Thursday, September 14, 2006

Show me the money

When I was a kid I was, like most young lads, football mad. A trip to the football as a kid started off as a treat and an hallowed affair. I can still remember one of my first visits to a game when a friend's dad took five of us along for his son's birthday. My abiding memory was the almost terrifying noise of the crowd, aggression and euphoria mixed together like nowhere else.

These days I'm more ambivalent. I still love the game but much of the insidious sideshow the game drags along in its slipstream leaves me cold. Much is made of the money footballers make and while it's incontrovertibly obscene, to make mention of it seems hackneyed and worn. What irks me more is the failure of anyone at any level of the game to speak out about the most deplorable facets of the business. Week in, week out pundits bemoan players' penchant for 'simulation'- they can't even call a dive a dive- or the vogue for brandishing imaginary cards in the direction of the referee whenever an opposing player commits a foul. Sure, it's a pain in the arse and spoils what can often be a wonderful spectacle but it barely deserves more than a moment's consideration once the terraces have emptied. More worthwhile talking points like Wayne Rooney's predilection for prostitutes, or the virulent homophobia which pervades the game seldom rate a mention. So it was with some glee that I read Marina Hyde's assessment of Ashley Cole's autobiography in today's Guardian.

You can read it for yourself so I'll not repeat it here, but my favourite part is Cole's description of how he felt when he realised Arsenal wouldn't meet his wage demands. "When I heard Jonathan (Cole's agent) repeat the figure of £55,000," writes Ashley, "I nearly swerved off the road. 'He is taking the piss Jonathan!' I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn't believe what I'd heard." Cole had been holding out for £60,000 a week so naturally he was upset when Arsenal could only stump up £5,000 less. If ever an example of the venality and greed of these individuals was required, here it is in gloriously unabashed terms.

These are men who are paid the earth for what is essentially of little consequence. More importantly their every whim is catered for, they have aides ensuring they are physically fit and healthy, and they shoulder minimal accountability, yet rarely do we see any evidence that they are humbled by, or appreciative of, their situation.


At 10:15 pm , Anonymous A. Nonymous said...

Poor wee Ashley. Imean, imagine only having to get by on that pittance. My heart bleeds for him. Not only does he have to pretend to be knocking off that Geordie mentalist from Girls Aloud, but he has to get by on only £2.86 million a year!

I heard him say in an interview he felt Arsenal ruined his career over the course of last season. I'm sure playing in the Champion's League final and the World Cup must've been terrible for you Ashley. Cock. Am i allowed to say that on here? Soon fond out i suppose...

At 10:16 pm , Anonymous A. Nonymous said...

My word, my grammar and spelling is atrocious there. Oh dear. I must've been overcome with emotion at poor Ashley's plight. If only he could be with the one he loves, all would be well in his world.

At 10:21 pm , Blogger Finnieston Crane said...

Indeed. For a minute there I thought you were another footballer.

I'll allow the other comment. It's not like I've got too many anyroad.

At 2:31 pm , Anonymous Ashley Cole said...

Listen, right. Arsenal did not show my mucho respecto. I go out for a quiet drink with Peter Kenyon my buddy and we accidently bump into Jose. Rather than excepting this unfortunate coincidence to be laughed off by Arsenal, they and the FA decided to show me a lack of respect by giving me a fine! My arse...nal.

At 5:12 pm , Blogger Reactionary Snob said...

I've never heard a reason why footballers shouldn't earn the sums that they do. Most of the clamour in the papers is sheer populism - how can a chap who boots a ball around get £60,000 a week whilst a nurse giving old Mr. Hibbert his daily spongebath gets a third of that a year?

I agree that I would rather see teachers, nurses et al earning more but it is not Mr. Cole's fault he is in an industry where £60,000 a week is an average wage for a seasoned pro at the top of his profession. As Thierry Henry gets nearly double that it was reasonable to ask, surely, for £60,000? If he thought he was worth £60,000 a week, if it is a fact that amount is reasonable in his given industry, and he knows others in the same team are on a great deal more why should he accept £5,000 a week less - to please people in the press?

I don't pity him, but I can understand where he is coming from. It is a tabloid pinata.


At 9:38 pm , Blogger Finnieston Crane said...

It's a reasonable point, I admit. Most people would be aggrieved if they thought they were being paid less money than someone in the same job who was held in similar regard. I just think the description (Cole's presumably) of his reaction to finding out Arsenal's offer was less than he expected, is horrendous.

You or I would presumably be able to explain to our employer the demonstrable reasons we ought to be paid a given amount. In this instance it's most likely Cole's agent whom was tasked with that chore. Perhaps, then, it's his agent he should be questioning for not having the negotiating skills necessary to secure him the deal he craved. But is he even aware that the alternative was far from penury?

I know Beckham (for example) is not paid to be an orator or a wit and nor do I expect it. I just wish there was one British footballer who could surprise us with their thoughts on the modern game.

I was inordinately impressed with Lilian Thuram's comments on Jean Marie le Pen during the World Cup, when the far-right politician spouted forth on the racial make-up of the French team. It would be refreshing to hear that at least some of them reflect on the position they're in.


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