Sunday, August 19, 2012

Loyalty Bonus?

"So, if I turn up for work each day for four years
you'll pay me an extra £10 million?"

There's no doubt that, before the abolition of the maximum wage, once upon a time professional footballers were treated pretty poorly by their employers. One of the chapters of Gary Imlach's excellent book deals with the way clubs could hold players to ransom at the end of each season and if you didn't agree to their terms you would be stuck with two choices, either stay at a club that didn't want you on a wage too low to live on and hope that another club would come in and buy you or leave the game completely.

That however was fifty years ago and things have changed to such an extent that, with the Bosman ruling, players are now the masters of their own destiny. There are of course situations where clubs will sell players to clubs where the player doesn't really want to go but generally times have changed, you only have to look at Arsenal and how they have had to sell six of their first team squad from just five seasons ago: Flamini, Clichy, Fabregas, Nasri, Van Persie and Song to see how the Bosman ruling has worked against Arsene Wengers beliefs of bringing through a group of young players and creating a championship winning side.

Robin van Persie is the transfer that must have hurt a lot of Gunners, who have put on a brave face by pointing to the Dutchman's injury record, his age and the fee received. I would think that with the details of that contract/transfer slowly emerging the pain must be getting less pronounced by the minute. Manchester United aren't just buying a player for £24 million, they are buying a contract that will cost them an extraordinary £70 million over the next four years.  

The details of the deal have been reported in several newspapers and the salary for the former Arsenal captain works out at £200,000 a week (£36 million over four years) but the bit that had my chin hitting the desk was the small matter of a loyalty bonus of £10 million. That's in addition to the various bonuses he will get for winning anything at United, something he wasn't able to do much of at Arsenal, so basically £10 million for managing to get out of bed and down to the Carrington Training Complex everyday he is required so to do by his employment contract.

No wonder people have problems relating to footballers!


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