World Football Debate: Are Footballers Paid Too Much?

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2011

Chelsea paid Liverpool £50 million for Fernando Torres in January, but that doesn't include the reported £200,000 they pay him a week.
Chelsea paid Liverpool £50 million for Fernando Torres in January, but that doesn't include the reported £200,000 they pay him a week.Michael Regan/Getty Images

In the case of Stephen Ireland, yes. But in the case of more sane footballers, have their weekly wages gotten out of control?

In general, money in football has gone a little crazy.  

After each transfer window closes, the main topic of discussion is centered not so much on who went where, but for how much. Fernando Torres cost Chelsea £50 million and it cost Liverpool £35 million for Andy Carroll as a replacement this past January, but that's not all the clubs had to shell out to get their guys. 

Football has come a very long way in recent decades, especially when it comes to transfer fees, but even more so when it comes to footballers’ salaries.

Several decades ago, professional footballers weren’t getting paid much more than their average countrymen, but today, if a footballer is making £50,000 a week, he’s on the low end of the scale.

For the stars, that’s not even where most of their money comes from. Footballers such as Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and more all make a substantial amount of their income from endorsement deals.

Many fans take offense at the amount of money thrown at footballers simply for playing a game, especially given the global economic climate.

The worst part is when a player signs a mega contract and doesn’t deliver.

For example, Joe Cole is getting £90,000 a week from Liverpool, and Chelsea is reportedly paying Torres around £200,000 a week. Cole has scored three goals in his inaugural (and I’m praying only) season with the Reds, while Torres has scored just once since his January transfer to Stamford Bridge.

Even when the players—Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Messi to name a few—do deliver the goods in large supply, their mega-salaries are still a little hard to stomach.

So it begs the question, are footballers paid too much?

Personally, I’d say it really doesn’t affect us. Footballers are paid by their extremely wealthy owners, who get their money from the team’s sponsorship and TV deals, merchandise sales and to a smaller extent, ticket sales.

It’s the owners’ money and therefore, their prerogative to spend it however they wish. Furthermore, sports franchises drive economies like few others do.

Unfortunately, fans can’t choose who the club signs or for how much. A lot of the time, we just have to deal with it.

The obnoxious part comes when the player acts like football is his job, and he forgets how lucky he is. Wayne Rooney (just to use a recent example) claimed last October that Manchester United was not ambitious enough, but then two days later he signed a five-year contract with the Red Devils paying him over £200,000 a week, including incentives.

It’s crazy how quickly your mind can change. Whether or not Rooney was actually being sincere (in which case, he’s dumber than people thought) or this was a ploy to get more money, Rooney came off looking arrogant and as if he thought he was bigger than the club and the game.

He was already one of the highest paid footballers, and he still wanted more?

There’s no way the Glazer family (United’s owners) didn’t know how much Rooney is worth to the club, and they know how the sports world works since they also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He can’t have been getting too raw a deal.

There goes your street cred Wazza.

But footballers these days have become more than just footballers. They've become celebrities, and because of that, many of them have their personal lives splashed across the tabloids. And it's not just media pressure they're under either.

Many of them get harassed by fans, opposing and their own, week in and week out. It can be a tough life sometimes. 

But they have very few worries in said life, and it's not like any tabloids have had to dig for lurid stories or pictures of these guys. The media has been this way for years. They know what they're getting in to.

And as fans, I think we have a right to voice our opinions. It's a part of the game.  

As fans, it’s annoying and sometimes sickening to see the way some footballers (or their WAGs) spend their paychecks. Buying the gaudiest outfits and accessories and decking out their many luxury cars and extravagant houses just to show how much money they have.

But it's just one of those things we can't control.

Sports franchises are making money like few others, so all that money has to go somewhere. Now, if ticket prices were being raised yearly, then I'd have a bigger problem with the players' wages. 

Both Liverpool and Arsenal have announced increased ticket prices for next season but in accordance with national tax increases and not by a huge amount, and for Arsenal, it's the first time in years they've raised prices. Liverpool also did themselves a world of good by lowering the price for children's tickets.

Many fans aren't happy about the ticket increase even if it is by a small amount, but if the money will help enhance the squad, i.e. buying and paying players, is that a bad thing? 

Money has become a very important part of football in recent years, but for the most part, players have earned their paychecks by their performances on the field.

As long as they play with heart and realize how lucky they are to be living out their dreams each day, their wages don’t bother me.

Except for the aforementioned case of Stephen Ireland. Anyone who puts hot pink wheels on a Range Rover clearly does not deserve it.


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