Recently I looked at some data on the changes in top division/Premier League footballers (soccer players for Americans) pay between 1985 and 2010 here in the UK. According to figures compiled by the Professional Footballers Association average pay increased from £1000 per week in 1985 to £33,000 per week in 2010 – an increase of 3,300% over this period (see sportingintelligence.com). Needless to say, this means that ‘the gap’ between the wage of the average worker and that of these particular sports-stars has exploded over the last 25 years – much in the same way that ‘the gap’ between CEO pay and that of the average worker has mushroomed. Indeed, increases in CEO pay though far outstripping that of average workers have been lower than those enjoyed by top flight footballers.
These figures clearly put footballers in the ‘top 1%’ – but does anybody seriously believe that football players have achieved these gains at the direct expense of the average worker or that there is some sort of sinister elite conspiring to raise footballers pay? I think not. The reality is that a very large number of people who have seen only moderate increases in their wages/salaries over recent years have been willing to spend a higher proportion of their income watching football. Many average workers have willingly handed over a part of their salary to watch games – and many more have done so indirectly by boosting advertising revenue as TV coverage has expanded rapidly in recent years. The supply of top flight players has not increased significantly over time, but the demand for their ‘services’ has rocketed – and so as a consequence has their pay.
Read the rest of the article on the Pileus blog.