Money Talks

Controversially high wage bills have always been a topic of debate in the football industry, but it is becoming an even more alarming problem as wage packets soar, while passion and motivation to do well appear to be rapidly decreasing in English football.

Rather than playing for the badge on the shirt, money has become the domineering decision maker when completing a transfer. This ultimately would not be a problem provided that the player in question retained a certain amount of care for the club to strengthen their performance.
A crucial problem stemming from extortionately high pay cheques is the knowledge that even if a footballer does not play well, or if he is dropped from the squad, he will still receive the specified amount outlined in his contract. This can lead to a lack of motivation as it acts as a constant reinforcement to the player that the money is there no matter what.

A second problem is that players in a squad receive very different incomes. If a player is placed lower down on the spectrum of wages it can lead to the belief that they are not valued as much as other players which therefore affects their motivation and performance. If one is at the higher end of the spectrum, it is possible that these players may become complacent knowing that they are 'valued' higher than others therefore performances may be weaker.

Combined, these two factors may prove detrimental to performances which in turn can weaken the relationship between fans and the footballer. It must be respected by players that fans pay huge chunks of their own salaries to afford to watch them play week in and week out, whilst the player receives more than a majority of fans will ever see in a lifetime, for a poor performance.

This has most recently been demonstrated by Jose Bosingwa who is on a salary of £65,000 a week. As QPR sealed their relegation fate with a 0-0 draw against also relegated Reading on Sunday, Bosingwa was photographed laughing as he walked off the pitch into the dugout. This sparked fury as whilst the fans who love the club were openly distraught with the destiny of relegation, the players paid extraordinary money to play were seen laughing minutes after they have relegated themselves suggesting a lack of regard, care and even respect for the fans or club.

Another example is Blackburn Rovers' skipper Danny Murphy who receives somewhere between £30,000 and £40,000 a week. Murphy started his season at Blackburn with average performances. Under five managers he was unable to perform at a high enough standard to keep either his captaincy or a permanent position in the squad but was content to pocket the money. Fans frustration peaked when his wife tweeted unkind remarks on twitter following the FA cup replay against Millwall in the Quarter-finals. "TV has been great... particularly the score line so far tonight;-)" was just one of the comments she made.

A third reinforcement of this idea is the case of Winston Bogarde who despite making only eleven appearances in his four year contract at Chelsea, felt no remorse at pocketing £40,000 a week. Bogarde stated: "This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunate who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don't care." Bogarde was content playing barely any football purely because he would never find another club willing to pay him an equal amount as Chelsea.

A radical solution to this detrimental problem would be to firstly cap wages. This would ensure that every player at a club is given the same amount of money ruling out any feelings of devaluation and lack of appreciation or complacency. The second part of this rectification process would be to place higher importance on bonuses which would increase motivation to succeed because the bonus acts as not only a financial incentive but also as a competitive incentive to prove oneself in the squad.

For example, a bonus given for match appearances would encourage players to work harder in training sessions to achieve a place in the starting eleven, and would thus encourage players to perform well during match day in an attempt to secure a permanent squad position. Other examples of these bonuses would be for clean sheets, goals, assists, man of the match, possession percentages which could apply for all squad members and would constantly encourage them to perform, because if one week their efforts weaken, the bonus would not be awarded.

Another factor which could potentially contribute to players working for their money more would be imposing much heavier fines for misconduct, violence, racism or other actions that are not tolerated in football. An example could be a player in a top four premier league club who earns up to £80,000 a week who is racist to an opposing player. A three match ban is given with a fine of £40,000. This is not a heavy enough punishment. When one considers that an employee in another profession would most likely face dismissal had they been racist to a co-worker, it seems odd that missing three games of football and a weeks wages is considered to have an impact on changing behaviour.

Instead, increasing the fine to say £240,000 to £320,000 (three to four months wages) may have the desired impact; to reinforce that racist behaviour will not be tolerated - a heftier fine which would potentially have consequences on the players lifestyle is psychologically more likely to prevent them from performing a similar action in the future.

To conclude, although yes it is unlikely that these types of measures will be imposed in the football industry, they are important factors that must be considered and reviewed if players performances and behaviours are to improve as otherwise it is probable that a negative correlation between high wages and lack of motivation will continue to develop.


  1. Excellant blog.... I have been an advocate of capping professional players wages pretty much since the first time Rovers were relegated from the premiership. Players such as Carsley collecting exaggerated wages for lacklustre performances.
    If i was to suggest one change to your solution it would be that I link bonus' s to performances for the season. Larger the bonus the higher up the league you finish. Payment by result/position

  2. I really appreciate your piece about money in football. However, I would like to ask you how you can argue that different wages within a squad can affect motivation, behaviour and intensity. And, have you considered any scientific article for discussing the correlation between motivation and money? Thank you.

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment, I feel that the difference in wages does affect motivation through analysis of value in the squad based on your 'price tag' - I have no scientific evidence to back that up - only that I watch non league football as regularly as I watch league football and non league players I have watched appear to play with far more motivation for less money than league players :) hope that has answered your questions

    2. Yes you did answer clearly. I'll keep following your blog hoping that your future articles will be increasingly interesting.

  3. Sensible and very reasonable but football isn't. The inmates now run the asylum.

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