The fan - Hunter Davies thinks footballers don't need breaks
Why do footballers need a mid-season break? They have an easy life
What a shame about Hoddle not getting the Southampton job, when you think how well he did managing Spurs, was brilliant running England, so tactful in his handling of Gazza and the others he was forced to chuck out at the very last minute, not his fault, and he did wait almost half an hour to write his account of being England manager, which he had to do, to set the record straight, and he hardly made more than a million from it, then, of course, we have all admired his beliefs, his grammar, so it's a damned disgrace, being so shabbily treated by Southampton when you think, oh I can't keep this up, eeh hee, ha ha ha.
The real point is - it's one of the few examples in football history of fan power. On the whole, we are treated like shit by the clubs, forced to buy rubbish merchandise at inflated prices, £3 programmes full of advertising, tea at £1.40 which tastes horrible, season tickets at £1,000. OK, I take back the word "forced". No one makes us, it's our own stupid fault. But what they do is take shameless advantage of our emotions and loyalty. They know supporting a club is not like having a favourite supermarket. We won't vote with our feet if there are better offers elsewhere. We are lumbered, stuck.
Having shares is a nonsense for ordinary fans, turning up to AGMs a farce. The vast majority of shares are owned by God knows who, companies with strange names in faraway places, controlled by people paying themselves vast salaries as chairmen or chief executives. Their fat salaries upset me most, paid to grind us into the ground financially.
I have this friend, Alasdair Buchan, owner and publisher of the Diplomat, who is a Brighton season ticket-holder. Last month - February - they sent him forms to renew for next season. In February! I get livid enough when Spurs do this in June, but I've never heard of a club doing it six months before kick-off. It means supporters are paying ahead for matches they won't see for up to 18 months. When by then the team might well be playing anywhere, with any rubbish players, who might be crocked, banned or in jail if, need I say it, the club itself still exists.
I was just signing a cheque today for an old boys' reunion weekend at my old college in Durham next month - when I read the small print and it said don't pay now, just send the booking form, pay on arrival at the Castle. That's how to treat those whose loyalty and emotion they are depending upon. Season tickets should be similar.
Players' monster salaries don't actually bother me too much. Just the monster arrogance that often results, making some of our British players feel above the law, above normal behaviour, made worse by the craven behaviour of clubs, bending over backwards to tolerate, indulge and defend them.
I was furious that Spurs players were poncing off last week to Dubai, just as I am sure most Leicester fans were livid at the very idea of their dummies swanning off for a hol in La Manga - even before anything went wrong. They have such a soft life anyway, don't have to start work 'til ten, off in the afternoons. Unless they are international players, they have two months off in the summer. Why do they need a mid-season break? For bonding? They are with each other all the time. To have a rest? So they go on a ten-hour flight and stay up 'til five in the morning getting pissed.
It's pure indulgence. And who pays for all this? We do. Directly, through our tickets. Indirectly, through buying crap merchandise and watching on telly.
Our only power up to now, apart from not turning up, which is pretty pointless in the Premiership, as almost all seats have been paid for a year ago, is to boo the players or managers we don't like because they are doing badly. But this happens after they have been signed. The thing about the Hoddle incident is that supporters made their feelings felt and exerted pressure on the board before he could be appointed.
Hurrah for that. After 120 years of professional football, the worms could be turning.
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