Giving up Football

October 23, 2010 § 8 Comments

The road was not to Damascus but between York and Beverley. Somewhere near Pocklington I decided to stop watching football on the TV, and stop reading about it in the papers.

Not that I have been a fanatic – I support Bradford City after all. But I got in the papers a while ago when I wrote a spoof prayer for England and Ruth Gledhill put it on the front page of The Times, and journalists being what they are it gets trotted out every now and again. I’ve not seen a live game in a few years, but football has always been there, and Saturday or Sunday evenings have seen me watch MOTD more or less every week.

And I’m stopping.

Because…because Wayne Rooney is about to be paid Nine Point Three Six Million Pounds per year. Rising to Ten Point Four Million Pounds per year at the end of his next five years.

Silly point out of the way first: why quote footballers as pounds per week when everyone else is per year? Tell it like it is. Per year: Ten Million Pounds. That would pay for the Diocese of York. Just about.

And it hit me, on the A1079, that much as I enjoy seeing a beautiful move or a thrilling shot from twenty-five yards bulge the net (etc etc etc) I just can’t watch a game where someone gets paid that amount of money. There has to be something very wrong with us to think that football is worth that much. Its thrilling, and fun, and a bit of human life is there, and it gives you something to talk about down the pub and in sermons, and communities have their spirits lifted on occasions (I was in Hartlepool when they got promotion and there was a spring in the step for everyone for a while). But that is not worth one out of form player (with a gift) to be paid £9.36 million per year.

The Bible talks about labourers being worth their hire. I guess what saddens me most is that Rooney has only done what’s expected, and got the going rate. That’s why it’s football which has depressed me, not just Man U. Society needs entertainment, artistry, a lifting of the spirits, and professional sport can do that. But not at this cost. What are the values of a society  which believes that Wayne Rooney is worth £10m per year?

I’m sure that the BBC will not notice that I’m not watching. Nor will the Daily Telegraph know that I turn now to page 10 of the so called Sports section.  And I’m sure that there are other sports which have similar out-of-control stories to tell. But Rooney’s new contract is my particular straw. When Bill Shankly said that football was more important than life or death he knew he was being ironic. There is nothing ironic in the financing of 21st century football. And I don’t want to watch it any more.

§ 8 Responses to Giving up Football

  • hilary gray says:

    Well said. As someone who grew up in the shadow of Old Trafford, the whole saga has been enormously depressing.

    And to rub salt in the wound the timing couldn’t be worse! It comes in a week of announcements of huge cuts to public services, and some people desperately worried about whether how they’ll be able to make ends meet.

    I think the banner seen at the Stretford End this week says it all.

  • Steve Walton says:

    Are you also planning to give up using banks, on the grounds that their directors are also grossly overpaid? I’m intrigued as to how you could be consistent in holding such a view of people who are overpaid (about which I entirely agree with you).

  • Steve

    I agree that it’s not entirely consistent – though I think that the outcry over bankers and bonuses/salary levels might have had a little bit of an effect.
    I don’t have to watch the footie though, and at the mo I do have to use a bank. Time to check out the ethical banks again…

  • Sue Wallace says:

    Check out your local credit union, you’ll still need a bank for everyday stuff tho. Meanwhile I see Paul the Octopus is so devastated by your football boycott that he’s given up the ghost!

  • Jonathan Jennings says:

    Yeah, but c’mon, though Jeremy; this is envy isn’t it; ‘no-one should have that sort of money’ is based on a romantic view of trade and exchange.

    Like it or not, the money is in the game now and for many years the players got the short end of the stick with capped wages. This in a very short playing career, full of risk and without any guarantee of work past the age of 30.

    I agree at the top end the sums are eye-watering, but the clubs have been making it out of the players for years; now Sky TV are coining it too; cornering access in order to earn their profit and using it over twenty years or so as the vehicle to build a totally dominant and highly profitable market position. That’s real commercial capital being acquired from football and it’s all utterly dependent on the ability of the player to deliver the beautiful game as a visual spectacle. If all of these interests and concerns can make huge sums out of it, why should they not have what, at that level, they are worth in the market?

    If I were that talented, I wouldn’t say no to taking the market worth of the skills and talents I had; if nothing else it raises the ability of players lower in the chain to earn a reasonable return.

    If you want to make a statement, advocate giving up Sky, boycotting the sponsors or going to watch non-league and amateur football.

  • Bang on Jonathan! The wages thing is a last straw rather than a specific issue with WR. It’s the very fact that the “market” values players in such a way, and requires clubs to bleed punters dry, use debt in a way which makes bankers blush, needs massive support from the broadcast media and has the print media in total thrall that has caused my disillusion.

    I don’t want to be part of this kind of institutionalised idolatry. I can’t value football as highly as it wants me to.
    I have never had and will not have Sky. The sponsors will take some checking out.

    Beverley Town, here I come. And Tickton AFC Girls Under 12s are awesome.

  • St says:

    The great joy I experienced when I became a Leamington FC supporter reminded me how much I loved the game and had missed its grass-roots. Still a Baggie at heart, but the Brakes got me back into enjoying football.

  • Graham P says:

    Why just give up on football? they paid Robbie Williams £92million a few years back and has hardly produced anything worth while since. Are you going to stop watching movies because of the vast sums paid to top actors? I think not. Is ROOOOney worth that sort of money? no of course not, but the same can be said of many occupations. if you think the princilpe is worth doing something about then apply the logic across the board. As for me and my house, we will still be supporting the blues, as I have done for 40years

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