Football: Loyalty becomes a foreign word in football

FOOTBALL NEWS rumbled on throughout the increasingly sultry summer, like a distant thunderstorm. Manchester United did the unthinkable, tearing up their F.A. Cup entry application; referees and their assistants went shopping for walkie-talkies; West Bromwich Albion sacked Denis Smith before a ball was kicked. The game took the shortest of holidays - Monday and Tuesday of the first week of the Wimbledon tennis fortnight.

Last week the massive thunderclap came: twin blasts as the action returned to the field and Des Lynam left Match of the Day to transfer to ITV. Whatever will Sally, the Radio Two Friday traffic girl do without his presence? Lynam's supreme professionalism and presence in front of the cameras did not re-translate back to radio where his charm needed a lighter and less treacly touch.

United's abstention from the Cup began to look a little forlorn. It is clear that they need to devote maximum resources towards the Premiership campaign and the increasingly lucrative (and overblown) European Champions League.

The news of Barcelona's new television contract worth pounds 254m over five years puts a different slant on United's aborted takeover by BSkyB. Top Italian and Spanish clubs will be grossing forty and fifty million pounds per year. In England, where the Premier League's television revenue is shared out much more equitably, clubs earning `only' about pounds 10m will begin to find it difficult to compete financially with the foreign giants who negotiate their own deals.

The next English television negotiations in 2001 will exercise club chairmen's minds as never before, as the richer clubs seek to maintain the status of the Premier League as the most entertaining in the world. Opportunities for additional growth and new revenue streams will be sought assiduously.

Although, if the lack of loyalty shown by the likes of Pierre van Hooijdonk, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Nicolas Anelka is the price we have to pay for competing on a world stage, maybe we should become little Englanders again and go back to the Fifties, when League regulations prohibited the signing of foreign players.

I welcomed David Dein's announcement that he was to seek action across Europe on the predations of greedy players and opportunistic agents. Since League football began club owners have failed to stamp out irregular approaches to contracted players. The sad fact is that the clubs, as employers, seek to operate cartels which protect their interests, but there is always someone to take on a renegade player. Premier League chairmen operate among themselves a code of conduct which is largely unsung and breached less and less often. But until higher standards and effective regulations are introduced throughout the game, frustrated chairmen will find it increasingly difficult to hold players to contracts and fans will become more and more disillusioned.

It would be simple to rule that an agent's remuneration or commission must be spread across the length of the player's contract in order to make it less tempting to manufacture a lucrative transfer situation. Even though it was surprising that the money sat in the Old Trafford safe for 12 months, Sir Alex Ferguson's revelation about the pounds 40,000 attempted bung shows how easily football can be manipulated if effective regulation is not in place.

Talking of regulation, I expect new Minister for Sport Kate Hoey to press the Football Association to consider new financial controls on errant clubs and rapacious owners. The Football Task Force's report on money in football, is still awaited many months after David Mellor was supposed to wind it up. Football lovers will find it easier to avoid Mellor now he has been moved from Saturday to Wednesday by BBC Radio Five Live.

Is it becoming more difficult to be a manager? Where are the pressures most acute, in the Premier League or down in Division Three? A scroll through the First Division Managers reveals that with the exception of the remarkable Dario Gradi at Crewe, whose continuing ability to make silk purses out of sows' ears commenced in 1983, no manager has been at his present club longer than Alan Curbishley of Charlton Athletic who was appointed in 1991.

Good luck to them all. Good fortune also to the newly wired for sound referees (whatever did happen over Martin Edwards' comments about David Elleray?) And happy scoring to the players, who were warned last week in the New Scientist that an overactive sex life can cause sexually acquired reactive arthritis.

I paid a visit to Highbury last Thursday. The pitch looked absolutely fantastic. What I would have given to have stroked a 40 yard pass across the welcoming turf. Unfortunately, it was being mown and re-mown by two loving groundsmen, who gave a baleful stare at anyone who ventured within 10 yards of the boundary lines. Roll on football indeed. Let's all enjoy the new influx of foreign players.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Robin van Persie leaves the field at the King Power Stadium last Sunday
football
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as John Watson and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock
tv

Co-creator Mark Gatiss dropped some very intriguing hints ahead of the BBC drama's return next year

News
In this photo illustration, the Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced its initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.
news

News
people

London 'needs affordable housing'

Arts and Entertainment
music Band accidentally drops four-letter description at concert
Life and Style
tech
News
peopleIan Thorpe addresses Ricky Martin rumours
Arts and Entertainment
'Africa' will be Angelina Jolie's fifth film as a director
film

Mr and Mrs Smith star admits she's 'never been comfortable on-screen'

Arts and Entertainment
Australia singer Iggy Azalea has been attacked by Eminem in a new rap
music

Singer was ordered not to 'blow her rape whistle' in song 'Vegas'

Extras
indybest
News
Myleene Klass
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

£55000 - £70000 per annum: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world lead...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Argyll Scott International: Commercial Finance Manager - Slough

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: My client, a world leading services pr...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Advisor

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a global m...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines