Why Does Football Reward Mediocrity?

Johnny can understand why some players earn huge wages but, after watching Newcastle v Villa, he's astonished by the practice of rewarding mediocrity...

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Comments 1 - 10 of (42)

east stand dave (Arsenal) says...

I'm just glad as an arsenal supporter I never have to worry about us paying big wages on mediocre players............................

Posted 4:25pm 28th February 2014

debra2927 (Sunderland) says...

Football rewards mediocrity because supporters of the game aren't bothered about mediocrity. Do supporters of Grimsby (all due respect) come out of Blundell Park at five o'clock shaking their heads and saying "Well that was mediocre. I'm going to find a fancy continental team to support". We, as fans, pay to watch our team (as has already been said above). Bolton, whom I've seen a lot of over the past few decades, lost the pragmatic Sam Allardyce and, among others, recruited that nice Sammy Lee and that nice Owen Coyle - look at them now. When they were playing at Bayern Munich a few years back, their travelling fans weren't booing Sam's style and demanding the beautiful game, they were in hog heaven. Only the media wring their hands about "beautiful football". I find it very hard to watch a game where I don't have an interest in one side or the other. I could not sit down and watch Sampdoria v Fiorentina, however lovely the football, because I know nothing about either side. However, I will chew my fingernails down to the quick whilst watching Sunderland v Newcastle. There's a handful of teams I love to watch, regardless of how they play, and I love it because it's a competition, not pictures at an exhibition.

Posted 12:48pm 26th February 2014

slimcarto (Southampton) says...

Thanks for an interesting and, obviously, thought-provoking article. I thought Roy Keane hit the nail on the head in his post match comments last night when he said he thought that the Premier League has done a great job in promoting its "brand" as the best in the world but that didn't make it the best quality football in the world. I am a season ticket holder and watch live football regularly but also watch it on TV when the opportunity arises. The other weekend there was a free day's access to BT Sports via my Virgin subscription so I watched as much European football as was available. I recorded the Fiorentina v Inter match and watched that on the Sunday morning before tuning in to watch the Everton v Swansea cup match. This juxtaposition in quality and style of play underlines everything that Johnny was alluding to in his article. However, I'll still go to watch live football wherever I can (off to Nurnburg next month) always in the hope of seeing an aesthetically pleasing game (doesn't happen that often but there is usually something in every game that vindicates why we continue to watch live football).

Posted 11:49am 26th February 2014

SonicSP says...

Don't see anything wrong or unusual here. Some of the higher clubs have propped up prices with higher salary offerings and this translates to the lower levels as wells. The BPL also makes a lot of revenue from TV rights, and the players are demanding it of course. Clubs need players to stay in the BPL and keep the money coming. If the club misjudged their potential or the player doesn't live up, then they won't keep that income for much longer.

Posted 6:16am 26th February 2014

rocco (Wolverhampton Wanderers) says...

Great article. It's scary that somewhere someone has convinced someone else that Fabian Delph and other footballers on that pitch are worth at least £1.2m per annum each in wages...

Posted 2:21pm 25th February 2014

ajsr1982 (Liverpool) says...

The notion that the majority of football clubs can successfully operate as a business is frankly preposterous. They never have, and they almost certainly never will. They are special cases, surely everyone knows that by now? Now, I'm not someone who pays to be entertained when I watch a football match. I pay to go and see the team I support win, and if I happen to be entertained in the process, great. If not, I don't care as long as we won. The TV companies (along with the clubs) however have marketed the Premier League brilliantly. The self appointed best league in the world with its multitude of superstars. You can get this beamed into your living room for a small fortune and you WILL be entertained. It's all about enterainment and making money, right? Supporting (the clue's in the name) your team is exactly that. There has been a change in the psychee of the average football fan in that he/she tunes in purely to be entertained, with only a passing interest in the result. So John, ask yourself who is funding those wages being paid to the likes of Delph. Yep, it's you and the millions of others who pay over-inflated ticket prices and TV subsciption fees. Don't like it? You know what to do.

Posted 1:41pm 25th February 2014

BenArsenal says...

Dude, do you even understand market forces? It is precisely because the likes of Zlatan and Ronaldo get paid astronomical wages does this happen. Because footballers see themselves as footballers, they all do the same job, and (rightly or wrongly) if they see a fellow colleague or counterpart get paid more, they'd expect a reasonable corresponding increase in relation to where they are, i.e. Fabian Delph thinks he's one-sixth the ability of Rooney, so he gets paid one-sixth as much (which is still a lot mind). I'll illustrate this with business. If you've been selling potatoes for 10p each, and you suddenly get rival shops selling potatoes at 50p each (and selling well), you would be tempted to raise your prices to increase your profits too, yeah? (Just an example, don't get too bothered about semantics)

Posted 12:30pm 25th February 2014

james evinstone (West Ham United) says...

o reconcile the wage situation with the quality of the football on display, we need to distinguish between football and "Football". Football is a game that almost anyone can play all the way from kids in the park (jumpers for goalposts!) up to professional athletes. "Football" is a multi-faceted entertainment construct within which football matches mostly serve the role of weighted number generators that can be used to create and sustain narratives. The entertainment, as so many have pointed out, does not really come from the quality of the play and so the analogy that a footballer is an entertainer like a singer or actor is not very accurate. The entertainment comes when we immerse ourselves in the many facets of "Football" - the dramas, the characters, the story arcs that span years and continents. In this sense, "Football" is a vast, improvised piece of theatre with a cast of thousands (and we can all feel part of that cast). One that we can use to create a piece of our own identity, and it gives people a common language in which they can talk for hours with perfect strangers! People attend matches mostly to enjoy the feeling of being part of something larger than themselves (at least I do) and for that it is just as good for the match to be poor, or the team to be struggling (adversity always creates a greater sense of togetherness). That wages are set by "market forces" does not mean that they are in some way "fair" - it only means that they have been set by a self-organising autonomous system that is not subject to any restraints or limits imposed from outside of that system. Wages are so high because "Football" is an organism that has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years to become extremely effective at sucking up money and attention, not because the quality of the football played is so much better than it was in previous years.

Posted 12:25pm 25th February 2014

james evinstone (West Ham United) says...

To reconcile the wage situation with the quality of the football on display, we need to distinguish between football and "Football". Football is a game that almost anyone can play all the way from kids in the park (jumpers for goalposts!) up to professional athletes. "Football" is a multi-faceted entertainment construct within which football matches mostly serve the role of weighted average number generators that can be used to create and sustain narratives. The entertainment, as so many have pointed out, does not really come from the quality of the play and so the analogy that a footballer is an entertainer like a singer or actor is not very accurate. The entertainment comes when we immerse ourselves in the many facets of "Football" - the dramas, the characters, the story arcs that span years and continents. In this sense, "Football" is a vast, improvised piece of theatre with a cast of thousands (and we can all feel part of that cast). One that we can use to create a piece of our own identity, and it gives people a common language in which they can talk for hours with perfect strangers! People attend matches mostly to enjoy the feeling of being part of something larger than themselves (at least I do) and for that it is just as good for the match to poor, or the team to be struggling (adversity always creates a greater sense of togetherness). That wages are set by "market forces" does not mean that they are in some way "fair" - it only means that they have been set by a self-organising autonomous system that is not subject to any restraints or limits imposed from outside of that system. Wages are so high because "Football" is an organism that has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years to become extremely effective at sucking up money and attention, not because the quality of the football played is so much better than it was in previous years.

Posted 12:06pm 25th February 2014

Ezy_Rider says...

thierry's trick - there's two strands here which I think have got caught up. Basically, one view is that while we might not like it, the free market forces see players paid a certain wage (not many players + lots of money = big salary), and this is the most natural and efficient way for resources to be allocated. JN's aside suggests he doesn't agree that the free market in the normal world doesn't allocate resources fairly, naturally or efficiently as it is. But even if he did, this wouldn't apply to football as it's not normal business - the successful ones are all running at a ginormous loss, with extensive external input of money keeping them alive - so the principles of the free market don't apply here. Whether you agree with that or not is another question. One point I'd add is that the only thing more rubbish than that game would be a Vince Vaughan film; but the world still sees fit to reward him pretty handsomely. I'd say he's probably twice as rich as anyone who was on the pitch on Sunday

Posted 12:04pm 25th February 2014

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