Why is football so highly paid?
Nearly half the planet compromising of 3.5 billion people are partially associated with the mega sport. On hearing the term “Football” one would ideally assume that it is another sport with a very huge grassy ground consisting of 22 sweaty men chasing a ball for 90 minutes right? Yeah that is not the best way to define football because it is not just a game but a lifestyle. Athletes dedicate their lives in the hopes to specialize their technical ability and discipline, managers would spend hours on the training ground trying to implement a strategy, the coaches would watch hours long footage to deduce and dissect tactics, the fitness staff would take care of the players and their physical concerns with injuries, the pundits would portray their verdicts, the commentators would describe the game with a dash of poetry and most importantly the fans will complete the game with passion, energy, love and enthusiasm.
Football is an entire brand and has obtained popularity all over the world. To take an example FIFA averaged 3.2 Billion watchers between the 2010 and 2014 World cup with numbers growing every year. These statistics show as to how large the sporting event and the sport is itself. The essence of football lies in Brazil with blazing passionate fans along with the production of the best entertainers this game has ever seen such Ronaldo Nazario, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and the magician Ronaldinho. Neilson Sports published a report in 2018 which discovered the percentage of the population of a country that are watchers of football revealing that the 80% of U. A.E is interested in football with Thailand, Chile and Portugal following up. The report further concluded that the top 20 nations belong to different continents which represents the widespread of football all across the globe with 11 European countries, 4 of them belonging to Asia, 3 from Latin America and a single each from the Middle east and Africa. So now the question arises as to why football is so highly paid? To fathom this question we need to analyze what makes football what it is and what are the binding factors of the game which has prompted the sport to be popular since the 1800s with the admiration growing every year.
What makes football, football?
Love by the fans and passion
The most important element of football without a doubt the essence of the game lies in the art of emotion and passion. Passion applies on football in different ways from the players working hard off the field to train to giving it all on the field for 90 minutes with the “never give up” attitude. Coming towards the fans that make this game what it is, the love for the game by these individuals living in different parts of the world is what makes football, football. In South East Asia the people sometimes need to stay awake till midnight in order to watch games despite having responsibilities and duties the next day. Yet they would happily wait till 2 a.m. to watch their favourite team play which blossoms passion over the screen.
Scoring goals and celebrations
The idea of throwing your pints in the air, taking your shirt off and rolling like it a madman in the air is absolutely unmatched and these moments arrive when your team player has scored a goal which erupts the crowds and ignites a wonderful feeling of joy and enthusiasm which lasts for hardly a few seconds. These are the moments we live for may it be a fast counter attack, brilliantly worked passage of play, a hammering header in the air or a free-kick from 35 yards.
No age factor
Most sports in the world come with the age factor with certain restrictions and conditions. Taking an example of the NFL, in order for a player to make his debut the requirement is to be out of high school for nearly 3 years and the same criteria applies to NBA with a few specifications but there is no distinction in football. It provides opportunities to everyone regardless of age without any specific restrictions imposed on players. For one thing Ansu Fati made his debut for Barcelona in 2019 aged 16 years and 298 days and scored his first goal 6 days later in a professional game. Similarly to Fati, Jude Bellingham made his senior debut for Birmingham City aged 16 in 2019 and is currently playing for Borussia Dortmund at 17 years of age.
The reason why footballers are so highly paid
We have already discovered that football is the world’s most watched sport with unmatched popularity and fair division all across the globe with keen watchers in Asia, Europe, Latin America and etc. The reason why football is such a highly paid sport is because there is a demand for it. Here, the law and phenomena of Supply & Demand applies to football as well. To go deep into further elaboration top clubs want the best possible players to further their growth and performances on the field, they also want to use big names for popularity purposes for example If Manchester City buy Lionel Messi tomorrow it could arguably break the record for the most shirt sales ever ending up in revenue for the footballing club. Coming back to the supply of these great players, there is a demand for them by the best European clubs. The factor of competition cannot be under looked as well considering the fact that an upcoming great individual talent will not be targeted and scouted by not one but many footballing organizations. The best recent example would be of Erling Haaland who is a 20 year old shiny Norwegian who is attracted by the top clubs in the world. While his price tag may be near €80 to €100million, the great foreign attraction enlarges it up 120 to €150.
Increasing wages over the years?
The average weekly salary of a football player in the premier league used to be €60,000 per week in 2014 however the increasing rate is astonishing and with prominent demand established the average salary is near €80,000+ today. This growing trend has under been scrutiny and after research it was determined that this due to the fact that football clubs have been earning better than ever so it is appropriate to say football is at an all time high and given the world’s growing population and the game’s increasing popularity the belief is that the growth of football is at an unstoppable rate. Add the technological advancement today and the odds are in the favour of the sport. Let us take an example of the growth of premier league itself which is the most watched league in the world, their broadcasting rights in the first few seasons were sold for not more than £180M from 1992-1996. Today the TV rights of the premier league are reported to be up till £5 Billion. Everything stems from the love of football and the interest for the sport around the world, if popularity in football decreases tomorrow then these humongous numbers will suffer a decline as well.
As per a report the basic salary of a footballer player playing in the top division in United Kingdom has experienced a 1500% increase over the past 25 years. These numbers are absolutely staggering and showoff the dominance that one normal game possess in the world. The depth is to the point where it is the best business in the world as we can see how almost every big club in the Premier League has American Owners who now move towards taking a bigger step in the hopes to destroy the monopoly of their respective leagues and UEFA in particular given the emergence of the recent “European Super League”
Let us also discover the tickets and their high prices and as to how they play a very huge part in generating revenue for football clubs. Manchester United are arguably the biggest club in the world with the largest fan base of all Major European clubs having 650+ millions fans over the globe. In the fiscal year of 2020 it was revealed that Manchester United had earned nearly 111.06M US dollars from ticket sales on match days. As of now it seems unlikely that the ticket prices of these premier league clubs will suffer a decline. As a matter of fact the statistics predict that the prices would continue to grow gradually. Again the phenomena of Supply and Demand comes into play again as the Premier League is popular more than ever with increasing fans and a more massive following. Another factor is growth itself as these clubs need to afford wages and huge salaries so clubs like Cardiff City and Sheffield United have a balanced procedure. The Covid-19 pandemic is a huge example which has brought extinction to lower league clubs as the revenue obtained from tickets used to fund the affairs of these clubs.
Will these wages keep rising?
They are multiple factors that determine the wage or the salary of a specific football player. Factors such as age, talent, ability, talent and potential come into play. If any specific player in the top 5 leagues is performing at high level then the top European clubs come drooling for the player. The better the player is the more valued he is resulting in a high transfer price and then these same top players are awarded with huge salaries. Manchester United broke the world transfer fee record for Paul Pogba in the 16/17 season and Pogba’s first contract was reported to flex £290,000 per week. The increasing trend will not be distorted because as football modernizes the players get better and improve further. Not to mention players are paid huge salaries because these footballing clubs can afford these hefty wages so it is unlikely that the rate will be decreased
The role of sponsors and their massive impact
Football has the biggest audience in the world which is why it is the best place to invest and sponsor your brand. The art of sponsoring has been involved in football for some time now varying from the Premier League to the La Liga to any lower league in the world. Through these sponsors the condition of football itself has improved as the money invested results in the increase of wealth of these member football clubs. You basically are marketing for these brands with their logos on your shirts, then we also have rectangular shaped TV screens bordering the entire field with brands and advertisements displayed on them. It was revealed in a report that sponsors contributed to nearly $4.5 billion to the total revenue that the Premier League earned in the 2014-15 season and the numbers are expected to be even more untamed today. Football generates the most sponsors in the world. To put it into perspective Manchester United has 24 known sponsors as per their website and there are possibly more. The idea of sponsorship is undoubtedly beautiful from a financial point of view because it works for both sides. The episode of give and take applies and both parties enjoy benefits. The organization or football club being sponsored enjoys financial income while the sponsoring brand enjoys endorsements and marketing through all over the world on a humungous scale.
Let us take an example of major sponsorship deal between Adidas and arguably the best player in the world Leo Messi. Lionel came onto the scene as an enthusiastic young kid and Adidas foresaw potential in him and signed him in 2006 nearly 14 years from today. Messi clicked as the best player in the world on many different occasions and won 6 Ballon D Or awards cementing his place as the face of Adidas. Recently, in 2017 he signed a life time contract wit Adidas which would earn him £18 million every year. However it is not known as to how much Adidas benefit from Messi but there is obviously a positive outcome.
The case with the Premier League?
It is said that the Premier League has a potential audience of 4.7 Billion people with it being reported in 18/19 season that a 6% increase in views was noticed. It is the most followed and watched league in the world and generates the most revenue out of all top 5 European leagues such as the Bundesliga and La Liga etc. The English Premier League has built a very vast and smart network all across the world that enables maximization of possible revenue and profit through various methods. TV rights generate the highest amount of revenue for a football club and that is what the EPL specializes in. The clubs would revoke rights to league and then give the rights TV mediums such as Sky sports, BT and NBC sports etc. The broadcaster bid for the rights and then sell off subscription to viewers and also placement fees for advertisers. We have mentioned about sponsors in this piece before and as to how the biggest deals by sporting organizations such as Adidas or Nike are affiliated with clubs like Manchester United or Liverpool because of the popularity that they have. Adidas pays Manchester United £74 Million for one year! Not to mention the tactics played by the premier league for utmost commercialization can not be under looked as they have established keen fan bases all over the globe resulting in more viewers. Over the past 10 years these clubs have grown massively into the United States and Asia in particular. Another factor is the use of the most common language in the world as the Premier league is based in England and the language barrier has said to make a difference in the past where people prefer punditry and commentary in English which done widely at a high level in the U.K. however the Spanish or the German Leagues have less coverage in English along with a major difference in the quality.