Benni rakes in the pounds at Blackburn

Published Feb 9, 2007

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Benni McCarthy may be earning a healthy £35 000 (about R493 000) a week playing for Blackburn Rovers, but that is less than a third of what the English Premiership's top earners pick up.

Arsenal's Thierry Henry and Chelsea's Andriy Shevchenko and Michael Ballack lead the way in English football, picking up an astonishing £130 000 (about R1,83-million) a week each.

Still, McCarthy is the joint-highest paid player at his club and the dough certainly makes him a multi-millionaire in South African terms. Indeed, were he to splash his cash all at once, the Blackburn Rovers striker could conceivably buy one BMW Z4 Coupe every week. Not that the wife would be too pleased!

If McCarthy does ever make a reappearance in this country to play for Bafana Bafana, the soft drinks are most certainly on him.

And while Chelsea fans are still wondering exactly what Shevchenko and Ballack are doing to earn their inordinate salaries, there is no doubt McCarthy has earned every penny at Rovers this season.

His 15 goals in all competitions have helped Rovers into the last 16 of the Uefa Cup and into a position to challenge for a European spot in the English Premier League.

Benni is far ahead of his teammates on the Blackburn scorers' charts, that a news story on Thursday on the club's official website was asking readers who they thought would finish second in the scoring charts this season, behind the 28-year-old Capetonian.

Looking at what the Premiership clubs pay their top players is an easy way to deduce who are the princes and who the paupers of English football.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United are in the top five, though it is perhaps surprising that Newcastle pay Michael Owen £120 000 (about R1,69-million) a week to nurse his injured knee.

If Lucas Neill says his motivation for moving to West Ham was not financial, meanwhile, the £70 000 (R987 000) a week salary would appear to differ.

Watford are not just bottom of the league but also bottom of the salary list, with Marlon King, their top earner, picking up £12 000 (R169 000) a week, though even that is not to be sniffed at.

It would, after all, still get King a top of the range Volkswagen Polo a week.

McCarthy has joined English football in an extremely lucrative time. He is unlikely to have been earning anywhere near this amount at his previous club, FC Porto.

Reports in England, meanwhile, suggest that a new multi-billion pound TV deal means the top players in the Premiership could be picking up around £200000 (R2,8-million) a week before too long.

Never mind your Polo or your BMW, that would get you pretty much any car you fancied every seven days.

Who knows, if McCarthy can continue banging in the goals for Rovers, and find himself a contract with a bigger English club (he is continuously linked with his old manager, José Mourinho at Chelsea), he could yet find himself earning close to this astronomical amount.

And what of the other South Africans playing in England? Well, Benni's team-mate at Blackburn in the English Premier League is in and out of the Rovers side and probably earning around £10 000 (R140 000) to £15 000 (R211 000) a week. Quinton Fortune, meanwhile, is unlikely to have joined Bolton from Manchester United for less than £20 000 (R282 000) a week.

Neither are likely to be calling to borrow money anytime soon.

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