Shepherd attacks 'vastly overpaid' players

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Newcastle United's chairman, Freddie Shepherd, never a stranger to controversy, said yesterday that footballers are "vastly overpaid" and that he had no sympathy for small clubs in financial difficulties.

Newcastle United's chairman, Freddie Shepherd, never a stranger to controversy, said yesterday that footballers are "vastly overpaid" and that he had no sympathy for small clubs in financial difficulties.

Speaking at the annual Soccerex conference in Dubai, which is being attended by several high-profile Premiership executives, Shepherd reacted with disdain when a marketing expert said that footballers fared badly in the pay stakes.

"Compared to the rewards for top sports stars in the US, football players are underpaid," said Ian Todd, Nike's Global Marketing manager. "When you remember they are the biggest stars of the No 1 global sport, compared to the US stars of gridiron football, baseball and basketball, they do poorly."

To which Shepherd replied: "I've never heard so much bollocks in all my life ... football players are vastly overpaid today."

Talking on the subject of clubs in financial trouble, he added: "It's dog-eat-dog out there. Most of the smaller clubs will have to go part-time. When you've got 52,000 fans in your stadium baying for success, the problems of the Third Division clubs are the last thing on your mind."

Todd's assertion that footballers are not rewarded well enough is sure to reignite the debate about salaries in the game. Certainly the wages of the highest earners in American sport put footballers' earnings in the shade. The basic pay of the basketball player Shaquille O'Neal with Miami Heat is £288,000 a week, while Manny Ramirez earns £240,000 a week from baseball with the Boston Red Sox and Peyton Manning, an NFL quarterback with the Indianapolis Colts, earns £150,000 a week from his playing contract alone.

The basic wage of the world's best-paid footballer is thought to be the £173,000 per week earned by Internazionale's Christian Vieri, while the likes of Arsenal's Sol Campbell and Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand struggle by on around £100,000 a week each, thought to the highest salaries in English football.

Yet the bare facts do not tell the whole story. American football and basketball are both subject to capping of squad salaries, meaning that while top players earn huge sums, rank-and-file players probably earn less than average Premier League footballers.

Football clubs, certainly in England, are free to pay whatever salaries they like, and do so according to their means, and sometimes beyond it, on the whim of executives like Shepherd.

Comments