By Tony Attwood
The way the media has reported football’s issues during the current crisis has been desperately slow and illogical, They started out by continuing to report potential huge money transfer fees, while suggesting that this issue would all be over shortly, and seem to have now got to the position of saying that if only the players would give up their salaries everything would be fine.
I think we really ought to be calling what the media is reporting about football as fake news – after all that phrase is used everything else that has not relationship with the facts.
Take the transfer rumours. They are not just rumours – they are fantasies – one step beyond the rumour. So what is the difference between transfer fantasies which are churned out day after day and the fact that Amanda Holden (a TV “personality) was caught telling people that the coronavirus was caused by the evolution of the 5G network across Britain.
As a result of that bit of wild gibberish and unfounded garbage some people have been attacking people who are doing their bit to maintain the mobile phone and broadband networks. On Facebook there was a group that showed people destroying mobile phone equipment claiming to be virus warriors. As ever Facebook was very slow to take it down.
Football’s fake news is that football can get through the coronavirus outbreak without it having any impact, when many clubs are near the tipping point in terms of money, and tales that the solution comes with cutting players’ salaries. As with the Guardian saying, “The Premier League’s position at the top of world football could be in danger if a solution to reducing player wages during the coronavirus crisis is not found, an analyst has warned.”
Players willingly giving part of their salary to people who are working on the front line in the NHS, while being paid pitiful salaries, would be a nice gesture, but simply cutting salaries so that the directors and shareholders can make even more money, is obscene.
Of course is a club is in danger of going down because it has to repay a fortune to the TV companies, is a concern – but the blame for that should not be with the players but with the management and shareholders. They are the ones who have allowed their clubs to get into such a mess that a single crisis brings them to the edge.
The solution is simple: they could have introduced a wage cap in the Premier League years ago. It is not as if they are “not the sort of thing that is done in England”, for salary caps exist in Rugby League and Rugby Union. In football, FFP rules went a little way towards solving this, although Manchester City have shown had fragile the rules are.
But the media won’t mention salary caps because it is a solution that doesn’t fit with their image of the game.
Barcelona players cutting their salaries by 70% was undertaken to help the club that was haemorrhaging money.
To run a club on the basis that 75% of the income goes straight out on wages, and to have £2.5 billion (by last season’s figures) coming into the game from the single source of the media, it utterly bonkers. The fact is that football should never have got itself into this situation in the first place, and it is the people who have set up these rules while refusing to bring in a salary cap as exists in most of the major sports in North America, who are to blame.
The failure of virtually all of the media to bring home that truth, while instead shouting about players’ salaries in isolation, is quite simply fake news, and should be called out as such.
Salary reductions by players to help clubs survive will help some clubs get through this crisis. But without a salary cap, there is every chance it could happen again. And without making sure that directors and chief executives and chairmen actually cut their salaries that again won’t protect football.
Players cutting their salaries won’t do any good unless we know why it is happening, what then happens to the money, what is being done about directors etc, and what the long term planning is for the future.
That’s why it is as bad as saying coronavirus is caused by 5G telephone masts.
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