The economics of the beautiful game continues to be mindboggling.
As Premier League clubs ready themselves for the latest cash bonanza, revenue from domestic and global TV rights deals look set to top £5bn starting next season.
On top of the massive £3bn deal announced in June 2012 for domestic live rights with Sky and BT for the three seasons from 2013-14, and the £178m banked from the BBC for Match of the Day highlights, the Premier League expects to better the £1.5bn it brought in from international broadcasters last go round.
What a beautifully lucrative game it has become.
As the average fan ponders whether to pay his or her mortgage or exorbitant winter electricity bill at the end of the month, the average Premier League player is now drawing down a weekly wage of around £22,300, before bonuses and add ons. No, I’m not one of those that begrudge our players their hard earned cheese but £1.1 million a year is enough to keep even the fool hardy from counting at night.
Those poor souls in the Championship are averaging close to £4,100 per week or £210,000 plus annually. Playing in League Two nets you about £747 per week, not all that much more than the national average.
No, I am not envious. Well, OK, just a little. But seriously, why should we care about the “swag” that the majority of the professional game now makes?
Because cash or should I say, bars of gold, are king. Money not trophies or prestige define our elite players, managers, administrators and officials with which we entrust our most cherished national past time.
It also provides the clearest measure yet, that the game, for the most part is not serious about combating discrimination or other forms of poor social practices.
Just imagine running a major discrimination body on about £350,000 per year annually. That’s the equivalent of a slightly better than average – not top rate – Championship player.
Not that Kick It Out requires my skills to defend its work but that’s about what the organisation gets annually to fund its programmes. That includes, Community Action Weeks, Women in Football, Education programmes, Equality Standards, Asians in Football, Homophobia, grassroots coaching, mentoring and leadership projects and of course the Black and Asian Coaches Association.
All of these and more fall under the Kick It Out banner. Is it any surprise that its small team falls short in areas. Is it any surprise that its messages get lost amid the plethora of so many social issues they are trying to balance.
Even Kick It Out’s chairman Lord Herman Ouseley appears to have lost faith with his brethren among the various football governing bodies. Resigning from their ranks and lashing out….yet many choose not to notice the burgeoning racial crisis within the game.
I call it a crisis because those that clearly have the power to do better don’t seem interested in real changes.
We shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that the game’s administrators want to contain any hint of social intolerance within their own ranks. They are after all businessmen and they are trying to maintain a façade that has stood the test of time.
But when top rate international players are prepared to put their money where their feet are, there is a clear problem. I certainly don’t want to see more players following AC Milan star Kevin Prince Boateng walking off a playing field.
All be it during a friendly, there is a strong and unmistakeable message in the players actions….that players are finally prepared to push the envelope for meaningful changes in stands and at clubs.
When players feel the need to make public stands, risking losing their shirts and potentially millions by walking off fields, there is little doubt that the mood has changed and the game’s administrators must show their intent with more cash. Not sentiment and cheap poorly thought out non-partisan action plans.
Cash after all will lead to results, we are so often told by top managers. Without more cash from the football authorities, the desire for a change is hollow, patronizing waffle.
Having read the 92 point Action Plan on managing racism, anti-Semitism, and the promotion of diversity in football produced by the Football Association, the County Football Association, the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the League Managers Association, the Professional Game Match Officials Ltd and the Referees Association, I’m embarrassed for them.
I found just one mention of anti-Semitism, few new initiatives and even less sense that there was actually a plan that could be delivered, measured and parties penalised for failure.
The stinging and accurate criticism of the Action Plan in a detailed and well thought out response by The Society of Black Lawyers, Nirvana FC, and the association of Black and Asian coaches marks a nadir. The lack of inclusion of people of colour in the process, the lack of advice from organisations set up to tackle such issues and the lack of openness to review and attempt fresh ideas is stunning. (click here for the press release)
I believe that Government intervention is now inevitable and that football’s UK governing bodies have ceded power to outside forces.
There fear of losing control of the game, will in fact lead them to losing key elements of control. The clear need for stronger, evidence based action and inclusion means that Government may well have to force these old style thinkers to change their ways.
Blinded by the gleaming gold bars in their vaults, the sport’s governing bodies should now be mandated to meet strict targets and be forced to engage more partners and open the debate to others with greater competence in tackling diversity issues.
Given that cash is the question, I must also declare my own hand here. As a social inclusion advocacy body, we are looking for new and innovate solutions ourselves. And one way we are targeting is for players and their advisors to contribute more. Yes, it’s time for them to establish their own organs and dare I say it, dip there hand in their own pockets to help fund change. Or at least look at ways to assist in the fight to rid our game of this scourge.
In fact, during our own gathering of the great and good in the Caribbean during our Sport in Black & White Conference in St. Lucia in June we will be looking at establishing a Players Advocacy Group, with several already keen to assist.
Of course, it would be nice if the powers that be stop providing the salary of an average Championship player for its premier diversity programme and started dishing out Wayne Rooney-type dosh to fund better managed, more innovative and more focused socially inclusive programmes.
After all, they can afford it!
THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES:
KEIR RADNEDGE: FOOTBALL IS THE PEOPLE’S SPORT…AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES PROVES IT
PROZONE: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES – EVALUATING STARTEGIES FOR MID-SEASON RECRUITMENT
ROGAN TAYLOR: NEW YEAR REVOLUTIONS
ROGAN TAYLOR: THE BIRTHDAY PARTY’S STARTED EARLY
Delroy Alexander- MB: 17585198190
Chairman, Sacred Sports Foundation
Delroy Alexander is the Chairman of the Sacred Sports Foundation, a not for profit charity based in the St. Lucia. He is a seasoned sports administrator and is a former Chicago Tribune senior investigative business reporter and a Pulitzer Prize nominee journalist. Founded by former Peterborough, Lincoln City and Macclesfield Town manager Keith Alexander, the Sacred Sports Foundation uses sport to work with disadvantaged Caribbean youth. As well as having partnered with the St. Lucia Football Association, the Foundation signed a three year agreement with Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) and secured important grants from UNESCO and the Australian Government among others. In 2013, the Foundation will host a major conference, Sport in Black & White, focusing on actively looking for and implementing game changing solutions. We will be writing regularly on issues of importance to help spark the debate and to be a catalyst for change.
The views of our regular columnists are independent, and as such do not represent those of Leaders in Football.