When Steve McManaman announced to the footballing world in 1999 that he wouldn’t be signing a new contract at Liverpool and was set to join Real Madrid at the start of the summer, it was the first time in England that a high profile player was taking advantage of this new Bosman ruling that allowed players to move on a free transfer at the end of their contract. It was the first of many, and few in England could have imagined the significance of the Bosman Ruling in changing the very fabric of world football.
While it is easy to understand why Jean Marc Bosman took his case through the courts, given the predicament he was in, I doubt if anyone could have foreseen the shift in power it would cause within the game. Suddenly the players called the shots, and they had football clubs well and truly over the barrel as they feared losing their prized assets for nothing at the end of their contract. Players saw a healthy rise in their pay packets, contracts increased in length and suddenly already well paid footballers were becoming rich beyond their wildest dreams. The fear factor had now set in at football clubs and the players and their agents were milking it for all they could get. You only have to look at the way Manchester United bowed down to Wayne Rooney’s demands this summer, to see the way it has become. They couldn’t afford to see him see out his contract, therefore leaving the Old Trafford board with little option.
So what happened to the man who turned even the most average of footballers into multi-millionaires? Reading an article in the Sun this week was a real eye opener and it appears Mr Bosman is living his days off government benefits amounting to £630 a month and takes anti-depressants to get him through the working day – a far cry from your modern day-footballer who live a life of luxury. It is a grave shame for the guy who put himself on the line by going through the courts and forcing this dramatic change in policy, yet nobody within the game seems to recognise his contribution in giving the modern day footballer the kind of wealth that they all take for granted.
I know many footballers probably don’t give Bosman a second thought as they bank their giant signing on fees, but it seems a shame in my opinion that he isn’t acknowledged in some way for laying down this road to riches. As Bosman stated himself “I have made the world of football rich and I find myself with nothing.” An air of jealousy perhaps on Bosman’s part, but with good reason I feel. He put his head on the block to fight for freedom of contract when no one else would and has subsequently received nothing as a result. It would be nice to think that the next time a player is out test driving a new Aston Martin or is eyeing up a new luxury abode, that a little thought is made to the man that made this very lifestyle possible. I won’t hold my breath.
Live4Liverpool is recruiting columnists. For further info contact the site editor at email@example.com