England football great Alan Shearer feels there isn’t much difference between Indian football growth now and that of the Premier League back in the early 1990s.
Speaking at an event in Mumbai on Friday, Shearer said that cricket’s dominance should not be reason enough to stall efforts for development of the beautiful game in the country.
“My friends here tell me that football is never going to be the number one sport in India and cricket will always have that title. But that does not mean stopping efforts to make Indian football bigger and better,” said the former England international said.
“When we look back to EPL in 1992 and now it shows how small steps will eventually get you there,” said the ex-Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers striker
Shearer said he was wary of China’s recent ploy to attract big-name players with exorbitant sums.
“I don’t necessarily see that as the right way forward because it’s instant,” said Shearer who is the Premier League’s top goal-scorer with 260 strikes. “I find it difficult to see how China is going to sustain it. It’s about growing, about trying to promote from within, getting the youth involved in the game. But it’s not a quick process and will take time,” he added.
“The difference between China and ISL is that when ISL signed a lot of big name players they were sort of on their way out or in the latter stages of their careers. What China are doing is to get players at the peak of their career, 24 or 25 years of age, which is one of the reasons why they have to pay the outrageous sums of money as salaries.
“I find it difficult to see how China will be able to sustain paying the sort of salaries to players they pay now.”
Shearer agreed that the game had become a business, where players hold more power than ever before.
“Football is a business, that’s the way you have to look at it. From football club to others, everyone wants to make money. That’s the world we live in and in football, more so. That’s never going to change and it will only get bigger.
“You don’t get as much time to build a team as manager any more. If you don’t like that, then don’t go into management. We can’t complain about it. If you decide to go into the management route, you will get sacked at some stage in your career,” said Shearer.
“It happened to (Jose) Mourinho as manager (of Chelsea who resigned in 2015 after signing a contract till 2019). It’s a tough job. You cannot afford to fall out with your players,” said Shearer.
“Football some times is not in real world with regards to transfer fees. In 1996, when I was the costliest player at 15 million USD, people said no one is worth that much. When you compare that to what is happening in the China Premier League, it’s only a matter of time the world record (for player transfer) will be broken. That’s football. It’s only going to get bigger,” the 46-year-old said.
“It’s incredible and you can never ever justify it. There is very little loyalty in football, whether from players, from managers or from owners of football clubs. Loyalty and football don’t go along (together),” he remarked.