There was news this week that Manchester City’s Kyle Walker invited a pair of sex workers round to his place, opening to question his interpretation of the ‘Stay at Home’ message that he himself has been postulating. Technically he did of course, stay at home, although that’s hardly a defence when you consider the nature of the visit meant the practice of social distancing was going to be highly unlikely.
There are many spins you can put on the story, but the bottom line is that at a time when there is so much genuine hardship caused by the pandemic, his opinion must have been that the rules didn’t apply to him.
It was the same attitude shown by Jack Grealish last week, and like Walker he’d just done a promotion imploring people to stay at home and ‘save the NHS’.
And then there’s José Mourinho, who decided to hold a training session in a public park with a handful of Spurs players – again, what’s going through their minds? Do they genuinely think that the rules are for other people, or that the threat has been exaggerated, or that they’re never going to contract or pass on the virus?
In terms of punishment, Grealish has been fined and the money paid to charity. Big deal. Walker will probably be treated the same and José will be told not to do it again.
It’s not enough.
In current conditions there’s constant parallels being drawn to the Blitz - well, what José and the others did was effectively light some lanterns and go for a kick-about in the street during a blackout.
They don’t deserve the respect, rewards and adulation that their current positions afford them, and if they don’t understand what’s expected of a role model then they need to be taken down. At the very least I would ban Grealish and Walker from their respective first teams and tell them they’ll be sold in the next window, whilst ensuring they’re never considered to play for England. With José, I’d revoke his work permit, deport him and refuse to allow him to work in this country again.
Not that it annoyed me, you understand.
And all this business about furloughs – should a club furlough all its staff, (in our case, yes), should the tax payer be expected to pay players wages once furloughed (in Newcastle’s case, no) or should a club decide to continue paying all its staff full wages throughout the crisis?
It seems to be down to the individual clubs – Manchester United have told their 900 staff that they’ll continue to pay full wages, which begs the question - why have they got 900 staff? What the hell do they all do? Whatever it is, I’m pretty sure the majority of them are not doing it at the moment.
Big headlines reveal that Gareth Southgate, Eddie Howe, Graham Potter and David Moyes have taken a 30% pay cut. This is admirable, but again, what are they actually doing at the moment to continue to receive what is still a very large ongoing salary?
Obviously when it comes to money, the higher echelons of the football world are as mad as a box of frogs, and if individual clubs want to keep paying top players £100,000 a week when they’ve no income coming in then it’s down to them, but what they can’t do is continue to pay their top players as if nothing had changed but then lay off their back room staff to save money.
If the FA had any balls, no pun intended, they would come up with some sensible, enforceable guidelines – for instance, the government is willing to pay anyone furloughed up to 80% of their salary up to £2500 per month. Clubs should be told, if they can afford it, and Premier League Clubs certainly can, then pay everyone, first team players, managers, back room staff, everyone, 80% of their salary up to £2500 per month.
If they can’t afford it, which in lower league cases is understandable, then furlough everyone into the governments scheme. Unless you’re Spurs, Man Utd, Liverpool or whoever and continue on as if nothing has changed – it’s their money after all.
After last week’s exclusive, highlighting the effect that the current crisis is going to have on players haircuts, this week we reveal another unacknowledged victim of the pandemic, one which most of us have taken for granted up till now - one which, if lost, would have a profound effect on football globally, and one which is severely threatened by the particular set of circumstances we find ourselves under.
I’m referring of course to Ronaldo’s ego.
It’s been estimated that If it ran on energy and was plugged into the national grid it would cause blackouts across Europe for up to 12 hours a day. If it needed sustenance like the human body, the entire output of the American mid-west would not be enough to satisfy it, and if it required financing it would suck in money faster than Live Aid.
But it’s attention and adulation it requires and the lack of a global stage on which to perform is having a catastrophic effect. Emergency services are on high alert and temporary restrictions are in place around Ronaldo to make sure he doesn’t come into contact with any criticism by mistake.
It’s believed he’s being housed in his own museum, exposed only to his own moments of glory 24 hours a day with global leaders queuing up to reassure him that he’s still the chosen one, but there are reports that he’s already becoming conciliatory.
Supporters are worried that prolonged exposure to the current conditions will see him further deteriorate and whilst no-one is mentioning ‘self-doubt’ at the moment, it’s the doomsday scenario that everyone fears.
Our thoughts are with him at this time.