Dylan Jones: If you ask me

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The Independent Online

If you ask me the state of professional football could be improved exponentially by adopting some extremely simple measures. Although the Premiership has spent the past 15 years being lauded as the sport's salvation, since England were ceremoniously booted out of Euro 2008 (costing my company and hundreds of others thousands – if not millions – of pounds) there has been an almost metronomic reconsideration.

Not only do we have far too many foreign players (though can you blame Chelsea and Arsenal fielding entirely foreign teams if they're allowed to?), but the salary structure has become the stuff of science fiction. And while the various (useless) governing bodies will waste thousands of man hours bickering amongst themselves over quotas, they're unlikely to be able ever to affect the ludicrous amount of money the players now earn, even if they wanted to.

But what they could do is immediately make the Premiership and the other leagues more accountable. Which for a start means the following: make all referees professional. After all, why should an 18-year-old oik earning £20,000 a week bother to listen to some whey-faced dipstick in a cheap uniform who barely has his travel costs covered?

Then, do what they do in rugby, and penalise the team and the player if they dare to remonstrate with the referee after a decision has gone against them. Seriously, in what other field of work would you put up with a sweaty yob screaming abuse an inch from your face? If someone did that in my office I'd fire them immediately. So why should referees put up with it? If swearing (in any language) suddenly became a red card offence, players would think twice about it, automatically increasing referees' standing as role models, and making football matches more appropriate places to entertain children.

I've watched a lot less football this season, principally because I'm sick of the players' behaviour, sick of them acting like poorly educated schoolboys, sick of them becoming hysterical at their inability to control the game to their satisfaction, sick of them parading around as though they were royalty.

Because let's face it, not even royalty does that any more.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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