The Mailbox verdict: Footballers deserve outrageous wages

Date published: Tuesday 26th February 2019 9:42

You know what to do – mail


Going off this bunch of Chelsea drama queens
Is it just me or is this Chelsea squad the least likeable of the last 15 years. I know everyone thinks Chelsea were always a bunch of a**holes, but they were our a**holes. With each drama queen incident, my affinity for this bunch wanes.

The mailbox yesterday pointed out that backing down during the farce with Kepa made Sarri look weak and I agree, but let’s imagine Conte was Chelsea boss, I bet he would never back down. He’d make some comments in his press conference about how he was the decision maker. He would bench £71m Kepa for the remainder of the season. He’d get sacked in the summer. Sarri handled the situation the exact opposite way I suspect Conte would and the prognosis? Everyone says he will/should get sacked in the summer.

It matters little if Kepa’s defiance was intentional or not, what matters is that with a gun to your head if you had to pick which club this apparently not-so-unprecedented incident would occur at, you would probably have picked Chelsea.
If Sarri gets the sack, it should be because of myriad other reasons not this. The Kepa incident should rather strengthen his position because the unseemly player culture which seems to have taken root at the club will only be watered and tended to by yet another manager sacking, which though virtually impossible in the modern game, should have been a player sacking.
Lawrence, CFC, Abuja


The solution
There is really only one way for Sarri to save face. Start Kepa versus Tottenham and sub him out one minute in. Might do the same for Azpilicueta, come to think of it.
David O, California


Liverpool did not lose it at West Ham
I strongly disagree with Dave from Galway’s frankly startlingly negative views about Liverpool’s chances of now winning the league and how the draw at West Ham was “the night Liverpool lost the title” and “the night we all knew the title wasn’t going to happen”. Not sure who the “we” in that is referring to, but I and plenty of other Liverpool fans are still rather pleased with where we are in the league.

I was at the West Ham game (sitting in the wrong end!), and whilst it was a depressing performance, we have just got a point at Old Trafford, in what was arguably our toughest remaining fixture, and are still a point clear at the top of the table. We didn’t pull up many trees on Sunday either, and haven’t been playing all that well since mid-December (and have arguably been struggling in terms of attacking threat for much of the season), but we’re still hanging in there! City may be the form team, but I think Salah and Mane will come good, and we are always going to be hard to beat with Van Dijk at the back. Plus there’s the silver lining of imminent returns for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gomez…

Chin up Dave – Galway is a nice city, the sun is setting a bit later each evening and it is even unseasonably warm!
Paul, in rare burst of football-related optimism, London Red


Picking holes in Johnny’s utopia
I couldn’t help getting more than a little worked up while reading Johnny Nicholson’s article on player wages being too high. It totally failed to take a big-picture view of matters within the context of the top performers in other industries.

Alexis Sanchez earns in eight hours, what a nurse in Stoke takes a year to earn? That’s not fair on Sanchez. The Premier League, with 20 teams (approx 20-25 players at each team) has a total of about 500 players playing in it. And it’s said to be the best league in the world. 500 players. IN THE WHOLE WORLD. And when Sanchez signed his big deal, he was widely regarded as the best player in this bunch of 500 stars. The top 0.00001% of footballers in the world? Probably close.

I live in India, so I don’t know too much about Stoke as a place, or about its healthcare industry. I certainly haven’t heard too much about it, which is kind of the point. If the comparison was swapped for one with the culinary industry, comparing Sanchez with said nurse would be like comparing Cristiano Ronaldo with a fryer at a McDonald’s (no disrespect AT ALL, to any of the sections mentioned here). But you don’t do that. You compare him to Gordon F**king Ramsay, who according to Forbes earned $62 million in 2018 (over three times Sanchez’ annual wage at 350k/week). The best are recognized for what they are and for what they contribute and inspire in the rest of us.

This is all before you take into account that nurses, like teachers and those of us serving our governments make an informed choice – they realize that their priorities are serving society and the personal and professional fulfillment that accompanies doing so. This was a choice they made, and it was in search of a different dream. And we benefit and are grateful for all of it.

But Sanchez also made a choice. While we were 13 and 14 or even 16, skipping stones and smoking cigarettes after school, at that age he was probably barefoot and training hard and running himself ragged in pursuit of his footballing dream. We only see footballers as they are now – superstars in their expensive kits and hairdos. There was likely an incredibly hard journey that they overcame to get here. A hard journey with no guarantee of success – in fact, a VERY LOW PROBABILITY of success. He pursued regardless. Risk vs Reward? Looks about right here. The fact is that these players have a small window (15 years tops?) where they are rewarded with admittedly outrageous wages for their work during that time, but also for betting on themselves and working for what nobody else dared to.

While we want to believe that footballers play only for the love of the game, money encourages people all over the world into football. It is a career after all. Would Sadio Mane have run away from home in Senegal to Dakar (and been allowed to stay there) if there wasn’t a treasure pot at the end of the rainbow as well? There will always be the exceptions – the Peles and the Maradonas – but would we have found Yaya Toure? Or Auba? Or Drogba? Or Sanchez? It can’t be a coincidence that in 1980 (the year quoted by Johnny Nic), there weren’t nearly as many foreign players in the league. With money came opportunity. And that’s great!

Yesterday I read that 18 yr old Diogo Dalot spent his first Man Utd wage on buying a new schoolbus for the little boys at his football academy back home. Think of the inspiration he is now for those kids – could they follow in his footsteps? Sure. Would that be great for them and for us as fans? Sure. Would Diogo have been able to do that if the highest wages were capped at 200k/year? Not a snowball’s.

My point is that football players, especially those in the Prem, deserve outrageous salaries for their outrageous achievements. How outrageous? Nobody knows – certainly not those of us who are yet to reach a similar level of achievement. 150k/year might be ok for some of us, but that’s what a mid-level exec at a major corporation anywhere in London would take home. That’s what the best players in the world deserve? That’s a joke.

Lets not ask for handouts – every major club is already doing tremendous work for society through their foundations – instead, lets just take inspiration from those who have done what we (so far) haven’t yet done. And let’s enjoy it.
Madhav (this is too long – no way its gonna be put up, but I had to say it! ) LFC


…It seems your solution to paying market rates for footballers is that we immediately introduce the Cuban model of remuneration where 80% of the population of that benighted isle makes about 100 pounds a month all in the interests of as many people as possible getting what the state (you) deems to be adequate for their needs. Highly trained doctors are lucky if they make 1.5 times that.

The problem with your model is that almost all sports leagues have experienced the same trends. In Europe we can of course talk about Messi’s and Ronaldo’s contracts. In China, Oscar makes 400,000 pounds a week. The Vikings pay Kirk Cousins, a mediocre quarterback $28 million a year guaranteed, about $1.2 million per game if they make the Superbowl. Manny Machado, a talented but flawed baseball player just signed a 10 year contract with the Padres at $30 million a year, Stephen Curry, an outstanding basketball player makes $40 million a year. The players don’t look at the amount they are paid in terms of what they need for their limited needs they use to keep score as to how much their talents are valued. That’s why you will hear some players say they want to be the highest paid this or that, not because they need the money but because it sends a message how much they are worth.

So I guess if a player in the EPL decides he is not getting paid what the market mandates he will just move to Europe or China. Unless of course Mr. Nicholson can convince the owners of the numerous teams in China they should pay each player what he tells them too.

So why should players in the UK who support a global television audience in the 100 million to 150 million range which rakes in billions of pounds for the TV networks settle for From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs. (Karl Marx).

And maybe we should apply the same logic to football journalists.
JH Aruba


…Personally I feel like the top footballers deserve the amount of money they earn more often than not.

More often than not they come from working-class backgrounds and can even come from poorer countries, worked really hard to get there and had to pass all odds to be picked, often with little prospects. Even the most bad footballers we see in the EPL was likely some sort of savant back in the hometown they grew up in and likely worked really hard to get where they are. The path to be where they are is tough. Most of the time they did not inherit anything from anyone or even have any advantages, just kids with dreams ans working hard for it.

They play the most popular sport in the world in an extremely competitive field, often at peak physical form while being seen and harassed by millions with every single small mistaken can then then from a good player to someone should never be allowed to kick a ball by armchairs on Twitter.

Do they have more than enough to live comfortably? Yes, but a lot of us in our regular jobs use whatever leverage we can to gain money from our employers where it be unions or other job offers. Footballers earn a lot but they’re doing what reasonably human beings do and are giving a lot of what we would do when negotiating our salaries. Yes, plenty of people in the world also suffer and work hard and don’t get paid as much but that doesn’t mean we punish those few that were fortunate to do that and find some good fortune.

Remember mostly these aren’t spoiled children being fed a silver spoon, they clawed their way there in a job that few people can do.

If you think the price of top football is not worth it then like John Nic suggested, you should not be buying it. Seriously, its football and while its great its not food, water or medicine. Vote with your wallet.
Yaru, Malaysia


…The always engaging John Nicholson laments the high wages earned by footballers, and he has every right to do so. However, any analysis of the situation is incomplete unless it figures out what to do with the money left over after we limit player salaries. The amount of revenue earned by the club from sponsorships, broadcasting, tickets and so forth is determined by the (more or less) free market. It only seems fair to allow the players to participate in the same system and extract whatever wages the football market will bear. Otherwise, it will just mean even vaster sums of money going to the owners. If Johnny thinks the players are wealthy enough, then surely that criticism can be levelled against the owners, too.
Cameron, Toronto


…I’m a little late to respond to John Nic’s column on footballers wages, but maybe you can squeeze another reply in.

I’ve read John’s work for almost two decades now and I’ve feel like I have grown up on his unique entertaining blend of social ethics and frankly entertaining and obscene behaviour during early adulthood, if you don’t mind me saying so.

However, I just don’t agree with most of what he said except for perhaps some of the last paragraph. In part, this is because I have now grown up a little and my own personal politics has veered from left to centrist (go Tiggers!) but also because ironically, unless the whole entire global economic system changes, limiting player wages reduces worker empowerment. In the current football model, the football players are the blue-collar workers, and its the share-holders, the stake-holders, the board, the sponsors and even the agents who represent the executive class I.e. the white collar workers.

I would much rather see footballers get huge pay-rises than the executive class. What’s wrong with young lads often from the most deprived backgrounds in the UK and around the world, who have shown herculean effort and promise earning astronomical wages? Let them have their cake and eat it, I would rather they than old-money board members with no skin in the game except their own jobs. That would just further widen the equality gap, and we can all argue that’s a bad thing.

I also question whatever studies that say happiness tails off at £57k. For anyone living in the South of England with kids and a mortgage, that really isn’t a huge salary and I of course apologise if that sounds entitled or greedy.

Perhaps the main point I want to make is that football clubs should be viewed as the national institutions that they are, and as alluded to in John’s last paragraph, should be used as a vehicle for community improvement. This could be done via a variety of methods which I’m sure someone more informed than I could suggest, but perhaps involving certain tax-reliefs on player wages so clubs don’t lose their competitive edge, together with a government mandated football investment fund that gives ministerial-level powers to ensure a proportion of funds are directed to community projects. If successful, you might even see other governments with failing economies but with popular football clubs (Spain/Italy?) milk their own cash cows (and why not, at least it goes to the treasury) for the benefit of the community.
Samwise, MUFC


Finding solace in the Championship
I’m verging on quitting Sky. I don’t feel like I’m get my money’s worth and I’m sick of the never ending pit of cash swirling around football like some immoral black hole sucking in hard working, lower earning, honest folks cash. That and the rest of it is crap: here’s a new film, pay another £10+ on top of your already ludicrous subscription.

Sunday’s mega clashes did help. Got back home at 1357, just in time to settle down for the biggest game in English football. As an Arsenal fan I had zero invested in either team, other than not particularly liking Liverpool. But if they’d have won I’d have not given a toss – all I wanted was a decent game. Well, we got served up a huge pile of stinking pap that was an embarrassment: to Liverpool more than Utd as Utd had mitigating reasons (although several muscular injuries in one half = medical department needs looking at). Liverpool were just downright awful. Shocking.

Then Chelsea vs City. Marginally more entertaining but that wasn’t hard. The most ‘entertaining’ part was Arrizabalaga and his apparent discontent towards his manager’s authority.

So 210 minutes of ‘prime’ football but not one goal. Barely even close to one goal. Worse than that, the quality on show – particularly in the northern contest – was diabolical.

Tonight I got in from work, had my microwave curry and saw Forest v Derby was on. So here I am, 37 minutes in and vastly more entertained (slightly betrayed by sending this whilst it’s on) by this East Midlands derby than any of the televised crap served up yesterday. ‘Pashun’ in abundance, not bad quality, Cole belying his 38 years. Two teams going at it hammer and tong for points towards the pinnacle of English football: the premier league.

Give me this Championship game any day over the vastly overpaid (Johnny Nic – as in his article, not the man himself) by and large underperforming, complacent wankers who turn out for the current incumbents of the Premier League week in, week out.

I realise my rant has little conclusion. I’m still vexed after England lost the rugby on Saturday and hoped some good football on Sunday from four of the top teams in English football would help. But as it happens, two former titans who peddle their trade in England’s second tier are restoring some faith that competitiveness in football is still a thing.
Andrew Lampard


Pray for Chugger
I am so emotionally invested in Diamond Geezers’ tale, I let out sigh of relief audible from three desks away at the (spoiler alert) home cup draw that would finally give Chugger a well deserved breather. If he broke down I just… I just don’t know what I’d do.

Kennedy Bakircioglu can go **** himself.

Seriously; this is the best series on your site since the Neviller Diaries. Great work!
Chris Bridgeman, Kingston upon Thames

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