How much is a footballer worth?

questions our attitude to footballers and the amount of money paid for their services

Can Torres really be worth £50m? Image: comcinco via Flickr Creative Commons

Can Torres really be worth £50m? Image: comcinco via Flickr Creative Commons

And so another transfer window has come and gone. Another set of outlandish rumours and speculation, where fans all over the country hope and pray that they can make that one monumental signing that will change their season around. Will Liverpool get Suarez? Will Torres end up wearing blue? Will Messi go to Mansfield? We can all but dream.

Of course when you think of it like that it all seems so harmless and innocent, just one month of the year where we can all get swept up by the media in a frenzy of excitement and drama. But there is a group, a very vocal group, who see all this money being thrown around and seem to think that it should be used for a more noble cause. Recently when perusing my Facebook account (because talking in person is so 2008) I found, amongst the usual status updates about people being bored, tired, hungry, pregnant or terminally ill and all the other inanities that apparently need to be broadcast to all our friends, one person who clearly did not appreciate where the cash was headed said: “why not spend the money on something that needs it like the British army, NHS, Schools, Nursing holmes…. [sic] no wonder this countrys [sic] in shambles!!!”.

What I find most interesting about this, even more interesting than his efforts at spelling and grammar, is his view of how money is distributed in a capitalist society. The state facilities named above are funded by taxation, meaning that the money a football club makes from transfers, or at least a big old chunk of it, does go toward paying for our schools and hospitals. Similarly when you hear that Mr Rooney or Gerrard is earning a hundred grand a week they’re actually earning around half that, while the other half pays our soldiers, nurses and teachers. Or possibly gets spent on John Prescott’s multiple toilet seats, but it hardly seems fair to blame them for that.

The fact is that footballers do give a lot of time and money to good causes. When they’re not at training, attending media functions or sending ill-advised picture messages to their lady friends, a lot of their waking hours are spent doing the things that they are specifically singled out for not doing. Newspapers just don’t report about the good deeds that celebrities do because then we’d have nothing to moan about. And the English love to moan. Even more than we like drinking tea, not visiting dentists and lazy national stereotypes.

There is a necessity for monitoring and controlling how much money clubs spend but it comes purely from a footballing standpoint. Many clubs are in a dire financial state; entering administration and going bankrupt, leaving big holes in their local communities. Or, conversely, they cover the massive debt brought about by overspending by putting ticket prices to ridiculous heights meaning the average man can’t afford to go. But these are football problems which need to be solved by football people, not those with a bizarre confusion as to the difference between the public and private sectors.

Charity is a wonderful thing that should be encouraged and appreciated but no-one should be blamed for spending their own money however they want. If Abramovich wants to spend fifty million of his own hard earned on Torres then fair play to him. It would be nice if he put it all into solving world hunger or curing cancer, but then it would be even nicer if he spent it paying off my student debt and that isn’t very likely either. To be honest he probably can’t afford it anyway.

One comment

  1. true. As much as I dislike the idea of someone getting millions for not doing very much at all, its not my money.

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