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Johnny Haynes
"As an ex-footballer, I have no qualms about it"
 real 14k

Sunday, 7 January, 2001, 21:09 GMT
The only way is up
David Beckham and Roy Keane. Allsport.
Beckham could overtake Keane's Old Trafford earnings
BBC Sport Online's Mark Barden charts the continuing rise of footballers' wages.

In 1961, the 20 maximum wage in British football was abolished and Fulham's Johnny Haynes became the first 100-a-week player.

Forty years on, Manchester United star David Beckham is reportedly demanding a new deal which will boost his weekly wage to 100,000.

United say they are willing to give their best players big rises, but whether they are ready to accommodate Beckham remains to be seen.

It could be argued United set this particular mega-bucks ball rolling last year by increasing Roy Keane's earnings to 52,000 a week.

With Beckham believed to be on 26,000, his salary was obviously in line for a hike. But can even the richest clubs afford six-figure weekly pay packets?

Doubtless the same question was asked about three-figure ones when Haynes clinched his 100 a week all those years ago.


But after years of underpaying its prime assets, British football continued to be conservative in its approach to players' salaries.

The stars of Man Utd's 1968 team, for example, were earning 250-350 a week, although the likes of George Best could earn more through endorsements.

When Norman Whiteside helped United lift the FA Cup in 1983, he was on little more than those 60s greats, albeit as an 18-year-old.

Johnny Haynes. Allsport.
Haynes' 100-a-week deal began a new era
Wages rose inexorably during the 1980s and early 1990s but then came the landmark European court case which radically changed the way in which players were treated and paid.

The Bosman ruling in 1995 gave freedom of movement to out-of-contract players and, in the process, really added fuel to footballers' wage demands.

With big names joining clubs for "free", cash which would have been part of any transfer fee was diverted into their salary package.

Of course, the agents of players without the benefit of a "Bosman" have demanded parity for their clients, further increasing the upward pressure on wages.

The higher the salary, the more secretive clubs and players become about it, so true figures can be hard to come by.

A survey by The Independent newspaper last year revealed that the average annual pay for a Premiership footballer above the age of 20 was 409,000. Some 16% earned in excess of 1m a year.

Increased revenue from broadcasting deals, sponsorship and merchandising has also allowed clubs to splash out.

Top dollar

Middlesbrough upped the ante in 1996 when they paid Italian striker Fabrizio Ravanelli 40,000 a week to swap Italy for the North East.

Fabrizio Ravanelli. Allsport.
Ravanelli's Boro deal set a new standard
Their spending has not bought success, but Boro continue to pay top dollar. Injury-prone Croatian striker Alen Boksic believed to be a on a weekly salary of up to 70,000.

Even a mid-scale Premiership side such as Leicester City were prepared to pay midfielder Neil Lennon 30,000 a week.

The Northern Ireland international took a pay cut to fulfil his boyhood dream and join Scottish giants Celtic.

The British game still has some way to go before its salaries match those of the highest-paid players on the Continent.

Alessandro del Piero is on a reputed 275,000 a month, while former Liverpool star Steve McManaman's reluctance to leave Real Madrid is understandable given his reported monthly income of 260,000.

But it seems that only a rapid deflation of football's financial bubble will prevent the first 100,000-a-week player - whether it is Beckham or someone else - from pulling on his boots very soon.

Johnny Haynes, the man whose first 100-a-week pay packet set the whole process in motion, is all for it.

"As an ex-footballer I've got no qualms about it," he told BBC Radio Five Live. "It's great for the players, and long may it continue."

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