Footballers' pay rises 1,500% in 20 years

Move over City fatcats, there's a new social pariah in town. Top UK footballers, it turns out, get paid more than the bosses of many major banks.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

Earlier this year, it was City bonuses under fire. Now, it’s the likes of Manchester City. A new report by think tank High Pay Centre (which really does do what it says on the tin) has found that today’s football stars are earning up to 1,500% more than their nineties counterparts.

And what about us lowly, two-left-footed commoners? Our pay has increased just 186% over the same period.

With players’ wages soaking up 70% of a club’s turnover (up from just 48% back in 1997), fans are having to foot the bill. These days, the cheapest available ticket for top games has gone up by more than 1,000% since 1989 – and prices are still rising.

Among the most minted in the Premier League is Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, earning an estimated £8m a year. This isn’t all coming out of the club (read: fans). It’s only fair to point out that some of the cash is being stumped up by sponsors Nike and Electronic Arts.

Compare this to the earnings of RBS CEO Stephen Hester, however, who took home £1.2m last year and whose salary was the subject of much criticism. Both Hester and Rooney have been accused of performing below par. But Hester forfeited his £1m bonus over the furore. Rooney was still picked for the England team in the last World Cup. Although he did have to deal with a barrage of ‘potato head’ abuse on Twitter...

‘Bankers and company executives frequently make the comparison between their own pay and that of professional footballers,’ says High Pay Centre chairman Nick Isles. ‘For both the pay is extremely high, excessively complex and in many cases, secret. In football as in business, the money could be better invested in training and infrastructure, rather than unsustainable salary increases.’

With loyal fans being priced out of the market, football clubs generating levels of debt that would be unsustainable in any other business and a national team that is continually out-performed by teams from much poorer football countries, it could be time for football to follow banking in an earnings shake up. Or rather, shake down.

Picture: Sportingn, via Wikimedia Commons

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