By David Genkin
Dollar, Pound and Euro –Best friends of soccer?
It can seem strange, but some half a century ago the wages of even soccer stars were not much higher than those of highly qualified workers. For example, when the German Bundesliga was organised in 1962, it was decided that the maximum player’s salary, all included, could not exceed 14,400 Marks per year (around $10,000). An average yearly salary was at that time 3850 Marks ($2700).
However, during the next decade, the revenues of soccer players grew much quicker than those in other professions. This tendency then went accelerated. The main reason was the very high level of popularity of the players among the hundreds of millions of supporters all over the world. The revenues of the soccer clubs are mainly coming from tickets sales, sponsorship and TV rights, tie-in products, and transfers of players. However, the majority of the clubs are loss-making. Among the reasons are the high wages of the players. But the sponsors and the shareholders agree with this, because an association with a very popular soccer club is an efficient communication tool, a strong position in the world marketplace.
What is the situation in Russia? In the 1990’s, wages were relatively low during the first years after the collapse of the USSR, but more recently they have never been as high as now, even higher than in Europe. They are often around 200 000 USD per month.
This endless growth of the soccer players’ wages is a concern of many soccer representatives. The legendary player Pele said years ago: “the future of the soccer is in danger: everybody – players, coaches – thinks only about money”. Another former famous player, who is now the UEFA president Michel Platini suggests that the clubs should introduce a ceiling for wages. Otherwise, at some stage the sponsors and the shareholders could not cover the losses. And this would lead to bankruptcies.
In Russia, for example, one club of the first league went bankrupt last year, and two others are close to sharing the same lot.