Craig Salmon looks at the staggering amounts of money being paid to footballers and believes free transfers are damaging to the overall health of the game
How ironic on the fifth anniversary of Sir Tom Finney’s death that one of the hottest topics in football this week is the exorbitant wages the top players of today are able to command.
Not that I am privy to any of the details of Aaron Ramsey’s contract, but if reports are to be believed then the Welshman looks set to earn an eye-watering amount of money each week next season.
The Arsenal midfielder has agreed a deal to sign for Italian giants Juventus after running down his contract with the Gunners, which allows him to leave the Emirates Stadium for free under the Bosman ruling.
By all accounts he is leaving behind a highly lucrative contract with Arsenal – whom he has been with for the past 11 years – to earn a staggering amount of cash, believed to be on the region of £400,000 per week with the Serie A side.
Put it this way, it will take Ramsey a few weeks to earn a million with Juve whereas it would probably take a few months to accumulate that sum on his existing contract in London.
Now don’t get me wrong, Ramsey is a very good player and when compared to other top players in this country and abroad, he deserves to be on a similar pay scale, but his reported wages at Juventus will put him in a different stratosphere.
You can’t blame Ramsey for taking the money on offer and fair play to him.
But I think his move – and the details of it – is dangerous for the game. A case of the tail very much wagging the dog.
The fact that Juve do not have to pay a transfer fee means they can plough much of what they would have given to Arsenal into the player’s pocket.
Is it right that the Gunners get nothing for a player they have nurtured and developed since the age of 17?
I find it unpalatable that all the money is going to just one person – or dare I say it, an agent as well.
Transfer fees between clubs enable money to be recycled within the game.
Indeed further down the footballing spectrum, they are of vital importance as smaller clubs rely on developing players and then selling them on to keep themselves afloat.
But going back to Sir Tom, if Ramsey is worth £400,000 a week then how much would the Preston Plumber be worth in the modern era?
According to ex-PNE ace and legendary football manager Tommy Docherty – who played with Finney – the only man he has seen who is comparable is Lionel Messi.
So with that in mind – maybe a million pounds a week would not be enough to secure Sir Tom’s services.
What was though very much evident about Sir Tom – as this newspaper would readily testify – he gave much of his time up for free, especially after he had retired from playing.
Whenever the Post required a comment on an issue relating to PNE, he was the first man we turned to – and he would not charge a penny for any of his pearls of wisdom.