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The Vote

Premiere League Football is sickening? The Grouch speaks.

Published on February 2nd 2011.

The Vote

As the transfer window slammed shut on another round of glorified January sales, it couldn’t have been more depressing.

Andy Carroll is the seventh most expensive player in the world and the deal to take Fernando Torres from Liverpool to Chelsea was stalling over his £175,000 a week wages and image rights package.

Stalling? Clearly £174,000 a week isn’t enough; it has to be £175,000 or the deal is off. Carroll, meanwhile, has played a handful of top flight games, was outscored by several players in the Championship last year and several brushes with the law would suggest he has the propensity for being a bell-end of some magnitude. Allegedly.

In a time where the Average Joe can barely afford a bacon sarnie and a cup of tea, football has totally and irreversibly lost touch with all reality, and the people that are supposed to fork out to go and watch it.

More than £200m of deals were done in one ridiculous day. Premiership football pays no heed to the recession, despite the fact that most of its members are in debt.

This is not the game I fell in love with in 1986. I remember seeing professional footballers on the bus, in the local sports shops buying their boots and running up and down the beach as part of training.

Now they are cocooned, mysterious, unreachable. And stinking rich.

The end result? Football is rubbish. It’s technically better, of course – the players are athletes, thanks to a team of nutritionists, fitness coaches, psychologists, specialist surgeons. Manchester City’s backroom team is bigger than their first team.

But the fans? We’ve sort of stayed the same really. The people we cheer on have moved so far away from us they are virtually on another planet. We used to love them because they were like us, earned the same sort of money as us and were footballers because that was their skill, what they were good at. You don’t begrudge anyone that.

Most modern footballers love the game, of course, but when you see a reserve team player of your local club falling out of a restaurant with a £25,000 Rolex on, it can stick in the throat a bit. You can’t help feel that they love the money and the lifestyle that bit more.

For sport to move you, it has to engage you. You have to empathise with a situation, an individual, a team. The modern parade of millionaires preening and posing on the pitch say nothing to be about my life, to quote Mozza.

Do they care about us? Only if we buy the shirts with their names on – it bumps up their image rights payments.

Basically, where money has spoilt footballers, it has also ruined the game. It’s hard to care about the Premiership when you’re in it, but you can’t help staring on with envious eyes when you’re not.

It’s kicked the arse out of the national game even harder, amplifying the shortcomings of a bunch of demotivated millionaires even more. Don’t go into that tackle too hard son, you might be risking your commercial contracts.

Can you blame the players? Not really. If the chance came along for anyone to earn a mint because their industry had suddenly lost leave of its senses thanks to TV money flooding in, they’d do it.

Confidential wants to pay me £100k a week? Pass the pen. But all the cash and razzmatazz has left us with a product that is expensive, often unedifying and out of touch. I can’t be arsed to go and cheer on a bunch of millionaires any more. It’s taken the fun out of it.

Don’t mistake it for jealousy, by the way. The players are welcome to their fortunes. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

But since Sky steamed in, football has been taken to a pace so far, far away, it now exists in an alternate reality. Where £250,000 a week is an acceptable wage and employees can hold their employers to ransom when a better offer comes along, but demand a loyalty payment as they clean out their locker. It was in their contract, after all.

So when you see Andy Carroll miss a sitter in a Liverpool shirt, say the words. Thirty five million pounds. Thirty five. Million. For a human.

It’s a runaway train. I think I might just throw myself off.

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10 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

The GermansFebruary 2nd 2011.

We were all wondering how you guys can afford this nonsense...could someone explain how that works, rather than repeating OVER AND OVER AGAIN how much the bloke at the top earns?

AnonymousFebruary 2nd 2011.

Pop and film stars have earned big money for years. There are still no complaints about film 'stars' like the children in the Harry Potter films amassing huge fortunes before they are out of their teens but if a footballer gets rich it's is disgraceful!


Man in a shedFebruary 2nd 2011.

Modern life is rubbish. File with the missing romance of long distance travel, the simple joys of only having two TV channels, and the size of Wagon wheels.

Still, seeing as it's a free country you could get off your bum and sack off the Prem, Championship, League 1 and 2, and get yourself down to Moss Lane or the Tameside stadium this Saturday. You can have a pie within spitting distance of the pitch and get ratfaced with the Chairman afterwards in the club bar.

Alternatively, I hear the Bundesliga is lovely at this time of year.

Lord SugarFebruary 3rd 2011.

Welcome to the Football INDUSTRY!
I wonder if the Chairmen and women of football clubs take return on investment into account when paying these transfer fees and wages? Probably not (this is sarcasm).
Can confidential get an interview with someone high up in a north west club? Someone on the board? Shed some light on the business behind it for us masses.

Chris MarsdenFebruary 3rd 2011.

Football has been a major business for a long time, the Sky money just tipped it over the edge. There are a few professionals left, I still see Scholesy doing a bit of grocery shopping with his son in my local Co-op but he's a total exception to the rule, never having been drawn to the limelight. And don't get me started on the pitiful WAG wannabes that inhabit Deansgate and The Circle!

GJHFebruary 3rd 2011.

The 'average joe' would not mind the going rate for a decent journalist, never mind the £ that publisher of Man Con earns...or a pop star, or a film star...lazy journalism to pick up the latest footy related headline...tonnes of footy out there that is not money obsessed, go watch it...Stockport County for starters..

Anon TooFebruary 3rd 2011.

I think the piece concentrates on Premier League football doesn't it.

Mr Binns is a Middlesbrough fan and Schofield supports Rochdale, does he not?

The money is ridiculous. Colossal.

Simon BinnsFebruary 3rd 2011.

The going rate for a decent journalist? It's a good job there aren't any at ManCon then, etc.

Ho ho.

JIMFebruary 7th 2011.

god its called capitalism , i dont care how much footballers earn it isn't my money , way more concerned about how much money the BBCs numerous board of directors earn , their 25000 strong staff and their massively overpaid presenters i am forced to pay for the BBC and i dont watch it ! and the same with the city council where we pay crazy council tax to pay for Councillors on more money than the PM ! thats the story not arab oil money , Russian billionaires money being spent on football players , half that goes straight yo the uk govt in tax anyway!

AgricolaFebruary 7th 2011.

Is your real name Lower Case Jim?

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