Are A-League Players Paid Too Much?By: CJH | December 14th, 2010
Player pay is a relative thing. Arguments have always been made, mostly by non-sports fans, that every professional athlete is overpaid. The truth that most sports fans understand is that athletes do far more than perform on the pitch – they sell shirts, expand brands, and drive the ever-lucrative sports betting industry. In short – they make money for a lot of people. But in a world where Cristiano Ronaldo is making almost 18 million Australian dollars / year, you have to admit that the bar has been raised for player salaries. The question facing the A-League is whether their players (none of whom are making C-Ron money) are being paid too much.
Edwin Lugt, the chief executive of Sydney FC (and coincidentally the one signing his team’s salary checks) is convinced that the A-League is overpaying their players. The average A-League player makes $135,000/year, hardly the kind of money that buys you a new Bentley every season, but also not breadcrumbs by most working people’s definition. Since it’s a bit unfair to compare the A-League to the Premier League or La Liga, the league that is most often held up as an example is MLS. Lugt points to this, and to the fact that MLS teams pay only an average of $89,000 / year.
As much as I’d like the question to come down to the inherent value of a professional doing their expert best, what it really comes down to is solvency, and that argues in favor of Lugt’s point. While the MLS is expanding and attendances growing in the US, the A-League is having serious financial difficulties. Sydney FC won the league last season, and still lost millions. If there’s any league in need of that overused buzzword – “austerity measures” – it’s this one. Should that all come out of the hides of the men on the pitch? Of course not. But is anyone, players included, served by teams going under? I think not.
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