Riise’s own goal

MT was rather nonplussed yesterday when the wage slip of Liverpool footballer John Arne Riise landed in our inbox. Sadly it was just a picture, rather than a bank transfer, but it will inevitably stir up more debate about excessive salary packets.

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The payslip, dated September 2006, showed that Riise was paid £139,634 for his month’s work, including a basic salary of £120,000 plus almost £20,000 in appearance and win bonuses. Nice work if you can get it. Although he did have to fork out £65 on club meals (it’s good to know these millionaire footballers get a heavily subsidised canteen).

Riise’s spokesman claimed that the payslip had been stolen, but admitted his client had no idea when or how. Several Liverpool players have been targeted by burglars, but Riise wasn’t one of them.

Terrible breach of privacy it may be (the slip also shows Riise’s NI number and home address) but the revelation is bound to re-open the ongoing debate about footballers being disgustingly overpaid.

It’s all very reminiscent of the perennial row over executive pay. Only this week an Income Data Services report revealed that the average salary of Britain's top executives had doubled to more than £3m in the last five years, while the average worker only saw a 20% increase. This brought the predictable outrage from the trade unions.

On the other hand, these are executives at the height of their profession, where they can expect to survive a relatively short time – just like Riise. Plus these high earners generate lots of money for the taxman – £60,000 of the footballer’s salary went on income tax and NI.

Of course, it’s still highly embarrassing for the ginger-haired left back. In fact he seems to have a talent for attracting the wrong sort of headlines – in 2005 he was revealed to have sent an identical text message to at least ten Norwegian female celebrities asking them out on a date, much to the delight of the tabloids.

Let’s hope he can keep that famous left foot out of his mouth from now on.

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