What do Mike Tyson, Boris Becker and John Barnes have in common? Yes, all were very highly paid sports stars in the late 1980s and early 90s; but they also all went bankrupt. And nor are their stories unusual. In his latest article for rockwealth, ROBIN POWELL look at the reasons why so many talented sportspeople struggle with money.
If you asked football fans of my generation for a few of their favourite players, I’m sure that most of those lists would include the name John Barnes.
He could toy with opponents and manipulate the ball with a level of skill that few players of his time possessed. The fact that he did so when black players were routinely racially abused from his terraces made him, for me, an even bigger hero.
Sadly, John Barnes has been much less successful in other aspects of his life. He has, for example, shown a complete lack of financial acumen. Two weeks ago, HM Revenue & Customs applied for his bankruptcy. Barnes had “a history of non-compliance”, the court was told, and owed £238,425.
John Barnes is about the last person you would expect to be in this situation. When he signed for Liverpool in 1987, he became the highest-paid footballer in Britain — the first to be paid £10,000 a week. Even now he earns £200,000 a year as a club ambassador and up to £5,000 for an after-dinner speech.
But having huge earning power doesn’t make you immune to going broke. it’s actually remarkably common for sports stars to run out of money. Mike Tyson and Boris Becker, who hit the heights around the same time as Barnes, are just two of the more notable examples.
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