Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Silver And Gold

Premiership footballers are an easy target for oprobium - millionaire lifestyles for a few hours training a day and, two matches a week (at most) for 40 weeks a year. Often the hacks can't use the word 'footballers' without the prefix 'pampered, overpaid millionaire'.

Recently a nurses' charity in England carried out a quite disgusting blackmail job via the media when they revealed they had asked for a donation of a day's wages from all the Premier League footballers and then published the names of the players and clubs who did not contribute. Gareth Southgate, Middlesbro' manager, went way up in my estimation when he told them where to go.

Now without meaning to engage in whataboutery, it's worth remembering that relatively few footballers earn the megabucks compared to the total numbers that ply that trade for the entertainment of others worldwide, and that they do so at the permanent risk of career-ending injuries in a career that will only last 'til the age of 35 (at best).

Furthermore those that succeed in football do so almost purely because of nurtured talent and a drive to be the best. It is pretty much independent of all those things that give people an accepted advantage in any other walk of life - where you're from, the colour of your skin, how good your parents are or how much money they have, the quality of your education etc.

Yet footballers seem to get all the grief, probably due to our fixation with celebrity culture (although I'm sure they can cope!) whereas company directors get away with scandalous wealth accumulation and tax avoision (it's a word!) with, at most, the criticism of a handful of media commentators and nothing more.

For example the former CEO of the company I work for presided over the virtual destruction of shareholder value (the share-price has halved in the last 5-years while the market trend has been upwards) and yet he walked away with a package of some $80 million last year!

Now the word is that the main man at Merrill Lynch investment bank could walk away with $150 million in stock and pension after he was sacked for major losses. In fact to avoid taxes (worldwide) the annual bonuses company directors receive are often in stock options, and in excess of their annual salaries, where once they would only have been a relatively small percentage (i.e. what the rest of us normal professionals get).

It also has to be remembered that these people award themselves their pay packets (it's an insult to be told shareholders vote on them) and that they're often directors of more than one company (and each other's companies).

And yet no one says a word (or would even dream of doing something about such ludicrous pay levels). Instead poor, dumb sports people - who at least divert the blue and white collar muppets' attention from our daily grind working for these silver-spoon gobbed Harvard shysters - get all the grief. Laughable, if you think about it.
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