VOX POP: In the light of the Anelka affair, do footballers have too much power?
Sunday 01 August 1999
MANCHESTER UNITED MANAGER
There is a danger of over-commercialisation, in particular with the inflation of players' salaries. This will have to be addressed, sooner rather than later. We are already seeing clubs in financial trouble. One of the reasons the money has gone disproportionately to top players' salaries is the Bosman ruling. Clubs have had to sign their players on longer contracts, which involves increasing salaries. Unless something is done, the big clubs will start to suffer too.
PIERRE VAN HOOIJDONK
The clubs have been pulling the strings for far too long. They call the players greedy, but it is their own greed in asking ridiculous prices for players that leads to these situations. Look at Nicolas Anelka. He cost pounds 500,000 and two years later Arsenal say they now want pounds 22m for him. Nobody wants a situation where players have to go to court, but it will happen if the clubs continue the way they are going. Things are clearly crazy. But it is the clubs who are trying to cash in, not the players.
In a way, I see the situation with Nicolas Anelka as an example of player power, but really it is more to do with the people who advise the players than the players themselves. This is all to do with business power within football. I don't think it is the players who control the game. It is the people who have no responsibilities to the game who now control it. People have to be punished more and obey the rules. If demands continue the way they are going, big clubs like ours may not be so big in the future.
PFA DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE
The Van Hooijdonk and Anelka cases are very much the exceptions. We always expect both club and player to honour a contract and most do. As for the Roy Keane situation, this is nothing new. Players, mainly the top ones, who are coming to the end of their contract have always been in a position to re-negotiate. Manchester United are courting Roy and stating what value they put on him, while Roy believes his services are worth more. Hopefully, as in most cases, a deal will be struck somewhere in-between.
EVERTON AND SCOTLAND
I'm better paid now than I've ever been. The managers have lost a lot of power. But if contracts contained clauses that meant half the money would be paid for appearances, it would be a different story. Of course, there will always be players who show desire no matter what they are paid, but some are just sitting around, doing nothing and picking up a fortune in wages. It's wrong but it's happening a lot. Such is the craziness in terms of payment to players now that I'm not sure where it's going to lead.
In order to obtain my agent's licence I've had to give Fifa a pounds 100,000 bond. If I do something out of order they have the right to fine me and take it out of that bond. Now, if the president of Real Madrid entertains Anelka and his two brothers [who aren't licensed agents] and encourages him to break his contract with Arsenal instead of approaching him through the regular channels, he is breaking the law. Clubs are always quick to blame agents but act improperly when it suits them.
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