An interesting concept with a long history, let’s take a quick look.
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 they are exempt from income tax. For instance, recently, the Manchester United great Roy Keane was given a testimonial match at Old Trafford, The Theatre of Dreams.
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?