For the last couple of years, there has been one policy at our club which, above all others, has led to problems in attracting players. It’s the wage structure and how it operates. For years it was designed to do one thing; to keep the CEO as the highest paid person at Parkhead.
Now it is time that the wage structure was torn up and rebuilt. I have heard a lot of arrant nonsense spouted about the wage structure over the years. It’s time to take a look at exactly what it has done for us, and why we can’t afford to keep it.
First up, reform in this area is only possible if we break another of the structural chains that binds us, which is to say that we need to look at ways of increasing our global exposure in order to escape from a policy wherein our profitability relies on the sale of key players.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be willing to sell any footballer at the club if the price is right, but the policy of relying on a player sale every year we fail to get to the Champions League Groups is so obviously self-defeating and puts us on a downward spiral that it’s a wonder nobody at Parkhead has realised it up until now.
Any decent strategic review would have flagged that as a major concern.
If you’ve failed to get to the Champions League and then sell a key player to make up the shortfall in revenue, and in turn don’t replace that key player, it’s blatantly obvious that you have less chance of qualifying next time. The systematic weakening of this team is why we are here.
Lawwell is often credited for our high revenues; in fact, there has been zero growth in those revenues for years.
We’re banging our heads on a glass ceiling, which exists only because he spent too long in the comfort zone and lacked the know-how to break through it. McKay should have some interesting ideas about this, and time will tell us what they are.
But there are foreign markets we’ve not exploited. There are sponsorship opportunities he couldn’t seem to unlock outside of booze and betting.
Unlocking our potential will allow us to pay more for, and to, players. There’s another argument in favour of breaking the wage structure and it’s this; when you pay low fees and low wages you get low quality and so you are forced to fill the squad with filler in the hope that one out of five proves worth the money. But you squander a lot along the way.
If we had a better football operation, we’d have a smaller squad of higher quality on better salaries and it might even be revenue neutral when you consider how much we’ve pissed away keeping dreck on the wage bill for years on end.
Our present structure locks into a cycle leading nowhere. We need to break it completely, and Postecoglou and McKay must prioritise doing that.
Cracking open the wage structure would be a good start.
For openers, even with present revenues we could probably afford to have between six to eight top footballers on good salaries at the club. The nonsense that’s always put forward here is that paying some players high salaries makes others “chap on the manager’s door.” It’s never been an argument I’ve had any time for. Some players are worth more money than others, a concept even the dumbest player and his agent should easily be able to understand.
Everything we do is hampered by the idea that clubs in the English Championship can outbid us in terms of wages. That shouldn’t be the case, unless those clubs recently dropped out of the EPL and still benefit from parachute payments.
We just choose not to, and that means we’re forever going to be pushing against the tide.
Nobody is suggesting – or has ever suggested – that we pay ridiculous £100,000 a week salaries; the cost for one player would be £5 million a year. But we put this wage policy in place years ago, before the cost of paying footballers leapt into the stratosphere. Whether we like it or not, it leads to us getting left behind by clubs willing to adapt.
It’s a policy which has had its day. Whilst we need to be realistic about not spending too much we need to be equally realistic about the cost of not spending enough. To build a top team, capable of reaching the Champions League Groups on a more regular basis, means paying players more to make sure you get the best; it’s really as simple as that.
I mean it’s no wonder we struggle in the transfer market.
This would be just one of the reasons why.