Too much too soon?

Lee Hendrie has had his troubles; credits Getty Images

Premier League wages were published recently, with the average salary now £1.7million rising to above £2m with routine bonuses.

Thirty years ago a top-flight footballer earned on average £25,000 per year or just two-and-a-half times as much as the average household income.

Now it is more than 40 times as much.

Former Premier League player, Lee Hendrie, was one such player.

At his peak he was earning £40,000 per week whilst at Aston Villa.

However, he managed to lose it all through a combination of gambling, excessive spending and financial mismanagement.

He is not the only one, 40 per cent of footballers go bankrupt within five years of leaving the game and those who do remain are challenged to handle vast sums of money with very little experience in how to do so.

The drive to succeed can veer off course, with guaranteed wages from long contracts the norm as clubs seek to protect their assets.

With such long, lucrative contracts, the moral dilemma of how players stay motivated and committed when they only need to roll out of bed to collect their wages is an interesting one.

Show me the money

Stories such as those from the likes of Hendrie were at the forefront of my mind as I attended a Think Tank of The Professional Footballers Association recently.

Held at the offices of Peters and Peters, a law firm which counts former footballer and ex Ireland team-mate Gareth Farrelly as one of its lawyers, it was an interesting afternoon.

The people assembled included staff from The FA and The Premier League, with the intention of learning how ‘the city’ manages its young staff and the comparisons with young footballers.

The parallels between the young professional footballer and the young city trader are obvious; ambition, money, expectation, pressure, distractions, recruitment to name a few.

So how does the city manage to retain the hunger of the wolves of Wall Street?

Using deferred payments is one method, with a reduced but sensible basic wage plus a bigger bonus based on performance, not potential. If you leave or are sacked the money is terminated.

Will this catch on in football?

Liverpool have paved the way with a £40,000 cap on salaries for academy products, whilst Tottenham Hotspur have always paid its academy players sensibly, in contrast to their London rivals Chelsea.

Dominic Solanke in action for Chelsea; credits Chelsea.com

One Chelsea product, Dominic Solanke, was criticised in the press for demanding £40,000 per week after playing 17 minutes of first team football.

Nobody questioned the fact he was already earning £400,000 a year as a youth team player, ten times what Liverpool pay their first year professional players.

He appears to be one of the lucky ones, with a financial adviser for a father, although at the end of his current contract he need not work another day in his life and he will still be in his early 20s.

So, what can we learn from the city?

After the banking crisis something had to change and the measures put in place for young city traders appear to be working, it is time for football to follow their lead in motivating the millionaires of football.