I for one am completely bored of people who in truth know very little about football, endlessly moaning about how much money today’s generation of footballers take home every week. Firstly, it is not affecting anyone else’s life, so live and let live and, secondly, the argument that they are overpaid for what they do is simply wrong and a massive simplification.
I am not saying anything new here but it is a point that has to be reaffirmed. Football is a business and the reason it is such a big business is that it is an essential part of the entertainment industry. Any other sector of the entertainment industry is driven by money. In the film and music sectors, the biggest stars are generously rewarded for their performances. However, I very rarely hear anyone arguing the case that Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt earns too much or that Beyonce is overpaid. It is accepted that these types of worldwide superstars should earn top whack and this acceptance should be transferred to footballers.
It is not just the fact that football is part of the entertainment industry; there are other factors as to why top footballers deserve to earn the money that they do. To become a professional footballer has never been so competitive. Football is a global business and the top clubs in the world have scouts, constantly scouring the planet for the best talent. To play for Manchester United or Chelsea you are no longer competing with English players alone, you have to be in the top bracket of young footballers in the world. This type of competition is unmatched in any other industry. In the current climate, there is much discussion regarding the difficulty of getting a job and, as a third year university student myself, I am well aware of the intense competition for jobs in various sectors – particularly the financial jobs at the top banking firms. The successful applicants are rewarded with huge wages and it is well documented that the big bankers in the city earn unparalleled amounts of money even before taking into account the extortionate bonuses they receive. What is less documented is that there is far less competition in the financial sector than there is to become a professional footballer. People who manage to successfully negotiate their way into a job after university are congratulated and when they then end up making huge amounts of money it is seen as justifiable, having done so through hard work and dedication. Why is this in such stark contrast to professional footballers who, despite being labelled overpaid prima donnas, are subjected to increasingly gruelling schedules throughout the course of a season?
In my opinion, the only justified criticism of the younger generation of footballers is that they are all too often exposed in situations that they should not be involved in. Whether it is brawling in nightclubs, sleeping with prostitutes or simply making ridiculous comments on twitter, they have to act accordingly to their status. Yet, on the other side of the coin, if you threw thousands of pounds at any teenager in England they would, in all probability, end up committing some kind of misdemeanour. It is also a major problem of today’s media that once a player has been built up to be the nation’s saviour, more time is spent trying to catch him out and expose him for some past act of stupidity than actually concentrating on his actions on the pitch. Then, once the pressure becomes too intense and the players’ form inevitably drops, the media question what can possibly be the problem. For me, the English media are as big an issue as to why England are consistently failing in big tournaments as is the current trend to criticise the state of grass roots football.
The intense pressure and media coverage that top Premiership players are subjected to is further reason to justify the pay packets they take home. Each time they step out to do their job they do so in front of a global audience who scrutinise their every move. Yet, it is not only on match days that they are in the public eye. Countless marriages and relationships are tarnished by a cheating male, especially in the age bracket that the majority of footballers fall under, and regardless of this fact, footballers are portrayed as animals or male chauvinists. So, where your standard person is able to make their mistakes and not be faced with a media onslaught, professional footballers do not have that luxury and are paid accordingly.
The argument that they earn too much is outdated and quite frankly boring.
Tom Lytton-Dickie is the creator of ‘Not Another Football Blog’ which can be found at http://nafb11.blogspot.com/