Lineker: EPL must use TV money to invest on homegrown talent
But EPL must invest to groom homegrown players, says our columnist
In Gary Lineker’s heyday of the 1980s, footballers were, of course, well paid. But by today’s standards they were merely everyday citizens. While much has been made of the huge sums being paid to footballers today, former nagoya Grampus, everton, Barcelona, Tottenham and england striker Lineker explains in this exclusive column in The new Paper that it is not necessarily a bad thing.
The new Premier League TV rights deal has most definitely reopened the debate when it comes to money in football... if it had ever really gone away.
And it's the same question - has football has lost touch with its soul? And is it still the game of the people?
And it is easy to see why those questions continue to be asked - the new TV agreement is an astounding one.
Almost £5.2 billion ($10.7b) for three years coverage of Premier League football -and that's just in the UK, remember, because the worldwide rights are yet to be discussed.
It's an astronomical sum of money.
It shows that football, and particularly the Premier League brand, remains big business.
Whether or not the Premier League is worth that amount of money is a moot point.
How do you calculate the value of anything? I would suggest that the value is in the eye of the buyer. That is true in any walk of life, and football is no different.
With that type of money floating around, and the influx of billionaire foreign owners that we've seen over the last 15 years at clubs like Chelsea and Manchester City, I can see the argument that football has lost touch with the common man.
I think that part of the disconnect between fans and the clubs they support comes from the fact that the game is so awash with money at the moment, now more than ever, and that the benefits of that money are not evenly felt across all aspects of the game.
Ticket prices are a big issue - they have risen dramatically over the last 20 years, and the public will naturally resent it that they are helping subsidise huge wages.
I know the argument is that players are paid too much, but it is inevitable that those on the pitch will be the major beneficiaries of these increased revenues.
Clubs are that desperate to reach the Premier League and stay there to receive that windfall that they need to pay top dollar for players to help them achieve those aims.
Players, therefore, hold the power - that's how it is. And actually, that's how it's always been.
It was like that when I played. Of course we earned much, much less, but still you couldn't have vindicated the money I was earning compared to normal people with normal jobs in the real world, and that was back in the 1980s and early 1990s.
But football isn't the real world. It's part of the entertainment business.
Remember, too, it's not just football where players are paid ridiculous amounts of money.
It's the same for Hollywood actors, it's the same for the best pop stars. There are American sports where players' salaries dwarf that of footballers.
So, while I don't want to come across like an ex-pro sticking up for footballer's wages, it is just inevitable that the talent will take the bulk of the money in any industry.
However, with this new TV deal, certain things need to happen for the good of the game.
Ticket prices need to come down and it needs to be made more affordable for fans to attend matches. That has to be a priority.
More money has to go the grassroots, so we can produce quality players of our own rather than always looking to buy from abroad - and this is something that should happen with TV deals in every country.
The revenue needs to be filtered down from the top towards those youngsters who are so inspired by what they see on their television screens.
Certainly in England, we need heavy investment at all levels because, as a country, we need to start developing more of our own players.
Too often, clubs have been looking to buy foreign stars instead of giving homegrown talent a chance.
Supporters love nothing more than a local hero - you only have to look at how Tottenham Hotspur fans adore Harry Kane, singing "he's one of our own" when he scores, to see that any football fan would prefer to see a local boy made good in their team.
Kane has been a rarity for the big clubs over recent years.
To that end, I am hugely encouraged by FA chairman Greg Dyke and the way he has set out to help grassroots football in England.
From getting kids playing on smaller pitches to allowing more touches of the ball to investing in facilities and upping the quota of homegrown players in Premier League squads, we are finally moving in the right direction.
Germany and Spain are generations ahead of us, but it looks as though we are slowly catching up.
The more money to help that cause, the better.
And if the legacy of the new TV deal is that we start producing players capable of helping England win the Wold Cup, then I for one will be happy.
'VALDES CAN BE UNITED'S NO. 1'
Victor Valdes would be the "perfect" replacement for David de Gea, according to former Manchester United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw.
Real Madrid target de Gea hobbled off with a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Arsenal last Sunday and, although United sources rejected claims they had received an offer from the Spanish giants for the player on Monday, there is a possibility he may never play for the club again.
United have already drawn up a list of potential replacements for the 24-year-old should he depart for Madrid, but van der Gouw believes the club already have a perfect replacement among their ranks in Valdes.
"With what he knows about football and the way he is playing, he is perfect for United," the former United stopper told BBC Sport.
"He can play for another three or four years in a top team."
Valdes' (below) pedigree cannot be doubted.
He won the Champions League three times with Barcelona and was part of the Spain squad that lifted the 2010 World Cup and the European Championship two years later.
The Arsenal game was the first time he had played in 14 months, though, as he has been going through a long and trying rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.
Until Sunday, Valdes' only appearance in a United shirt came for the under-21 side.
The 33-year-old insists he has enjoyed his time at the club since signing in January, though.
"It's been good, all good," he told Press Association Sport.
"My teammates have treated me well here. The coach has treated me well. The truth is that it has all been good.
"I am very happy to be here. I have one more year on my contract here. Let's see what happens.''
Valdes also said that de Gea must answer a big question this summer regarding his future at the club.
Manager Louis van Gaal admitted after the Arsenal game that his current No. 1 faces a "difficult" decision over his future, and Valdes followed suit in his assessment of the situation.
"Madrid, Barcelona, Man United are three of the biggest clubs in the world," said the Spaniard.
"Everyone in the world wants to play for these clubs. It's a question you would have to put to David. I cannot answer for him."
While de Gea appears to be edging closer to the Old Trafford exit, another player is on his way in.
Memphis Depay was in Manchester on Monday as he completed a medical ahead of his £25-million ($52m) move to United from PSV Eindhoven.
Depay was the Eredivisie's top scorer this season, with 22 goals in 30 appearances.
But, given that he is just 21 years old, former United captain Gary Neville thinks it may take time for the winger to blossom into the world-class player he hopes to become.
"Depay looks like an exciting player but there's a lot of obstacles to overcome to determine as to whether he's going to become the real deal," Neville said.
"He's got to settle in the country and get used to playing football in Manchester. It will be different, but it fits the bill in terms of him being a young player."
- PA Sport.