Day: March 5, 2008

Sol Campbell’s Bulging Packet

I do go, on the whole, fairly easy on footballers. Whilst managers, chairmen, owners and even fans themselves drive me to distraction on occasion, the players themselves, no matter how bad their behaviour may be, pass me by on the whole. I’m also somewhat loathe to criticise them for being overpaid. This is something that is the fault of the chairmen that pay them and, to a lesser extent, the supporters themselves, who ultimately finance the whole circus. If the players, the vast majority of whom are working class kids with dubious levels of education, can make enough money retire in the space of a “career” that might not even last ten years, then all power to their elbows. However, there comes a point at which things go a little beyond the pale. At the hyper-exalted climes of the very top of European football, the players do earn amounts of money that are obscene. The irony of seeing poor old Jermaine Defoe complaining about his eighteen months of “hell” at Tottenham Hotspur in the knowledge that he was almost certainly earning £40,000 per week while this was happening was not lost on me as I flicked through this morning’s paper. Such thoughts can never be far from your mind when you look at tables like this, which claims* to have the low-down on the top fifty earning footballers in...

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Crowded Out

Here’s something to ponder when you’re considering Richard Scudamore’s claim that it is vital that the Premier League plays matches abroad because they only have 335,000 consumers at home: last night, on a bitterly cold Tuesday night in March and with Champions League match available on non-PPV or subscription television, 169,592 turned out to watch matches in the Championship. These are impressive figures for the second tier of the game – an average crowd of 16,959 per match. The big match was at The Valley, where Bristol City came from a goal behind to draw 1-1 with Charlton Athletic. The result leaves Gary Johnson’s team (who, you’ll remember, were only promoted up from League One at the end of last season) three points clear of the chasing pack at the top of the table, with just ten games left to play. I keep looking at the results, expecting the inevitable collapse to start, but it just doesn’t (it briefly did last autumn when they lost 6-0 at Ipswich, but they soon recovered from that). It says something for the extent to which they have developed this season that a draw at Charlton might be regarded as two points dropped, and the chasing pack failed to gain any ground on them. Stoke City weren’t playing, whilst Watford were held 1-1 at home by Norwich City. Norwich were at the bottom...

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