High price to pay to be part of elite
PUBLISHED: 16:25 23 September 2006 | UPDATED: 09:40 14 September 2010
I was listening to The Scrimmage on Radio Norfolk before the Coventry game. Every week they have an away fan to give his views on the forthcoming match.
I was listening to The Scrimmage on Radio Norfolk before the Coventry game. Every week they have an away fan to give his views on the forthcoming match. This bloke was really very good but what I noticed in particular was that he introduced himself as a fan of Coventry City - “the last real football club to win the FA Cup”.
This started me thinking. I remember Delia saying something similar when we got promoted about missing trips to places like Rotherham and Burnley and meeting real supporters. I can also remember a friend of mine telling me he didnt really want City to be promoted as he didn't like the Premiership and much preferred life in the Football League. At the time I can remember thinking he was nuts but in the light of recent events I can begin to see where he is coming from.
I have had much better experiences travelling away in the lower league than in the sometimes vitriolic atmosphere of the Premiership. At Bournemouth I was given an umbrella by a steward because the roof didn't stick out far enough to protect me from the rain, at Torquay we were allowed in the home supporters social club before the game, and there have been various other unexpected but pleasant experiences.
This sort of thing just doesn't happen in the top flight. The huge amounts of money pouring into the top clubs is changing football beyond all recognition. We see wonderful skills. We see players doing things with a football you wouldnt think possible. But it has come at a price. The advent of the billionaire football club owner is on the rise. We have chairmen turning up to watch the game saying “Which team is us then?”
And the politician from Thailand who wanted to invest in Liverpool has just been deposed in a military coup, which doesn't breed confidence.
The imbalance doesn't just apply to the league, either. I heard that the FA had a bill of more than £500,000 for the accommodation and 'needs' of the England players wives and girlfirends during the World Cup. This is obscene when clubs like Cambridge United and Rotherham are fighting for their very existence.
And the disparity continues with the latter being deducted 17 points for breaking FA rules while Chelsea have a suspended sentence of just three. It really is one rule for one, one rule for another.
And now it seems the whole thing is corrupt, with transfer bungs being rife. I was horrified to watch the Panorama investigation on Tuesday night, especially as those implicated were two of the managers I had most respect for. There are other, more high profile managers I would have been less surprised to hear the names of but Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp had always seemed straightforward honest blokes to me.
It seems inconceivable to me that anyone would employ their son in any capacity as an agent at a club when there is an obvious conflict of interest. I believe the same thing happened with Alex Ferguson a couple of years ago.
All clubs should open up their books and have a salary cap based on turnover, and agents should only be paid by the players. Try to justify a huge rise in pay to the other players in the dressing-room when they have had to take a cut to afford it! I don't begrudge players earning a decent wage, but £100,000-plus a week (or the insult of £55,000 a week to Ashley Cole) is ridiculous.
It was intriguing to hear that “up to 18 Premiership or ex-Premiership managers may be implicated”.
Does this mean managers who used to manage Premiership clubs, or managers of clubs who used to be in the Premiership?
If it is the latter then it may well be that we are competing aginst corrupt clubs in the Championship. I may be being naive but I firmly believe the assurance that Norwich are clean and always have been. Maybe this goes some way to explaining our rather weak performance in attempting to sign players during the close season and just before the transfer window shut.
Maybe we weren't competing on a level playing field with other clubs.
Football has never been corruption-free, but until one of the Premiership clubs is relegated for contravening the rules nothing will really be done about it.
t NCISA's annual meeting at Carrow Road on October 19, will be followed by a forum attended by Delia, Michael Wynn Jones, Neil Doncaster and Andrew Cullen.