How fans can reclaim our morality from the greed of the Premier League

How to reclaim morality in Premier league football by Jon fox

Those who read my regular posts know that I have long lamented the loss of true sport and morality in Prem football, since vast and obscenely awarded wages and the ownership of mostly corrupt billionaires completely changed our game for the worse. For many years I have found it increasingly difficult to actively support a sport which has become to me anti all that sport should truly mean. There is the constant cheating by players, usually backed up by “one eyed” fans who see their “darlings” doing no wrong, while routinely blaming “crooked” refs and unfair opponents.

My contention is that if you truly believe something in life is harmful or, at the very least, not as good as it should be, then you have a duty to stand up and be counted. I fully accept, of course, that many fans, even those who share my opinion about what is wrong with the modern game at top level, will simple say to themselves “there is nothing I can do to stop it, so I’ll just accept it, even though I don’t like it.” Or words to that effect. I believe in leadership and believe we CAN and MUST put something right, rather than meekly accept wrong and obscenity, as in this vast money ruining the sport, even though it helps promote the game worldwide.

It is this very popularity worldwide that has bankrolled the Prem. Undoubtedly it is an exciting product brilliantly marketed and hyped to extremes, with great skill and is considered a wonderful brand. I maintain the brand is sick, immoral, and is killing the sport that countless millions have loved like a spouse, by putting ordinary players – who just have talent in varying degrees, be that moderate, good or sublime – on a pedestal they do not deserve – and thus lauding often monosyllabic players to a status that they cannot carry, not deserve. Some, though a relative few, players are indeed star human beings. Such as Ben Foster and Jordan Henderson are humble men who have never lost touch with their roots, and do much for their local community and enhance the game by so doing. But for each of these there are many Karl Walkers, Jack Grealishs and Nicolas Bendtners who embarrass the sport off the field and who care for no one but themselves. Our club is no exception and we have had, like all clubs, our fair share of these selfish types. I have grown more and more unwilling to constantly overlook the harm these players do to the once noble game that I have loved since age seven.

Since the Prem came along in 1992, this gulf between the decent few and the self-centred many has grown exponentially each year. What has made things far worse still is the fact that so many multi-billionaires, all of whom care nothing for the ordinary man and woman fans, but only for money and personal glory as owner OR even worse ones, like Kroenke, who care only for personal wealth and care nothing for club glory or silverware.

We need to admit to ourselves that no league can run with a Mary Poppins mentality and that all clubs are out for personal glory at other’s expense. That is how it always should be, but that does not excuse financial immorality and gross greed and need not be that way.

Equally, any wise fan recognises that without many fierce and deadly opponents there would be NO league to play in, so that we all need each other. Just as we all need each other right now, in this bleak and dreadful times of hundreds dying each day in Britain alone, and thousands of heroes who, mostly, don’t know one end of a football pitch from another, are daily putting their own lives in danger to make sure that “strangers” live and get to go home to their families. Just now we all recognise and applaud those heroes, and we also see quite clearly which people in our interlinked society are REAL heroes and which are, so often at least, overpaid self-centred rather little people, despite the obvious talent in their feet.

So we have a golden opportunity if only we can see it, which I DO, ONLY TOO CLEARLY, to change this state of being and turn back the clock to better times, by refusing any longer to accept the financial filth that is ruining top football.

Sheer force of circumstances will do much of the work for us, as most apparently believe that even next season games are likely to be played without crowds present, and thus force players to much lower their gross greed and accept a much reduced wage, OR be unemployed in the sport they profess to love. It is, IMO, fortunate for our quest to restore morality and ONLY for that cause, that this is a PANDEMIC and all over the world, or virtually so. So, going elsewhere is not open to most players, as all countries are badly affected.

Many blinkered fans still believe that Covid 19 is just a bad dream that will prove no more than a pause in their football watching, and then it will resume with nothing changed, possibly even this summer. You see why I say “blinkered”!

I MAINTAIN WITH CONVICTION THAT THIS VIRUS IS A LANDMARK TIME IN THE WORLD IN THE WAY THAT THE END OF WORLD WAR TWO WAS ALSO.

When we are allowed back to some real normality in life, it will not be forgotten who stood up to be counted when it mattered, and who hid behind others and refused even to accept wage deferrals without a huge battle, let alone the drastic permanent cuts they OUGHT to have ALL volunteered to take immediately this virus began.

I say all Prem fans, en masse, should write an open letter with a petition attached which scorns the selfish players, and which says we will not accept this state of being any longer. We need millions of signatures on this petition to ask PARLIAMENT to intervene and use their power to make it law that there now be a maximum wage in football at all levels. If this were adopted by the Prem itself and other top leagues abroad, players would be left without a leg to stand on. Yes, some but not many in my view, would challenge this in court, which is why FIFA and UEFA also need to back the clubs and thus force players to accept what is on offer or leave the game altogether. It would only need a very few, possibly only one high profile player to fail in this challenge to alter matters and ultimately fail to alter law itself. No law can stand for ever in unjust fashion when the weight of people is firmly against it. It cannot hold and would not, if done this way.

Coupled with this action, we fans need to band together and instead of jeering and “hating” each other, we all need to recognise that WE are all on the same side, the right and moral side and that our real enemy is greed and obscene money which has divided the fans from the players. And my friends, it is this fan to player relationship that has been so damaged, already far more than many even realise, and which has undermined the precious bond of fans to players that has been the biggest cornerstone in supporting football, til recent times. We need an active and effective fans union run by a well-known and widely respected household football name. Someone like Bob Wilson would be perfect, even if Bob himself is somewhat old in years now, but that TYPE of widely respected person, obviously honest to his/her core and people orientated too, to combat this greed and to be a rallying point behind whom all fans could unite. This is a serious suggestion, which if implemented would quickly gather weight and numbers, vast numbers in fact.

To help regain our sport from the deadly grip of multi billionaires and corporate bullies like the Prem league itself, plus Sky, BT and other media giants, will take tougher action and I will tackle my proposals for bringing them to heel in my next and final part of this article.

Stay safe and have patience,

Jon Fox

14 Comments

  1. ThirdManJW says:

    To be honest, the biggest hypocrites in football are the actual fans. We complain, moan, get angry, yet we continue to do the exact thing these greedy owners/TV companies want…give them our hard earned money.

    I find it hilarious, those that rant about Kroenke, then go and buy a ridiculously overpriced shirt! The ONLY thing he cares about is getting money out of your pockets.

    If we stop acting like sheep, then the powers to be will have to start changing their tune. If we, the fans, truly want reform, then we have to start by looking at our own actions.

    1. jon fox says:

      TMJW, you sum up my whole philosophy. I have never believed in waiting for others to act first and hiding behind excuses of “what about so and so doing nothing, so why should I?” This is the real reason I stopped going to Arsenal almost 3 seasons ago, after 60 years attending, as I was sick to the core of the greed, immorality, cheating and was unwilling to condone it directly by giving my money to Kroenke, overpaid players, agents etc. Part of my gripe was also at how the club, meaning Kroenke, Gazidis (and EVEN Wenger for some years already) had been misrunning the club.
      Fundamentally, I HAVE SEEN THE WAY PREM FOOTBALL HAS BEEN RUN FOR DECADES AS THE ENEMY OF ALL I BEIEVE IN AND HOLD DEAR and therefore I will always put my core beliefs before supporting a club and Prem system I no longer respect; in fact despise much of it, though not all.
      YOU AND I DIFFER ON MANY THINGS ON HERE, ESP ABOUT THIS VIRUS, BUT ON THIS PRINCIPLE I COULD NOT AGREE MORE.

    2. SueP says:

      That is part of the problem as the clubs were originally community based and all fans have a strong connection with them. Wealthy investors have latched on to this base and clever marketing and pay tv in conjunction with the creation of the PL has turned our beloved sport into a monster.

      Wage caps work well in rugby unless you are Sarries. They got found out. Nobody is going to tell me that Wray and the players thought what they were doing is right

      1. Reggie says:

        I started a long while back cutting my support for Arsenal, Premier league football and merchandise because i thought it was being squandered. I will not be renewing my sky membership that i have cancelled when this is all over. I want to support my club and football in general but i am/was just lining very rich, very detached peoples pockets with my hard earned cash for what? So they can get richer, greedier, more detached and less grateful to the fans of the clubs who love the club. They use fans, they market the product and charge way over the odds for the product and product because fans do. Well not this one, unless i see an almighty change in attitude and turn it back into the sport it was and should be. It is now just a cash cow for the people in it, who use fans loyalty to milk them of their hard earned cash.

        1. SueP says:

          Yes Reggie
          It hurts doesn’t it?

  2. Dom says:

    The maximum wage / salary cap only encourages corruption in the form of illegal payments to get around it. Alternatively, if all players did accept lower wages, it would only mean that the money saved would help football club owners grow their wealth quicker.

  3. S.J says:

    From my own understanding, the sports will continue to be “immoral” cause that is the effect of going global and giving viewing to millions of people all over the world.
    There are millions of people who will pay to watch a certain club via TV broadcast so as long as this doesn’t change, the sport will continue to be “immoral” according to Jon Fox

    1. SueP says:

      Perhaps SJ it is possible to divert excess wealth from the top level of the game back to grass roots football

      This doesn’t have to just be Britain. Initiatives could be set up world wide to help poorer communities not only in football but to improve education and health. Wouldn’t it be heartening to know that the PL was giving back something really tangible?

      1. jon fox says:

        Sue P A Prem that was moral would never need to be asked to be thoughtful of others more disadvantaged . The Oremj has never given more than a few crumbs and then prorceed to trumpet how much they “care”.

        The truth is the the Prem is an evil, morally corrupt monster that has made the game exciting while ruining the whole meaning of football and killing the true reason for playing it at all. I have seen this increasing year by year and this enforced fan absence I see as our last and only serious chance to FORCE these monsters who run it and make policy, to utterly change direction.

        IF – which I do not believe – we ultimately fail to achieve this total turn around in ethics, then I will be finished for good with top level football and that obviously includes Arsenal.

        I would then follow local non league or Div Two level instead and thus be forced to join the many millions who have already stopped following Prem football for the same reasons. In short, a sport without ethics is corrupt and by condoning it we ourselves condone corruption, which I will NEVER do!

  4. AndersS says:

    Jon, it is an excellent article.
    Although I agree the salaries to footballers are so out of balance with what the fans and other ordinary people make, I am not sure, what a practical and realistic way to achieve balance is. Nor am I sure, where that balance point exactly is.
    And trying to achieve it right across the whole football world, could be unrealistic.
    In the short term there is no doubt salaries are coming down by sheer economic market force. Only, we may not wish for that to also be the case in the longer term, as it would probably mean the rest of us also are extremely hard hit by the economic forces.
    I think I understand your wish for regulation on the basis of moral standards. But exactly who can set those standards on an international level and what are they exactly? That is one h… of a challenge.
    I would probably try to start out in a smaller scale, i.e. by trying to unite Arsenal fans behind some demands to how Arsenal treat fans, demands to how Arsenal players conduct themselves etc.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Anders, like the response, but tell me, why haven’t you included how fans treat the Arsenal?

      I very rarely go on other clubs fansites, so I can’t compare, but it does seem as if the “give and take” is always a one sided affair with the fans expectations being both the give and take!!!

      Great article by you the other day by the way, I have been to the site myself and come up with some stats that I am currently working on.

      1. AndersS says:

        @Ken
        Very good point. Nor do I have any comparisons to rely on, but I like the idea of a set of standards we as fans, should live up to. And we could start by ourselves (Arsenal fans), if possible in some way.

  5. ken1945 says:

    Jon, first of all congratulations on another well written article that explains your personal feelings and frustrations quite clearly.

    The passing of time does dim what was happening with football before the forming of the premier league.

    Hooliganism, racism, unsafe stadiums, all standing venues, fans herded in behind fencing like cattle, no real solution for fans with special needs, corruption at every level, inadequate policing and stewardship was allpart of the football scene back in the 70’s and 80’s.

    From the Bradford fire of 1985, through the Heysel tragedy and the Hillsborough disaster, football was seen as a black mark in society and the authorities finally decided to act.

    The rioting liverpool fans were the last straw and English club football was banned from any european club football.

    Over the years, this image has changed and, as the money started to flow in, stadiums became much more family friendly as the all seater and easier to control era took over.

    Even and up to the abramovitch take over, salaries were not a subject of controvesy as such.
    Of course, they were much higher than the average fans take home pay, but this and the oil sheik’s introduction in to the premier league signaled the explosion of players obscene and grotesque salaries.

    It forced clubs like ours to either try and follow suit, or become also rans.
    A classic example was Leeds United and they have never recovered from trying to compete by throwing money at the problem.

    I’m not disagreeing with your thought Jon, far from it.
    However, it is worth remembering the good that has come out of the premiership formation as well.

    This virus will, undoubtedly change the face of football, but I’m not so sure in the drastic way you want it to – just look at the undignified way the FA are trying to secure, at any cost, the fulfilling of the remaining fixtures….all driven by money!!

    Sorry for the long reply Jon, but your article deserved a measured response and we are both on the same hymn book page, just not too sure if your prayers are going to be answered.

    1. jon fox says:

      Fine and thoughtful replies for which I am most grateful, from both Anders and Ken. I guess where I differ with both those fine gents is that I cannot agree to mere tinkering and not taking the drastic action that this once in a lifetime virus opportunity gives us right now. Indeed this is the reason why I wrote this article NOW, in this bleak time, rather than say five years ago or even ten, when the cesspit was just a tad less stinking but still filthy. The opportunity was NOT there then but is NOW.

      My real point, which, perhaps I have not ENOUGH stressed in my article, is that right NOW is that window of opportunity to really ride on the tide of much changed attitudes to achieve our aim.
      To KEN, I do much agree that much was also wrong in the old pre Prem years , as he outlines so well, but though some of that is still with us, esp hooliganism, though now more under police control on stadiums, I do not believe in being satisfied now that we have merely solved SOME problems but replaced them with something equally awful. In fact, in some ways, worse now than ever. I am very close to giving up even following top level football for ever and much will depend on what happens or does not happen in this next short period. I cannot condone this cesspit any longer without major change. That is my personal bottom line.

Comments are closed