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Kenny Dalglish: Millionaire stars should be forever grateful to '61 heroes

16 Jan 2011 10:40:06

Kenny Dalglish: Millionaire stars should be forever grateful to '61 heroes

Every well-paid Premier League player in action this weekend should be eternally grateful to the likes of Jimmy Hill, who 50 years ago this week fought so hard to end the £20-a-week maximum wage. Without sounding militant, people like Jimmy - and the ex-England striker George Eastham, who went on strike at Newcastle United to pave the way for the transfer rights we all take for granted these days - put their careers on the line and generations of players, myself included, have benefited ever since. World's apart: Jimmy Hill and Steven Gerrard   More from Kenny Dalglish... Kenny Dalglish: Fernando Torres will relish his chance to give Nemanja Vidic another nightmare08/01/11 Kenny Dalglish: Villa's players should look in the mirror for someone to blame01/01/11 Kenny Dalglish: What a year for those Spanish magicians and a Welsh wizard25/12/10 Kenny Dalglish: Blackburn owners must match big talk with hard cash18/12/10 Kenny Dalglish: Mancini's Man City prove why defence should come first11/12/10 Kenny Dalglish: If Qatar can be hosts of the World Cup, why not Scotland?04/12/10 Kenny Dalglish: Ancelotti is the real Special One, not manipulator Mourinho27/11/10 Kenny Dalglish: Don't crucify the kids, England's best team will beat France20/11/10 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE It is hard to imagine now what the situation was like before January 1961, when there were huge attendances to watch matches but players only received a fraction of what was coming through the door. There has been an ever-increasing spiral in wages since then and you can only call today's level of pay astronomical. But it's important to remember the original dispute was over a matter of principle, the right to negotiate a contract, not figures. I don't think there is a problem today for the great players to be paid a fortune, because of what they can do on the pitch and the commercial income they bring in off the pitch. I don't think the majority of fans would begrudge them that. But where football is suffering at the moment is that the best players are so well-paid, it leads to the middle-of-the-road players - for want of a better description - getting a lot more than what they are entitled to. It is claimed that players' wages have led to financial instability in football, but surely the problems only arise if clubs don't act responsibly and agree to pay wages they can't afford. Players don't earn money that has not been offered to them. The Premier League has been fantastically successful in recent years, including financially, and I don't think it is unreasonable for players to share in it. But if a club do their financial planning properly and work out that signing a player doesn't make sense, they have to be prepared to lose that player. Money gets the blame for creating a gap between the modern football star and the man in the street, but I don't think that is the only reason. Footballers are public figures now and that can be difficult in an era with all sorts of modern technology to record your every move. Players are entitled to enjoy themselves like anyone else, but whereas fans used to ask for autographs, now they are able to take pictures with their camera phones and those shots can go around the world. It creates caution in footballers and I'd suggest that as much as money is the reason for the lack of affinity between ordinary people and players. There is no excuse for bad behaviour, of course not, but it honestly can't be easy if you think an ordinary night out is going to end up being pictured and displayed to everyone. I think more players are aware of the fight to end the maximum wage than you'd think. The Professional Footballers' Association - of whom Hill became chairman when still a Fulham player in 1957 - still plays a big part in the game, it is just that a lot of their work is unsung. Rich pickings: Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan (left) It's as much to do with helping players who have retired through injury or played in the lower leagues as it is with superstar millionaires. Personally, I wouldn't like to see the reintroduction of a maximum wage - or even a salary cap - despite some clubs getting into financial difficulty in recent years. Why go back 50 years when the boys fought so hard back then? If clubs cannot afford a certain wage, then don't offer it. And if someone like Sheikh Mansour comes in and wants to invest heavily in a football club, as he has at Manchester City, let him get on with it. I even have a feeling that when the proposed new UEFA regulations come in so you can only spend a certain ratio of your income on wages, clubs will find ways around it. I'd also like to reassure supporters that despite the financial rewards, no player starts out in football for money rather than enjoyment. Is a six-year-old kid thinking about becoming a millionaire when he kicks a ball about? I don't think so, but if he ends up entertaining millions of fans and making a club millions of pounds, why shouldn't he deserve to be rewarded. Maybe some parents nowadays think early on their kids will be able to make a fantastic living for the whole family from the game, but that doesn't mean it happens. Usually, the harder you push kids towards something, the more they rebel. The only way to put in the time and dedication to be a professional player is for the first motivation to be a love of the sport, not financial, and that is still true today. I was only a kid back in 1961 when these momentous events were happening and too young to realise what was going on. I was too busy kicking a ball about myself! My first salary with Celtic didn't get near the £20 mark, more like £6, but a career in the game has taught me the debt of gratitude we owe to those who fought so hard 50 years ago.   Full support: Kenny Dalglish and wife Marina I had a fantastic welcome from thousands of people at Liverpool but I'd like to give a special mention to my best supporter, my wife Marina. I've had reason to be grateful to Marina throughout our married life. Some people think it is quite glamorous to be married to a footballer or football manager. But it also has its downside. Of course, football is a great profession, and you wouldn't swap it for anything, but you need a good partner, to be there for the family, for the home, for the children. When I got the call to return to Anfield late last week, there was not a moment's hesitation from Marina that I should accept. If anything she was as pleased as me, even though it meant she had to cut her holiday short as well! But it didn't surprise me. She's never said anything that has made things difficult for me in football. We've been through so much together, much of it well-documented. It is fantastic to have her support in this latest challenge. As I said, my best supporter.   People have said Manchester United haven't played very well this season, but as they wouldn't swap their position for anyone else's, it doesn't say much for the rest of us! Arsenal proved in 2003-04 it's not impossible to go through the League season unbeaten, as United are trying to do, but it is extremely difficult. The record is on the line at Tottenham today and it's going to be a difficult task. I predict a great game, really open. I also believe it's going to be the biggest test for their record - at least until they come to Anfield in March!  Explore more:People: Steven Gerrard, George Eastham, Jimmy Hill Places: Liverpool, United Kingdom


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