Dave’s Weekly Whinge; Europe’s Economic Crisis & How One Industry Pretends It Isn’t Real
Younger fans of The Beautiful Game may not realize this but football existed before 1992.
There were teams that played every week, had household names and even appeared on television. In England, there were four divisions of (possibly) declining technical ability with crowds of fans eager to pay to watch their heroes. National teams were seen as the pinnacle of the game and foreign players plying their trade in England were in the minority.
Teams had sponsors but names were absent from back of replica kits and fans normally had the chance to wear the shirt for more than just one season. Live football on television was something to look forward to and if you wanted to watch the game, you normally had to buy a ticket to the match.
And most curious of all…David Beckham was just a very promising youngster.
I mention Becks for one very good reason. He has made a fortune from being a very good footballer married to a talentless/desperate pop singer. He is a global superstar and an ambassador for football on a worldwide basis – there are as yet undiscovered tribes in the Amazon Jungle that know that he wears the number 23 on his back and has more tattoos than brain cells.
This week, Four Four Two, the popular and well-written football magazine (the title refers to a simpler time when formations didn’t have need to be “diamond” or have a player operating “in the hole”) released its annual Rich List of Players, Managers and Owners (relating mainly to the English leagues).
I am not going to talk about the owners. They are not what I follow football for.
But I will say that if the rumors are true and that they are considering making the EPL a relegation-free league then they will find that their investments may not be as attractive to the casual fan as they think they are. Quite simply, promotion and relegation keeps the sport fresh and any attempt to close off the EPL Cartel should be resisted by every single person associated with the franchise.
But Players and Managers? Kind of important in the whole scheme of things and so finding out how much these people are worth is always interesting. Especially when you consider how much it costs for a shirt or even a ticket for a game.
For obvious reasons, I have put the figures in Pound Sterling. This is because a) the Euro will soon become as redundant as the trophy cabinet at Arsenal and b) I can’t be bothered to piss around with exchange rates – but lets just pretend that £1 equals $1.5.
Unsurprisingly, David Beckham tops the Player list – he is worth £135 million.
Which is a large chunk of change for someone plying his or her trade in the MLS. Granted, he played for Manchester United, Real Madrid and occasionally for AC Milan but it is an impressive amount for Posh Spice to be able to spend. It is an amount that is larger than the GDP of some nations in the World, a sum of money that could buy at least three Manchester City players and indicates how far the sport of the working class has deviated from its roots.
No other player comes anywhere near.
Manchester United players take the next four spots; Owen (£40 million), Ferdinand (£36 million), Giggs and Rooney (£30 million). Stevie Gerrard is just behind on £27 million and then come the lads from Chelsea; Lampard (26), Terry (22), Drogba (19), Torres (18), Cech and Anelka (16). Even Joe Cole is worth £16 mil.
The paupers in this list are players like Yaya Toure (only worth £14 million) but he is in good company with Michael Essien, Tevez and Ashley Cole all consoling themselves with this rather meager sum. And we should spare a thought for Robbie Keane and Damien Duff; both of these guys don’t play for any of the big clubs and have to make do with a net worth of £13 million each.
Craig Bellamy, a player who changes clubs as often as I change the television channel, is alone at the bottom of the list but with £12 million burning a hole in his sky rocket.
The Managers who, unlike the players, can actually be sacked if they don’t perform or achieve the instant success that characterizes the desires of the owners are slightly less well-off than the saleable assets of the clubs.
The list is topped by Fabio Capello; a man who doesn’t even to train with his players on a daily basis and is still worth £38 million.
SirAlex, arguably the most successful Club Manager of all time, has as much money as Steven Gerrard and Arsene has been trusted enough to accumulate a personal wealth of £20 million. Mancini does OK on £19 million while Sven Goran Eriksson has carefully harvested the pockets of the foolish and has £15 million to spend on as many lovely ladies as his libido can stand.
‘Arry The Badger has enough money in a brown paper bag to pay off the UK taxman if required (10) but Steve Bruce (9), King Kenny (8), Vilas Boas (7) and Alec McLeish (6) must be looking at Michael Owen and wondering how you can earn so much money for being injured a lot.
Football generates a lot of money. Especially in England and at the top level.
As the world economy continues to stumble from one self-inflicted crisis to another, The Beautiful Game (in some parts of the globe) continues to swim against the tide of depression that has affected other industries. And Football is an industry; of that there is no doubt.
Players are more than just employees or assets of a club. They are the reason for the continued jangling of the cash register and, they believe that they need to be paid an appropriate amount for their services. And there are always owners of clubs who are only too happy to take the punch in the financial balls to ensure that the club can be successful.
It doesn’t always work. There are clubs that overreach and end up paying the ultimate price – either relegation or administration. In some cases it is even worse; your club can be playing Inter Milan one year and then be entertaining Scunthorpe United on a regular basis (fans of Leeds United will be aware of this path).
But when you look at the players who are earning the most money to ply their simple trade, they all have two things in common. Firstly, the majority of them play for teams who have seen a constant income stream from competing in the Champions League and secondly, they are (mainly) uneducated beyond the age of 15. Football is their life and when their playing careers are over, they go into management or punditry and continue to earn a reasonable salary for their efforts.
And that is why it is the Beautiful Game…if you were lucky enough to start working in it full-time after 1992.
For the rest of us…we get to spend our money making sure that the players can live in the comfort that they have become accustomed to. Even if they don’t perform at the level that we expect for the money they earn.
Enjoy your Football Weekend, whoever you follow. Especially if you are outside the “greatest league in the country” (© an embittered former professional who used to earn £10 per week and as many pies as he wanted).
EPL Round 9 – Predictions
Arsenal 2-0 Stoke City More “confidence” for AW
Aston Villa 1-0 West Brom Villa back to playing limited opposition
Blackburn 1-1 Spurs Spurs should win. They won’t.
Bolton 2-1 Sunderland S’land, bringing in a new squad in close season, bad idea
Fulham 1-2 Everton Fortress Craven Cottage to be breached
Liverpool 3-1 Norwich KK continues his quest to bring back glory days
Man Utd 2-1 Man City Noisy Neighbors silenced for one week
Newcastle 1-1 Wigan Toon remain undefeated before Halloween
QPR 1-3 Chelsea A Bad Day for one part of West London
Wolves 1-0 Swansea Because Wolves have to win at some point