Do millionaire football players have Jimmy Hill to thank?

By KEVIN CRAIGENS 

JIMMY HILL is famous for many things. He once filled in as a linesman at short notice. He has been involved in the media and even been on the cover of the Viz. Although many people may have forgotten about his greatest achievement. 

The late Jimmy Hill was a part of the Professional Footballers Association Which championed the abolishment of the maximum wage of £20 per week in the early 1960’s.

The aim of Hill and the football union was to do more than just abolish the maximum wage for football players. It was more than that. It was about the right of a football player to choose where he works and when he chooses to leave where he works.The maximum wage debate caused a stir and was integral to the players of a lower league.

In his own book, Striking for Soccer, Jimmy Hill tells of the struggle he and most of the players had trying to persuade the Football League to see things how they did. Hill said: “I made the following statement: “The players have asked for two freedoms: freedom of a player to negotiate his own contract; and freedom of a player to negotiate his own wage with his employers. These are freedoms which are basic and unarguable and the right of every working man in Britain.””

Professor Matthew Taylor, Sport Historian at the De Montfort University in Leicester, spoke about what it was like in the early 1960’s for football players. He said: “ Teams could afford to pay more than the maximum wage. Some of the players, like Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney were not only good enough but they attracted a crowd like movie stars would have.”

Some of the teams, today, in bigger leagues can afford to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds a week. Today’s world, especially in the UK, things seem to have got out of control. Only in the last couple weeks have we seen how much clubs pay the playing staff each year.

Manchester United players, reportedly, can expect, on average, to receive FIVE MILLION pounds annually. While a team like Celtic, in Scotland, can pay their players Three quarters of a million annually as well. Celtic’s nearest rivals pay three hundred thousand a year.

Stars of football today could demand big wages as they could claim to draw in the crowds and sell the shirts. In the past week it has been reported that Tottenham striker, Harry Kane, has signed a new contract worth £100,000 per week, which could rise by £20,000.

In comparison Johnny Haynes became the first man to receive £100 a week during his time at Fulham in 1961. Whereas only the year before his wages are at least one fifth of what he was receiving.

Professor Taylor does not think that anyone from the time could have dreamed how much players would be paid today. Taylor said: “People in the union, at the time, would not have wanted the wages to have spiralled in the way they have done.

“I do understand why the union wanted to make changes to the contracts and wages of the players.”

Jimmy Hill may not have meant for football players to receive wages that have risen to ludicrous extremes like they have today. It appears that for other reasons and outside influences have seen players receive such hefty contracts. This still however is still one of the most significant off field wins in the sport.

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