Is this crisis a chance for us to fix this greedy and immoral game?

Morality in modern football. Part two by Jon Fox

At this bleak time for our world we are all very aware of how perilous our financial future is, as well as our own and loved ones physical health. Though we humans are incredibly adaptable and ingenious, we fear uncertainty, and the inability to plan ahead with any assurance right now and for some time to come as yet, the future is really uncertain. Being humans, we react in various ways. Some appear to sail serenely through a crisis while others just cannot cope and go to pieces. Fortunately, though, in the civilised part of the world, there is a financial safety net of welfare care to stave off extreme poverty, hunger and total destitution. At least in THEORY! But it cannot be denied that we are now seeing people at large at their very best, though with a comparative few at their selfish very worst.

My contention is that right now, while our own senses as to what really matters and what matters much less, are so heightened that we have a glorious window of opportunity to ride upon this tidal wave of human kindness and compassion to dial down the awfulness of gross greed and immorality that has so damaged our top level professional game.

When the Premier League began in 1992 could anyone have foreseen that the average, (AVERAGE!!!) weekly wage in the Prem today would exceed £60000! We are told that the average national wage just before Coronavirus struck was something over £26000 per ANNUM! So, the average footballer is paid well over a hundred times the wage of the average working person, with a few players paid over five hundred times the average working person and many paid over two hundred times. Good grief! If that statistic does not strike you as rotten to its core, then I say there is something wrong with you! I really do!

Ask yourself if ANY footballers value to the game – or to society as a whole- is worth what any other two hundred people contribute. Right here and now I sincerely ask you to physically do this very thing and say to yourself out loud, “do I think that any footballer’s weekly output is worth any other two hundred working peoples annual wage?” Those two hundred will typically include bus drivers, school teachers, NHS workers of all kinds, factory workers, dinner ladies, train drivers, IT people and computer wizards, shop keepers, agricultural workers, management, postmen, firefighters, police, and many other vital roles played to keep our civilised society healthy and running smoothly. By any normal and rational examination of top players wage structure, football is in a world of its own; a rotten one, and it stinks to high Heaven!

It doesn’t have to be like this though. Of course there has always been a vast difference between rich and poor people’s earnings but in no other area of life is this huge discrepancy between ALL the participants in a business – and remember the Prem is a business, far more than it is a sport, to those who run it and make decisions – and those who are customers in that business. Yes my friends, we are customers now and as customers we have consumer power, if only we chose to use it. We call ourselves fans and we are, but we are also and always have been customers, and customers have a choice to go elsewhere if we wish.

But what’s that you say? We don’t? Ah! you’re right, we don’t! And there’s the rub. There is the one huge and emotional trap that we “customers” suffer, as we are also in love with the company whose services we use. Namely, in our case, Arsenal. Our fellow fans who support much inferior clubs, natch, and who we constantly jeer and tease and dislike (to put it very mildly) are also in love, but not with the pretty girl or handsome boy but with the flashy and show off one. And our fatal mistake, all of us, is that we use all our energy in taking the mick and getting at the wrong “enemy”. You see how I just made that same mistake, albeit for once deliberately. But I have made that error constantly through my long life. The real enemy of our shared game is not Spuds fans, Mancs, Scousers etc. It is the decision makers who administer and run our game, and who BUY football and thus take control of what is not theirs to buy. Or at least was not theirs to buy, until we all stood by in dumb silence and stupidly cheered while these “monsters” stole OUR great game. Those monsters include Kroenke, the Glazers, Sheikh Oilwell of City, Mike Ashley, Putin’s gangster friend banned from Britain – and shouldn’t THAT tell us something – and so on. Father Christmas turned out to be a villain and a fraudster after all.

So right now, caught in this pandemic, we are right up a gum tree and feel totally helpless. Coronavirus though, is an easily recognisable common enemy of the whole world, and as such we have all rightly turned our backs on private enmity and all pulled together in the great cause to defeat this formidable enemy. And defeat it we will, in the end, though it has killed what may end up being hundreds of thousands of our fellow humans before we do. But if we learn nothing from this victory which we WILL win, however long it takes, then we have learned nothing my friends, every cloud has a silver lining and knowledge is power. Trite clichés maybe, but there is much truth in both.

In the next instalment I will suggest ways to win back our game from those who stole it and who have, almost but not quite, destroyed the nobleness that our football once stood for. It is a fight that we must win, or lose our lifelong passion forever to rogues!

Stay safe and have patience.

Jon Fox

29 Comments

  1. Phil says:

    Jon, while not detracting from your views for one second, I wonder how we, as Arsenal fans, would be reacting now if Abromivich has bought our Club and not Chelsea. It would be Arsenal that had this vast wealth and those Chavs would likely be playing to an attendance of two men and a dog on a council pitch in Wandsworth.
    Do you not feel that, despite your obvious hatred of the Owner, it would be all so different if we sold out to the Russian and not Kronke.

    1. jon fox says:

      Phil You don’t seem to take my REAL point or you would not be asking this question. I will answer you though and YES, we WOULD be where Chelsea fans have been but that is not an excuse and is not my point.. You are a pessimist, or should that be a fatalist, in that you have stated that once this virus is over, that folk will carry on much as before. I say they won’t.

      I doubt you have fully grasped the enormity of the change to come in whole society that is still in its infancy but is nevertheless blindingly and thrillingly obvious, at least to some.
      As I stated to Ken on a previous thread today but which was meant for you, (as your post lacked a tag to reply) and I thought you would read it, HISTORICAL LANDMARK EVENTS ALWAYS UTTERLY CHANGE THE FUTURE. COVID 19 IS SUCH AN EVENT. The NHS grew from the Second World War and many other great beginnings too and this crisis is by far the biggest since that war for the world as a whole(though some countries such as Syria and Afghanistan have had far worse times I will agree).

      1. Phil says:

        But Jon, I don’t believe Football will change to the extent you believe it will. As has been said many many times, money talks. The Broadcasters who commit to paying BILLIONS for the right to screen live matches will continue to do so, perhaps even more so in the future. Football in general, and the EPL specifically has simply become too big for it to be allowed to devalue as you wish it to be.
        Only my thoughts I know, but however in depth your article preaches, I just do not believe you will be found, in time, to be as correct as you wish to be.

        1. jon fox says:

          But Phil there won’t BE MUCH money around to spend. I don’t say NONE, just much less! We will simply have to disgree on the future change issue so I’ll move on from that. Football is only a very small part of the worlds economy and will be badly affected by it as wil lall business, even far bigger business than football will ever financially be.
          Sad to hear that you think my article was preaching as I tried to avoid that accusation and I also will be delighted to be proved wrong and so “wish to be” is a cheap shot I think.

          I am ruthlessly honest with my beliefs and comments and give little thought to what I PERSONALLY want,when I write what I think WILL happen. I have always been this way and thus I can easily avoid natural fan bias. It also helps in my betting, which is not only on sport btw.

          1. towny254 says:

            You are right jon it won’t be the older people who will be paying for this Virus that the Government will be clawing the money back so football will never be the same we will have less money in our pockets

  2. Goonster says:

    Since players started earning this much money and started getting too greedy I lost that Organic attachment any player particular player.
    I love Arsenal but I don’t lose any sleep anymore. I get angry and depressed when we lose but then again i always say to myself “Why do I have to stress myself about a game and multi-millionaires acting like princesses.
    This coronavirus episode has made me put life into perspective even more.
    Multi-millionaires crying about being ask to take a temporary 12% cut on their wages in such a difficult period.
    What a joke..
    Smh

    1. jon fox says:

      Goonster You perfectly illustrate my point about the danger top football is in when the new moral code that is now so obvious in society continues to rightly scorn the self centred attitudes of overpaid prima donnas. Not that all are prima donnas in FACT; many are great humans but the sheer immense inequality between multi millionaires life styles and the bravery , dedication and selflessness of those REAL heroes earning perhaps half of one percent of players wages rightly appalls ordinary folk , including vast numbers of football fans. Without great change our game is in mortal peril and the OPPORTUNITY we now have is what thrills me. PLEASE READ MY NEXT INSTALMENT OF THIS STORY WHEN IT COMES.

    2. towny254 says:

      Goonster A few years ago I was given two tickets to a box at Leicester races the very next box was the football players and their wives & girlfriends I spoke with one of them and he said and I state we train till lunchtime then we can do what we want to drink and spending money like it was going out of fashion

  3. snowden says:

    I agree with you our true enemy isn’t the team across the ‘park’ and their fans or any other team and their fans.
    Our true enemies are the corrupters that ride the horse that is English professional (and possibly armature) football and see it as an unending supply of ‘money for nothing’ .

    They are responsible for the money circus that we know as Premier League Football.

    In so doing they made it possible for agents, family or friends and others unknown to make the wage demands.

    Inflated transfer fees go back along long time and Arsenal has made many a contribution to this inflation.
    To what extent the curse of the corrupt circus is involved in inflated transfer fees we may never know but i am sure the corrupt circus plays an active part.

    Right now the goose that lays the corrupt golden eggs has lost the use of its legs and doesn’t know how to get back on to them.

    When it does get back the use of its legs and starts to run football again I fear it will be the same old circus as before.

    Corrupt, corrupt, corrupt.

  4. Jah son says:

    Thing is are players stealing the money?no
    Did players negotiate and earn contracts legally ? Yes
    Do people have to support football? No
    Did this generation invent the game of football? No
    How much do governments reject football? Nil
    Are the club owners complaining about players wages? Maybe the ones who can’t afford
    Fact is only good salvation lasts forever. I for one just want to see the lovely game played.
    Moral issues and all should be handled by politicians.

    1. Phil says:

      My point exactly Jay Son

    2. AndersS says:

      Moral issues to be handled by politicians??? You are kidding. That’ll be the day, and it will take much more than a pandemic to make such a turnaround 🙂
      Apart from that you make fair points.

    3. Tony says:

      Thanks..

  5. stevo says:

    If there was a financial problem from covid19 why are PL players not taking drastic pay cuts?
    1. As I understand it the TV monies for the season have already been paid in advance so that’s one reason why the players have not had to take any significant cuts.
    The TV companies need the league so will allow the clubs to pay back the monies owed like you would a loan.
    2. Most clubs are owned by Billionaires who have a vested interest in keeping their respective clubs afloat.
    Chelsea Man City Sheffield and others are oil clubs who can be bailed out by their owners.
    Newcastle United soon to be another oil club will no doubt just add the covid19 debt to the new owners purchasing price for whom even 100m is just peanuts.
    3. FIFA is also guaranteeing bail out packages to clubs.
    Short/medium term there will be a drop in transfer fees and a stay on wage increases but
    long term say in three years time this will all be behind us and the bull market will be up and running again. Until billionaires tire of buying football clubs players can hold on to their huge salaries.
    Significantly the long list of fans wanting season tickets would indicate that most fans are supportive of the present situation.
    So while some might pine for the good old days when players were paid 10 quid and a free pint per game the multi millionaire pro footballer is here to stay

  6. Jah son says:

    And to make matters worse both football and footballers greatly contribute to society. If a few young men can through their talents and a billionaires pocket move their families out of poverty I say good goings kid make mama great.
    If one could see where some entertainers (players) are from.
    Musicians make millions by putting a few words together and like Adele can even still avoid public appearances. But what the heck let’s try talking down the best league in the world without accepting it comes with a cost.

  7. Grandad says:

    Good stuff John.Football is of course not the only sport where inflated salaries and fees prevail, but it is the most popular, and therefore gets more publicity than others.I have to laugh at fans who criticise Arsenal for lacking ambition by appointing a bright, intelligent young Manager rather than aging, overpaid guys who have been round the block numerous times and who are basically “cheque book managers” who are grossly over hyped. In the longer term living within ones means is the sensible way to run a Football Club and indeed any business, and to my mind, after a decade of poor Management, on and off the pitch, we are now on the right track.The Pandemic will create a huge financial crisis worldwide, and few if any Clubs , will not be significantly damaged.Huge, unjustifiable transfer fees and salaries will be consigned to the scrapyard and many players and their agents will see their earnings plummet after current contracts expire.This is an important element in the revolution which is about to take place in football and it’s associated TV sponsors when the virus dust settles.

    1. jon fox says:

      GRANDAD, how very much I appreciate fellow realists. If only there were more of us! MANY JUST DON’T WANT TO SEE THE HUGE CHANGE COMING SO PRETEND TO THEMSELVES IT IS NOT HAPPENING. BUT IT IS!

      1. ken1945 says:

        Jon, another great article by the way, the changes are already here in society at large of course.

        There will be changes in the world of football and that is also happening…even before the corona virus.

        Just look at Bury FC, or chelsea who were, reportedly, within one hour of facing bankruptcy let alone Darlington, Wimbledon, Accrington, Aldershot to name a few who went bankrupt.

        There will be many more “smaller clubs” who face complete extinction due to corona virus and some larger ones too.

        There cannot be a return to the crazy world of players earning in a week what a skilled NHS worker earns in a year – unless we have two or three “rogue” clubs (such as city, chelsea, psg as examples) who will carry on regardless.

        However, it is hoped that FIFA will regulate this – but will they? This most corrupt of all organisations will carry on lining their own pockets, accept bribes and favour countries and clubs who follow them like sheep.

        This is too big a subject to just limit to football (I know that we are a football site) and if society is to learn from this situation, all areas of abuse and greed have to be addressed – otherwise the rich get richer, buy ailing clubs, pay over the odds for players, offer obscene salaries and we are back to square one.

        I do not disagree with anything you say Jon, but I feel your optimism regarding our game will only happen if ALL of society takes on the rich and privileged few who have held court for centuries – they will not relinquish their power as easily as you assume in my opinion.

        1. jon fox says:

          Yes Ken and in your final paragraph you offer part of the solution which will also affect far more than merely football. I never said it will be easy either We all need to remember that right now we are barely yards INTO that tunnel that Boris said we are soon coming out from. We are not and will not for some time to come, not til a vaccine is widely available and widely used. Any fool can see that and his words the other day were the usual weasel words of a politician, not actual truth.
          With a longtime yet in the tunnel for all, attitudes will fundamentally alter imo. Others will disagree but quelle surprise! NOT!!!
          I doubt very much you will be watching from the Emirates for a year at least or some time more than that, personally. I also suspect we have all seen the last of Ozil, Auba, Mustafi, Sokratis, Xhaka and some others too already, in our shirt.

    2. AndersS says:

      @grandad
      Agree 100%

  8. Marty says:

    Good article Jon..
    Going away from the Premiership I absolutely hate the championship play off game with it’s obscene amount of money it’s worth to the winners by way of getting into the Premiership. After all, it’s a game to decide who comes THIRD yet the teams act as if they’ve won the European Cup. I don’t like the concept of play offs, it’s just a money making concept. If we have 3 up then the top 3 should go up not the 6th placed team who happen to win a couple of one off games.

  9. AndersS says:

    Brilliant article.
    I especially love your part about the owners, having bought, what really isn’t (or maybe shouldn’t?) theirs to buy.
    I generally agree on that, but I am not sure, they are the ones to blame. They have made use of possibillities that have been made available to them by governing bodies and, unfortunately, us fans! Even some Arsenal fans are “crying” for an owner with bottomless pockets to buy us a championship.
    The market forces will for sure, and for a while put a damper on transfer fees and salaries, but a moral resurrection is not neccessarily on the horizon.

    1. AndersS says:

      please, excuse the spelling etc. 🙂

    2. jon fox says:

      Anders, To be clear I do not absolve those who made it possible for multi billionaires to buy into and ruin our morality. My article said that we fans stood dumbly by, cheering while the monsters bought in(words to that effect, in one instalment anyway). My next part will offer solutions and explain why this virus works in favour of a return of morality. When far less money is available, as it will be , some at least of these corrupt monsters will want out. Hurray!
      Kroenke must surely know by now that he will make no more money from Arsenal for many years, if ever, and that heartens me. HE WILL BE HUGELY STRUGGLING WITH ALL HIS SPORTS FRANCHISES!! A decent offer from DANGOTE would surely much tempt him to go! Who knows if it will be forthcoming though. Personally, I doubt it!

      1. AndersS says:

        Jon, I look forward to seeing your suggested solutions.
        Because in my opinion, what we are seeing so far is in fact, that the financial impact on football has caused an even further drop in moral standards.
        We are seeing the PL willing to not only put players at risk but also to throw all fairness out the window in order to try and find some kind of way to get the remaining TV money for the season.
        We are also seeing the introduction of an owner, who has had critics of his regime brutally murdered. Although, I admit this last example can’t for sure be attributed to the new reality, it is, nevertheless, a new low for professional football in my opinion.

        1. SueP says:

          In agreement with you Anders

  10. Kenny Rolfe says:

    The game will never revert back to the old days values. sorry Jon, its too far gone. money has taken over, destroyed by Sky Sports who are now drawing up contracts with the Premier League in excess of £5 Billions to cover the next few years. They now run the game so much that they now crookedly insist on the outcome of titles etc. I always told you it was crooked Jon. It’s the reason I’ve finally decided to quit the game, yes, I know I’ve said it before but this is definitely it for me. I honestly couldn’t care less whether they end the season or not. If any other teams apart from Manchester United and Liverpool were leading the table the league would have already been declared null and void but The Premier League are so desperate to land Liverpool the title that they’re willing to risk lives in order to get it finished. I’m just wondering how much I’m going to get back from Arsenal, 5 Premier League plus 3 cup ties, that’s 8 games with an average £80 across the board makes a total £640. I guarantee you I’ll be lucky to get £400 back such is the greed in the game, we’ll see.

    1. jon fox says:

      Kenny , your decision saddens me though I was close to doing the same for the same reasons. But NOW, I see a sea change is society that will IMO, ovecome the corporate greed and force a new and more moral reality on players, on agents and on owners.
      Think about it Kenny and consider this: the gross greed came about because HUGE money was available. It will NOT be from now on. The lack of ability to increase asset value in Arsenal may well force or persuade Kroenke to cut his losses and get out. It could really happen and soon!

      Corrupt billionaires are attracted by huge profit chances. Watch them leave when that chance disappears. All top players will be forced ,in erratic stages, as contract terms vary, to vastly reduce their wages and in time I see a huge change for the better, forced by lackof surpus money AND by new moral codes in society, which INCLUDES many fans and even many players.
      So you see, KENNY, I share your views about the corrupt state of football, til now, BUT I am convinced that the circumstances of this virus have made a sea change in society and in football. A have also been a highly successful pro bettor for over 40 years and one reason I do well is because I back my judgement,often going directly against common thinking. Top football will be very different a few short years from now and for the better too, morally speaking. MARK MY WORDS!

      1. Kenny Rolfe says:

        Nice words Jon and really hope you’re right, however that’s not the only thing driving me out the game. For the 30-40 years me and my mates have always had somewhere to park, the flats with a bung to the caretaker, the National Childrens Home in Lucerne Rd off Aubert Park where the guy in charge used issue you with a season ticket LOL. They’ve now put a No Parking zone around the stadium which extends to Finsbury Park in the north, Clissold Park to the east, Caledonian Rd to the west and Cross St , Upper St to the south where I usually park. I then have to get a bus which can take an eternity to get round TFL’s newly designed Highbury Corner which is a nightmare, I’m 70 in June Jon, I don’t want to walk two miles to the ground and two miles back to the vehicle after the game. How the local residents stand for these restrictions is beyond me and that’s before we start talking about corrupt Billionaires. Iv’e done 62 years watching my beloved Arsenal apart from 7 years in the 70’s playing non league football so I think that’s it for me. then again we may sign 4 top top players that might change my mind, watch this space LOL.

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