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"Its time to think outside the box..."


By Turftalker
February 8 2004

Turftalker returns with another exclusive column for the Longsider Unofficial Burnley FC website. Here he discusses ideas for more flexible contracting at football clubs, as football looks to come out of its financial blackhole. READ:

"Time to think outside the box..."

With football finance in its current state would most people agree there is a real need for more flexible football contracts?

Yes, footballers have a limited time period to work, but the amount of money they are paid makes them members of a wealthy branch of the population and if they saved just a little each week, they could probably have enough to enjoy a comfortable life for years to come. The days of ultra rich footballers across the board is gone.

Taking this in to account, it seems to me only logical that there be an introduction of more flexible contracts for players. Now I cannot pretend to be an expert in what contracts are handed out today but the following to me seem logical and cost effective, while maintaining footballers are well paid employees.

- A decrease in weekly wage for an increase in "win bonuses." This would have the effect of seeing a footballer take on a little bit of the idea behind performance related pay, but maintaining a good, solid wage. If for example a football is on 2000 a week. Why not change this, to 1500 with a 500 win bonus? If the team does not win the savings could be significant, while a footballer will still be earning 6000 per calendar month.

- For youngsters, there is in my opinion a greater need to extend the "playing bonus." Young footballers dream of making it in to the first team, so why not weigh their wages to giving them a cash incentive to get to the first team? If youngsters were on 500 a week, with a 250 first team appearance bonus and a 250 win bonus - the incentives are plain to see.

- A third idea could be: a summer pay clause. We all know that football clubs lack income during the summer months, and to a degree this is why they need season ticket money early on. But we must remember footballers do not work as much during the summer. Yes they do training, yes they do pre-season but they do not play the high level of football they do during the season. Therefore why not write in to contracts that during the summer month, weekly wages will be cut by, say, 25%. Once more a 2000 weekly wage will be reduced to 1500, but it will save the club vital cash.

Now of course, all these ideas may be in place, in particular the first one, but my point is simple. Football Clubs must move towards a more flexible contracting system. One that rewards good performance, pays for work done, but still allows footballers to earn a good solid wage. Yes, some clubs will continue to pay big and all year round, but this system would allow clubs like Burnley to be more financially viable and attract the many footballers who seek the security of any contract.

In the end wages are all about making the most out of the budget given. If Burnley had a wage cap of 1500 a week for say 22 players, it could be cut and pasted to get as much as possible out of it. Maybe the budget could be stretched so that the club could pay 3 or 4 players more with 3 or 4 less, from the wage cap. In effect you will then attract good players and develop young players - but what you are doing is being flexible with the cash.

Finally an idea for the very distant future. As you all probably know, when ever we spend cash in JJB, it is indirectly going in to Dave Whelan's pocket. With Dave Whelan being a real benefactor, JJB profits are to a degree funding a whole football club - Wigan Athletic. Perhaps therefore, there is a future for football clubs, owning non-football businesses? Of course this would take immense initial capital and long term commitment. But if for the sake of examples Burnley FC owned a chain of bakers that made profits of 5 million a year. Would it not be great if just 25% of those profits were invested in the major shareholder - the club itself! 1.25 million would be a good investment! Of course ideas like this have to be tested, analysed and developed.

But flexibility is key - it is now time to think out of the financial box, once we can sort out the immediate debts, the club should look at all options.

Up the Clarets!

Turftalker.

Please discuss the issues here on our message board and/or email Turftalker himself to express your opinions. We like to assess the whole spectrum of ideas to improve the quality of the sites stories.

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