Covid-19 is bursting the salary bubble in football

Over the years, there has been consensus among local football fans that our professional footballers are overpaid.

But over that time, for some obscure reason, I don’t quite understand why those salaries have kept climbing.

I’ve talked to many clubs about this financial uneasiness, but it doesn’t seem that they mind paying an average RM50,000 per month for players from the national team selection who pretty much have the footballing attributes to go as far as winning the Asean Football Federation (AFF) Cup.

And no. Please don’t say that winning the AFF Cup matters most because I’m sorry, that’s just like saying you’re the best looking man at the hospital’s burns unit. Or that you’re proud champions of the Singapore League.

What intrigues me more is the mad financial practices at the management level. I mean, you have be a complete cabbage to spend approximately 90 per cent of your average revenue on salaries alone.

Ending the season in the middle of the table with that kind of spending should have sent anyone digging a hole for their head.

How do you go about showing that face of yours? But no. They gleefully stand on for the next season and adopt the same strategy, but with a different set of players. How silly is that?

There is no solution to this alarming financial practice. Forcing clubs to manage their finances prudently is an utter and complete waste of time. Because to make anyone in management understand, it would have to be a non-stop orgy of fire and panic and people getting their heads stuck at the entrance of their homes.

Which is what actually happened – Covid-19.

Now, the pandemic is a bottom. This is true. But it also seems to be the best thing for Malaysian football. The financial squeeze on professional football clubs caused by the pandemic is a huge slap on the face as the sources to fund massive salaries run dry.

For many seasons, Malaysian Super and Premier League clubs have flexed their financial muscles to splurge an estimated annual average of over RM18 million on salaries alone. From that estimate, anyone would be able to guess that the club has certainly no interest or the needed capacity to invest in a long-term sustainable plan.

Without the crisis breathing down their necks, a lot of Super and Premier League clubs were already fretting about just meeting their monthly salary bills. With the crisis now up their bottoms, many clubs are threatened by insolvency and many have already imposed mandatory or voluntary salary cuts.

Salary cuts that don’t affect the decent livelihood of your players scream of the fact that those players are overpaid. Having 30 per cent of your RM50,000 per month salary slashed will definitely put a dent on your spending behaviour.

Your household income would fall to a mere RM35,000 per month (assuming your wife doesn’t work), which is only just five times more than the average household income in this country. In fact, RM35,000 is more than the average monthly income of CEOs in Malaysia.

Obviously not everyone is fortunate enough to earn RM50,000 a month. So stop niggling about details because the message of this article is simple. Spending 90 per cent of your revenue on salaries alone is irrational and bordering lunacy.

The crisis is a revelation that leaks how such poor salary management practices potentially leave the club in a fickle and volatile financial state. Cork the salaries, invest in sustainability and spend within your means.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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