An interesting concept with a long history, let’s take a quick look at what exactly are testimonial matches in soccer.
The idea being that if a soccer player stays with the club for 10 years he earns a testimonial for all the hard work he’s put in for the club over the years, something like a buyout for a company he help build. All proceeds from that match are given to the player. And player doesn't have to pay taxes on the money either. But they're also friendly matches for the fans to enjoy a former player they've watched play for years.
For instance, recently, the Manchester United great Roy Keane was given a testimonial match at Old Trafford, The Theatre of Dreams. I'm guessing a big portion of the money, if not all, is given to the players' favorite charity or put towards an organization involved in helping young soccer players. This must be the case for big time players who made tone of money during their soccer careers.
Manchester United won the testimonial, 1-0, with the only goal in the game scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. Keane played the first half with Celtic and the second half in his former role as Manchester United captain. The game attracted the largest crowd ever for a testimonial match in England.
Roy Keane talked about the testimonial: "It has been a great honor and privilege for me to play for Manchester United for over 12 years. Whilst it is a sad day for me to leave such a great club and Manager I believe that the time has now come for me to move on. After so many years, I will miss everyone at the club."
The testimonial began when players weren't paid as well they are today, and this charitable act would come near the end of their playing career, giving them some money on which to either retire, or to find their feet in another profession.
Nowadays, players at the top of the profession are earning £50k+ PER WEEK, so it hardly seems necessary to also give them a tax-free windfall if they manage to stay with one club for 10 years.
With eleven years of service at Arsenal, 33,000 fans turned up at Highbury to give David Seaman a fitting tribute. But they also ensured a whopping £600,000 tax-free bonus for the veteran 'keeper. Ryan Giggs, the next big name to be given a testimonial, must be rubbing his hands with glee.
With players' wages reaching astronomical levels, should a final whistle be blown on testimonials? I don't think so. For top level players, who've given everything to their club for many years, it's a fitting way to send them off. Here's some video of Roy Keane's testimonal match.
Perhaps they should give more testimonal matches to former players who missed out on the days of the big TV contracts and pay. But overall, I'm sure most players have done quite well with or without a testimonal match when you consider all the money they can earn with endorsements.
Here's some video from the Paul Scholes testimonial match for playing for Manchester United for so many years, it's against the New York Cosmos, and Manchester's team won 6-0. Paul Scholes gets on the scoresheet early in his last ever game for Manchester United. Testimonal matches are fun and just a nice way for the fans to send of a classy player like Paul Scholes. I hope to see some testimonal matches setup for former MLS players in the United States soon.