Football: Prompt cure needed for disease of greed

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SHOULD CHELSEA be hauled into a football court and have their runaway Premiership lead slashed if it is found to be true that they have been courting Ashley Cole and Steve Gerrard, the contracted players of Arsenal and Liverpool?

Yes, of course. But for such action to have any meaning and justice thousands of other cases all across the face of football should be taken into consideration.

Blackburn Rovers, who, for reasons best known to themselves, whisked Robbie Savage away from Birmingham City, would certainly appear due a date with the arbiters of what passes for football justice.

Significantly, Manchester United have been conspicuously quiet in all the furore. Any other posture might be a little rich from a club who have never been reluctant to use their fame and their wealth in pursuit of the property of other clubs. We know the rage in the Netherlands provoked by Sir Alex Ferguson's raid for Ruud van Nistelrooy - and the outcry when the United manager publicly coveted the talent of Gerrard.

Moral indignation over the reports on Chelsea's recruiting activities seems to live in something of a time warp. So do complaints about Chelsea's barefaced plan to buy their way to glory. Is this a novel development? Hardly. United have been doing it for years, and when Arsenal's Arsene Wenger complained about Jose Mourinho's superior resources, the Chelsea coach responded with typical bite. "Was Reyes a gift?" he wondered. "Did Thierry Henry come off a Christmas tree?"

Chelsea are not the disease, just the most spectacular symptom of the power and the greed which many years ago took hold of the national game.