Time to give credit to the Premier League

Click to follow
The Independent Online


Football Correspondent

In the end, he had to be pushed, and so did they. Maybe George Graham and the Arsenal board, like so many, thought the inquiry would be a whitewash and all would be forgotten and forgiven.

Credit, then, to the Premier League. A big club, and a big manager, have been brought to book and the game will be the better for it. In the short term there may be more to follow with football's reputation dragged further into the mire. So be it.

In the last decade football finances have exploded. There have always been opportunities, in such a cash-rich industry, for temptation, but never has the scale been so great. Not everyone has the will to say "no" to a sweetener, not when they believe it is common practice.

Whether this was the case in the past, or not, it cannot be so any longer. There is enough money floating around the top of the game for its participants not to need extras.

Some will say it is acceptable for managers to take a cut of transfer fees. It is, but only in one circumstance: some managers, at hard-up clubs, take a cut of the profit on players they have found and developed themselves in lieu of wages. That seems fair.

In another case, that of Martin Edwards, the chairman and chief executive of Manchester United, he took a cut on all sales as his annual bonus. It may have been legitimate but the morality is doubtful and, once it became known, it was dropped.

The Graham affair has underlined the need for administration of agents. They are not all bad, but many, too, are out to make a buck, and are constantly destabilising clubs.

Graham's departure raises as many questions as it answers. Why did Arsenal, who must have known a fair amount of the background, take so long to sack Graham - and then only under duress?

Moreover, are there other clubs, other managers, now sitting more nervously than usual in their hot seats?