Welcome to Saturday, I hope you are feeling GREAT today. Fit, healthy and locked in a room playing Champ Man, the 99/00 game, you know, before it became far too complicated. Don’t worry lads, I’m bringing Pablo Aimar over to dazzle the Premier League crowds. It’s going to be a good season.
The hot debate RAGING online at the moment seems to be focused on Matt Hancock answering a question about Premier League footballers. He basically said people are dying, footballers should make a sacrifice, and take a pay cut.
I really, really can’t understand the backlash. Especially from sports journalists who whipped up the initial frenzy by lambasting Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy for trying to take taxpayer money to fund the furloughed workers at Spurs before cutting money to the players (Liverpool have just done the same).. I also suspect that part of the response was for PFA so far refusing to accept cuts to players wages, despite the impending doom for the clubs, and the non-sport workers who earn less and are hit hardest first. When these asks come from above for most of us, you take them and thank the employment lords you’re still in the game. The PFA counter-point that footballers have families rings hollow, we all do, most of us don’t have a choice though.
Top explayers like Joey Barton are saying this is a deflection attempt because the Government has bodged the response. I’m not sure I agree here, I think this is a statement about how huge community organisations should behave. The other narrative that the Twitter crowd seem to be latching onto is that this is an attack on working-class kids who’ve made it.
Please. What a load of nonsense. This has nothing to do with class. In this climate, if you behave badly, you are going to be on the receiving end of a savaging Just Google Mike Ashley. Do a Twitter search for Phillip Green. Look on The Guardian for stories about Richard Branson. As for bankers, they’re also facing a beasting for their part in the small business loans debacle being played out, and let’s be honest, they’ve been abused pretty hard for the last ten years for their 2008 crimes.
Back to footballers. The Premier League is deservedly taking a pummeling in the press. The good news has been thin on the ground. There’s been no collective effort to help. Most of the news has centred around pressing issues like getting the game back on TV. Compare that to La Liga where Messi has led the charge in making sure local workers are paid up, or Atleti who took a similar community-driven pay cut that ensured workers continue to be paid. Similar patterns in Germany and Italy.
‘You should blame the owners’
Sure, we can just blame the billionaires, but we can’t have it both ways. Footballers are working-class heroes or they’re not. If they care about the community, they should take a leaf out of the NFL book. At a collective level, the teams have raised £35m for the COVID-19 crisis. Individually, the good news just keeps on rolling out. Brady donated 10m meals. Drew Brees donated $5m of his own cash. The stories just keep rolling.
Google ‘Premier League covid donations’ and there’s not a lot to pick from. Jordan Henderson might be starting a fund. The United players are leading the way with a donation to the local NHS groups. Outside that, it’s slim pickings.
*Update: Premier League has donated £20m to the NHS, which is a good start*
Is this a class issue? If it is, the US working-class millionaires seem to be far more inclined than our to contribute to the needy in a time of crisis.
So whilst the UK Government is doing a bad job, it’s hard not to look at one of the most high profile leagues in the world feel a little disappointed at our efforts as a collective and at an individual level.
Key thing to remember, you don’t stay working class for long when you move into the 0.1 percentile of UK earners. You can take the view that we shouldn’t expect much, sure, but I do. I also think a lot of players are aware that they should be playing a bigger role. Arsenal always over-deliver on things like this, I was overjoyed to see them protect their casual workers. It’d be nice to see the players do something, especially when the rest of the country is suffering physically, emotionally, and economically.
Right, that’s me done.
See you in the comments.