A lot of people believe that football sold its soul to the devil the day it let money and player’s wages rule the roost. In England, anytime the question of billionaire bankrolled clubs is asked, Chelsea is the first answer on everyone’s lips.
And, although Blackburn won the league through Jack Walker’s billions in 1994-95, it was more of a lifelong supporter trying to give something back to his club and also a title, achieved by signing players for big money and not on astronomical wages.
But, way back in 2003, when Russian Billionaire Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea and signed players for ridiculous money and on ludicrous wages to boot, was the time when most believe the era of the age of the outlandish wages began.
But many forget that the precedent was set back in 2000 by the same club, in what has come to be known as curious case of Winston Bogarde and the infamous Chelsea contract.
In July 2000, behind the back of the then-manager Gianluca Vialli, Chelsea set about courting Bogarde.
The player, at the time, was a big name on the back of a Champions League title with Ajax in 1995 and two La Liga titles with Barcelona.
Chelsea gave the Holland centre back a four-year contract worth £10m when he moved to London on a free transfer.
And before long, Vialli was replaced by Claudio Ranieri, whose first order of business was to try and get rid of Bogarde. But Bogarde was adamant about honouring his contract.
“A contract is a contract. I signed the contract Chelsea offered," he said. "As far as I am concerned, Chelsea are committed to pay me the salary they offered me."
Chelsea repeatedly tried to offload him but there were no takers because of his enormous wages and, as a result, the club demoted him to the reserve and youth teams to encourage Bogarde to leave. But he had no intention of doing anything of the sort.
“Why should I throw millions away when it is already mine?” Bogarde would later say. And when the English press ridiculed him for his alleged selfishness, he merely responded by saying, "This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care”.
After spending his final season at Chelsea commuting from Amsterdam to Heathrow and training with the youth team at Harlington, he finally left Chelsea on May 14 2004, when his contract expired.
One of the most bizarre things about the Bogarde trade is fact that the player himself admitted that the contract he was offered at Stamford Bridge was pretty preposterous. And as a result, he didn't have to try at all.
All he had to do was turn up for training, dial it in and collect his money, a cool £1 million for every appearance he made.
And this was all Chelsea's own fault. After all, it was them who went around throwing money as if there was no tomorrow and thus ended up getting stuck with him.
And although he was a big physical presence, the money thrown at him by Chelsea meant that he could simply coast along and as a result, the move ruined his football career and he never played professional football again.
The simple lack of desire to fight for a first team place meant that his own standards dropped and he started gaining weight and became a target of grievance for squad members who were giving their best for the club.
Incredibly, even after almost a decade, it seems as though lessons have not been learnt, and as a consequence of the financial crisis, players signed on contracts during the financial boom now remain at these clubs, weighing down their finances.
Players like Andrei Arshavin, Marouane Chamakh, Florent Malouda and Joe Cole spring to mind and unless football clubs learn from their mistakes, there will be a lot more Winston Bogarde’s not too far down the line.
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