Are footballers paid too much money?

Eto'o who playes for Anzhi in the Russian Premier league is currently the highest paid footballer in the world with a reported salary of £17million per annum
Eto’o who playes for Anzhi in the Russian Premier league is currently the highest paid footballer in the world with a reported salary of £17million per annum

Footballers wages are subject to heavy scrutiny, especially wages that are paid to footballers that play in the Barclays Premier League and other top leagues such as the Bundesliga (Germany) or La Liga (Spain). Globally, high end professional footballers are paid millions of pounds in wages and many of them receive many forms of extra income, in the form of endorsements and other ventures they may operate.

The reason why their wages subject to much debate is because several people, including past footballers such as Gary Linker, feel that wages are simply too high. They believe that footballers get paid too much money. The question is; are footballers paid too much? In short, no.

Manchester United, this week became the highest valued sports team in the world, valued by Forbes magazine at $3bn (£1.4). If you consider how much revenue that all top football clubs generate in revenue from all avenues, merchandise sales, season ticket sales, television rights, transfers out and so on, these institutions generate millions in revenue. So wages fall into proportion with revenues. A top player at club will be paid more than his peers because his labour is deemed more valuable to his employer. This is often the case in workplaces around the world; wages indicate labour contribution. Moreover, if a top player is being paid >£100,000 per week, it is still insignificant when you consider how much these clubs generate. Furthermore, if you look at the lower divisions, this wage model is place, but wages are significantly less, although it is the same profession, clubs in League 2 do not generate hundreds of millions in revenue, so wages are once again in proportion to club size and revenue generated.

One cannot escape the fact that we are living in times of economic woes, where jobs are increasingly difficult to obtain, so the subject of footballer’s wages is more potent at the moment. However, the more abundant your set of skills, the less you will receive in wages. Hence low skilled jobs are paid accordingly, high skilled jobs treated in the same manner. There are few people in the world that can produce what Leo Messi or Luis Suarez or any top professional can. Their skills are scarce; hence the willingness of football clubs to pay for their respective talents. So when you consider the skills that top footballers have, not many in society can do what they do. I know this may seem difficult to comprehend, especially after watching a lot of ordinary Premier League teams, but even those mediocre players are in a position where (all good fortune aside because this is certainly a factor) their skills are still scarce, even if it may not appear to be the case.

Football is also an extremely short career, when you consider that the current government is looking to increase the working age to sixty-eight and a footballer is considered at veteran at thirty five, it does put into perspective just how short many footballers careers are. From the model professionals, players like Paul Scholes, Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs, players who take pride in staying fit and looking to get the most out of the profession, the mean age for retirement in football is 35. This means for around seventeen (from the first professional contract) years’ footballers receive a salary. Seventeen years to be paid potentially millions should be enough to last a lifetime. However, this is clearly subjective, the fact is it is a short career, many players choose to leave football, some stay within, neither are as lucrative. If you were to stretch footballers wages over the span of the average working person, so from eighteen to sixty five, some forty-seven years, then their wages would probably seem a lot less crude and I personally feel they would be treated in a completely different light.

At times, footballers wages do seem like too much, but one must remember that as so long as people keep demanding football, attending games, paying for Sky Sports, buying merchandise and so on, football clubs will continue to generate millions. As so long as clubs generate millions, they’re main staff members will receive their proportionate share.

5 thoughts on “Are footballers paid too much money?

  1. Interesting article and very true. I wonder also if the issue of net vs gross income is not considered when discussing how much footballers earn.

    Also, there’s the pay model that Neymar has which is the most obvious example that it is not just the revenue of football clubs that is important. Santos, his club, chip in around 15% of his overall earnings but have waived their claim to his image rights, so he earns his millions through sponsorship deals. This means his Brazilian club can afford to retain his services in the face of more lucrative offers from abroad.

    1. With regards to gross or net, I would imagine most clubs associate wages with gross income, it is my understanding that several football clubs actually pay some player’s (particularly foreign players) taxes. And with regards to Neymar, it is true that most of his salary is generated through sponsorship deals. Whilst Santos would probably not be able to match his salary if they had to pay the reported £230,000 per week (Four Four Two August 2012) the sponsorship wages he receives are also dependent on him staying in Brazil. Therefore the respective sponsors must feel by boosting his earnings by such substantial sums it must translate to increased demand for their goods and services, so it must be a price they are happy and willing to pay. But it was a shrewd move from Neymar nonetheless.

  2. Very interesting article Bossa and one that is always up for debate. I agree with you that footballers are not overpaid and this is a similar debate to the one that ticket prices at top football matches are too high. If they were too high no one would go, and as we all know if there is high demand and low supply there will most likely be very high prices. Personally I think if fans are willing to pay extortionate prices for tickets then they can’t really complain about the wages footballers get paid.

    If you get a spare few minutes you should check out an interesting podcast on how LeBron James is actually underpaid. Its by NPR, Planet Money.

    The link is:

    Keep up the good work Bossa!

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