Scottish Revelations Show Billiat Was Right to Stay Where the Money Is

Just imagine the glowing headlines which would have greeted Khama Billiat had he signed for Aberdeen in July 2018?

Warriors star joins four-time Scottish champions, seven Scottish Cups, former winners of the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

The club Sir Alex Ferguson transformed, during a golden spell in the ’80s, into the dominant side in Scotland, winning three league titles, four Scottish Cups, two Scottish League Cups, the European Cup Winners’ Cup and the European Super Cup.

The last Scottish club to win silverware in the UEFA inter-club competitions, the only one from that country to win more than one piece of silverware in the European competitions.

A club, with the proud history of never having been relegated since becoming part of the Scottish top-flight league in 1905, who are regular participants in the Europa League.

The last club, outside the dominant Old Firm duo of Rangers and Celtic, to win the Scottish league title in 1985.

You would have had countless tales about how he was now set to showcase his talent, to a bigger audience, with Aberdeen scheduled to clash against English Premiership side Burnley, in the Europa League qualifier, which the Scottish side lost 2-3 on aggregate after extra-time.

The other major clubs in that tournament, Arsenal, RB Leipzig, AC Milan, Villarreal, Eintracht Frankfurt, Lazio, Marseille, Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea, would also have been mentioned, along the way, to give the script some weight.

At long last, the analysts would have shouted, Billiat had finally broken into European football and hadn’t just joined a Mickey Mouse club but one with a rich history in Europe.

However, the Zimbabwe international joined Kaizer Chiefs, after his contract with Mamelodi Sundowns expired, in a move which was heavily criticised by some who felt he had blown his last chance to break out of his comfort zone in Super Diski.

In a game that has largely become a business, where the huge earnings provided by Chinese clubs lured some big names from Europe to play in that country, it’s difficult to nail Billiat.

And, accuse him of having missed his biggest chance, to move into European football two years ago.

Especially when, as we have done in digging deep, we get to understand the financial muscle which probably enticed him to stay in South Africa, rather than move to Europe.

Billiat turns 30 this year and, two years ago, at 28, he probably wasn’t at the kind of age to take a gamble and hope to use another year, or two, to impress new suitors in Europe, hoping the big boys, and the big money, could come knocking on his door.

That’s why, in the bigger scheme of things, it probably makes sense Billiat decided to stay in South Africa, and try and secure his future and that of his family.

This week, former Scotland boss, Gordon Strachan, lifted the lid on the reality of life in the country’s football leagues.

“If you want to be a professional club, show it,” Strachan told BBC. “Have full-time employees, have full-time players, have an academy, do the whole lot.

“When you talk about clubs coming into the league, what are they bringing in? Two hundred people per week to a game, is that really professional football?

“Find the level your finances are putting you. Don’t tell me you’re a professional club when you’re paying people part-time 80 quid a week and nobody turns up to your football matches.”

That, stunning statement, made us look at the mathematics to try and help us, in a way, understand Billiat’s decision to stay in South Africa.

The Zimbabwean signed a R10 million-a-year deal at Kaizer Chiefs and, even in today’s world — where the rand has taken a knock — it remains a huge deal worth about US$573 641 a annually and about US$47 850 a month.

There was one Zimbabwean international footballer in the Scottish Premiership last season, David Moyo, at Hamilton Academical.

We checked the average annual salary, for players at Hamilton Academical last season, and noted they pocketed just US$50 544 — ten times less than what Billiat is getting at Chiefs.

In terms of a monthly salary, the average footballer at Hamilton Academical earns about US$4 212, while Billiat’s deal earns him around US$47 850 a month at the Amakhosi.

Even if we bring in the tax issues, Billiat still earns almost 10 times what the average footballer at Hamilton Academical earns.

Of course, had Billiat went to either Celtic or Rangers, he would have earned more but those are the only two clubs who could have bettered his deal.

The average highest-paid players in the English Championship, another league where some clubs were said to be interested in Billiat, earn about US$142 000 a month. This is about three times what the Zimbabwean gets at Chiefs today.

But, that is a misleading statistic as many of the players earn about US$10 400 a week, taking their monthly earnings to about US$41 000, far less than what Billiat is getting at Chiefs.

However, there is a player who earned US$83 236 a week in the English Championship last season.

Should the Championship clubs go ahead and put a salary cap of about £7 000 a week from next season, as clubs renegotiate contracts, they can no longer afford to pay because of the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, it could mean the majority of them will be getting less than Billiat.

What if, for sentimental reasons, Billiat had decided to follow into the footsteps of either Peter Ndlovu, and joined Coventry City, or Benjani Mwaruwari, by moving to Manchester City, who are both in League One of English football?

Well, it gets even gloomy given he would have been earning about US$4 000 a week, roughly US$16 000 a month, at Portsmouth, compared to the US$47 850 he gets at Chiefs. He would also be getting about US$2 448 a week, roughly about US$10 000, at Coventry City.

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