Clubs say publicizing pay is bad for budget

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Clubs say publicizing pay is bad for budget

The Korean Professional Football Federation’s announcement earlier this week that it will make some players’ salaries public has caused controversy among clubs and athletes, who say the move will cause budget difficulties and put pressure on athletes.

The football federation said on Tuesday that it will require teams to go public with players’ salaries, especially those of each club’s top-five earners. In April last year, the federation presented an estimated average salary for 641 Korean professional football players: 467 from the K-League Classic and 174 from the K-League Challenge.

A spokesman for the federation said the group is currently trying to decide which details of the players’ contracts it will publicize, but the plan will likely be finalized in the middle of the month.

However, clubs are worried that public disclosure of contract details would impact their ability to plan their annual budget. Football insiders said many K-League clubs, even major teams such as Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, cut players’ pay last year.

“This is nonsense,” said Yoon Sung-hyo, manager of the Bluewings.

“If they reveal such things, those top five earners will be pressured to play a lot better because they will become targets of fans’ criticism whenever a team struggles.

“It will definitely have an effect on big-name players who are considering moving to a foreign league that can offer more money in secret. Even Chinese clubs have started offering higher salaries to players recently.”

For instance, FC Seoul lost key players to China last offseason, such as midfielder Ha Dae-sung.

Despite clubs’ complaints, the football federation is not budging on its plan, saying salary disclosure is essential for improving Korean football.

“We think this adjustment will force K-League clubs to run their teams more transparently, especially financially, which has been one of their biggest worries for years,” the spokesman of the football federation said. “We think the labor cost for clubs is too high, considering the revenues that they make annually. Some arguments will take place when it goes into effect, but it will make clubs improve their team management. It is no longer a secret that many clubs in the K-League are on the point of bankruptcy.”

Unlike the football league, the Korea Baseball Organization and Korea Basketball League are required to disclose every player’s salary.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]


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