Back in the day, professional footballers would have had no option but to study for another living that they could turn to if their sporting career didn’t work out or ended prematurely. The likes of Sir Trevor Brooking and co studied in alternate professions before and during their careers so that their life after the beautiful game would be sustainable and quite often achieved a degree or qualification that would be crucial in their later years.
The main reason for the extra hard work was the measly wages that previous generations of players received, which is a far cry from today’s millions. Even some modern day footballers feel the need to pursue a second life after football which in my opinion is extremely credible. Numerous ex-players become heavily involved in charity work, continue a career in football or in Dion Dublin’s case, become an inventor.
However, the wages in twenty first century Premier League football have risen so rapidly that the need for work after football is obsolete. Players such as Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and Wayne Rooney have wages bordering or in advance of £200,000 a week this year that would have been unthinkable 20-years ago. Earning millions of pounds a year to play football is completely farfetched but the players are not to blame for this.
The introduction of the multi–billion pound foreign owners to the Premier League in the past 10 years or so has seen a rise in wages to fight off competition from rival clubs. Take Manchester City for example, they have brought dozens of players to the club since their takeover and the majority of the players signed will have received a significant wage rise. One of the main beneficiaries of the influx of foreign ownership has been Wayne Bridge. Chelsea signed the England left back just a month after Roman Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge and the former Southampton player doubled his wage overnight. Six years and 87 league appearances later Manchester City; now under the ownership of Sheikh Mansour; signed Bridge for around £10million, once again boosting the left back’s wages.
So with a progressively increased pay packet over his career, Bridge was told he can leave City this January after becoming third choice wing back at the Etihad Stadium. The former England international will be 32 this year and may only have two seasons at the most at the top level of English football left in his career. No team in England or Europe is going to pay the same wage to Bridge that he is receiving in Manchester at the moment so why would he want to leave?
Professional footballers will only have around 12-15 years in the game and so is it not expected that they will try and earn as much money as possible in that time before early retirement? Some will obviously jump on the bandwagon that the players are just greedy but I don’t feel they are to blame and although playing football should be their goal, being paid as much as possible to do so in a short space of time has got to be understandable.
Admittedly the players do not deserve everything they get and the overall debate about money in football is for a different time, but a salary cap or something along those lines would be unthinkable in football as players wages are set to increase even more if they are on the move in the January transfer window.
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