There has been a huge swing in power from clubs and managers to players in the modern game. A knowledge that you simply had to say no to other clubs looking to swoop in for your most prized assets has now significantly changed where players hold all the power. A position and a level of unforeseen status that the modern day footballer can thank Jean-Marc Bosman for.
It has become an increasingly dangerous game to play: clubs allowing player contracts to wind down in the hope that they will re-sign when the time comes, but not soon enough that the club has to shell out extra in wages. Jean-Marc Bosman has, perhaps inadvertently, created a phenomenon in football, one which stretches right across the board from managers in the highest level of the game, all the way down to those who purchase the popular Football Manager series. From a manager’s perspective, at least, it amounts to one of the most worrying aspects of the job when a player enters the final 12-months of his contract.
But footballers should be eternally grateful to Bosman for the difficulties he suffered during his career; affording them the position where they have a greater bargaining tool with which to gain a better contract, or even have a say in the direction their club takes. Essentially, Jean-Marc Bosman has almost made contracts redundant due to the amount of power a player now has.
While there is nothing left of a footballer in Jean-Marc Bosman today, a man struggling financially and living off state benefits, his legacy is extremely prominent in the modern game. Wayne Rooney has been one of the latest, most high-profile beneficiaries of Bosman’s successful battle in the 1990s, landing a huge pay increase to a reported £250,000 after threatening to walk out on the club. Similarly, Arsenal have been equally burnt by their players taking advantage of the Bosman ruling; Mathieu Flamini headed the revolution at the Emirates and was soon followed by Samir Nasri and now potentially Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott.
Footballers are now demanding what they believe themselves to worth in the open market, and are using the Bosman ruling as a hammer to come down heavily on their clubs should their wage demands not be met. It creates a situation where the player can never lose, while his club can stand to lose millions in potential earnings from a player who has walked away for free. The mercenary in the modern game has obviously spawned from it, creating the illusion that players are no longer playing for their clubs because they want to, rather just pulling on the shirt for the short-term to pick up their earnings and then they’ll be off. Fans are out of touch from players and there is less a sense of togetherness and rather one of a hero potentially stabbing his club in the back somewhere down the line.
The glamorous footballer lifestyle that we see today can be attributed to Bosman: he has single-handedly made every big name star a millionaire due to his persistent fight to free footballers from their contracts when they were up, and, in turn, allow football as a business to become more parallel with any other where employees can simply walk away. It does nothing for the parent club, but it has created an environment where the employee seemingly holds more power than the people who are paying him.
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