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I am going to be talking about the outrageous amounts of money involved in the beautiful game of football. This topic is of course a very controversial that’s why I decided to approach it. I personally feel it’s not right for footballers to be paid the sort of money they get. It just doesn’t make sense that to kick a ball you can be paid up to hundreds of thousands of pounds!!!

Wages at Premiership clubs soared by an astonishing 28% last season, despite many teams nearing bankruptcy. A London Evening Standard investigation has revealed that top earning players such as Michael Owen and David Beckham took the total wage bill for the 20 top flight clubs to a staggering ï720m, topping by far any increases in income. The 20 teams in the top flight paid their players a total of 60m a month – 75% of their income. Manchester United alone paid its players a staggering total of 70m increase of 40% on the 2000/2001 season but they still failed to win a single trophy. Arsenal plunged into the red by �22m even thought they won the Premiership this is mainly due to the salaries bill for their big stars including Sol Campbell and Thierry Henry who’s salaries soared by 50% to 61m. Players such as David Beckham are on a �90,000-a-week deal, saw wage rises far in excess of the 16% growth in income clubs reported causing many teams into massive debts.

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Leeds United was so badly affected by its 33m debts that it launched a ‘fire sale’ of its big-name players such as Jonathan Woodgate and Robbie Fowler simply to stop having to pay them. The club’s chairman, Peter Ridsdale, has been hated by the fans for selling the players, but today’s figures show the team paid a total of 53m in wages last season with nothing to show for the cash. The bill for wages, on top of the millions spent on transfers, meant the club’s losses were 33m on an income which fell by 5% thanks to the team’s failure to progress in Europe. Even Manchester United’s profit for the last season of 32m – the biggest in the Premiership – was made up mainly of cash from the sale of big names including Jaap Stam – which was immediately spent on buying Rio Ferdinand for 33m after the close of the financial year.

My feelings are that footballers’ wages are a disgrace. Clubs should not pay them this amount of money when their income does match their spending and the only way to overcome this is to charge for people like to watch a football match live or on TV or to sell good players to rival teams which defeats the purpose of trying to be the best team. I understand that clubs want to stay in the top flight and are prepared to spend large sums of money because it is a big step down from the Premiership to Division 1 and the financial rewards and potential income is much less in lower divisions. This is seen in the fact that players in lower divisions often earn only 500 a week, compared to the average player who gets over 20,000 a week in the Premiership.

So paying Premiership wages in division 1 is impossible without massive amounts of money or going in to crippling debt. If wages continue to increase at such a substantial amount then it won’t be just the smaller clubs who suffers in the football industry. If wages continue to grow for the biggest clubs then soon they will outstrip their budget, one of the worlds most popular and richest clubs Manchester United may soon find wages to be a large problem as players demand more and more wages to reflect those of the highest paid footballers in the world such as Christian Vieri who earns 120,000 a week at Inter Milan. I understand that in relative terms within sport that these wages are not as much as the top boxers and Grand Prix drivers but my question is can players’ wages be justified, and what ramifications will it have for the beautiful game?

I struggle to see a good reason for the size of the wages in football because this is a game we all played as kids in the street or our back gardens. Football is a fun game and many people would love to play for fun not money. I think that money has taken a lot of the fun and competitiveness out the game. Why would anyone really give their best every week when they know they’ll still get paid whether they play or not? For instance, Steve Mcmanaman is getting paid �75,000 a week to sit on the substitute bench and watch his team play. Reports are that he is content doing this, naturally he’d like to play but the incentive is not the same when you get a cheque for �75,000 each week even when you do not play.

The main reasons that I struggle with the amount of money paid to footballers is based on looking at the reality of life and the use of money and other jobs which are more important than kicking a ball. For example- For �15 a month you can sponsor a child in Africa or another third world country, over a year that amounts to �180 a year. David Beckham could sponsor 500 children with 1 weeks’ wages. Is it right that so much potential good is wasted on lavish living? A Doctor earns �60,000 pounds per year and works 60 plus hours a week. Top footballers earn in 1 week what a doctor earns in 1 year and yet only work an average of 30 hours a week. Is a doctor’s job more worthwhile than a footballer – I think so as football is fun to watch but a doctor saves peoples lives.

Firemen earn an average of �18,000 a year – this does not seem right. In Northern Ireland the average wage is �19,000 a year. So in 1 year David Beckham earns �4,680,000 – the average person in Northern Ireland would have to work for 246 years to earn what a footballer can get in 1 year. This does not seem right to me and makes me very angry.

I understand that if 50,000 people attend a football match then if a ticket costs �30 the club earns �1,500,000 in gate receipts. With merchandise sales and TV rights and this figure increases to many millions a game. So a player feels that they have a right to get their share of this money. This may be right but the numbers are wrong – it is not right that so much money is invested into a game, entertainment which is really just fun when so many people are in need. My Mum works in a hospital where there are not enough doctors and nurse to help the people needing treatment, I have friends who waited years to get operations and the main reasons for this was lack of money.

I also understand that players train hard and are under pressure because they are in the public eye but does this mean we have to pay them large sums of money to compensate them? Surely there must be other ways of dealing with what I believe is an excessive amount of money being poured into entertainment. When you look at the cold fact and numbers it appears so obvious that things are not right – those who need cannot get what they need and those who have plenty seem to get more. This is not fair. Already people across the football world are talking about the need to restructure finances before clubs go out of business and the beautiful game is destroyed. This will need a change of attitude across the whole of the football world and public. My Dad says it’s all about demand and supply. People want it, we give them it and they pay a price when it comes to football people appear to be willing to pay a massive price.

I just struggle to justify this when I look around at what the rest of world is like, see needs and wonder couldn’t this money be spent elsewhere, couldn’t a footballer earn say �200,000 a year and be very rich? How can a 19 year old handle and understand what it means when someone pays them �90,000 a week to kick a football?

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