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Jezza targets footballers' pay


As part of his campaign to cap high pay in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has specifically targeted footballers' pay.  This is, of course, good populist politics.

On the one hand, many fans resent the very high salaries awarded to some players, particularly when they fail to deliver on the pitch.   Those people who are not particularly interested, or even hostile, to football do not like the fact that players with a limited education, often from a very poor or ethnic minority background, can earn very large sums of money.  This is compounded when they spend that money on a 'flashy' lifestyle.

As it so happens, football was one of the few jobs that was subject to a 'maximum wage' until it was removed in 1961 after successful campaigning by the players' union led by Jimmy Hill.  It marked the end of an era when players were viewed by club owners as 'artisans' who should get a similar wage to a skilled worker, perhaps with the perk of a house owned by the club.

One difficulty is that most top footballers earn some of their money through their own companies.   The public finances take a hit because these arrangements are taxed more lightly than direct employment. Last year, the official fiscal watchdog predicted that incorporations would increase five per cent a year on average, which would cut tax revenues by £3.5bn in 2021-22 (these figures relate to the economy as a whole and not just football).