If non-league Salford City want to pay little Danny Lloyd £180,000 a year (yes, I nearly choked on my toast when a reputable source told me that was the deal) it really is up to them, as long as they are breaking no rules.
Similarly why shouldn’t Lloyd leave Posh, where his most likely role this season would have been as an impact sub, to earn pots of money at a level where relative stardom awaits?
Okay it would be great if Lloyd, or any professional footballer for that matter, admitted he was moving for the money rather than for ‘footballing reasons’ as nine times out of 10 the size of the contract is the main concern of players and rapacious agents. And who can blame them? It’s a short career.
Salford, who also signed Adam Rooney, the second top scorer in the Scottish Premier League with Aberdeen last season, as well as a couple of solid League One players, earlier this month, have been accused of financial doping by some, usually bitter and jealous rivals terrified that a club owned by multi-millionaire ex-Manchester United players are going to run away with the National League title at the first attempt.
It would be lovely if all clubs were full of locally produced players, but football is now basically a survival of the fittest and I fail to see how Salford splashing cash they clearly have is ‘ruining non-league football’ as some have claimed.
Non-league’s groundhop tour heads in our direction this weekend and it’s a wonderful idea which raises the profile of grassroots football, but fans shouldn’t be fooled into believing it’s a romantic idyll even in the lower reaches of non-league football.
Sure there are unpaid volunteers who do great work, but players come and go, often seduced by an extra tenner.
Money talks even at United Counties League level. Budgets are as important as top managers and good coaches. Rumour has it payments in the Peterborough League, although illegal, have recently taken place.
What Salford are doing is just an extension of that. Why have four members of Manchester United’s class of 92 in charge if you’re not going to take advantage of their contacts and wealth? As long as they don’t let peerless pundit Gary Neville manage the team they should be successful.
Anyway Salford’s presence will greatly increase the profile of the National League and that helps every club in it.
It’s not as though what Salford are doing is unique anyway. Fleetwood’s fanbase is tiny, but they breezed into the Football League with the backing of a rich man and now reside in League One.
Crawley, under the management of Steve Evans, were not without financial muscle and it’s the same with Forest Green.
The rest of the National League should treat Salford as a challenge, admittedly a mighty one, but Macclesfield won it last season and no-one has suggested money was the reason in their case.
Salford might run into a problem when they win promotion to the Football League. They then become bound by financial fairplay rules. Until then I’d Neville & co alone to run their club as they see fit.