Sean Dyche feels the first £1m a week Premier League player can’t be far away as the game begins to scale the financial heights of American sport.
Tomorrow’s opponents Manchester United are closing in on the signing of Chile forward Alexis Sanchez, with reports he could receive £500,000 a week for moving to Old Trafford from Arsenal.
According to the Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid athletes in 2017, only three Premier League players feature - at 30, Zlatan Ibrahimovic on combined earnings of $32m, followed by Wayne Rooney at 70 (combined $23.6m) and Sergio Aguero at 80 (combined $22.6m).
Cristiano Ronaldo topped the list at just over $93m, followed by LeBron James ($86.2m), Lionel Messi ($80m), Roger Federer ($64m), Kevin Durant ($60.6m), Rory McIlroy ($50m), Andrew Luck ($50m), Steph Curry ($47.3m), James Harden ($46.6m) and Lewis Hamilton $46m).
Dyche doesn’t see a problem, if clubs and franchises can cover the costs - indeed, some deals almost pay for themselves taking commercial income into account: “If we just said the (Sanchez) stories are true..it is true in China, was it Hulk or Tevez who was earning £650,000-a-week? So we think that’s a fact, so if someone is earning £650,000 now, a new TV deal comes out and blows the last one out of the water, then that can only add to the resource base of a club.
“Then you add into that the ownership of a club, alongside these huge amounts of money, then, if you want the best of the best, you have to go and get it.
“PSG decided they wanted Neymar and that was it, they got Neymar. There’s no debate about it, we’re going to get him whatever it takes.
“There seems to be a lot of people saying, ‘yeah, OK we’ll do that’ and they have their reasons. That’s the way I see it.”
Does Dyche envisage a wage ceiling though?: “Some fans ask me this and say the money is too much and I always quote this. Take Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter. So he starts off with the first film, he’s 13 and he gets 150 grand. Do you think he got 150 grand for the second film? He certainly did not. Then the third film comes along and now he’s 15 and he gets 15 million, let’s say. Then the fourth film comes along and he isn’t getting 15 million, he’s getting 35 million and he’s still only 19.
“No-one comes along and says ‘no, no, no, give him 150,000, that’s what he got for the first film. That’s ridiculous’. So why should it be different for sportsmen?
“Someone once told me a story and it’s not fair to say which player it was. But he signed a big deal, it was back in the day, and it was paid back in seven months on shirt sales alone. Worldwide shirt sales on their own paid the whole deal back.”
The most money Dyche was sold for as a player was “£375,000, Chesterfield to Bristol City. £275,000 and then more when we got promoted.”
But he doesn’t necessarily think the huge finances are a big issue: “It’s going more and more like America it seems to me.
“You've got a worldwide brand and you look at the American football there, the basketball, and they are they real big earners.
“It’s not just about the player, it’s the whole package.”
“I don’t think it’s either (good or bad). I think the game has got to move forward.
“The power in the game in the sense of these worldwide figures and TV exposure has created that.
“It’s become a major, major business and I don’t think it’s going to stop.
“It will be interesting to see what the next TV deal does because I think it will go up. I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t go up.”