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Footballing Mercenaries: The Uglier Side to the Beautiful Game

In modern times we all suspect that money and pride are two separate entities when it comes to the world of football with the former taking undoubted precedent over the latter.

Middle Eastern and American billionaire investors have revolutionized the game and changed the footballing landscape beyond reversal. It is difficult to even conjure the thought that there was once a time when transfer fees were nominal, players playing outside of their native country was a rarity and a team’s success was truly dictated by how good their manager was, not by the size of the check book he is presented.

Although it was refreshing and their fans will not mind one iota, there will forever be a dark cloud that shadows the success of Manchester City in the English Premier League after they have literally thrown billions of pounds at the cause in order to achieve anything. Although it is perhaps a little hypocritical of their neighbours Manchester United to suggest that they have ‘bought the title,’ after all it is nothing that they have not been doing themselves for the past 15 years, using their financial clout to bully the lesser teams out of their star players with an elitist mentality thus maintaining the void between the league’s elite and everyone else.

Chelsea were the first to spend the ‘big bucks’ and gradually many others followed suit: Manchester City, Malaga and Paris St Germain have each fallen under the vested interest of sheikh businessmen who have made their fortunes doing lord only knows what in their homelands whilst Manchester United and Arsenal are but a couple of English teams to fall into the hands of American-based tycoons.

This extravagant expenditure would no doubt trickle down to the players of the game of whom a very large percentage are motivated by money alone and have little loyalty to those who have previously overseen their rise to stardom and whom they may have been very little without, monsieur’s Van Persie and Nasri to name but two.

Of course no matter what reasons a player gives in his first interview at a new club, there aren’t many of the public that believe they are not just reading from the book of footballing clichés and pulling the wool over our eyes. It is amazing how many players make ‘a dream come true’ by also tripling their salary and how they will talk of ambition and the need to win trophies whilst we all know that behind all that comes an extra 10k or so after tax that would not have failed to sweeten the deal.

Greed is now a major player in a sport where money has bordered into the realms of the ridiculous. After all we know live in a world where the far from mind blowing talent that is Zlatan Ibrahimovic has commanded the highest overall transfer fees on the planet – something that speaks volumes for the absurdity of it all.

However, beyond all this the one man that has motivated me to write this article was none other than the king of the ungrateful, one Emmanuel Adebayor. The Togolese striker was an unknown entity before being plucked from obscurity by Arsene Wenger whom he owes essentially the bulk of his career to. Of course he had no thought of this as he raced the full length of the field to rub one of his early goals for Manchester City in the faces of those whom he had previously stated he loved to work for. I honestly don’t know what to make of his latest stunt.

For those of you out of the loop, this is a man who has essentially in no uncertain terms stated that he would rather sit and rot in the Manchester City reserves than take a pay cut and be Tottenham’s first choice striker. Blatantly putting the status of his wage packet over playing the game that gives him his living. Now part of me is thinking AT LAST, we have a footballer who has the gall albeit bare faced to admit that he is driven by money. On the other hand it is sickening to think that a professional who was once adored and whom so many less fortunate have spent their hard earned money to go and see would rank pound notes above his love and passion for the game and to wear a shirt that tens of thousands in North London alone would die to wear.

It is a slur on the game and a sign of the times. The most satisfying conclusion would be for Adebayor to be released by Manchester City and for no other club to touch him due to is insolence and thus have to go without his weekly bumper prize that comes regardless of appearances let alone performance. It is a commodity that most of the westernised society toil and graft their entire lives to earn but a pittance compared to what this man is handed to him for doing next to nothing. Of course that would never happen, there will always be somebody willing to bail out those players who have shown an utter disrespect for the profession and Adebayor would waltz into somewhere else, call it home, tell the fans they are the best he has ever played for as the vicious cycle continues.

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  1. Why?

    August 6, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Chris you basically say Utd have been buying the league for the last 15 years, I put it to you they were spending way more than anyone else from the minute Fergie got there 26 years ago! The fact is that any club that has won the premier league have spent more than there opponents in that period. That includes Blackburn, Arsenal, Utd, City and Chelsea, that’s what the Premier league is all about it’s obvious that the teams with the most money will be successful this has come about with the start of the Premier league and the whole ‘business’ in football is good thing. Teams used to be owned by local business men who were generally fans, now and for the last two decades this has changed it’s funny how years ago when Ferdinand was holding Utd to ransom on his new contract £120k per week nobody seem to concerned at all, infact I remember the M.E.N joying over the fact he signed!
    Football prices and wages today are all relative to the money coming into the game this was always the case. Andrew Cole cost £7m in 94 the equivalent today is £30 odd million at least, game tickets in 94 were around £5 now they are £50 the price of players hasn’t change one bit just the money coming into the game has gone through the roof.

    Chelsea were not the first to spend ‘big bucks’ these were spent throughout history by the teams with the most money, check Arsenal in the 30’s or Sunderland in the 50’s and Utd in the late 80’s to name just a few. You can even look to some extent at your own club in the 90’s as big spenders in the old 2nd div Haywood went through an estimated £70m on the club huge figures for a mostly second div club. Owners are attracted to the Premier league because of the money involved this is exactly why the league was set up in the first place, to attract investors but why moan when this happens? In the 90’s it was Seria A, I don’t recall all these concerns with that either!

    Let’s get something straight about these players, if you come from Portugal why on Earth would you have any ‘loyalty’ to a Portuguese business let alone a British one? These business’s would drop there big wages like a stone if the could if the player got injured don’t try and build British clubs to be loyal to players they offer something or they don’t and in that case they a not wanted!

    Adebayor ran the length of the pitch to give a bit back to some of the most disgusting behavior and vitriol I have seen in football, this is something that Arsenal fans are becoming known for just visit Nasri’s twitter feed to see some of the most vile, prejudice and even racist guff you will ever see directed towards him it’s the same for Ade. Do you think these players like constant abuse about there religion or families would you? They are people doing a job at the end of the day and are not fans they own Arsenal nothing. Arsenal took theses players from other clubs in Ade’s case at 22! Guess what the tripled his wage! As they do with many young players the poach or buy, why are these not mercenaries then? The went to the Premier league seeking fortune, fame and trophies Arsenal could not give them all of these. Arsenal need to get used to the fact they are a stepping stone just like City were. They are no longer the big draw and haven’t been for some time the sooner there fans understand this the less abuse they will throw out and the less player will want to react back towards them.

    Adebayor’s situation isn’t a ‘sign of the times’ it has happened through the history of the game. Why would he move if he still plays at the top level and gets his money from two clubs he will either sign for Spurs or go on loan to another top European club, no problem what so ever to him or his pride. The man came to City as a top player therefore he’s on top wages, he fell out with Mancini and isn’t as good as the other strikers so unlikely he could play his way back. So there’s a problem as he is not the player he was but is under contract that’s life look at Cresbo, Veron, Kleberson and Aqualini etc. He’d have to be a total idiot to drop his wages by half.

    The new football buzz word seems to be business, well that’s what you have got, where it is there is money and where there’s is money there’s greed. This is modern football that people think is so great, the Premier League along with SKY have may the beautiful game ugly as hell, not the players.

  2. Frill Artist

    August 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Man City is a pet project for their Arab owners because if they leave, they will go back to being a D-class side. Just look at those salaries, unless another wealthy owner steps in, there’s absolutely no way they can keep all those players in.

    • Why?

      August 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

      Wow, do ya think? I better tell all the season ticket holders to sell them fast! When will they throw away their near billion pound investment just for the fun of it oh wise one? LOL

  3. PaulF

    August 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    This article is stupid. Adebayor has been a top striker for Arsenal, ManCity, Real Madrid and Tottenham last year. I dont understand the hate Adebayor gets like he’s some sort of second-rate striker.
    If you were offered more money at another job, you would take it too. People are actiing like he flopped at City. .They are just stupid and do not look at the facts.
    -Adebayor moved to city, scored goals regularly. The problem started due to a series of unfortunate events that was out of his hand.
    Suspension for stomping RVP –> Went to AFCON and that terrible incident happened–> Took some time off and came back—> By the time he came back, Hughes was sacked and Mancini hired. Since Mancini didnt bring him in, he wanted to move him and bring “his” guy.
    The irony is that The guy(Dzeko) that Mancini brought in, is not better than Adebayor. He wasted 30 million pound in transfer fees + gigantic wages + transfer fees on Dzeko. Fast forward today, that contract is also impossible to move on.
    He now has Dzeko, Adebayor, Aguero, Tevez on the books. All earning over 150K a week. And you are still blaming the players? Mancini wants to bring in RVP regardless of things such as Financial Fair Play or offloading the players he has now. How much money do you think RVP will be offered? over 150K too. When next year comes he wants the next luxury player, he will want him too without giving a second thought to City’s financial well being as a club.
    Balotelli will probably sign a new contract, how much money do you think he’ll be on???

    You should blame Man City for offering these wage packages in the first place, not the player who accepts them.


    I laugh at the “HOLLIER THAN THOU” attitude some of you “football” fans have. Like you would take a massive pay cut to move somewhere else. Telling some guy to give up 5 million pound so he can be “first choice” striker somewhere else….You obviously do not live in the real world. Since he won’t give up what is rightfully his, you call “MERCENARY”….LOL. you can’t write it any better than this.

    • Chris Machin

      August 4, 2012 at 3:47 am

      I have heard the ‘if you were offered more money in another job’ analogy many times and there is a big difference between those of us who have no choice but to work our entire lives and a footballer who could happily retire on a years salary and never lift a finger again.

      In essence, as a paying customer, a supporter and an admirer of the game of football itself, Adebayors decision to snub a paycut in favour of playing reserve team/no football at all puts into context what the sport is rapidly descending into. This is not about the extravagant expenditure by Manchester City, Sheiks, tycoons or mega-bucks it is about one man’s attitude to his profession. This is where the analogy differs greatly. To be a footballer is a privilege more than it is a job, if someone were to move from the likes of Rochdale to Charlton for the couple of grand pay increase of course yes, it is obvious he would move whether he be playing or not, but up in the big leagues amongst footballs elite earners, they have more than enough money than they will ever need or kno what to do with, here more than anywhere else on this pedastal it should be more about game time than minimal wage differentials.

      As I say what is 50k a week less to someone who already earns and has pocketed more than they can possibly ever need to live out a fruitful life? It’s spare change to people like Adebayor, all the more reason for him to cut his losses in order to play the game that afford him this living and actually maybe win something for once in his career!

      I never said Adebayor was a flop, or that he was a bad player, he did very well at Tottenham and has the chance to become the main man at a top Premier League club that are pushing for European honours, instead he has chosen to dig his heels in and ultimately waste away in the City reserves if he has to? You see where I am coming from, he’s ranked doing little more than training with City over playing a major role for Tottenham, and it is motivated purely by money, it’s a sad state of affairs. I mean even RVP has stated a very valid urge to want to win trophies as his decision to upsticks from the club that made him famous, Adebayor is evidently not bothered as long as he is getting paid, it’s a sickening attitude in a game that is supposed to be all about medals, trophies, history, glory and legacies – what do you think people will remember Adebayor for long after he is gone, none of the above that is certain.

      And if you really want to fall into the comparison trap then a footballers weight should only be measured in his accomplishments and his contributions to success, medals and trophies and Edin Dzeko has a Premier League and Bundesliga championship, much more than Adebayor has ever achieved… and in earnest he had a pivotal role in each teams journey towards those milestones, the proof is very much in the pudding on that one.

      • Paul

        August 4, 2012 at 10:12 am

        “As I say what is 50k a week less to someone who already earns and has pocketed more than they can possibly ever need to live out a fruitful life? It’s spare change to people like Adebayor”

        Again you are seeing things from your point of view. It’s not 50K less, it is about 75K or more that’d he’d have to give up to move to tottenham. You are only saying this because you have never been in a footballer’s shoes and you do not see the difference as you’d happily take even less to play football. But again that is unrealistic. City offfered him a contract and he signed it. He can’t just take a massive loss and make life easier for city regardless if it cost him regular 1st team football. To call him a mercenary for that is misguided.

        Less say you make 60-75K at a job where you aren’t being treated fairly. Would you give up that job for another one paying 30K/ year. The answer is NO. If you did then fair play to you but that is not the norm.

  4. Michael Jones

    August 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Your article was correct in principle, in that alright I’ll name it Man City pay way over the top wages, but it is starting to bite them in the bum, because surplus to requirement players won’t leave, play in the reserves and maybe get a call up to the first team because of injuries.
    Alex you seem a genuine Manc blue I salute you.

  5. Gregor

    August 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Question: I was curious about player’s salaries. They are typically quoted as a weekly figure. Are they paid 52 weeks per year or just during the season? I wanted to compare to the salaries we hear about for NFL, MLB, etc. which are usually quoted in annual terms.

    • Guy

      August 3, 2012 at 6:31 pm

      I had wondered about that some time ago and did a little research. It seems the “weekly” is just the annual salary divided by 52. While the numbers are all mind boggling, it is a bit easier to get your head around $150,000 a week than $7,800,000 per year. Not that I’m familiar with either.

    • Michael Jones

      August 3, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Their salaries are annual, but papers do the sums for us.

  6. Andrei

    August 3, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    “Middle Eastern and American billionaire investors have revolutionized the game and changed the footballing landscape beyond reversal. It is difficult to even conjure the thought that there was once a time when transfer fees were nominal, players playing outside of their native country was a rarity and a team’s success was truly dictated by how good their manager was, not by the size of the check book he is presented.”

    Sorry but Middle Eastern and American billionaire investors (you forgot Russians!) didn’t do that. Union Royale Belge des Sociétés de Football Association ASBL v Jean-Marc Bosman also known as the “Bosman ruling” did it.

  7. Alex Wolcott

    August 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    The game is about more than hardware. Hardware is highly correlated with money. But the game transcends this.

    I put up with 15 years (3 relegations) and all sorts of foolishness on all levels before the Sheik rolled in. Loved the game before that happened. Loved singing “The Boys in Blue” with my Mancunian buddies at the local watering hole. Loved the thought of maybe derailing United somehow with an improbable Derby win (though it was pretty damned unlikely to ever actually happen.)

    That’s kind of how you have to look at this sport – or any – if your club isn’t a “have.” Because there have always been “haves” and “have-nots” all through history. In pretty much every other sport I follow my team is decidedly a “have not” and it doesn’t really bother me. Your club is your club. I mean, unless you are one of the ubiquitous Miami Heat/Man United/New England Patriot/FC Barcelona “fans” that one somehow manages to trip over everywhere in the US.

    • Chris Machin

      August 4, 2012 at 3:23 am

      New York Giants (well before the recent championship) and Wolverhampton Wanderers unfortunately, so I am also very well grounded and accustomed to taking the rough with the smooth!

    • MG

      August 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Love this comment. Cheers man.

  8. Jason

    August 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    This article really screams more “I don’t like ManCity/Ade then anything else” If you look at the facts… you know those quotes which can actually be quoted and such, before you lash out at Ade.

    First the money thing: If you did your due diligence you would know that the guy contributes over 50% of his pay to charity. This is more than any other footballer I’ve ever heard of. That kind of stifles your argument right there. But I could see that with the articles swirling around about his reluctance to move on from Man City you could overlook that fact. Ade has accepted a pay cut to be sold to Tottenham and the hold apparently is that in accordance with that paycut he would like a donation made to his charities. I don’t really see how this makes the man a mercenary.

    Second is his celebration after scoring against Arsenal: Yes, Arsenal fans would be pretty irritated by this but I gotta be honest, If I were a Man City fan I would find it awesome. He was booked and did apologize and endeared himself to Man City fans.

    He is probably a player you love to hate if he is against you and love him if he is on your side but this article is very onesided and seems more a rant than anything.

    • Chris Machin

      August 4, 2012 at 3:20 am

      Too right it is a rant. Regardless of the figures involved the man is self certified mercenary. Simply by saying you would be happy to rot in ANY reserve team rather than play the game that millions of others worldwide would die to play is all the proof you need. It’s a slap in the face to Tottenham Hotspur for a start and the point I am trying to make it when you earn and have earned enough in one year to live more than comfortably for the rest of your life, what is an extra 50k to you… evidently by Adebayors statement that extra 50k a week in his bank balance no matter what he chooses to do with it, is more important than the game itself which is not only morally and ethically wrong, but is also the equivalent of every single supporter worldwide that pays their much harder earned money to sit in those stands thus keeping the money train well fuelled

      • Chris Machin

        August 4, 2012 at 3:21 am

        **equivalent of a slap in the face too**

      • Jason

        August 4, 2012 at 11:14 am

        You can’t say $50K a week to me because that’s an entirely different thing. You are forgetting… professionals are not playing for fun, it’s their job. Indeed, it’s gotta be a great job and if you sign a contract there is no reason to take less money when you are owed that money.

        If you had contracted job for 4 years making 75K doing something you like and after 2 years they said hey we need you to do something you don’t really like for the same money or we can send you over to a different company doing what you like but they are only going to pay you 50% of that… would you take it? No, not a chance.

        Also, I believe the rot on the bench comment is something from the press because I’ve never seen any quotes from him of that. I could be wrong but please show me where he has said that. And think about this, if he is truly just about the money let me pose this question. If he chooses to sit on the bench for the remainder of his contract wouldn’t that hurt his long term incoming money by teams not willing to sign him because of this “money attitude” and than also the fact that he won’t pay to earn another contract?

        This is just a silly article not based on any facts.

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