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The Sickening Waste that is Professional Sport.

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Consider this: the amount payed to the players at Manchester’s 2 Premier League clubs is roughly the same as the total wage and salary bill of that city’s 6 hospitals*. I repeat, the amount paid to the players. It does not include the manager’s salary, nor any of the other staff employed by the club – coaches, physios, groundsmen, admin, marketers, etc. The hospitals’ figure, however, covers all 13,000 employees, from the highest paid consultant to the porters.

The total for the five Premier League clubs with the highest player wage bills is close on £1 billion.

It makes me wonder if the British public care more about sport in general, and football in particular, than they do about their beloved NHS.

I also think it very strange that people who demand “their country back”, and complain that they are being “over-run by immigrants”, nevertheless find it acceptable that their local football club is owned by foreigners, managed by a foreigner and has a significant number of foreign players on its books.

That broad description applies to the majority, if not quite all, of the clubs currently in the League. The club presently at the top of the League is 86% owned by the deputy Prime Minister of an Islamic state.

busby007_6108988

Manchester United legends Sir Matt Busby and George Best. Photo credit: Manchester Evening News. In the 1957/8 season, of the 30 man squad, including the manager, 27 were UK citizens. The other 3 were Irish. Source: http://www.worldfootball.net/teams/manchester-united/1958/2/

Meanwhile, Manchester United is 90% owned by the six Glazer siblings of First Allied Corporation, which owns and rents out shopping malls across the USA, through a company registered in the Cayman Islands, a tax haven. This leads me to another strange thing: people who resent the accumulation of wealth by entrepreneurs and bankers who take great care to avoid paying tax, apparently are quite content to have such individuals taking control of a club that began as a community owned and operated organisation.

Of course, football is not the only arena in which vast incomes can be earned from the practice of sporting prowess. Formula 1 motor racing, golf and boxing come to mind.

All of these sports are able to pay out such vast amounts as a result of corporate sponsorship which, in turn, relies on the sale of television rights. It comes as no surprise, then, that sport, and football in particular, has taken over our television screens. Not so long ago Saturday afternoon was the time for sport, with recorded highlights shown later on the same day. Now football can displace the regular schedules on any night of the week. And this is despite the proliferation of channels dedicated solely to the showing of sporting events, including those operated by the football clubs themselves.

What if the money now sloshing around in sport could be diverted to help deal with the many problems faced by the poor and those ‘just about managing’ as Mrs May so memorably put it? Health, Social Care and Housing are all deprived of resources whilst sportsmen and women, and those who exploit their prowess for profit, enjoy fantasy life styles.

The huge disparity in wealth and incomes that is the consequence of market capitalism is widely condemned, as is tax avoidance through the use of shell companies registered in tax havens. Why, then, do we so easily condone the vast waste of resources that professional sport has become?

*Manchester United spent £232 million and Manchester City £198m on player wages in the season 2016/7, source: totalsportek.com. The total salary bill for Manchester’s six hospitals in the 2016/7 financial year was £448 million, covering 12,992 staff, according to the Trust’s annual report.

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11 Comments

  1. Frank,
    It shows where people’s priorities are. If they played the sports themselves, rather than watching them on TV, they would probably be healthier and wouldn’t need the NHS so much. At least in the UK, your football is soccer, which is much not so brutal and dangrous as US football.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Sha'Tara says:

    Good article Frank. You just explained why I totally boycott organized sports… well apart from the stupidity involved, the overt and covert violence and the mentality of those who partake and watch. In Canada they have a saying about hockey… “Yeah, I went to the fights Saturday night and a hockey game broke out.”

    Liked by 3 people

  3. tidalscribe says:

    How I agree – I see a red mist before my eyes as i read, it makes me so angry… If only we all just ignored the whole thing. Don’t watch on television, don’t go to matches and certainly don’t buy the merchandise. A return to a blown up pig’s bladder in a muddy field is what we need!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Rebecca Bryn says:

    You have hit a nerve here, Frank. Sport, as the name suggests, is sport. I personally believe that sport should be played for the love of the sport, not the money. Expenses, yes. A living wage? Possibly, if there are enough paying supporters to cover it. I mean, how many Aston Martins can one man drive at once? If you add policing to the funds and manpower diverted from national and local services, big-time, professional sport is damaging our security and health service.
    And don’t get me started on sport messing up my TV viewing. There aren’t many programmes I enjoy, but to switch on and discover it finished an hour ago, or it’s been cancelled for football… to the detriment of new, quality programming, I might add. And you should, or maybe shouldn’t, hear my husband’s language.
    It’s good that people can watch their favourite sports, either at a ground or on TV, but there are plenty of sports channels, and I think there’s as much enjoyment to be had turning up at your local playing field and having a kick-about with a few mates – and ‘jumpers for goalposts’.
    Bring back the days when players were born and lived in the town of the team for which they played, they were paid a reasonable wage for doing something they loved, and the gate price was affordable for genuine fans, not troublemakers. I know a sportsperson’s career can be short, but these top players earn more in one year than most people do in a lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    • franklparker says:

      Spot on Rebecca – and thanks for reblogging. Marx said religion was the “opium of the people”. I think if he was alive today he would substitute (commercialised) professional sport for religion in that statement.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Clive says:

    You’re right to draw attention to the comparison of wage bills in Manchester, which highlights the ridulous way we prioritise what is important to us. But I’m not sure that changing the funding for football, in particular, would make much difference. Would the corporate funding that goes into sport be moved across to the NHS instead? I’d like to think so, but given that Branson recently had a hissy fit and sued the NHS for not giving his company a contract I’m not sure that it would. In my view, commercial funding has no place in healthcare: it produces conflicts of interest. Better funding and priorities from government are needed. In the meantime, our warped sense of priorities will continue, I think. (Written whilst watching footy on Sky – to make your point for you!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Phil Huston says:

    Pay the footballers what teachers are paid, price tickets so “everyman” can attend a game and cap the owners’ income. See who really has “heart” for the game.

    Liked by 1 person

    • franklparker says:

      I suppose the players pay income tax – although I suspect their agents find all kinds of ways of avoiding that. The owners use tax havens to avoid the corporation tax which would help distribute their profits into public services. The agents have a lot to answer for, too. I watched bot rugger matches this afternoon. One was superb t,other was rubbish.

      Like

  7. It’s all got totally out of hand and this is a brilliant blog Frank. Why can’t people see the obvious?

    Liked by 1 person

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