A few days ago interim national coach Armando Colaco's statement on high players salaries in the Indian leagues has started a discussion on the topic and then JCT closed down their senior team due to high costs this week following what Mahindra United did last year.
And the spiralling costs of running a top level football team in India has something to do with the salaries of players, which have literary exploded over the last few years. In 2007 when the I-League was launched salaries of 5 to 10 lakh Rupees were a lot of money, these days players are demanding and getting salaries of 40 to 70 lakhs Rupees with top players getting even more while top foreigners getting 1 crore of Rupees and more.
Take e.g. Mohun Bagan's new prize signing Odafe Onyeka Okolie, who signed for the green-and-maroon for an alleged salary of Rs. 1,6 Crores plus a high end flat and luxurious car. This means the Kolkata side are spending as much on one player as other clubs on their whole team.
But I have a question here. Why blame the players? If clubs are offering them so much, shouldn't they take the money on offer? Wouldn't we do the same in our jobs and take the money? Most often we would, so blaming the players wouldn't be right.
It is a free market economy, a question of demand and supply. With Indian football still not professional, but clubs forking out money like pro sides we have a problem here. Then there aren't enough quality players around for clubs to register 25 to 35 players per team, so they fight it out for the best talent and the players these days know what their value is.
Will a salary cap or a gentlemen's agreement help? I fear with our pro league structure still developing, the problems of television and marketing, it would be too early to impose such a salary cap if no steady income is generated by clubs. And knowing how clubs operate they would try to work around any such move as clubs do around the world in any sport where there is a salary cap.
Maybe something to write about next time...