I’m generally more of a words than numbers man, but a story which dominated this week’s headlines – front and back pages – had me reaching for the calculator.
I suppose the only people who really know if Gareth Bale will be earning £300,000 a week after signing for Real Madrid are the player himself, his employers and his accountant, but it does seem an incredible amount of money.
My immediate thought was ‘how long would it take me to earn that?’, but then it occurred to me that actually, in the scheme of things, I’m relatively comfortably off. So, since the calculator was already in my hand, I worked out how long it would take someone on the minimum wage to match the wodge that Gareth is reputed to be pocketing each week during his Spanish sojourn.
The answer is not completely straightforward because the Government has generously decided to increase the minimum wage on October 1 – from £6.19 to £6.31.
But I figured that building in one month at the lower rate into the calculation would only complicate matters and not really make a lot of difference to the answer, which came out, assuming our chap on the minimum wage works 40 hours per week, at nearly 23 years.
Various folk have said Bale’s wages (and £85 million price tag) are ‘obscene’ and I suppose, in the context of the 23 years figure, it is difficult to defend.
But this is simply about business – it doesn’t matter if professional footballers appear to do little to earn the money, that most aren’t particularly good role models for their young fans or that they have all the loyalty of rats on a sinking ship, all that matters is that the clubs think the player in question will generate enough income to cover the wages and transfer fees they’re paying.
And as long as the television money, sponsorship deals and owner’s cash keeps pouring in the spiral will continue.
-- I experienced a shiver down the spine last week when I listened to a news report on Radio 4 about how scientists had grown a human brain, albeit a small one, in the laboratory.
Barely had the phrase ‘Frankenstein science’ left my conscience the next morning when the same programme had an item about how a team had successfully used ‘mind control’ over an internet link.
Who needs science fiction?