Football rules: you must not drink and must eat what you're told. Still want to be a professional? - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Football rules: you must not drink and must eat what you're told. Still want to be a professional?

Managers are as susceptible to fashion as anyone but despite Chelsea's continuing success not every aspiring boss will be mimicking Jose Mourinho's designer stubble, and matching overcoat and open-necked shirt this weekend. When the cameras pan to Martin Allen during Sunday's FA Cup tie at Hinckley expect the Brentford manager to appear clean-shaven, suited and booted. Otherwise it will cost him.

Managers are as susceptible to fashion as anyone but despite Chelsea's continuing success not every aspiring boss will be mimicking Jose Mourinho's designer stubble, and matching overcoat and open-necked shirt this weekend. When the cameras pan to Martin Allen during Sunday's FA Cup tie at Hinckley expect the Brentford manager to appear clean-shaven, suited and booted. Otherwise it will cost him.

The Bees are far from alone as a football club in issuing an elaborate and, at times, mystifying set of rules that it expects its players to abide by, but the irrepressible Allen may be unusual in applying them as rigorously to himself as to those in his charge. Page 10 of the Brentford booklet, Guidelines for Success! - issued to all Brentford players - is the "manager's page". Among the fines listed are: No club tie - £20; Unshaven on matchdays - £20; Wearing an overcoat on matchdays - £100.

Dressing Mourinho-style on Sunday would cost Allen £140 a match.

Any player, meanwhile, who reported for duty tie-less or with his top-button undone, would be £20 lighter and he would be relieved of another £5 for wearing a baseball cap whose logo proclaims anything other than Brentford FC.

Not that Mourinho is an easy-going, anything-goes type of manager. He has a list of rules too. Among the restrictions placed on Chelsea's millionaire players are a midnight curfew on all nights except those before a rest day - when they must be home before 2am; and the reminder that "the medical department is responsible for choosing the meal menu - no complaints are allowed".

Outside of the military, few occupations can be as subject to rules and regulations as that of football. Want to play golf, ride a motorcycle, use a mobile phone or laptop computer? Check the rules first. Brentford and Chelsea are among the many clubs which ban motorcycles completely; Brentford forbid golf less than 48 hours before a match. Another Premiership club bans golf within 72 hours of matchdays, and even then insist a buggy is used.

That club also insists on the right to veto a player living "at any place which the club deems to be undesirable". While clubs increasingly have rulebooks few, including Chelsea, are prepared to let the public see them. Allen is an exception.

"Footballers have to live by strict rules," he said yesterday. "Most people work nine-to-five, Monday to Friday. Everything we do is guided by 90 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. All your preparation in the week revolves around that. Players have to focus on that, they have to be dedicated to the club. They have to support each other and everybody has to play their part, staff, substitutes, squad players.

"It is not a rulebook, it is a list of guidelines for success. We asked the players what they think they need to do to be successful and I added some bits and pieces. I wouldn't ask them to do something I wouldn't do."

Only two players have infringed the lengthy list: One for being sent off, another for failing to ring in when late. Allen has yet to break any of his own rules, including the eye-catching one that reads: "Fighting opposition manager/coach/players/supporters - £100."

"It does happen," said Allen (Bristol Rovers' manager, Ian Atkins, has been fined by the FA this season for such an offence). "As much as we all want to win you have to get on with your job and can't let yourself be distracted. You have to accept what happens on the pitch."

In a 14-year career with QPR, West Ham, Portsmouth and Southend, Allen was never given a rulebook but brought one in when coach to Alan Pardew at Reading. Brentford's rulebook is a development of the one he wrote there. It anticipated a move towards more regulation in a game alarmed at bad publicity generated by player indiscipline. This season discussions have begun on a set of basic rules to be incorporated into players' contracts. This is to be drawn up by the Professional Footballers' Negotiation and Consultative Committee which comprises the Premier League, Football League and the players' union, the PFA. Clubs would be free to add their own rules.

Footballers are not alone in having to follow rules. The legal and financial professions are heavily regulated. Other occupations, such as teaching, have unwritten rules - no smoking in classrooms; no affairs with pupils. Many employees have dress codes and guidelines on personal hygiene. But few industries control their staff as overwhelmingly as football. Even soldiers are largely left to their own devices when on leave.

Footballers, though, are different. They, Mourinho reminds his team in Chelsea's rulebook, "are role models, for children and adults, and they must always have an ethical and correct social behaviour". Fitness is fundamental to a footballer's work. Mourinho, writing before Adrian Mutu's cocaine test and dismissal, adds that "players have an absolute duty to maintain a lifestyle that protects their capacity to play to the best of their ability". Thus the discouragement of smoking - banned in all club facilities and hotels - and the requirement that "players should follow a healthy diet, drink alcohol in moderation, avoid drugs and ensure they have enough sleep".

Allen has similar rules at Brentford ("no room service after 9pm - £50") including those which refer to safe practice ("no walking in bare feet - £5"). Others are aimed at fostering a respect for the club and team-mates ("no dissing of ground and club staff - £20").

While some of this obsession with rules may be a hangover from the time, before freedom of contract, when players were treated as decently-paid serfs, much has to do with the sheer fecklessness of many British professionals. Clubs used to keep players' passports - lending them out for family holidays - and at least one Premiership club still has to remind players to ensure their passports are up to date. Many footballers are young, poorly educated men, suddenly rich and surrounded by hangers-on. Self-discipline can slip, thus the desire of clubs to impose their own. More intelligent, mature players are doubtless irked by such restrictions, but they will appreciate the benefits for the club as a whole of such a regime.

Clubs are, for example, strict on treatment of injuries. Allen bans newspapers and drinks in the medical room (£5 per item) and another Premiership club expects players to be prepared to report for treatment seven days a week and remain so until 4pm at the earliest. George Graham, when he arrived at Tottenham, ordered injured players to attend twice a day, both times clashing with rush hour. The number of players reporting injured soon declined. The risk, however, is that players will hide an injury to avoid such inconvenience.

Alcohol, while rarely banned, is increasingly subject to so many restrictions it becomes difficult to consume without breaking a rule, especially when clubs are playing twice a week. The seriousness with which booze is now regarded is evident in Brentford's rule that anyone caught drinking prior to an away game will immediately be sent home at their own expense, and no one is to drink at Griffin Park at any time.

The other bugbear is punctuality - a habit footballers notoriously lack. Here there is one big difference between the Premiership and League One. Brentford's Osterley training ground is just a short hop down the A4 from Chelsea's Harlington base but the consequences of being late on parade vary considerably. Get caught in a jam twice in one month on the way to Brentford and the cost will be £5. Do the same for Chelsea and the fines will total at least £500.

The discrepancy is a stark indication of the gulf in salaries between League One and the Premiership, as is the reference, at Chelsea, to the players donating the pot to a registered charity once it passes £5,000.

But whether obscenely paid, or just handsomely rewarded, footballers have to toe the line. Football clubs routinely award themselves the right to tell their players where to live, what to wear, what to eat, what to drink, when to see the doctor or dentist, and what to do in their spare time.

Some rules seem draconian, such as Brentford insisting players do up their top button. "Our supporters expect the players to look smart, be professional and take pride," says Allen. "I don't like it when their tie is halfway down their chest and the two top buttons are undone. It looks like a spiv. I don't let my children go to school like that and don't expect them to come home like it."

It is a telling line. Managing a football club is like being headteacher at a school, a school whose pupils are gifted, rich and famous but, nevertheless, in many cases need rules - or guidelines - to achieve their potential.

One Rulebook For The Rich... How Club Regulations Differ Between The Premiership Elite And Those In The Lower Leagues

CHELSEA FC RULES

* Execute all the work plans determined by the manager, with strict punctuality.

* Players must know they are role models, for children and adults, and they must always have an ethical and correct social behaviour. Players have an absolute duty to maintain a lifestyle that protects their capacity to play to the best of their ability.

* When travelling with the team, by bus, and in the dressing-rooms, the players are allowed to use mobile phones but always in silent mode. It is forbidden to use mobile phones in meetings, meals and dressing-rooms on match days.

* The medical department is responsible for choosing the meal menu. No complaints are allowed. The players are allowed to choose or ask for a different pre-match meal according to their culture and their habits.

* Players are not allowed to be away from their residence after midnight. On the night before a resting/free day, players are allowed to be away from their residence till 2.00am.

* Do not smoke in the dressing-rooms, in Harlington or Cobham installations and in the hotel.

* The late arrival of players to training sessions (including time of arrival) will result in the following penalty fees:

1) First 15 mins - £250

2) Second 15 mins - £500

3) From 30 mins - manager's discretion.

* Direct red cards will be judged by the manager and the team captain. Disciplinary action will be taken if appropriate.

* Players are obliged to pay their penalty fees to assistant coach Steve Clarke. If the sum totals £5,000 or more, the players will donate the money to a registered charity of their choice.

* Players should follow a healthy diet, drink alcohol in moderation, avoid drugs and ensure they have enough sleep.

* Any player who is too unwell to be brought to the training ground should notify the club doctor by 8.30am at the latest.

* Players' misconduct towards each other, be it in training sessions, matchdays, travelling or in the club's installation, will not be tolerated and will be considered a serious offence.

* All misconducts will be analysed by an executive director and the manager resulting, if appropriate, in a financial penalty and/or suspension by the club.

* Players who miss the appointments made by the medical department are subject to penalty fees and a disciplinary process. Injured players, foreign or not, may only leave the city or the country if permitted by the medical department and the manager.

BRENTFORD FC CLUB RULEBOOK

Rules For Players

Flip flops. Walking in bare feet £5

Mobile phones: In building either listening, texting or talking £5

Jewellery: On pitches or gym - bangles/watches/ear-rings/tongue studs/ nose ring £5

Non-Brentford training kit ..... £5 per item

Urinating in showers £5

Late for training: 2nd time: £5 3rd time: £10. 4th time: £20. 5th time: £50

( If no offence committed after one month you go back to "free" . If a prior phone call with a reasonable excuse you will be ok)

Boots or kit left on training pitch ...... £5

Walking on training pitch No 1........ £1

Parking in club forecourt £5

Going into main office at club without a prior appointment £5

Dissing of ground and club staff...... £20

No alcohol to be consumed at Griffin Park at any time............................... £100

Failure to wear designated attire...... £5

No computers/laptops into hotels -

only on the team bus............ ............ £50

No baseball caps or hats on away travel unless Brentford Football Club £5

No room service after 9pm £50

Drinking or ordering alcohol in rooms or leaving the hotel... Week's wages and immediate return to London at own cost

All players to return on bus unless agreed with the manager 48 hours before game (ie after training Thursday)

No players to go into club bar or sponsors' lounge area after matches £50

Attire to dinner - no flip-flops/no shorts £5 per item

Ties to be worn by ALL members of squad before and after games with top button done up £20

No mobile phones in changing rooms, home or away. £20

On away games no mobiles after 1pm or two hours prior to kick-off £20

No player to go into Stripes Bar after games at home £100

No newspapers or drinks in any medical room at the main ground or training ground. £5 per item

( All the above monies will be paid into the players pool within seven days)

Injured And Unable

If unable to train or play, I will be in the medical room to see the physiotherapist at 9.45am.

I am prepared to be available seven days a week, morning, afternoon and evening to get myself fit to train or play (except Sunday when I will be available up until noon).

I will only use and consult doctors, physiotherapists and consultants with full approval from Brentford Football Club.

Disciplinary Schedule For Season 2004/2005

Caution for showing dissent

First offence: 10 pc of one week's wages

Second offence: 20 pc of one week's wages

Third offence: 30 pc of one week's wages

Fourth offence: 50 pc of one week's wages Fifth offence: 100 pc of one week's wages

Rules For Manager

Dirty shoes on matchday £20

No club tie £20

Critising a player publicly £100

Wearing a bangle/sovereign or overcoat on matchdays £100

Publicly saying how good we are, that we will win the game or League £100

Fighting opposition manager/coach/ players/supporters £100

Unshaven on matchdays £20

Gaffers' Guidelines

No player will drink alcohol 48 hours prior to a game

No player will ride a motorbike

All PR to be positive and supportive, at my discretion

All players will respect and honour my coaching and medical staff at all times

All players will give 48 hours notice on public PR exercises and be expected to attend

Wear designated clothing when required - failure to comply £20

Club ties to be worn at specified times in the correct manner. Correct manner means top button done up £5

Any player judged to have had a sun-bed £5

No player will play golf 48 hours before a game

( All the above will be at the Manager's discretion and will come with written confirmation. Any fine imposed will be deducted from your wages)

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