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Thursday, 09 June 2005

2089: Football’s gone mad, and the f

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by : Sean OMeara

In a week that saw the Premier League dish out £600,000 worth of fines to Ashley Cole, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, following the shenanigans of the Blues tapping up the Arsenal left-back, Spurs now suspend Sporting Director Frank Arnesen following allegations of an illegal approach for the Dane, again from Chelsea.

The biggest fingers are pointing very directly in Chelsea’s direction at the moment. All and sundry are labelling them the big bad wolf in the supposed fairy tale that is the English Premiership.

But, the truth is that the English game is no fairy tale and has been falling way short of that tag for longer than some considerable time.

Further to ColeGate and ArnesenGate, we can highlight other incidents that present the football fairytale as much more of a schlock horror story.

Sadly, the behaviour of these parties continues to tarnish the national game and leave a bad taste in the mouth of the man in the street; but nevertheless has been accepted as common place.

Rio Ferdinand, of forgotten drugs test fame is a stalling on a new contract at Old Trafford, presumably for more money, though it could be that he just wants a better parking spot (you never know).

The screams from the Manchester United faithful can be heard all round London…
’Oi, you berk, we paid you in full, for 9 months after you forgot to go for a drugs test you greedy... just sign it!’.

My, my, what short a memory you have these days, Mr Ferdinand.
All the better to fleece you with.

These same fans are aghast at the arrival of a certain money-man from the good old U.S of A. Some fans are even ‘thinking about’ setting up a break away club to illustrate their anger and to distance themselves from the commercially driven monster that United has become.

Unfortunately, there will be no knight in shining armour to come in and slay this dragon. The Red Devils are on a fast track to the commercial super-highway and the brakes don’t work – even if the driver wanted to press them.

Football, not just United, will be a different proposition once the American gets his feet firmly under the table.

Players left right and centre are screaming for more, more, more. Money talks and they all want more of it. They want bigger wages, bigger signing-on fees and then on top of that, the clubs have to cough up multi million pounds transfer fees.

Then what happens? The players send their agents off to find bigger better deals, to then hold the club to ransom for wage rises, on top of their already obscene earnings.

It has been suggested that full employment law be brought in to govern the game, to stop the restrictions placed on players, by clubs. This would apparently allow players to know their market worth and to find the best deal for them, without the need for underhand wheeling and dealing.

What about the fans? How do they get the best deal for themselves? Can they shop around to find the best price for a season ticket?
Can they shop around to find the best price for a shirt?
Can they shop around to find the club that will incur the cheapest travelling expenses?
Can they shop around to find the cheapest TV sports subscription?

The answer to all of these questions is of course a great big fat enormous resounding, no.

The fans are stuck with the one club. They are stuck with the one TV deal and they are stuck with the one shirt manufacturer.

And, do the players, or the clubs for that matter, give a flying fig about any of this?
No they do not.
Why not?

The clubs and players don’t care about the fans, because Joe Plonker in the street keeps on paying. He keeps on going to games, paying hiked up ticket prices, queuing for a season ticket, buying shirts and paying his TV subscription.
Supply and demand, supply and demand.

He keeps on paying and keeps on moaning.

Then, out of the blue, it is his club on the back and front pages following the poaching of his beloved star player, manager, CEO or Sporting Director.

Suddenly, his club are dressed up in white. They are as pure as the driven snow, and are having their house blown down by the big bad wolf. They are not ripping anybody off, they have never poached anyone from anywhere and find this kind of behaviour quite frankly, inappropriate. Just not cricket.

Well, it seems that things are moving very, very fast in the sport these days, and it doesn’t matter what you build your house from, the big bad wolf will just blow harder and harder until he gets his big sharp teeth into your little piggy.

Of course, the woodcutter is your man. He is the one normally wielding the sharp axe, freeing victims from the over-stuffed belly of the big bad wolf, but unfortunately he is at home, with a bottle of beer in one hand and the TV remote in the other. If he could help, he would, but he only has one pair of hands.

All of this financial gore is the fans’ doing. If the people stop putting in, then nobody can take out – all except Roman’s Chelsea of course. They don’t actually need fans.

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