Friday, 2 November 2007

Sex, Money and Drugs (Well, maybe not the sex)

The subject of players' wages has been brought to fore once again after Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe suggested that England Captain John Terry's wages for his club side CSKA Fulham are 'obscene' and said that the astronomical amounts of money going into players’ back pockets are alienating the ordinary fan in the street.

The MP for Bradford South however did make a valid point about ever-increasing ticket prices - implying a correlation with the huge wages - citing the rises at Manchester United in particular. On Victoria Derbyshire's 5Live show this morning a Old Trafford season ticket holder called in to say how the club would not allow him to renew his season unless he purchased tickets to all their cup games which are not part of the season ticket package. The fan was forced to buy a ticket for United's recent Carling Cup defeat against Coventry where the Sir Taggart fielded what was essentially a C-team squad.

However, If CSKA Fulham can afford to give Terry - their prized asset - £130,000 a week to play football and the team continue to win football matches and trophies then I very much doubt the average shed end regular will be worry too much about being alienated. Even the Man Utd fan in the example above said that watching Cristiano Ronaldo week in, week out is worth every penny.

100k+ a week to kick a ball around may be 'obscene' in the eyes of some but how much more obscene is it to give Orlando Bloom however many millions of dollars to run around pretending to be a pirate or Jonathan Ross £18million to present a chat show?

Where Sutcliffe should be looking is in the lower leagues. As of April 2006, the average player in league 2 was earning around £50,000 per annum. That's 50 thousand pounds to play at the forth tier of the professional game! I know it's all relative but anyone unfortunate enough to have ever seen the likes of Notts County and Bury go head to head will wonder where all the money is going. High-earning players in the lower leagues are the cause of high-prices at this level (It costs as much as £20 for the best seat at Barnet...).

At premiership level, at least you know you pay for quality and most fans will not argue with that. The top-end premiership sides, know that their fan base extends far beyond those that fill the ground each week. For the Tottenhams, the Arsenals, the Liverpools and the Uniteds, if one fan decides the will not renew their season ticket, there are ten more fans ready to take his place. The obscene wages earned by John Terry are not necessarily the cause of high ticket prices but rather a result of them. Compare this to the lower leagues where it seems to be the opposite.

Drugs in sport - Again!

The unsavoury topic of drugs in sports is a talking point once again after Martina Hingis sensationally retired from tennis after revealing firstly, she tested positive for cocaine this year at Wimbledon, and secondly, despite maintaining her innocence, is not prepared to take on the doping committee following the test results.

The cynic would say that she is covering her own back if indeed she is guilty.

However, this is no ordinary drugs in sport case. Even if Hingis did take cocaine, the only charge she should have to face is that from a legal perspective. While taking cocaine is morally reprehensible, it must be acknowledged that it is NOT a performance-enhancer. Athletes and sports stars who take drugs such as Cocaine or Cannabis in their spare time are not doing so to gain any advantage in their field and should not be tarnished with the same brush as the likes of Ben Johnson or more recently, Marion Jones.

Every sports star found to have taken drugs is immediately labelled a drug cheat. Yes, there is the moral aspect and the whole 'role-model ideology'(another rant for another day). There needs to be more of a distinction between those who abuse drugs to gain an advantage over the competition and those who do so in their own time.

If Hingis did take cocaine, then yes, she should be reprimanded. However, why should she face the same sanctions as someone on steroids and the like? What difference between the recreational drug user and the footballer who likes a drink? It's a shame that Hingis would rather retire than attempt to clear her name for she knows that in the eyes of many, failure to do so would see her forever branded a cheat.

1 comment:

Michael said...

I read the title and thought it was going to be an old fashioned Junkyard style rant!!! Damn!