England Legend Sir Stanley Matthews' First Pro Contract Worth £5-Per-Week Goes to Auction
On the same day that Neymar signed a deal with Paris Saint-Germain that will be worth close to £600m once the huge fee and all wages and bonuses over the course of the long-term contract are taken into account, it was reported that England legend Sir Stanley Matthews' first professional contract from 85 years ago will be going up for in auction.
The Stoke Sentinel carries details, with the Stoke City contract from 1932 marking the official start of the late, great Matthews' professional career.
Matthews initially joined Stoke as a 15-year-old office boy in 1930 and signed professional terms two years later. But while Neymar will make more than £750,000-per-week in Paris, Matthews first contract as a 17-year-old reveals that he was paid £5-per-week at that time.
Allowing for inflation, the Sentinel calculated that is still only the equivalent of just over £320 today. A far cry from Neymar, the youngest pros in 2017 can still earn more than that, showing just how much inflation in football has outstripped the rest of modern life.
Supplied to a Derbyshire auction house to go under the hammer later this month on 22nd August, the contract reads, "Stanley Matthews, of 89 Seymour Street, Hanley, will play in an efficient manner and do the best of his ability for the club. In consideration of the observance by the said player, the club shall pay to the said player the sum of £5 per week from Feb 1932 to May 1932, going down to £3-a-week in the summer months."
Imagine a footballer of today agreeing to a pay cut in the summer. It was a reason why many players in that era had to find off-season jobs to supplement their income while they weren't on the pitch.
The document from 1932 and another one signed by Matthews in 1935, which promised to pay the player £7 per week, £8 if he was in the first-team, both belong to a trio of Stoke supporting brothers, David, Andy and Graham Lockett.
David told the Sentinel, "I think it's important for people to know what top players earned back in the 1930s. Compared to what they earn today, it may seem ridiculous, but at the time it would have been a lot of money.
"We'd love to see these contracts end up in the British Football Museum. They are a crucial part of the game's history. Stanley Matthews' contract could be displayed alongside a contract from a player like Cristiano Ronaldo or Neymar. The contrast would be almost incomprehensible."
A career interrupted by the Second World War, Matthews spent 15 years with Stoke until 1947. He then moved onto Blackpool, famously winning the FA Cup in 1953 - the final is even named for him to this day - and remaining with the club until 1961 when he was 46 years of age.
Matthews then returned to Stoke and continued playing for another four seasons. He eventually retired at the age of 50.
He was the very first winner of the Ballon d'Or in 1956 - the award that Neymar craves - and still remains the oldest player to represent England at international level when he earned his 54th and final cap at the age of 42 years and 103 days in 1957.