Saturday 21 April 2018

Comment - Want more money? Know your business first

Jack O'Toole

“There was this kid I grew up with; he was younger than me. Sorta looked up to me, you know.

"We did our first work together, worked our way out of the street. Things were good, we made the most of it. During prohibition, we ran molasses into Canada... made a fortune, your father, too.

"As much as anyone, I loved him and trusted him. Later on he had an idea to build a city out of a desert stop-over for GI's on the way to the West Coast. That kid's name was Moe Greene, and the city he invented was Las Vegas.

"This was a great man, a man of vision and guts. And there isn't even a plaque, or a signpost or a statue of him in that town! Someone put a bullet through his eye. No one knows who gave the order.

"When I heard it, I wasn't angry; I knew Moe, I knew he was head-strong, talking loud, saying stupid things. So when he turned up dead, I let it go. And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen; I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do with business!” - Hyman Roth, The Godfather Part II

The city Moe Greene built for GI’s on their way to the West Coast will host Conor McGregor’s professional boxing debut next weekend as ‘The Notorious’ takes on Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather in what will be the biggest m̶o̶n̶e̶y̶g̶r̶a̶b̶  boxing match of all time.

Head strong, talking loud and saying stupid things? Sound familiar? Well it saw Moe Greene take a bullet to the eye in Francis Ford Coppola’s Godfather series but it will also see Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor receive nine-digit pay cheques after they throw down in Las Vegas later this month.

A boxing bout between two carefully constructed characters tailor made to generate as much money as possible all the while raising all sorts of questions about race, materialism, media coverage and promotion. What a treat, but ultimately, McGregor-Mayweather will be a sporting event that is solely and purely based on generating business.

If you can convince over 13,000 people to pay thousands of dollars to watch an MMA fighter with no professional boxing experience take on an undefeated boxer blatantly looking for his last mammoth pay cheque, then more power to you, just don’t look for sympathy when the public calls bulls**t, and with thousands of tickets still available for the novelty fight, it looks like they’ve done exactly that.

Former UFC fighter Paddy Holohan certainly doesn’t look for sympathy, in fact, he fought through his entire MMA career with a condition known as Factor XIII deficiency, a rare blood clotting disorder that ultimately ended his professional fighting career.

But as one of McGregor’s teammates at SBG, he’s on the frontlines in the battle to convince the world, and indeed Ireland, a supposed ‘nation of begrudgers’, that his fellow Dubliner has a chance of defeating a fighter that has been dropped just once to the canvas in 49 professional fights.

"He’s knocked guys out in four seconds, eight seconds, 13 seconds” Holohan said of McGregor in a recent interview for Newstalk with former Ireland football international Kevin Kilbane.

"You saw in one of the fights, he’s there, [Jose] Aldo comes in and - boom - he lands that left straight. He does the move in the dressing room and then goes out and does it against a guy that hasn’t been beaten in 10 years in front of the whole world on live pay-per-view.

"How do people not get the memo? This guy is incredible - and the thing is - he’s one of our own, he’s Irish, we should embrace that.

"We should suck that in and use that. All the knockers and begrudgers, that’s what Ireland is."

Irish people got the memo of McGregor’s UFC Featherweight title win, it was quite hard to ignore.

His 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo rightfully deserved its time in the sun, as it really was an incredible moment, but the people of Ireland also saw how much of a farce the Mayweather-McGregor promotional tour was and the extortionate ticket prices set for fans looking to attend the fight.

Holohan speaks glowingly of McGregor’s boxing skills because he wants to help promote his upcoming fight, an act that is actually quite admirable, but more money for McGregor won’t see his cause gain any more sympathy or support with the public, especially when it comes to his compatriots parting ways with their own money for the sole sake of adding to his.

But wealthy professional athletes using the media as a platform to try and increase their own personal wealth is a cause that has gained a lot of traction this month, and demands about as much sympathy as a first-class airline passenger complaining about the lack of range in the on board wine selection. If that’s their biggest problem, they’re probably doing just fine.

What can £65k get you?

£65,000 a week can get you a lot of things in life but it seemingly can’t keep some Premier League full-backs happy.

Tottenham Hotspurs left-back Danny Rose caused a stir last week when he said that he’s worth more than the £65,000 a week wage he currently earns at Spurs.

He may actually have a point given that his former teammate Kyle Walker is now earning £130,000 per week at Manchester City, but Tottenham fans won’t exactly be manning the barricades at the Enfield Training Centre until Rose gets the pay that he thinks he deserves, and nor should they.

Rose’s main ambition in football is to win trophies during his career, to play up in the north of England, so that he can be closer to his family, and to be paid what he thinks he’s worth, which is evidently more than £65,000 per week.

One of those goals will definitely not be fulfilled while playing with Spurs in London, while the jury is still out on the other two, but if he feels he is worth more than he is being paid then he should go get more.

If the market dictates that Kyle Walker can earn £130,000 per week, there is certainly scope for Rose to earn more than he currently receives at Spurs, and he’s not the only Tottenham player who will have noticed the marked increase in their former teammate’s earnings.

Sooner or later Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will have to address the club’s current wage-to-turnover ratio of less than 50 per cent, or Tottenham’s biggest problem will soon be a matter of transfer window subtraction rather than addition.

But Levy’s strict financial allocations aside, if Rose wants more it’s up to him to try and earn more, whether that be with Tottenham or handing in a transfer request to force a move somewhere else.

You’re worth exactly what you’re paid in sport, and if you feel you deserve more then the onus is on you to find an employer who feels the same way.

Rose’s interview with The Sun last week was unsurprisingly praised by his Tottenham teammates, and it probably will put some sort of pressure on Levy to address the balance of their payscale, but ultimately, the players signed the contracts and if they thought that they were worth more than what was offered to them then they should have addressed it there and then, or elsewhere, as there’s no shortage of suitors in football.

However, there is a limit on the number of buyers in the NFL, 32 to be exact.

New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. stated earlier this month that he wants to be the highest paid player in the NFL when he signs his next contract.

Beckham is under contract with the Giants for the next two years and is scheduled to make a little more than $1.8 million this season and $8.46 million in 2018, $16.54 million less than Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, the NFL’s highest paid player.

The 14 players that follow Carr on the NFL’s highest paid players list also happen to be quarterbacks, with an $8 million dollar difference between Carr and the NFL’s highest paid wide receiver Antonio Brown.

NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants attends the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Oregon Ducks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants attends the game between the North Carolina Tar Heels and the Oregon Ducks during the 2017 NCAA Men's Final Four Semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium on April 1, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Beckham may well surpass Brown as the highest paid wide receiver when his contract expires at the end of the 2018 season, but unless he can convince the New York Giants to pay him as the highest paid player in the league, his goal remains nothing more than a pipedream for now.

However, not to look completely self-centred, Beckham also highlighted earlier this month that he thinks that NFL players as a whole deserve to be paid just as much as their NBA counterparts.

“There’s guys in this league that deserve it just as much” he said, just one week after two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry agreed to the richest deal in NBA history, signing a staggering $201 million five-year contract with the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

As Kurt Badenhausen of highlighted, NBA players are currently reaping the rewards of the league’s $24 billion TV contract which came into effect last season.

The deal is worth triple the value (on an annual basis) of the NBA’s prior TV agreement and pushed the league’s salary cap up by 34%.

Total revenue for the NBA  was expected to hit $8 billion for the 2016-17 season, compared to the NFL’s annual revenue of $14 billion.

However, while NBA and NFL players both receive roughly 50% of the revenue under terms of their collective bargaining agreements, the pay disparity between the two leagues comes down to roster size.

NBA rosters have 15 players, while NFL teams must spread their player costs under the salary cap among 53 players, plus any dead salary cap money for players who were cut.

Hence, NBA players get a bigger cut of a smaller pie and the result sees 19 NBA players earning more than the highest paid NFL player.

But as Lee Strasberg’s Hyman Roth said in Godfather Part II, know the business you choose before you take exception with it.

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport