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Football's Millions Can Apparently Buy World Cups, But Not A Little Common Decency

Forget about who Jack Colback went to, it was the snivelling manner in which he did it which stung.


As Jack Colback announced himself a Newcastle United player, he was careful to offer his 'thanks' to Sunderland. He needn't have bothered.

In many ways, football exists in glorious isolation, but there is a thread that runs through all walks of life that offers a premise so true you could dress it in spandex and call it a superhero: actions speak louder than words.

Just as Colback's previous actions in derbies render his gushing declarations of heart-felt boyhood allegiance to Newcastle utterly nonsensical, his conduct in engineering any kind of move at all in the manner he did make a mockery of any claims of gratitude towards Sunderland.

The statement released by the Black Cats detailing the 24-year-old's conduct in contract negotiations was not to everyone's taste. There were those who thought silence would have been golden and may be they have a point.

Personally, as a fan, I appreciated the attempt at transparency, though perhaps I'd think differently if I lived or worked with Newcastle fans who couldn't wait to ram the word 'bitter' down my throat.

Sunderland Statement:

Jack is a player we have nurtured and developed through our academy system since he was eight years old. We gave him the opportunity to become a professional footballer and are therefore extremely disappointed in the events that have led to his departure from the club.

This wasn't about money - the club agreed to all of the terms demanded of us during discussions and we were always led to believe that Jack wanted to stay with us. At his and his representatives' request, final talks were put on hold until the club secured its top flight status. To our dismay however, we were subsequently never given the chance to negotiate with him to stay.

For him to then leave the club that has supported him throughout his formative years in such a manner, with no chance for Sunderland to recover any of the significant investment that it has made in him as a player, has left a bitter taste.

But the fact that Colback has gone to Newcastle is almost irrelevant in all this. They have got themselves a decent little player and fair play to them for that. It is not the where he has gone that stings, it's the how.

A lot is asked of football fans. Our passion for our clubs is exploited at just about every turn by TV companies, shirt manufacturers and others to sustain this ludicrously lavish industry. We know it, but our love of the game is ultimately greater than our disdain.

Jack Colback and his ilk are the greatest beneficiaries of it; fairly average Premier League footballers who now have the capacity to earn huge sums of money that render a post-football career pretty much optional.

If they want to gobble up an offer of a massive payday and the security of a 6-year contract, I don't blame them one bit. In fact I'd probably judge them more harshly if they were crazy enough to turn it down or, at least, not use it effectively as leverage in other negotiations.

However, there is still room for a bit of common decency. If he never had any intention of giving Sunderland - the club to whom he owes the footballing education from which he now reaps the financial benefits - then surely the very least he owed them was some honesty? The club had earned that. Colback is a player I'd have preferred to keep, but it isn't as if he is some kind of superstar who has carried the club on his back all these years.

It's not as if he didn't hold all the cards, either. He was still free to make whatever move he wanted. I've seen it mentioned of his midfield performances by some fans that Colback could manage to hide in a phone box. It's not an assessment of his football that I agree with, but there is certainly a cowardly, snivelling dimension to the subterfuge, broken promises and dishonestly with which he led the club down a garden path.

And yeah, the Sunderland dropped a bit of a clanger in allowing the situation to develop. I don't think anyone can question that and I'm quite certain they would freely admit to it themselves. That's a separate issue though and another blog in its own right.

But that neither justifies nor excuses Colback's conduct in concluding his association with the club who have educated him, developed him, paid him and supported him for nearly two decades. It was a microcosm of everything forms the increasing disconnect between fans and players.

I suppose that is just modern football for you, though. The game's millions can buy World Cups, millionaires, allegiances and, at times, even some illusion of loyalty. What it can't buy, it seems, is a little common decency. I believe the phrase is "pull the ladder up Jack and sod the rest"? Rather apt.

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