Date:Saturday February 24 2007
Earlier this season we rode away from Turf Moor whooping like the Banditos we`d been branded by Steve Cotterill. The reason we all enjoyed it so much was partly desperation. We were all braced for a long, hard season, battling relegation. Nicking points away from, never mind three of them was probably going to be all too rare. How wrong we were.
Well, maybe not about our away form but still…
Now U`s fans are harbouring secret hopes of seeing their heroes in the Premiership. The "promised land". But is this Eden now tainted? Polluted by the stench of money? When you consider the team finishing in 20th place next season will get £30m the answer is surely 'yes`.
There is an increasing uprising of football fans, genuine football fans getting mightily hacked off with the over-paid primaddonas, spouting bile out the window of their baby Bentleys - that is between moaning about referees, cheating, fixture congestion and each other moaning. Bearing in mind that in the next 90 minutes they`ll be doing all the same things they whine about, it`s getting a little hard to take.
Craig Bellamy`s latest discrepancy is just another in the catalogue of over-paid pillocks behaving like the spoiled brats they are.
At the other end of the scale, the supremely sober Thierry Henry would probably wonder which end was which of a golf club. Yet he taunts Chris Kirkland after the Wigan goalkeeper dared to try and eat up a few seconds when his struggling team were brazen enough to lead at The Emirates. This from a man nearing 30 years old, whose team mate was booked when he did the exact same thing only moments later.
"Hey Bobby? What`s the French for hypocrisy?"
Add in a mix of Wayne Rooney`s cheeks turning a shade to match his shirt as he showers referees with spittle and 'industrial language`. Then consider that in the past fortnight, all of the above have probably earned more than you or I (or you AND I combined) will in our lifetime.
Now comes the sickener. We`re paying for it. And we`re paying through the nose.
Rip off Britain?
Chelsea`s latest Roman-rolled loss was in the papers this week. Just £80m in (debt to) the red this time. But despite all Mr. Abramovich`s billions, their biggest source of income? The fans. Ticketing, merchandising etc. At £35 for the cheapest adult ticket, it`s no wonder.
Here at the LayerDrome we do comparatively well. At £19 to stand, we`re one of, if not the cheapest in The Championship, but it`s still a heck of a lot of money. Bring a friend/wife/husband/son, get a burger and a drink - you`re lucky to see any return from £50.
I was in Lisbon recently, home of Benfica one of Europe`s most successful teams. The cheapest ticket in their spanking new, all-seater stadium? €7.
We`re all well acquainted with 'rip-off Britain` but that sheet of blame barely covers the toes of the big-headed football stars raking in the money as quickly as TV companies, sponsors and fans can splash it out.
You`d think that for £100k a week the least we could expect from our heroes was a little effort, some honesty and maybe even some respectable behaviour?
So who can fix this top-heavy mess? It must be that bastion of English football, the FA. Surely that`s their job?
Don`t hold your breath. They couldn`t organise themselves out a paper bag, as the latest fiasco in Soho Square shows. Called upon to elect a shoe-in member for Uefa`s committee for the coming years when England might bid to host the World Cup - in the biggest display of "I will if you will…" since behind the bike-sheds at Primary School they messed it up.
Earlier that week they fined Middlesbrough and Spurs £4000 for their on-pitch punch-up. Four - thousand - pounds. That for clubs that take in all those media millions and probably make more than £4000 every match day just on packets of ketchup for over-priced burgers.
The argument is: "Chester or Chelsea, the punishment is the same." - but why? You can`t deal out percentage salary caps with one had and uniform punishments with the other. Fine clubs a % of their match-day income. For Chelsea 1% would be about £200,000. For Chester about £16,000. Enough to make either sit-up and take notice - as punishment should.
At the moment clubs and players are laughing their heads off driving away from Soho Square knowing the FA are terrified of the big boys forming a break-away.
But unless we do something, all of us, together. It will be us that`s broke and away.
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Date:Saturday February 24 2007
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