He Shoots He Scores…Millions of Pounds!

When I think of professional athletes who have the biggest income, I immediately think of footballers (that is, English football, not American). Not to say they are actually the most paid – in fact the athlete with the highest income is Floyd Mayweather, an American boxer. According to Forbes.com, there are only two football players in the top ten highest paid athletes in the world (Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi). However, the reason why I immediately think of footballers is because their salaries are so widely publicised. Football transfers typically occur in the summer, and when a footballer changes from one club to another, we are told how much he is sold for.

Are football players paid too much?

There is much debate about whether footballers get paid too much. A lot of hype has recently surrounded Mario Balotelli and Luiz Suarez in particular. Balotelli is known for being difficult to work with. As it turns out he was sold to Liverpool for only 16m pounds. However, within the first day of his arrival on the team, Liverpool sold 50,000 pounds worth of Balotelli’s t-shirts. Suarez’s story is a little different.

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He was sold by Liverpool to Barcelona for 75m pounds. This was after the scandal from the World Cup where Suarez bit Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. This was not Suarez’s first unsportsmanlike behaviour. Many people questioned why he was bought for so much money when he was banned from playing football for four months, and because he obviously did something very wrong. Morally speaking, he should not be considered.

So what’s the deal?

However, the football industry does not work on morals. Footballers’ income, like most valued things, is determined by the market and therefore, obeys the laws of supply and demand. Those people, who can play football at a professional level, are rare. Many people argue that is why they are paid so much: because there are so few people in the world that have their level of skill. Therefore, supply is limited. However, demand is very high. Millions of people watch and follow football, and football clubs rely on this when determining how much a given footballer should be paid. Football is now a part of the entertainment industry and so revenue includes the price of tickets, souvenirs, and most importantly, the amount paid to watch sport on TV and similarly the amount media companies pay to stream the games live.

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This means for a given quantity demanded, the equilibrium price will increase. The reason why footballers can be paid so much is because of this relationship between supply and demand. The issue now becomes the fact that wages keep rising. The average UK wage rose 86% in last 20 years but the average footballer’s pay rose 1500% in the same time period. This means price for tickets has risen as well and so it is increasingly harder for fans to go see games. The question remains: at which point must we stop the rise of footballer’s salaries, or will there ever be a limit? Will demand continue to increase? Is it morally right for footballers’ wages to continue to increase when there are so many hard-working people who get paid only a fraction of the amount of money? There is not correct answer to these questions but it is certainly interesting to explore them.

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4 thoughts on “He Shoots He Scores…Millions of Pounds!

  1. zukindr says:

    Even though professional athletes are being payed an enormous sum of money the revenue they bring to their club is huge. I don’t know much about European football clubs, but when the Miami Heat signed Lebron James they were able to gain all of the bandwagon fans that Lebron James brought with him, plus all the revenue from James’ jerseys and merchandise they could now sell. If had not given Lebron a huge paycheck one of the other NBA teams would have payed just as much to acquire his talents.

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  2. I think it would be interesting to look at this from the athletes perspective. How do the athletes feel about their incomes? This sounds like a stupid question because what person wouldn’t want a large income? But, if you think about it in a different way, do the athletes feel they are entitled to a larger income because of the amount of money they can make for sponsors and for their teams.

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  3. Another thing to consider is that the salary these superstar athletes are making from their team is a fraction of what they make when they sign deals with big name sport companies like gatorade and nike. Soccer is one of the most advertised sports. The ad’s on jerseys, the electronic sideline screens, the names of stadiums, are all endorsed by businesses looking to get their name out there via the most popular international sport. If you look at the heavy increases of players’ salaries, it is linked to the popularity of soccer. The popularity of soccer in the United States is growing at an exponential rate, and thus there is a large increase in the amount of money nike/adidas/etc. is putting into their advertising here in the states. I hope that this distraction of how much money players receive never takes anything away from the rich history and beauty of the game.

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  4. I know that this might sound a little obvious, but when you label players’ as a commodity rather than an individual representing a team, they become a company of their own. Milo, I like how you bring up the point of cooperate sponsorships, because it shows how a player not only represents the club that they are playing for, but the company they support too. In fact, I believe the sport of soccer pairs with companies more than any other popular sport today. Not only are arenas named after companies, but the jerseys (similar to nascar) have sponsors on their front. So now when you think of F.C. Barcelona or even the Portland Timbers you also think UNICEF and Alaska Airlines. I think the coupling of large cooperations and sports backs up how much of a disparity there is between talent and demand due to the immense push cooperations are making to pair with these teams.

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