Friday 30 May ~
It was announced this week that annual wages paid to Premier League players now stand at more than £1 billion, a figure that is expected to double in the next two years. Everywhere you look among the transfer speculation now filling the back pages, clubs are being urged to spend more. But while pay and performance are closely connected in the world's richest league – England's Champions League quartet also pay by far the most in wages – some clubs are leaving themselves open to being financially crippled for years to come by over-spending.
One of our favourite managers, the firm-but-fair Tony Mowbray of West Brom, hit out today at some of his out-of-contract players, whom he accuses of “hawking” themselves then asking Albion to beat offers made by other clubs.
In that article, Ipswich are cited as an example of a club who signed players on unrealistic wages while in the Premier League, financial mismanagement that went to cause huge problems for them after relegation. Ipswich had finished fifth in their first season back in the Premier League under George Burley in 2001-02 with one more point, 66, than Everton got last season. Now West Brom and the other promoted clubs, Hull and Stoke, are being told that even staying up for one season may be beyond them, with the financial chasm between the Championship and the Premier League seen as insurmountable.
Still at least none of the Premier League's new boys will need to worry about one of their players being pursued for unpaid gambling debts of over £1 million. The player involved earns £100,000 a week so you'd think he could sort out what he owes by some frugal saving for a couple of months – or selling some property – but it seems that he's not responding to creditors' demands. He's described as “one of England's most popular footballers” but we can't think of anyone who fits that description just now.