream for most people, never mind pocketing 600 times that amount.

Instead, these ‘undiscovered potential England captains’ (in their own opinion) playing drunken 5-a-side on Wednesday nights are just scraping the minimum wage doing longer hours of strenuous physical labour on the building site in Halifax.

Just for the record, the world’s most expensive player is on a nifty little 85p each second of the day. That’s a bar of Lindor chocolate, each second… And whilst I was writing that last sentence in my creaking chair on my frustratingly stiff laptop keyboard, Neymar bagged £8.50, which is more than the HOURLY minimum wage.

Neymar could fake being injured for just one minute, and earn seven times more than other people earn in a full hour of caring for disabled children.

I have a couple more comparisons for you which will plant your poor chin on the floor even harder than after seeing Neymar’s new weekly pocket change.

The pacey winger is set to earn 190 times more (annually) than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. You know, that occupation that requires running an entire country, being responsible for pretty much everything that goes on and also making crucial decisions.

In fact, Neymar will earn three and a half times more in one week than crippling old Theresa will in a whole calendar year.

I’m not saying that the current Prime Minister is exactly doing a great job, I mean, at all (that’s something we won’t go too far into in this article)… but the job’s importance deserves a much higher wage itself.

Okay, last comparison now, I promise; NASA recently started a lookout for someone to fill a new occupational vacancy which is titled Planetary Protection Officer. In its simplest terms, this job role actually entails protecting our entire planet, and others, from aliens.

Do you know how much this pays? £115,000 yearly. A minuscule 0.5% of what Neymar will be earning.

Yes, he might score a few important goals to save PSG’s title hopes, but judging by his theatrical, somewhat embarrassing, reactions to the softest of tackles, the Brazilian human money-tree probably wouldn’t do a great job of protecting the Earth. At least he can protect his hair though, right?

So, what explanation is there for such an absurd pattern of wage-levels in football nowadays?

Well, despite the absolute unjust pay-gap between footballers and the general public, it isn’t really that difficult to see why it’s so easy and common for clubs to carelessly throw hundreds of thousands of pounds at players, many of whom aren’t even ‘big names’ or crowd favourites.

The money that is in football is basically limitless. It’s a multi-billion pound global industry.

Ticket and merchandise revenue, TV money and sponsorship money are all examples of major cash streams for clubs. This money totals to even more than the wages that are offered, so obviously the players are going to feel like they deserve more, as wages are relative to and often dependent on the club’s wealth.

It’s the natural laws of supply and demand; millions of people spend money on football in some form and therefore contribute to the funds that club owners have at their disposal.

It’s dangerous and it’s scary, though. The skyscraper-esque money tags being slapped on players nowadays is something that is never going to stop increasing as long as the football industry continues to generate money at this current rate.

Although it would be stupid to ask players to take a pay cut, because obviously their precious little boot laces and car wheels need to have their names embroidered with gold, this does seem like a legitimate method of decreasing the amount players are paid.

My personal project of achieving the seemingly impossible mission of controlling the money flying around in football nowadays like Hurricane Katrina is by implementing caps.

That’s right, limitations. Cap clubs’ wage bills. By imposing a strict, lower maximum limit on how much a club can spend on players’ wages would directly lower the pay-gap between footballers and the general public.

The cap should be the same for every team in a league, but differ by league. For example, Championship clubs should have a wage bill limit which is higher than League 1 clubs’ but lower than those of the Premier division.

This still allows some freedom and provides yet more incentive to gain promotion.

Furthermore, clubs of the highest division naturally can’t avoid a higher wage bill as those clubs do gain more attention from sponsors and TV, as well as more ticket sales in their higher-capacity stadiums. Not to mention the fact that the top divisions tend to have more balloon-headed players who will simply demand higher salaries. Not to name any names though, that would be har(oss Barkley)sh of me and j(ohn Stones)ust unnecessar(aheem Sterling)y.

Fortunately though, this would protect football from the immorality and disloyalty that is too commonly seen in the modern game, as more players would be playing for a team because they want to, not just because a club is offering more money.

Of course, there is no denying that the players do still deserve a wage which is higher than that of the average worker, as they are in a role which involves high-intensity entertainment. They are watched by millions of people, not only their on-pitch performances but their personal lives too. Footballers struggle to go out in public without being stopped for pictures, which I’m sure would get annoying. This is just the same as those who work on talent shows and also actors. Movie stars are paid highly because they entertain lots of people with a talent they have trained themselves to attain. So higher wages are justified, just not to the level that they are currently at, especially half a million quid per week! Filthy.

However, this would then result in a Christmas-like celebration amongst chairmen everywhere, as their revenue would still be the same as usual but the lower wage bill means that their sweaty, greedy back pockets would be stretched even further. I can already envisage Bill Kenwright’s jaw dropping at the thought of this, causing gravy to spill out of his mouth and a disturbing little wobble of his turkey-like neck.
Sorry you lot, but I have a way of minimizing your eye-bursting bank accounts too. Unlucky, Mr Abramovich.

abramovich cartoon

Cap ticket prices. Cap merchandise prices. Cap cap prices. I love caps, if you can’t already tell.

But seriously, caps are the way forward. Last year the Premier League implemented a £30 cap on away ticket prices. This is a step in the right direction, but a very small one. This step is like getting to the first hurdle in the Olympics and just staying there. More caps must be put on the heads of revenue streams.

Sky and BT should also lower the amount they give to clubs because they can.

Chairmen can hardly complain about a lower TV money package, which right now is ridiculously extortionate by the way because they need the TV and its money.

The likes of Farhad and Abramovich, businessmen, know that any money is better than none, and they’d just have to live with a fall in TV money. Make it happen. I know this sounds like a massive hate-driven scheme against chairmen and owners of clubs. But it’s not, I promise. Well, it may be a scheme of loosening their wallets, I admit, but at least it’s not hate-driven!

If all clubs were forced to lower ticket prices significantly as well as merchandise and other streams of revenue, they would still have a mind-blowing amount of money. Just not as much.

So the owners are less filthy-rich, the players get paid less, but still a lot, and the fans don’t have to pay as much to stay involved with the sport they love.

P.S. say you just spent 10 minutes reading this, Neymar earned £511 for tweeting a picture of his new hairstyle at training. Have a good day.


James Lawson   X









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