Are Footballers Paid Too Much?

Football has found itself once again at the center of a media storm this week as critics have been quick to lambast players for their perceived failure to adhere to social distancing on the pitch.

The same criticism it must be said, which was not levelled at professional rugby players as they crouched, touched and engaged in the Autumn Nations Cup.

The criticism which is so often levelled at football feels increasingly as though it comes from a place of classism, particularly in the United Kingdom. These young working-class footballers who have devoted their entire young life to their profession and are seemingly begrudged the financial rewards that their endeavors entitle them to.

In the following sections we will debunk the many myths surrounding a footballer’s wages and attempt to conclusively answer whether they are paid too much or not.

The Top 1%

When someone wants to bemoan the amount of money that footballers make, they invariably pluck an example from the top 1%. No-one will start that argument by highlighting Fleetwood Town winger Wes Burns who earns £72,000 a year before tax.

No, it’s far easier to point to someone like Lionel Messi, who earned £26 million from his basic salary last year. On the face of it, the wages earned by the top 1% in football by stars such as Messi look preposterous.

However, when you factor in the money that Lionel Messi has generated for Barcelona over the years, his salary doesn’t look anywhere near as preposterous. Between 2018 and 2019 Barcelona generated almost $1 billion in revenues.

The majority of that (84%) came from broadcasting rights and commercial deals which were undoubtedly as lucrative as they were because of Lionel Messi. Had the famous number 10 shirt been worn by Wes Burns, Barcelona’s revenues would have been nowhere as high.

It could be argued in fact, that the top 1% of footballers do not earn enough considering the value that they bring to their clubs. Players and players alone fuel the influx of cash into the sport that comes from football betting, broadcast rights and commercial deals.

There are People Struggling

In the Spring of 2020 Health Minister Matt Hancock stuck the boot into footballers when he said, “I think the first thing that Premier League footballers can do is make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part.”

At the heart of Hancock’s argument was the belief that people in this country were struggling financially, and as such footballers should recognize that and donate a portion of their salaries to the NHS. What Hancock was effectively outlining was a fair taxation system, something which is already in place.

Every person in the UK who earns over £50,001 a year must pay a minimum of 40% tax on earnings over that threshold, which includes the majority of Premier League footballers. As a result of this tax limit, Premier League footballers paid over £1.3 billion in tax last year.

And that is considerably more than Somerset Capital Management – a fund management company partly owned by Jacob Rees-Mogg – paid last year despite holding over $7 billion in assets. It is also a lot more than billionaire Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft has ever paid in tax.

Double standards and self-interest aside, it is clear to see that the argument that footballers should be doing more people who are struggling is facile. That is the job of the government, not individuals.

The fact that Premier League players bandied together under the #PlayersInitiative last year to donate £200 million to the NHS should be seen as a shocking indictment of the government. If the health service was funded properly in the first place, it would not have to rely on the generosity of sportsmen.

Football isn’t a Job for Life

When we think of footballers and their wages, we usually cast our minds to the top players in the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A or the Bundesliga. In reality, life for the average footballer is usually spent in the lower divisions.

Down there the wages do not even come close to those earned by Messi or Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. As alluded to earlier in the article, the average League One footballer like Wes Burns earns between £50,000 and £100,000 a year.

Those earnings are limited too, with most footballers earning salaries like that in the middle of their careers. When they are starting out in the game their wages are markedly lower, and likewise when they are nearing the end of their careers, their wages drop off too.

This means that the average footballer has roughly 5-7 years of top earning potential, for a career that has required far more work and dedication than similarly paid career paths.

For example, to become a doctor you have to dedicate 7 years of study and hard work to be earning as much as a League One footballer. From this point on, earning potential remains pretty stable for 30 or 40 years.

Whereas footballers, who have dedicated their lives to the game from as early an age as 6 or 7, only have half a dozen years of high earning potential. After this, when they retire, they are left with no transferrable skills and as a result, very limited career paths.

To say that the wages of average footballers are inflated is to do a disservice to the footballers who have put in the effort to get to where they are.

In Summary

Footballers are in general paid well for the work they do, but their salary is often commensurate to their skill and market value. At the top of the scale, huge commercial entities like Messi and Cristiano- just think of the CR7 brand- bring in more in terms of revenues than they take out in salaries.

Lower down the scale, footballers are rewarded for their life commitment to the game with good salaries that correlate to their relatively short careers.

Finally, the most striking point about footballers’ wages is that the game is awash with money. This is because people all over the world adore football and will pay to watch their favorite team or players in action. Football is the main sport in most of the countries around the world with a few exceptions such as the United States…

If footballers – who are the main reason for spectators – were to take lower salaries, which ‘deserving’ person or persons would reap the financial rewards of the game? Would it be the owners or the CEO? The chairman perhaps, or the top director?

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This year, however, the winning of it meant something entirely different to Barcelona. Continue reading

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On this day: 16 years since Lionel Messi’s Barcelona debut

The date was October 16, 2004, the opponents were Espanyol and it was the 82nd minute.

Lionel Andres Messi was about to make history as the youngest player ever to play for Barcelona’s first-team, at 17 years, three months and 22 days old.

Little did the world know at that time what awaited them. Continue reading

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There’s been an awful lot going on at the Camp Nou just lately, with the Lionel Messi situation and the vote of no confidence for president, Josep Maria Bartomeu and his board hogging the headlines.

Everywhere you turn there’s something else for Barca’s long-suffering supporters to get hot under the collar about.

However, there’s one player that’s kept his own counsel. Continue reading

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After such a disastrous end to their last campaign, the football family wanted to know how the ‘new’ Barcelona would fare under Ronald Koeman.

It’s fair to say that the team did everything asked of them by their coach, and then some. Continue reading

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A time to look back on the six years that Luis Suarez has been at Barcelona, and remember him for the right reasons.

After all, the Uruguayan marksman leaves the club having become the third highest scorer in their history. Continue reading

Are there any winners from the Messi situation?

It was one of the darkest periods in FC Barcelona’s recent history.

When Lionel Messi gave notice, via an official burofax, that he wanted to leave the club, it signalled a huge changing of the guard at the club.

He has since had the opportunity to clarify why he had taken such a decision, and it won’t sit well with many of the clubs supporters.

The fact that he was particularly scathing about president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, will have irked as much of the fan base as it will have delighted. Continue reading

Ivan Rakitic leaves Barcelona with his head high

After the 8-2 humiliation against Bayern Munich, there were always going to be casualties, and not just on the coaching side.

The result was so cataclysmic for the Catalans, that if a root and branch clear out wasn’t necessary, then something approaching it probably was.

Barca’s lowest ebb of this millennium needed strong decisions to finally be made, no matter what. Continue reading

Where will Messi likely end up?

In football and perhaps even outside football, 25 August 2020 will be remembered as the day Lionel Messi sent a request to Barcelona to release him so he can move to another club. His career has so far stretched over 16 years, with Messi winning 34 trophies and scoring 634 goals.

Obviously, Messi is a player considered by many to be the best in the world. His desire to leave comes against the backdrop of a humiliating 8-2 defeat at the hands of eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich.

As the magnitude of his request continues to sink in the world of football, only a handful of clubs have a chance of securing the services of the Argentine wizard.

Clubs likely to sign Messi

The English Premier League has a strong following across the world with Messi also
known to be a close follower. This is further helped given that two of his closest friends,
Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Aguero have enjoyed great success from their exploits in
England. It is also believed that Messi spoke with Manchester City’s boss Pep Guardiola before submitting his transfer request. It should also not be lost that the key Manchester City boardroom staff of Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, also worked with Guardiola when he was coaching Messi at Barcelona.

Manchester City also stands as one of the few teams with the financial muscle to meet Messi’s salary demands. However, City may face serious competition from their neighbors, Manchester United, who are also believed to have the financial clout to seal
a move for the Argentine. While Liverpool’s boss Jurgen Klopp already ruled out a move, Arsenal and Chelsea have yet to give a response though it is highly unlikely Messi would join either of the London clubs.

Outside England, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) may tempt Messi to link up with long-time friend Neymar as they attempt to get their hands on that elusive Champions League Trophy. Other suitors that have been mentioned as possible destination include Italian champions Juventus who happen to have Cristiano Ronaldo in their squad! If you fancy your chances and want to bet where Messi might end up, look at various betting reviews like this Swedish betting site for legitimate options.

Heading home or staying put?

Messi has always said he hopes to end his playing career back in Argentina with his
boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys. However, security concerns are a major issue, particularly given the superstar has three young children attending school. Messi also believes that he still has something to give, and thus he sees the need to put the move back home on hold and instead continue to play in an elite league for a bit longer.

A possible scenario is that he may yet end up staying at Barcelona if his conditions are met and if he is convinced by the club’s hierarchy that they will try their best to create a strong and competitive side. Messi and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu currently have a strained relationship, which has been raised by more than one source as one of
the reasons why he wants to leave. A major hurdle that may prevent the Argentinian from leaving is the legal battles likely to come up. Messi had a contract that would have allowed him to leave for free in June this year.

However, some in Barcelona believe that the clause has expired, leaving Messi under contract until 2021. Any effort to take him away from Barcelona would have to be met with a 700 million buy-out clause, which obviously would be a world record.

Will he stay, or will he go?