If you’ve watched the popular movie The Damned United, you know the story of how the bad-tempered yet confident Brian Clough brought Derby County up two divisions in the English leagues (this was before the Premier League) and won the first division only to let his ego get the best of him and destroy a dynamic friendship with Peter Taylor, his trusty assistant at Derby, and send Leeds United into failure at his new job.
The film made it seem so simple, Clough and Taylor were geniuses of their time when it came to signing players back when wages were just as high as a career that required a high school diploma. Now professional athletes all over the world make millions or even billions, and it is well-documented that soccer players in England were capped at a very low wage in the beginnings of the sport. In the last 30 or 40 years the sport has undoubtedly become much richer, but it is interesting to attempt to understand what that means for the future of the game. Wages are one of the biggest changes the game has made. In 1957, a top England player would have earned just £1,677 in entire year (Footballers’ Wages). In 2011 Carlos Tevez signed a new contract that would pay him £250,000 per week. Recently Manchester United veteran Wayne Rooney signed a contract worth £300,000 per week (Wayne Rooney).
An article in the BBC by David Bond explains how English citizens worry about how soccer changes (Has Football Changed for the Better?). While stadiums are more welcoming than in the era of danger and hooliganism that the 1980’s were subjected to, ticket prices have skyrocketed and lavishly-paid players often make terrible role models for young people. The article contrasts Germany’s model of ownership with the English one. In England, a club can be owned by any one person, which makes the game much more expensive and “treats fans as clients”, as the chief executive of Borussia Dortmund, a powerful club in Germany, puts it. Clubs like Borussia Dortmund involve fans in electing club presidents and making other decisions about how to run the team.
The game has also changed on the field, not just in fans and players’ wallets. Perhaps as a result of the sport growing richer, playing styles and even equipment have made somewhat controversial changes. One of the most controversial changes is diving. In the new era of soccer players have resorted to simulation and embellishment to win a call from the referee. An article in football.co.uk explains these changes and their root of money (Old School). Every facet of the game, from fashion to tactics to individual skill, has changed as a result of soccer becoming more money-fueled.
- Bond, D. (2013, April 29) Has Football Changed for the Better? BBC. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/22314015
- Bailey, L. (2013, November 14) The Old School vs. The New School: How football has changed. Football. Retrieved from: http://www.football.co.uk/manchester_united/the_old_school_vs_the_new_school__how_football_has_changed_rss4488176.shtml
- McNulty, P. (2014, February 21) Wayne Rooney: Man Utd Striker Signs New 300,000-a-week Deal. BBC. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/26287482
- The Telegraph (2011, January 18) How footballers’ wages have changed over the years: in numbers. The Telegraph. Retrieved from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/competitions/premier-league/8265851/How-footballers-wages-have-changed-over-the-years-in-numbers.html