Is Player Power Ruining Football?

With the Javier Mascherano transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona complete, is it now time to question the power that today’s players wield over their employers?

Despite the player’s insistence that he did not go on strike to engineer a move, Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson has been left frustrated by the Argentinean’s attitude.

With two years left on a four-year contract, Mascherano made it clear that he was seeking a move and would not let the small matter of a contract stand in his way.

However, this isn’t the only example of player power this summer.

Austrian club Rapid Vienna have also suffered at the hands of Croatian Striker Nikica Jelavic.

Jelavic’s insistence on refusing to play in a vital Europa League match in order to manoeuvre a transfer to Glasgow Rangers left his club understandably angry.

While the situation of Jelavic differs slightly from that of Mascherano – the player in this instance had only a year left on his contract therefore could have run down his contract and left with the club receiving no transfer fee – the same rules apply, if a player can’t get what they want then they simply down tools and refuse to acknowledge that they are under contract.

Rapid eventually received £4.1 million for the player but this was only after they played hardball and the transfer negotiations became almost farcical.

Of course these are not the only footballers to have held their clubs hostage, go back further and you can include Pierre Van Hooijdonk at Nottingham Forest, Nicolas Anelka in his Arsenal days and more recently Emmanuel Adebayor at Manchester City.

So, why has this happened?

There is one main idea of why players can now pick and choose when and where they carry out their careers.

The theory is that with an increasing number of multi-million pound contracts being handed to players, loyalty no longer plays a part in their thinking. With the English Premiership by far and away the richest league in the world, this is a trend that is likely to continue for a while yet, especially with the increasing involvement of foreign owners.

This loyalty issue can also be tied in to the influx of players from abroad coming into the UK, predominantly the English Premier League. Supporters like to feel a bond with the players, particularly young local players. However, the sums of money on offer these days mean that the gap between millionaire players and ordinary fans is wider than ever.

The argument for a wage cap seems unlikely to happen anytime soon despite the benefits for clubs, with players demands becoming more and more outrageous and Premiership chairmen seemingly willing to pay extravagant sums.

It seems then that chairmen and managers alike can say all they want about no player being bigger than the club, but until player power reverts back to boardroom level then it is the fans who will suffer most.

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