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.