Is The Premier League Becoming A Home For Mercenaries?

This year saw the birth of Indian Premier League cricket. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a shortened version of the regular game played by the best cricket players in the world with all the glitz and glamour you would never have associated with cricket ten years ago.

In essence it was a million miles away from the traditional game with cheerleaders and fireworks — an aspect of cricket you would never see down on you local village green. The reason I have mentioned this is because the IPL had some very wealthy backers and to get the league off the ground they offered crickets best players sack loads of money to take part in the competition. I read an article which said that the average player taking part in the IPL would earn around £250,000 for six weeks work. As such many of the worlds players dropped everything and went off to India to take part. I was lucky enough to talk to one of the player taking part and he said the money was so good he would have been a fool to turn it down.

The fact is he is right. If someone offered you a year’s salary for six weeks work you are hardly likely to turn it down. The problem many people had with the game was that the players had no connection with the teams, or franchises as they were known, they were playing for. People from Mumbai and Delhi had come to support their local sides but the players who were competing were from Australia or West Indies rather than India.

This brings me onto the Premier League, already we can draw some similarities between these two leagues just by reading the papers and looking at the ridiculous wage demands some players make.

I am too young to remember this but I am always told that footballers used to take the local bus to games with the fans and that nearly always the whole squad was made up of players from the local area. Now you look at sides and you struggle to find anyone born within 50 miles of their side’s stadium. I am not a xenophobe by any means. I think that players from overseas have made the Premier League brilliant but the thing I have a problem with is a lack of loyalty they have with any of the sides they play for. Let’s go back to the IPL again and there were examples of players in that league who were prepared to miss months of games for their teams, even their countries, in order to earn the big bucks and the Premier League is no different. A current example of a mercenary is Emmanuel Adebayor. He is holding Arsenal to ransom over his wage demands and it looks like he will only stay if they give him the £120,000-a-week he is demanding. Today that doesn’t shock me but when you think about it things like that it should disgust you. Head this way for all the transfer odds.

Firstly how can someone demand that much money just to play football and secondly how can they treat a club which has helped establish them like that as well. I know Adebayor started his career with Monaco but if it wasn’t for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger he wouldn’t be the star he is today. The classic example of a player lacking loyalty has to be Nicolas Anelka who is the most expensive player in the world following all his transfers across the globe. I believe that he doesn’t care who he plays for as long as they have the cash. I know this is an old cliché but top level football has too much money, so much money in fact that they are willing to pay players what ever they want and yet they are somehow all in debt. The amount of money in sport in general is astronomical and cricket seems to have become the latest sport to take some of the free flowing cash.

The IPL will have generated millions of pounds for the Indian cricket board and many of the organisers which is great but I fear that, like football, cricket will begin to lose touch with reality. Football and now cricket are no longer sports in their original formats but rather businessman play things, where people are prepared to plough millions, if not billions, into a side just to get a brief taste of success. For who will taste that success here are the football odds. To me the IPL has taken what they saw in the Premier League and transferred it to their national sport because it seems that if you have enough money people will do anything. I know I am being idealistic in thinking we should revert back to the days when players used to take the local bus rather than a Ferrari to games but it would just be nice for players to show a little bit of loyalty and respect to clubs. It is very rare to get a player remain at one club for the whole of his career, soon it will be practically unheard of. The likes of Jamie Carragher and Ryan Giggs will be things of the past in years to come when three years will be considered as doing the club a good service.

Football is riddled with problems that are no closer to being solved but as long as there is success on the pitch people don’t seem to mind. That is where we see another similarity with the IPL because as long as their side was winning people didn’t care how much they were earning or where they came from. In sport winning is everything and I am one of those people that can’t stand to see their side lose but if I knew that the team I was applauding off felt the same way I did then perhaps myself and many more would have a bit more respect for those players and perhaps that would be reciprocated.

8 thoughts on “Is The Premier League Becoming A Home For Mercenaries?”

  1. I can not stand it when people whinge and moan about players not showing any loyalty to a club when they ask for more money. First, can any player ever be 100% assured that the loyalty will be returned to them? How many times have we seen clubs cut and run on players after 1 or 2 bad seasons, or getting rid of players once they’re just a tad past their prime because their price is too high. Secondly, you’re suggesting that players should just get paid what the clubs offer them and that’s it. I guess you’d rather have billionaire owners get only richer than have millionaire players earn a few extra quid.

    As someone who doesn’t make in 5 years what Adebayor wants in 1 week, and a Gooner, it doesn’t bother me at all that he has asked for more money. He’s not holding Arsenal hostage: they don’t have to pay the increased request. If he wants to go somewhere else then, they can get a lot in return. I much (MUCH) prefer folks like Cesc or Theo who have stated unequivocally that they love the Arsenal and will be staying, but hoping all players are like that is pretty obtuse. It’s a big business now, like it or not. You could always go watch non-league matches and enjoy “the purity” of players working 2 jobs. I prefer watching good footy myself.

  2. I have to agree with the first comment.

    I’d add that we, the fans, are as much at fault as anyone. We pay a lot of money to see our team WIN. There is fan loyalty, but any look at the comparative income of teams (in any sport) would be enough to see that teams that win, make the most money.

    That drive to win trumps loyalty and it becomes a matter of economics. While loyalty would be nice, you can’t really fault players for looking after their own interests.

  3. The old loyalty vs money debate.

    While I do agree with Hank that fans pay money to watch their team do well, I’m pretty sure they would like it even more if the team was made up of homegrown footballers rather than costly players bought from abroad.

    While you will still have support in your local area no matter what you do ( the real supporters), your support across the world will be judged by the number of trophies you have in your cabinet. Any glamorous star you have in your team is a welcome addition.

    I’m pretty sure we don’t see the Wigans and the Aston Villas having too much support outside Britain. The reason is simple- not too much glamour, no money, no trophies.

    In an utopian world, you’d obviously want the player to choose club over cash, but sadly, it doesn’t happen in real life.

  4. The problem is obviously worse in the Premier League but I think it is true across all football. I am a Reuters reporter and I recently interviewed a footballer in Italy who said the wrong team name for the club he was playing at. Money is the only important thing to many players and some dont care where they get it.

  5. What irks me the most is that ‘good’ players who have the calibre to play in the first 11 at most clubs, prefer to warm the benches at big clubs at pocket their humongous salaries. Its a big shame.

    Take the case of SWP. He lost his England place because he didnt play for Chelseas that often. Yet he has not moved on. Surprising. And it , comes with a statement saying, ” I’ll bide my time.” “I’ll fight for my place”.


  6. Football clubs have got to understand their ‘hook’ – what keeps fans attached to a club.

    The more churn you have with players, the less there is to keep fans attached to the club.

  7. Oh for the old days when players still worked in factories and were paid pence on the pound!

    good lord, enough already.

  8. But of course, the role increased funs have at raising the level of play and drawing the top athletes to the sport gets completely overlooked in these discussions.

    As a Spurs fan, I’ve got all the available DVDs of the club’s cup wins. The miserable Spurs side that took to the pitch in the second half of the 07-08 season would have completely and utterly obliterated the Spurs side that won the double in 61. It wouldn’t even be close.

    Baseball fans whine in this fashion, too, and harken back to the good old days when the reserve clause bound players to their team until the team decided to release them.

    And it is always assumed that the sport was better in the past. That money has ruined things. But sport is competition. The primary product fanchises sell is not a connection with the fans and the club. It is not a connection between the fans and the players. It is competition.

    And all this horrible money and the mercinaries it brings with it have raised the level of competition higher than it ever has been before. The Yankees’ dynasty of the 20s wouldn’t stand a chance agains the 08 Pirates. Think of pitting an gold medal Olympic sprinter from the 60s against the last bronze medalist.

    There are hundreds of clubs in England. Go follow an amateur side if you wish. All the lads will be local and the corrupting influence of money won’t be there. But the football will look like shite in comparison to the level of talent and play that horrible money has provided.

    You people want it both ways. You want money drawing the best athletes to sport and away from other sports and specifically to football. But then, once they’re there, that financial influence that is responsible for what truly makes the EPL so popular (it is among the most skilled and talented play on the planet) needs to disappear.

    You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

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