Letters: Reintroduce a cap on the maximum wage paid
This letter sent to the Star was written by Cyril Olsen, Busk Meadow, Sheffield, S5
Your "Monica Makes Sense", Star, June 15, footballer's wages article made for very interesting reading. In saying that the late Bill Shankley would have been horrified to see what football has turned into, it would be more appropriate to include all football fans and clubs in her remark, the only non-complainants being the footballers themselves, certainly those in the higher echelons of the game. What is a major cause of this nightmare? Look no further than the players themselves.
In 1960 the average UK household salary was just under £1000 and the cost of a pint of milk 3d. During this year Jimmy Hill became Chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association and led the campaign for the scrapping of maximum fees for professional footballers, which at that time was capped at £20 per week in the winter playing period and £17 in the summer.
In 1961 before a threatened strike took place, an agreement was reached with the Football League and clubs to abolish the maximum fees. With every player being worthy of their hire, this was a fair and justified decision taken at that time. However, nobody including Jimmy Hill in later life, envisaged the spiralling cost of players wages to the obscene and unjustified levels of today. Johnny Haynes was the first £100 per week player and this wage has now escalated into several hundred thousands per week for some top flight players, especially the imported ones from overseas clubs.
These exorbitant costs, certainly not justified on the level of individual playing skills, are crippling the game, many clubs especially in the lower leagues are facing financial hardship in meeting their players salaries when contracted to do so, play or not. It is inconceivable to compare the skills of the likes of Matthews, Finney, Mannion etc earning their £20 per week, to today's players with lesser skills being paid what they are.
Is there a remedy to this current malaise? I suggest that there is, but will the FA, clubs and players agree to it? Reintroduce a cap on the maximum wage paid. If the players do not agree let them find a job elsewhere paying the equivalent of in some cases £300,000 plus per week for a maximum two games and three hours playing time on the pitch. If all clubs agreed to this cap and refused to break it to sign overseas players some financial sanity will return to the game.
With a vast reduction in their wage bill clubs should be able to afford to lower admission prices for their loyal fans, many of whom find it difficult to go to as many matches as they would like because of the exorbitant cost of attendance.