Football is without a doubt the most popular sport across the world. And naturally popular football clubs are big brands especially the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. Like major brands in various industries, these brands have their own style of functioning.

Over the next few weeks, we will be taking a closer look at certain aspects of a football club like the hierarchy in place and also analyze a few roles. In addition, we will delve into the commercial side taking into consideration the cost and revenue aspects. Further, it will be interesting to see how big a business football really is and what do businessmen look to obtain by investing their money in such brands.

Across professions, nationalities and societies, there is a common belief that footballers are paid too much. The 2014 report of the Mirror stated that the average annual salary of a typical worker in the United Kingdom is £26,500.

On the other hand, as reported by the Daily Mail in 2015, the average annual wage of a Premier League footballer is £2.29 million a year! The situation is almost similar in some of the other European nations if not as atrocious as in the United Kingdom. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons behind top tier footballers being paid astronomical amounts.

Constancy of employment

Back in 1776, in his seminal work titled “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith highlighted the reasons behind wages differing across professions. One of them was the constancy of employment. Footballers very aptly fit in with this point.

Professional footballers have a very short shelf life. Unlike other professions, they cannot continue to play football till the age of sixty. Hence, it is vital for them to earn as much as possible during their playing careers. Post retirement, many take up jobs as football pundits, commentators or managers while some even enter other industries. No matter where they go, the pay is certainly not as much as they previously received.

In order to ensure that they live a decent life, footballers have to earn as much as possible during their playing days. And keeping this in mind, wages are set and agreed upon.

Possibility of Success

Another key point highlighted by Smith was the possibility of success. It takes a lot to become a professional footballer and play in the top tier. At FC Barcelona’s youth academy, young kids are not only trained in playing the game but are also provided formal education. The coaches at La Masia believe that only a handful will make it to the top tier. Hence it is important to provide education so that the rest can look at other options to lead a decent life.

The decision to become a footballer needs to be taken pretty early in one’s life. The work begins at the age of 10 or 11 and thereafter a rigorous process continues where many leave and only a few remain who make it to the professional level. And those who make it to the top go on to earn a lot.

Huge amounts are paid for the time and continuous effort that they have put in. Further, in order to ensure top notch performances week in and week out, substantial amounts of money have to be paid to the players for their upkeep. In this trade, only a few succeed and it is befitting that they are rewarded in the best possible manner.

Generate revenue

Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi jersey
Jersey sales are an important avenue for clubs to make money

Footballers just like investment bankers generate a lot of money and hence are paid obscene amounts. Over the past few decades, the game of football has grown by leaps and bounds across the world. Footballers have captured our imaginations. They have become idols, role models and inspirational figures.

Fans are ready to pay a lot to meet their idols and watch them play. Further, influenced by the stars, they have begun using products that they endorse.

Companies and businessmen have latched on to this and in turn made huge gains. They can’t be blamed. They have made full use of an opportunity present in front of them. A significant part of these gains have trickled down to the footballers; the men who to a great extent made it happen.

Any service or commodity which generates a lot of money will, in turn, be valued highly. This is especially true for footballers.

In any given economy, footballers are not the most important people. Surely they can’t be more important than doctors, firemen and teachers. They do provide us with a healthy dose of entertainment but that is just about it. Yet they are paid much more than people belonging to other far more critical professions.

However, it would not be justified to criticize footballers merely because they take home a lot of money. It takes years of hard work and perseverance to make it to the top. The road to glory is filled with heartbreaks, regret and disappointments. Keeping all that aside, footballers manage to put on a show week in and week out.

Further only singling out sportspersons somehow does not make sense. People working in the entertainment industry also go through periods of struggle before eventually shining. Like footballers, they too are very well paid.

The problem is that we live in a world where there exists a huge gap between salaries across professions. And there exist legitimate reasons behind it. It is only just we understand those reasons and not just simply criticize footballers.

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