Should football wages be cut?


              As leftwards inclined commentators want to discuss equality, let’s post today the difficult case. If excessive pay is to be condemned,  taxed penally , or  banned, as they say we need to do, what should we do about footballers’ wages?

              The Premier league is a UK success. It earns millions in tv fees from  around the world. It grows side businesses making and selling shirts, socks, dvds and other merchandise. According to newspaper reports, the top players are paid £5 million or more, the odd one  even more than £10 million a year. Surely the left will condemn anyone on £250,000 a week? Isn’t that part of the problem of inequality they complain about?

            You can make a case against excessive footballer pay. It is used to tempt foreign players into the UK premier league, limiting the chances of native talent to play at the highest level and to get better from the pressure of top matches.

               It requires clubs to charge high prices for fans to buy the merchandise and go the games. On a leading club site today the team shirts are advertised at £54.99, the DVDs at £14.99, the childrens’ shirts at £34.99 and socks at £9.99. These are hardly competitive prices for the textiles involved.  A ticket to see a match costs £30-£50 for each game, and a VIP package for a single game is £200-£500. If you are on the minimum wage trying to follow your club, going to the games is way beyond your means.

                 Leading footballers are said to be a role model for many young people. Yet so often these role models are dragged through the media for their imperfections – too much alcohol, a whiff of illegal drugs, too many lovers, breaking their marriage vows and the like. Some say top footballers cannot handle all the cash they are given, and seek to abuse the power money can buy.

                Some of the players find ways of arranging their tax affairs to limit how much the UK Treasury takes from their pay.

                  So why is there no continuous cry to stop all this? The left recognises how popular football is. They understand that UK fans like having some of  the best talent in the world playing regularly in the Uk league and cup. They turn a blind eye to the pricing and the tax arrangements, in order to keep the competition and the people here.

                There could be a rule that a UK side could only have one or two foreign players in it, as County cricket sides used to do. That would lower average player wages, and give local talent more of a chance to shine. There could be tougher enforcement of  a rule that if you play here and are paid here you should pay tax on every penny here. There could be a requirement that clubs make more seats available for people on low incomes at cheaper prices.

                   None of these happen, because the left seems to think different rules apply to top footballers than they want to apply to top bankers. Tomorrow we will look at the case of excessive bankers’ pay. When it comes to football, more commentators on the left seem to like the global market and the show and flashiness it brings, turning a blind eye to its imperfections.  Would the UK be a fairer and better place if we regulated and limited  footballers’ wages? How would the left propose it be carried out?



  1. lifelogic
    August 19, 2011

    Footballers are in some way different to other talent as you are limited to 11 players on the pitch you want the very best 11. So a player who is perhaps only 5% better than another might command 50 times the pay.

    Someone at say the head of the BBC however could be replaced by two cheaper 95% people where Beckham cannot. The same footballer analogy applies to celebs, actors and actresses to some degree it is either the celeb or it is not. So footballers should not be used to justify silly salaries at say the BBC, government, the EU or in industry.

    Putting aside the fact that better people than the current BBC incumbents, for the upper posts, could clearly be found for about 10% of the current BBC salaries anyway.

    In industry often the problem is a lack of good shareholder control over often over paid directors. Just as in “democracy” it is a lack of sensible real voter control of the politicians.

    We should perhaps be grateful for anyone paying large taxes at 50%. Personally I would arrange my affairs, out of a sense of moral duty, to legally avoid it at all costs. I would then use the money rather better than the state does (which is not at all hard to do). Indeed it would be hard to spent it as badly as most is spent.

    1. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      I see (in the Guardian) that 70% of rioters found guilty are being given custodial sentences as opposed to the usual 2% in magistrates courts. So perhaps the judges do see it as a deterrent even if Ken Clarke does not. Is he still Lord Chancellor
      and Secretary of State for Justice? What, I wonder, was the mechanism for this huge change of policy – was it just a spontaneous change in all the judges gut feelings one day?

      What did Clarke have to say on the matter?

      Reply: Mr Clarke still is in post. I understand there was a circular advising that sentencing guidelines could be exceeded if magistrates wished, and they did wish.

      1. Winston Smith
        August 19, 2011

        The Guardian some leftie professor and the left-wing IPPR have done detail analysis of those so far convicted following the riots. They have analysed the sentencing, the age, occupation, social status, the relationship between the relative poverty of their home address, how each area has become poorer since 2007 (a bit bizarre that one, considering practically the whole Country has got poorer), and so on. All to provide manipulated facts that support their preconceived ideas on the causes of the riots. There is one area that they have deliberately ignored: ethnicity. I wonder why?

        Meanwhile, a Lib Dem councillor has just escaped with a suspended sentence after defrauding the taxpayer of £12k whilst claiming benefits and being paid £28k in councillor allowances. He claimed he was depressed. Expenses fiddler David Laws set to return to Govt, Tony Blair still costing us £ms, Alistair Campbell feted by the media, and now another expenses fiddler, Jacqui Smith, gets her own radio show.

      2. lifelogic
        August 19, 2011

        To the reply: perhaps this implies that magistrates would like to give custodial sentences 35 times more often than they do but are normally prevented just by sentencing guidelines?

  2. foundavoice
    August 19, 2011

    John, stop putting ideas in their heads or we will see the return of the wage councils…

    1. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      Have these all gone? Is any agricultural or other wages control still in place? Only rarely does anything in government actually close down alas. After all – all the workers are most keen to justify their continued employment on some spurious basis or other.

  3. Mike Stallard
    August 19, 2011

    Another demonstration of how many left wingers (not all – Frank Field for one) are years and years out of date.
    If only we all – yes all of us – treated wealth producers and businessmen like footballers or other members of the entertainment industry!
    How different life would be! In schools little people would stop trying to get onto the Telly or becoming like the footballers you do not mention and perhaps they might start selling and buying things like we once used to.
    Like young Chinese or young Indians, we would give them a motive to work hard and support their children.

    1. Nick
      August 19, 2011

      Remember what Frank Fields plan is. More contributions into a ‘pension fund’ so he can redistribute it to the people who vote Labour.

      1. A different Simon
        August 20, 2011

        Nick , why a cheap swipe at one of the few politicians who has shown himself to put personal principals above party politics ?

        One way or the other we will all end up contributing to paying for those who are unable to provide for themself in old age .

        The question is whether it is better to muddle our way through by (mainly means tested) benefits as we do today , or by a proper fully thought through solution .

        Lets look at the advantages of a universal pension :-
        – because pays out at subsistence level , means tested benefits can be scrapped (administration and means testing of old age benefits costs an incredible £18b/year)
        – encourages saving whereas means testing penalises it
        – provides economies of scale and low administration fees
        – would partially replace public sector pensions provision
        – would enjoy public support because everyone would have a stake in it and like the NHS no politician would dare try to scrap it
        – private pensions have failed spectacularly because they operate for the benefit of the financial services industry . A universal pension would operate for the benefit of the recipients .

        Apparently all that was too radical for Mr Blair . Is it too radical for you ?

        If so can you suggest an alternative solution or are you recommending we just fudge our way through with more compromises ?

  4. Peter Campbell
    August 19, 2011

    Wage control has always been an abject failure. The only excessive wages that should be controlled are in the public sector where there are no real market forces at work, no risk of censure or dismissal and no financial risk to the employees. Quango chiefs earning £100k plus are not value for money. The job they are doing is no more taxing than a shop assistant- less in many ways, yet they are being paid an immense amount with our money. If a football club is daft enough to pay some semi literate half wit £50k a week then fine, it’s their money not ours. If an entrepreneur builds a business that earns him a fortune, again, fine, he’s probably employing lots of people who spend money and contribute to the economy. The quango chief contributes nothing except to the chair polishing industry. He consumes other peoples wealth for no purpose and the same can be said of council executives and ministry functionaries. Cut their pay or better still sack them- the world will be a better place for their removal.

    1. uanime5
      August 19, 2011

      Just because you don’t understand what quangos do doesn’t mean they don’t do anything.

      1. lifelogic
        August 21, 2011

        He clearly does understand.

  5. A.Sedgwick
    August 19, 2011

    I prefer to watch the lower leagues and it is most unlikely that I will ever go to another PL match. It always amazes me how so many lifelong supporters remain loyal to some clubs when frequently there is hardly a Brit on the pitch.

    How about a 50% tax on transfer fees?

  6. alan jutson
    August 19, 2011

    The solution is simple, if you cannot afford to go to see live footbal then do not go.

    I used to support Chelsea many, many years ago, went to every home game for 10 years in my youth, now do not go at all, still follow them through the media and look out for their results, but no longer go.
    I simply cannot afford or justify £100.00 a game with tickets, programme, a cup of coffee, travel and the like.

    Also used to purchase sky sport for a number of years, but always seemed whenever there was a game on I would have liked to have seen, I was often doing other prearranged things. So no longer subscribe to Sky sports either because you have to purchase the standard programmes as well, most of which I can get for free on FreeSat and Freeview..

    Nothing beats live sport for the atmosphere, and for seeing the true pattern of play, but you cut your cloth.

    Life has taught me about priorities, and whilst I enjoy football, its not at all costs.

    Players wages. They get what they can negotiate, so good luck to them, but I wish they would honour their contracts in full, but then it applies two ways, perhaps the clubs should do likewise.

    Not many owners makemuch out of football, most have a small fortune, but started with a bigger one. But thats how sport grabs you.

    The only thing I would say, Is I believe all home country games no matter what the sport football, cricket, rugby etc, should be covered on free to air TV.

    The more that see sport the more that perhaps want to play it, and emulate our stars (in the best possible way by winning)

    1. lifelogic
      August 19, 2011

      “The solution is simple, if you cannot afford to go to see live football then do not go.”

      Do not go anyway it is very boring – far better to go and play the game or if you are a bit older perhaps golf, bowls, boules or just read a book, go for a walk do the garden, or listen to Vaughan Williams or something far more fun.

  7. Jack Dumas
    August 19, 2011

    Footballers should be paid by results – no win, no pay.

  8. Wandering Star
    August 19, 2011

    Surprise, surprise. An attack on the excesses of the national game is twisted into the fault of the hypocritical left. Your argument is more off the mark than a Chris Waddle pelanty. The vast majority of intelligent working class football supporters argue that money has taken the soul from the game. The wages mean that Premier League footballers’ lives are so distant from those of the supporters that any bond or meaningful link between them has been broken. If I was you I’d stick to analysis of cricket on the village green.

    Reply: Why then did 13 years of Labour government worried about inequality do nothing about this?

    1. uanime5
      August 19, 2011

      Didn’t the 50% tax rate apply to footballers?

    2. lifelogic
      August 21, 2011

      To reply – 13 year of Labour government worried, not about actual inequality, but about the uses of inequality and (absurd equality legislation) as a tool for gaining votes. By exploiting the evil politics of envy that creates so much damage and pointless ill feelings.

  9. Mr. Green
    August 19, 2011

    This sounds as though your tongue is firmly in your cheek. Football is mainly a private sector activity, is it not? ‘Light touch’ regulation has led to great commercial success. The music industry likewise.
    Luckily, no club is too big to fail. If a club goes bust we do not risk systemic contagion or whatever, and when Dr. Hook or Alice Cooper went bankrupt they were not bailed out by the taxpayer.
    Your other blogs about banks reveal the real problem – if a bank is too big to fail then effectively it is no longer part of the free market. You argue that the response to the ‘banking crisis’ was ill-conceived, as losses were paid by the taxpayer and bankers did not lose all their personal money, having gained a lot of money in the boom times. Currently the bank bail outs look unwise at best.
    I was intrigued to hear Baroness Vadera on Newsnight last week. She evaded answering the question of whose money was used to ‘save’ or ‘rescue’ the banks. Ours the taxpayers’ of course. The more bank shares plunge, the worse these rescue deals look. If market forces are not allowed to act, we’ll end up with a planned economy like the Soviet Union used to have, which did not turn out well.

    1. Mark
      August 19, 2011

      I think that some of the loans used to finance football clubs could have a material influence on certain banks were they to go sour.

  10. Martyn
    August 19, 2011

    Not only does the left not comment on football player salaries, the ‘green lobby’ says nothing about the number of floodlight matches consuming huge amounts of electricity. The ‘greens’ seem content to tax all household consumption to pay for windmill and other renewable power sources, to ask that we reduce consumption and wear extra clothing if cold, they seem unable to ask football and other floodlit sporting activities to also limit their consumption to help save the planet.
    Rather like the end days of the Roman empire when, Ceasar kept the mobs occupied with brutal games…..

  11. Geoff not Hoon
    August 19, 2011

    Mr.Redwood, Your point is well made. The one difference perhaps between a high earning footballer and a business leader on £1m plus is the footballer will probably have ended his career by mid 30’s and leaves without an employer’s pension etc. whereas the business man may receive a substantial pay off, most certainly will have a well funded pension or two after a long and (hopefully) illustrious career and will probably have a few company shares to sell as and when he feels the need.

    Reply: High earning CEOs etc do not get many years in the job. Footballers can set up pension funds.

    1. Geoff not Hoon
      August 19, 2011

      Mr.Redwood, Agree with your reply but neither do top earning CEO’s just land in the job overnight. Most spend years climbing the corporate ladder and are ‘lucky’ to be in the top job by 40 but whether they get it or not they have probably done well financially along the way.. A footballer on the other hand can be in at 18 and be finished at 30. The football player will have funded his own PPP whereas the CEO will have received fairly healthy company contributions as you know.

      1. Mark
        August 19, 2011

        Footballers are not short of other career alternatives when they stop playing. They continue to earn good money as TV pundits, managers, and “celebrities”. Some even become government ministers (Pele).

  12. Nick
    August 19, 2011

    Just like MPs isn’t it with one exception.

    You vote yourself tax exemptions. It is illegal for HMRC to investigate your expenses as one example.

    (sentence deleted)

    MPs do not have to pay tax on legitimate expenses of running their offices – like employing a secretary. Nor does anyone else.

  13. Nick
    August 19, 2011

    When was the last time anyone heard a politician say thank you to a taxpayer for paying vast sums of money?

  14. yudansha
    August 19, 2011

    Too many lovers ???

    Agreed. Even a footballers hotel suite can get overcrowded at times.

  15. Alasdair
    August 19, 2011

    You might have noticed that in the last few years, footballers haven’t caused a massive financial crisis that has made millions unemployed, plunged millions more into poverty, or required a bailout from the taxpayer that is now leading to massive government cuts.

    So yeah, once footballers do something like that, bankers can be entitled to whinge about how they’re being treated differently…

    1. Winston Smith
      August 19, 2011

      A bank bail out by a Socialist Government.

  16. Electro-Kevin
    August 19, 2011

    Don’t expect any logic from the Left. Leftism is a mental illness, I’m sure of it. Their reconcilliation of superstar wages in sport is that they are happy that it is multi racial and that ethnic groups are very well represented.

    I suspect that most bankers must be paid too much and most sportstarsare getting a fair rate and a brief and simple juxtaposition needs to be made to show why.

    The key difference between the numbers of sports stars who earn superstar wages and bankers who earn superstar wages is this:

    – sports superstars number in their hundreds
    – banking ‘superstars’ number in their tens of thousands

    Clearly – in banking – most wages aren’t determined by rarity of talent and it’s quite obvious to me that taxpayers are being taken for a very expensive ride by people who have a record of making disasterous and self-motivated decisions.

    No-one should mind paying superstar rates in either field for superstar performance. The quid pro quo is that their performance justifies their profits – we should be looking for talent approaching genius at these rates.

    1. Mark
      August 19, 2011

      I don’t think you really have much data on banking superstars. The really well paid ones are few and far between.

    2. Nick
      August 19, 2011

      100K a week for some footballers.

      How many bankers earn 100K a week?

      1. Electro-Kevin
        August 19, 2011

        Point taken – but thousands of football players do not become multi- millionaires. Only a few hundred. Thousands of bankers DO become multi-millionaires.

        Surely there must be some mileage in what I’m saying here ? An interesting research topic for an intern perhaps ?

  17. Ken Morton
    August 19, 2011

    Until 1995 there was a rule in the Premier League and , by extension to the other domestic competitions, that only three players from outside the home nations could be on the pitch at one time. Players from the Republic of Ireland were considered British and not counted as part of the ‘ foreign quota’.

    Then the EU blundered on to the scene. Football, the religion of the masses, could not escape control. The ‘Bosman Ruling’ declared that the three player ruling was illegal. The money provided by television companies supplied the means by which the Premier League has become the home of foreign mercenaries that it is today.

    Everyone has their own opinion about the state of British football today but it is undeniable that the EU is responsible for changing the national sport beyond recognition over the last twenty years

    1. Paul
      August 19, 2011

      It seems as though that if the EU spots something good/running well they have to get involved and destroy it. Watch out, John, soon the EU will be demanding that all political parties on a national level be abolished!

  18. Cliff. Wokingham
    August 19, 2011

    Another example of the politics of envy.

    The prices for tickets to football games shot up when Nanny insisted we had all seater stadiums.
    Far too many clubs now gear towards the corporate entertainment side of the business; look at all the empty seats during Wembly games, cleverly located in front of the cameras, that houses corporate persons who are more interested in the food and drink rather than the football.
    I would personally not buy a shirt for my team but, to put it into context, you are buying a brand or label in much the same way as many people buy so called designer goods; I am sure the cost of the materials can never justify the high price tag, so I can see no difference between designer/branded clothing and the branded club clothing……I suspect that, whilst people are daft enough to buy such items, the price will not come down; the same can be said about ticket prices.

    I would hate to see the state get involved in setting wages, except for the public sector who are after all, employees of the state. Employers must be able to set their own wage levels in a free market.
    The state has in effect set wages at the lower end of the scale; in many areas, the national minimum wage IS the wage…..We then effectively subsidise companies to keep wages low by making up a person’s wage through tax credits to give them a living wage…..All part of the master plan to keep people reliant on the state.

    The one question that bothers me in relation to football is why is a state funded bank (NR) sponsoring a major football club’s shirt; How much does that cost to do and what is the return on that so called advertising? Why is a state owned bank (Lloyds) still a major sponsor of London 2012; are we paying effectively twice for the Olympics?

  19. Robert K
    August 19, 2011

    I would never presume to predict how the left thinks in terms of regulation. However, your post illustrates the confusion the regulation-obsessed statist. Top footballers play here because it is profitable and conducive for them to do so. If the regulations were changed to make matters more “equal,” they would live and play elsewhere. Not immediately, but there would be a progressive decline in the quality of Premiership football. More UK players might come through the ranks but they would be playing because of a regulatory bias, not because they had achieved the highest professional standards
    Top bankers and other business people make similar judgements on where they live and work. Just like football, the financial services industry is about people and capital, but mainly people. More tax and regulation will discourage the best in the business to live and work here.
    “Good,” says the lefty-regulator, as bankers and industrialists buy their one-way tickets from Heathrow. “Bad,” I say.
    The financial services industry is vital for the UK economy. It employs top talent, both international and home grown (more top players in the City are home grown than in the Premiership, I would guess). The day-to-day work of the City is to facilitate the flow of capital. Successful companies need access to fresh capital to expand, either through debt or equity. Working people pay into savings plans and pension funds. A thriving capital market provides the link. Corporate financers advise companies seeking to re-invest their earnings or invest fresh capital they have raised. Pension fund managers and savings institutions are in constant dialogue with brokers to pinpoint value in the equity and fixed income markets. Private equity investors inject capital into unlisted companies. Meantime, highly liquid commodities markets provide constant feedback on the price of raw materials. And so on. In all these areas the City excels – it is a world leader that employs hundreds of thousands of people from almost every strata of society. This is a place of hard working, highly qualified professionals, not the playpen of “casino bankers”.
    A diminished City means a diminished London. As Boris Johnson points out, a diminished London means a diminished UK economy. Sure, we can iron out the inequalities in the pay of top footballers, but it would flatten the peaks of excellence too. We could apply a supertax to the top players, but they would leave to the benefit of Barcelona and Real Madrid and diminish the Premiership in the process. The same applies to the financial services industry.

    1. uanime5
      August 19, 2011

      The financial services industry is not vital for the UK economy and could be completely scrapped without causing major problems. The most important industries are the Service sector which contributes 73% of GDP and manufacture which contributes 12%.

      Below is the amount contributed to GDP by various industries:

      Manufacturing: £140 billion (12%)
      Financial and business services: £86,145 million (0.05%)
      Real estate and renting activities: £83,037 million (0.05%)
      Construction: £64,747 million (0.04%)

      Reply: Financial services is an important componenent of your service sector 73%
      £86 billion is just under 6% of our GDP, not 0.05%

      1. A different Simon
        August 20, 2011

        John ,

        I’m not trying to be controversial but am interested to know what the breakdown of that £86billion is in terms of exports vs domestic revenue .

        You any idea please ?

  20. Robert Eve
    August 19, 2011

    I’d be quite happy to abolish football altogether.

    1. A different Simon
      August 19, 2011

      Why ?

      1. Electro-Kevin
        August 19, 2011

        Because it detracts from the really important things going wrong in this country. Football fans are quite happy to be described as ‘manic’ as in ‘football mad’ or the following of the sport described as ‘football mania’ and in very many cases I don’t think it being likened to psychosis is too far from the truth.

        Now if only we could get people as motivated and mobilised about politics as those millions travelling hundreds of miles and expending nervous energy every weekend to watch their teams.

        “Country’s going to the dogs. Oh well. Never mind. There’ll always be football.”

        It’s quite often the case that the most delapidated countries have the most fanatical football fans.

        Politicians fake football fanaticism. It’s that important. Should David Beckham vilify any politician that politician’s career would be ended – he’s that important.

        Rising house prices and football is the cover under which Nu Lab got away with so much.

        Panem et circenses.

  21. sm
    August 19, 2011

    It appears to be a free competitive market, based on skill with full transparency on performance.
    The money in football seems to come from privately agreed contracts freely entered.
    No-one is forced to utilize their services or pay for them. Indeed i suspect revenue may be dipping and the market will be allowed to correct. Im not sure investment in players is the correct word to use for clubs. They have innovated and pulled in worldwide revenue.

    Football wont pull the rest of the economy down in its current form, although banks that have lent to clubs may have problems. There are alternative subsitutes.

    Im not sure of the continued case for preferential pension rules if there ever was one in todays enviroment. The super-creditor rule seems not quite right either, neither does the use of super-injunctions.

    Look at world beating sides of the past- performance was not dependant.

    I am not sure about conduct and off-field activity – i think it has weakened with referee’s position weakened by ill discipline and possibly the celeb money effect.

    Money gives economic power and influence.

    Finally the cash machine and utility functions of banks will continue if clubs go broke. Indeed football would continue and flourish,many of the players would still play for much less and would be replaced naturally.

    Take away the banks ability to create money. Note someones earlier link NEF-Southampton-Positive-Money-ICB-Submission

    1. A different Simon
      August 20, 2011

      SM ,

      The only World beating side I can think of who did it on anything like the cheap is Ipswich . Even further back than that part of the answer was to throw money at the problem .

      When Tottenham did the League and FA Cup double in 1961 it was down to spending large amounts of money well and getting the most out of who they had bought .

      I suppose one could say Ipswich were World beaters but Tottenham were not . Sadly it’s difficult to see any room for a modern day Ipswich .

      As you say “… i suspect revenue may be dipping and the market will be allowed to correct.” ….

      What a constrast with the banking crisis where the Govt are borrowing money to attempt to prevent deflation of the housing market .

      Once upon a time that would surely have been seen as the tail wagging the dog .

  22. A different Simon
    August 19, 2011

    Footballers are not overpaid .

    Footballers do a massive amount to benefit the community .

    One of the reasons bankers act with utter disdain towards the man in the street is because they don’t feel any empathy with them .

    J K Galbraith recognised this as one of the reasons for the great crash :-

    “The sense of responsibility in the financial community for the community as a whole is not small. It is nearly nil.”

    How about sending bankers , especially those who have been paid bonuses by the taxpayer , to spend a week living with a family in a depressed town in the Midlands or Lancashire where they can see the struggles faced by ordinary people and the effects of their actions in London ?

    1. Winston Smith
      August 19, 2011

      I think it rather more pertinent to make socialist MPs live in the communities they represent. They should have to send their children to local schools in their constituency and share the same services and infrastructure used by their constituents. You will soon see a very different attitude towards education, welfare, health, crime and immigration from the middle-class champagne socialist class, if they were compelled to fully integrate and mix with their ‘vote fodder’. They work for us. They are public servants, not taxpayer parasites.

      1. rose
        August 19, 2011

        The trouble with this is that they would still manage to get better treatment, as Labour ministers did when they went “on the national health”. For some reason they always got a private room, and at the time it suited them. I won’t name any examples, as it would be invidious.

      2. uanime5
        August 19, 2011

        If you make Conservatives MPs and Lords live this way as well the whole country will benefit and they’ll be none of this workshy nonsense.

  23. Neil Craig
    August 19, 2011

    I don’t see how they can be but I agree with most of the arguments you put up against it.

    Football may be more popularthan ever and making more money, or alternately it may be have replaced its deep popular roots with a very shallow “celeb” popularity and merely be presiding over the transfer of vast amounts of money to other people.

    However it certainly has lost most of its links to its original community and individuals can no longer feel a part of them. If there are any areas of endeavour where co-operatives shopuld be the rule they surely include football.

  24. John B
    August 19, 2011

    Why does not the Left insist that lottery wins should be pegged, at say £50 000?

    Similarly why no carping about the inflated amounts celebs and luvvies earn?

    Why does not Labour undertake that ex-ministers from Labour Governments do not accept huge salaries on the boards of companies and income from speaking tours and autobiographies/memoires?

    Pass the humbugs Mother.

  25. Mark
    August 19, 2011

    Much of the money for football comes from licensed monopolies – particularly TV rights, but also merchandising. Not quite free markets for those who suffer from football addiction.

  26. David John Wilson
    August 19, 2011

    The important thing that the government should be doing is making sure that the footballers are fully taxed on what they earn. They should for example not be allowed to set up limited companies purely for the purpose of reducing their tax contributions. There has recently been an example quoted in the press where ( a footballer-ed) reduced it to 2% although he argued that he was in fact paying 28% corporation tax. Both of these were avoiding the 50% tax that he should have been paying. The authorities also need to look at how much of what foriegn players earn is actually paid abroad and never touches the UK tax system.

  27. Patrick
    August 19, 2011

    This article triggered a very fond memory.

    In 2005 when the Glazer family were in the process of buying Manchester United the subject came up for discussion on BBC’s Question Time. I heard Harriet Harman say something so monumentally stupid I actually retained a transcript of the quote.

    Ms. Harman explained the government had urged Mr Glazer to have talks with fans, the Football Association and the club in order to ensure there was “constructive involvement ”. So far so unremarkable.

    Her brain then disengaged from her mouth as she blurted out this gem,
    “Manchester United is very important to English football and the government is keeping a very close eye on the situation. The fans are very worried and obviously there is concern that ticket prices will go up and that there won’t be investment in the players.”

    Not a jot of concern about debt levels, inflationary transfer fees, wages or foreign players. Her only worry was about increasing gate prices (impact on voters?) and the ability of the club to continue to be in a position to secure and remunerate multi-million pound players such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo – working class heroes each and everyone.

    Am I the only one who sees a distinct link between her aspirations for Manchester United and the way she and her colleagues managed our country for 13 sorrowful years?

    1. A different Simon
      August 20, 2011

      I think you were perhaps the only one to have made the link .

      I have it on good authority that H.H. did not see a problem with spending beyond income without any intention of repaying the debt which was run up .

      One of the few things I agree with her about is that the Govt should not get involved in social engineering . The Conservatives do this too by insisting on recognising admirable estate of marriage in the tax system . She said it was not Govts job , whether she practiced it is another matter .

  28. Tom
    August 19, 2011

    Benoit Assou-Ekotto from Cameroon, and a Tottenham Hotspur player has said that Premier League players should plough “one or two percent” of their incomes into their local communities, a statement. This suggests that far from providing “a massive amount to benefit their community” they may spend, but they don’t donate.

    According to Deloitte’s annual report they earned £1.4 billion last year, so 2% would be £28 million.

    Before anyone queries this, it is taken from yesterday’s sports pages. Which also mention that Ryo Ishikawa, a nineteen year old Japanese golfer, is donating ALL his earnings this year (expected to be over £1 million) to Tsunami victims.

    I wonder how many will follow Assou-Ekotto’s example, let alone Ishikawa. Don’t hold your breath.

    1. Winston Smith
      August 19, 2011

      It smuch easier to donate money than give up your time. Virtually all professional football players donate several hours each week to serving their local community. They make frequent visits to hospitals, particularly children’s wards.

      My colleague, who’s son had cancer, was very impressed by the regularly visits from players to the hospital. The area is full of luvvies and celebrities, yet not one of them ever cared to give up their time to visit his child. Too busy pontificating and lecturing others about their latest trendy cause.

      Every professional football club has extensive community projects, which the players are required to assist. Obviously they have more time than us, but they do train and play 6 days a week during the season.

      The media, and especially, pretentious middle-class journalists, generally despise working-class football players for achieving financial rewards that they patronisingly deem undeserved because of their lack of education. That’s why they only feature the negative attributes of players.

  29. rose
    August 19, 2011

    I don’t mind how much they are paid or what they do in their own time. I just want our children to take much more regular and competitive exercise, and learn to excel at many different sports.

  30. waramess
    August 19, 2011

    The left are of course absolutely correct for whatever motive and should be encouraged through debate to extend their belief, as it applies to football, to all other sectors of the British economy.

    Football is an entertainment and the key to the entertainment are the players which explains the high earnings, much the same as the Beatles, the Stones and Lady Gaga who are all seriously rich as a result of their success in entertaining.

    Both the left and our present government should seriously consider the fact that there is no real difference between entertainers and entrepreneurs. Both rely on their offering to the public being something the public want and will pay for and both are willing to take a material risk in order to achieve a more than healthy reward. There are probably an equal percentage of failures in each camp and each will survive in a more vigorous manner if the State’s share of their reward is minimal. Otherwise they will where possible take measures to reduce their contribution and where it is not possible, particularly with start up ventures the states share, if too great, will almost invariably contribute to their demise

    None will work for peanuts and when the risks exceed the reward expectation they will go off and do something else that requires less risk.

    Both the left and our government have some serious lessons to learn from the way the left are willing to treat footballers; the first being to reduce the levels of taxation imposed and the second, amongst many others, is to reduce government interference in private enterprise. The answer never is, more taxation

    1. uanime5
      August 19, 2011

      Yet another right wing article that claims that the only thing that motivates people to achieve is money, money, and more money. Like all other such articles it is completely wrong.

      1) The states share of profits has little impact on how successful musicians are. As long as musicians and celebrities make a profit they will continue to perform. Not everyone goes into show business to become mega rich. Some actually enjoy performing in front of a crowd.

      2) High levels of risk don’t discourage people. If it did no one would try to become a celebrity.

      3) More taxation for the rich is always better than less taxation for the rich. The rich are not as mobile as they claim they are.

      1. waramess
        August 20, 2011

        Uanime5. Not a lot wrong with people having opinions, even though they may not concur with yours. We, none of us, left or right can ever claim to have the philosophers stone and so we each read and learn from the opinion of others

  31. Thomas Ec
    August 19, 2011

    It seems to me that this is an unfair comparison.

    Sport clubs are entirely capitalist industries, they can go bankrupt, and get minimum state aid. They should therefore be able to set their own pay and conditions.

    Banks are not entirely capitalist industries. There is clear, significant and obvious state subsidy going into every bank; all banks are entitled to use a government deposit guarantee scheme which reduces the cost of obtaining capital below market prices.

    In the event of any one sport club failing, it has little effect on the general economy or public good.

    If the British taxpayer was on the hook in the event of a sports club failing, I would expect that the regulations on how sports clubs conduct their business SHOULD be significant.

    However, the British taxpayer is not on the hook if a sport club fails. It is a private business.

    Whereas, if a bank fails, by European law the UK government is liable to repay deposits – it is a guarantor.

    I would expect that the difference between the industries is clear: banks are public utilities, and should be regulated. Sports clubs are private businesses, and should not.

    1. Mr. Green
      August 19, 2011

      Repayment of bank deposits is necessary and legally enforceable up to a certain amount (£85K?). I think customer deposits represent a tiny fraction of the taxpayer financing banks required in 2008, with all the sub-prime mortgage lending & collatoralised debt obligations etc. they had indulged in.

      I think John Redwood has proposed elsewhere that insolvent banks should have been allowed to fail, with the proviso that customer deposits were protected up to a reasonable amount.

      I would agree – the sight of Fred the Shred pocketing millions of tax payers’ shekels (many of them from the poverty-stricken) is unappetising to say the least, and gives capitalism a bad name. As do the Glazers by the way – how they were allowed to buy Man U by racking up a huge debt against Man U is unbelievable – maybe someone can return the favour somehow?

  32. REPay
    August 19, 2011

    The left is silent on footballers because they come from deprived or working class backgrounds and are audibly products of the type of education the left has wished on the UK. The Labour Party hates “toffs” (bankers) as part of the chippiness that still thrives in the Labour party. They also loved the tax revenues the banks brought and looked the other way when the boom was in full swing – even though a child could see the asset bubble and bust which was widely predicted in the City as early as 2006. Our government and regulator and massively over-rated treasury did not see it coming though…despite the vast cost of their salaries, pensions and oversight. No regulation of football clubs – let them go bust…and banks too .

  33. JimF
    August 19, 2011

    Footballers generally need to justify their place minute by minute, week by week. There are exceptions who sign a contract, sit on the bench and still scoop crazy salaries. More fool the clubs. Overall the technical skill of a footballer earns them their salary, in the way that a top trader’s or top doctor’s does. The working life of a footballer is however shorter than that of a doctor, and perhaps shorter even than a trader. Practically, I don’t HAVE to own a season ticket or a Sky subscription.
    Practically, I do have to have a bank account, and for most people mortgages are the norm. My season ticket costs are up-front and transparent. I don’t pay extra per goal scored, then find an extra charge added for the week I didn’t turn up to watch. When things go horribly wrong and we get relegated, the Government doesn’t step in and prop up our players’ salaries with taxpayers’ money. I admire the ability of good traders to predict and roll money into and out of positions; I admire the economists who have the knowledge to tinker and tune the engine of the economy; I don’t admire the folk who have moved these banks into the danger zone by reckless takeovers and expensive marketing ploys with other peoples’ money. I don’t support a quasi-monopoly rip-off of savers and mortgagees.

  34. Iain Gill
    August 19, 2011

    Ive been working with a large government dept

    12 of them tur up to meetings where 2 are needed

    most of them are rubbish

    frankly i would get rid of the vast majority of them on middling pay and replace them with far fewer good people who know what they are doing and pay them significantly more

  35. Susan
    August 19, 2011

    My friend always says “football was invented as a communist inspired plot to stir unrest in the masses”. What I believe is that footballers are overpaid and poor role models for the young. The beauty of the game has been lost in the scramble for high wages. There is no love or dedication for the game anymore, it is all about greed. It also causes sectarian problems, one only has to look at Scottish football to understand that.

    Far be it for me to enter into the left, right, argument as this was only invented to cause divisions in society, in order to get people to vote for one or the other Political Parties. In the real World, there is only what works and what does not. For instance, it is pretty obvious if you spend too much money in the non productive part of the economy you get deficits.

    The left, as it is called, do not attack football because they see it as a very popular working class pastime and they claim to represent the working class. However, the more I see of football, the more I start to believe my friend is right.

    Cricket: England’s Test against India is a testament to the teams dedication and enthusiasm, which has cuminated in them achieving the world no1 position. But do we show our appreciation in attaining such a prestigious accolade, no we do not (and I suspect for far less monetary rewards). Gentlemen of sport are never acknowledged or appreciated in British society.

  36. uanime5
    August 19, 2011

    I can’t recall any left wing commentators calling for footballers to have any special status. The 50% tax rate, NI, VAT, and all other taxes also apply equally to them.

    Also John you mentioned several problem with footballers such as high wages, tax avoision/evasion, cost of football matches, and how footballers make poor role models. I was wondering what the Conservatives are planning to do to remedy these problems? It would be interesting to hear how the right plans to resolve these issues.

    Reply: We are not proposing anything, as we believe in live and let live as long as they obey the law. That is the whole point of the article.

  37. Oranjepan
    August 20, 2011

    I’m a bit surprised to hear arguments in favour of restraint of trade by limiting employment acording to nationality – particularly from this blog.
    I find the claim that foreign talent displaces local talent in an open and competitive market absolutely baseless.
    Isn’t the strength of the lower divisions (the Championship is the 6th richest league in the world) evidence that accumulating talent raises the competitive level? Aren’t clubs incentivised to better develop talent by the additional market value they create in transfer fees and through developing crowd loyalty among the target audience of their host community? And then there are Uefa’s financial fair play rules being introduced from next year designed to eliminate the anti-competitive advantage gained by clubs sustaining operational deficits of the back of sugar-daddy owners.
    High wages in the sports industry may seem exhorbitant, but that is the result of a fully-functioning market economy driven purely by results. The same can’t be said of the financial sector. Just compare the economic fundamentals and the real-term growth rates.
    Football is the safest of safe havens because it is the most accountable industry on the planet – the distance it still has to go to eliminate corruption is an indictment of how bad things are in the rest of the economy.

  38. Bazman
    August 20, 2011

    Footballers wages should be doubled if not trebled to attract new talent. The money being found by putting all football matches on SKY pay per view at the maximum rate the market will pay. This will lead to more investment in the game and technology for watching the matches. Ticket prices at the ground could be increased to increase revenue, with people unable to afford to visit the ground to watch on TV or visit the pub and help the pub trade.

  39. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    August 21, 2011

    No – just the amount that Banks are able to lend to football clubs.

  40. pppp
    March 16, 2012

    footballers r cool

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