April 21, 2010

Written by dandan

I was brought up to believe in the free market, that the laws of supply and demand would regulate prices and a product was worth what someone would pay for it. Which is why the cost of oil and gold to name but two, are going through the roof in these uncertain times

Since time immemorial it has also been said, that the labourer is worthy of his hire, meaning that someone should always be paid the rate for the job.

But can we honestly say that footballers meet any of these criteria?

Is there a point when morally supply and demand outstrip the rate for the job?

It is reasonable to suppose that in the Premier League (where the average salary is £28k a week), that a run of the mill player earning say 25k who can be easily replaced if injured, is probably overpaid, whereas it is far more difficult to argue that a player like Rooney, Torres or Fabergas is overpaid when judged by the same criterion, i.e. ease of replacement.

The morality of such largesse must though be questionable. Should anyone be allowed to negotiate such contracts, maximising his or her income, irrespective of the clubs actual success, literally holding them to ransom, knowing those contracts are in all but the very wealthiest of clubs, redundant before they are even signed.

The players are secure in the knowledge that should they really want a move the clubs are generally powerless to stop them, unable to afford having such an expensive asset unsettled, uninterested and a disruptive influence in the dressing room. Or should all salaries, include a standard basic, appearance money and agreed bonuses providing they meet the criteria set out below? If so where would image rights appear in this?

Isn’t it also time UEFA stopped mouthing threats and actually set some rules to create an even playing field across Europe and give all clubs an equal chance?

Limit all clubs’ wage bills to a percentage of turnover.

Stop the rich owners from exceeding these limits and demand debt-ridden clubs reduce their debts, banning any activity that further increases that debt until they meet the criteria laid down.

Make all leagues share the TV revenue fairly and proportionately as in the Premier League.

Do UEFA have the power or the will to tackle the problems head on or will they hide behind the good old restraint of trade clause as an excuse to do nothing? Are they terrified that the really big clubs will take their ball and form a true European league, as the Premier League did to the football league, when the cash cow that was pay to view appeared on the horizon.