Chris McGrath: Time to forgive Mido after his grand gesture

Striker's £1,000-a-week deal with West Ham shows us not all players are mercenaries

So that's what they mean by a salary cap. Your new striker takes it off his head when he gets to the tube station, and goes round collecting his salary in it.

Mido being Mido, of course, there will be plenty who reckon his agent deserves a bonus for finding anyone prepared to pay him even a grand a week. West Ham, who signed him on loan on the final day of the transfer window, are the 10th club to take a chance on the Egyptian over the past decade. His career has been full of fluctuations, not least in his waistline, but David Sullivan is nonetheless entitled to claim his signature – at £1,000 a week – as "one of the most amazing deals of all time".

In fairness, as West Ham's joint-owner also noted, "Mido is a rich boy, even though he is still only 26." And it seems safe to assume that he will have secured various bonuses, contingent on appearances or performance. Even so, it has come to something when – as must be the case, given the cost of tickets – appreciable numbers in the stand are taking home a better basic wage than a Premier League centre-forward.

No wonder Ruud van Nistelrooy and Eidur Gudjohnsen snubbed West Ham. Doubtless Benni McCarthy, who has also arrived at Upton Park, is poring anxiously over the small print of a contract reportedly worth £38,000 a week. But Mido says he is here to prove a point, and it is not a decimal one. Officially still on the books at Middlesbrough, he was banished to Wigan last season and then back to his homeland, to El Zamalek. Now he has resolved to show a sceptical public that not all footballers are mercenaries.

He is certainly entitled to be received in good faith by those West Ham fans who once required their manager at the time, Alan Pardew, to apologise to Mido for their xenophobic chanting, back in his Tottenham days. For here, on the face of it, is a bloke who just wants to play football – at any price.

Undeniably, it is difficult now to see Mido – fractious, disaffected, indolent – as some kind of exemplar. Until now he has always seemed a commuter on the gravy train, the man who put the roly-poly into role model.

But he apparently looks pretty trim at the moment. And to that extent, the Premier League could hardly have made a more vivid expression of its new, belt-tightening culture. For Mido's contract, like some smeared, improvised putty, sealed the transfer window that allowed an icy new draught into the game. For it is reckless wages, as much as transfer fees, that have opened the abyss for clubs like Portsmouth. Smaller clubs, of course, get far less slack than Manchester United or Liverpool. But it is the monstrous debts vested in the big "brands" that set the going rate for everyone, both in fees and wages.

This was the transfer window when clubs accepted they need to stop borrowing money, and start borrowing players instead. They must be kicking themselves at Pompey, to see relegation rivals paying a striker £52,000 p.a. But it is not as if the skewed economics of football are suddenly going to be corrected by Mido.

After all, the house of cards is ultimately held together not by the players, or the clubs, but by you and me. Fans profess revulsion for "obscene" wages, but are prepared to fork out commensurate sums for replica shirts or satellite subscriptions.

Moreover, we take unmistakable relish in our relationship with these undeserving millionaires. They do not "earn" their money in any way a nurse or teacher might comprehend. It helps, then, if Ashley Cole swerves off the road in disgust, yelping "55K!" It helps, come to that, if John Terry leaves his Bentley in a disabled parking zone, or indeed parks other things in places they don't belong.

Imagine if everybody were made to accept the reality that many elite footballers are pleasant, decent family men. Mido may not have made too many friends in the game, so far, but that makes him the ideal author of a heroic gesture like this. For we have made a Mephistophelian pact with football. For all its moral imperfections, our infatuation is helpless. And that, it is only fair to recognise, must be no less true of Mido himself.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game