Are footballers of today worthy of their hire?
Football fans are entitled to ask this question, especially those who can remember the top flight players in the First Division, before the advent of the Premier League and the influx of overseas players .
Forwards of the calibre of Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Wilf Mannion, Raich Carter, Tommy Lawton, Stan Mortensen to name but a few.
All of these players had one thing in common – they were all paid the then Football Association club maximum weekly wage of £20.
In later years there were George Best, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Alan Shearer, all brilliant players who earned a fraction of today’s Premier League wages for top flight players. £250,000+ per week for Wayne Rooney while at Manchester United and similar exorbitant sums for imported foreign players.
These players are paid more in one week than Stanley Matthews and his ilk earned in a lifetime career, and with less playing ability. They play two matches a week at the most, which is three hours actual playing time if they remain on the pitch. £85,000 per hour is an obscene and totally unjustifiable figure for a modern-day footballer to be paid – I refrain from saying earn. Yes they train during the week but this does not need them to be using any football skills as in match play.
Referees, while not being in the same pay category as footballers, should also earn their pay for the job.
All too often players jostle and tug each others shirts when a corner is being taken, yet referees seldom do anything about it.
They and the players should take a leaf out of the book of Rugby League referees and players. There is zero tolerance for prolonged dissent, the referee is in charge and takes charge. A prime example for older readers being ‘Sergeant Major’ Eric Clay, a no-nonsense referee – the players tangled with him at their peril.
At one match when the play had been stopped, a player kicked the ball to the other end of the field in temper.
Eric Clay promptly told him to go and fetch it back which he shamefully did – to the applause of the crowd who sided with the referee.
By all means pay footballers a fair wage, commensurate with their skills value to the team, but let sanity prevail by the clubs uniting to stop paying these ludicrous wages of today. Players go on the field knowing they are on contracts to be paid irrespective of performance – if their contract is not renewed, they have been paid enough for most of their fans to live on for life.
Busk Meadow, Sheffield, S5