In the light of Andy Carroll jumping ship from Newcastle to Liverpool, the usual loyalty arguments are doing the rounds.

As my comment on the linked article shows, I’m not overly taken by these arguments, common as they are, because they don’t really make much sense. The argument is: Back in the day, before money came around, players were really loyal. Nowaways, they aren’t loyal, the one-club player is a thing of the past.

Of course, these are standard harking-back-to-a-mythical-golden-age type arguments. Back in these days, pre-1992, and maybe even pre-1960s, players really didn’t have much choice – their clubs held their registrations and a lot of power over them. Additionally, pre-Sky there was not a lot of money in the game. So: Players can’t move easily, and there isn’t much money about for them to want to either. Surprise, surprise, nobody moves anywhere. There’s this false sheen of loyalty, but of course it’s fake, it’s just agents responding to incentives.

Nowadays, players have much more power to move post-Bosman. There’s also much more money around, which is used by bigger clubs to tempt players. So: Players can move, and have incentive to (money) – surprise, surprise, they move!

It wasn’t loyalty that kept players in their clubs in the past, it was the system they had to operate within. It produced a fake sense of loyalty, and hence once that system came tumbling down, we got back to a more realistic idea of loyalty – the one-club players of this age (Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Chris Taylor – the latter is my personal favourite) are the real loyal servants since they are tempted in many ways yet remain loyal.


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