Isn’t football great? Fabio Capello resigns over his support for the captain England axed over accusations of racism. The favourite to take over the post is Harry Redknapp, whose star QC pulled off a brilliant winning goal by persuading the jury that a forgotten £90,000, in sunny Monaco, in the name of Redknapp’s pet dog was a present from his chairman Milan Mandaric, and so not taxable. Meanwhile their old team Portsmouth FC looks likely to go into administration again, so there’s more bad luck ahead for local businesses in Pompey who have supplied the club with services.
Luis Suarez (not a racist according to his manager and team mates) is back in Liverpool’s team and lauded to the skies by a stadium full of lovable Scousers, in spite of having been proved to have racially insulted an opponent. While Ravel Morrison of West Ham is in trouble over a homophobic threat issued on Twitter, a week after being shipped out of Man United, one of whose fans today claimed he is “no racist” while pleading guilty to abusing a black Stoke player in terms so offensive that fellow fans asked for him to be ejected from the stadium. An Oldham defender was recently reduced to tears by the racist abuse he encountered at Anfield and needed consoling on the field.
At Sunderland, Titus Bramble stands accused and on bail on charges of sexual assault but his new boss Martin O’Neill has no qualms about putting him back in the first XI regardless. Lee Hughes of Notts County also continues to ply his trade in the Third Division although he too has been charged with a similar offence. Blackburn and Scotland’s young forward David Goodwillie had rape charges against him dropped last year but his CV, at the age of 22, already includes two assault convictions and it was reported that his previous manager at Dundee United placed him under house arrest. Another youngster, Andy Carroll, was ordered to live with his Newcastle captain after a caution for assault was followed by a conviction after a man was glassed in the face in a pub. Andy now “stars” alongside the non-racist Suarez in the Liverpool team.
Bobby Zamora, a player of fairly average talent who failed to make the grade at Tottenham and West Ham, left Fulham last week in order to claim the £90,000 he insisted QPR pay him. That’s not £90,000 a year, mind, nor even a month, but 90K every week. That’s £64,000 a week more than the new annual benefits cap which will particularly affect claimants and cause additional homelessness in London, where Fulham and QPR play. Poor Alan Hansen though is going to have to get by on a miserable million quid a year from now on for his banal “never a penalty kick in a million years” musings on Match of the Day. By the way, he used to play for Partick Thistle, from Maryhill in Glasgow, the city with the lowest life expectancy in Britain. He doesn’t live there anymore but he managed to offend black people from Scotland, Wales, England, Ireland and beyond in December by describing them as “coloured.”
Arsenal fans were probably hoping for the exit, in the transfer window, of Andrey Arshavin, whose form has suffered and work rate noticeably diminished since the introduction of the 50p higher tax rate, a grievous blow which left him, on his mere £80,000 a week contract, in dire financial straits. How he must long for the high rise flat in Leningrad/St Petersburg where he grew up before being spotted by, playing for and finally demanding a lucrative transfer from his local club Zenit.
Heart of Midlothian FC are currently facing a winding-up order for not paying their taxes. Several Scottish and English league clubs, including the mighty Glasgow Rangers who are reported to owe HMRC £49 million, are or have been in similar trouble, but the richest teams always seem to survive and to go on to prosper. Sheffield Wednesday were faced with two such orders last season before being taken over by Harry Redknapp’s benefactor Milan Mandaric, whose first act at Hillsborough was to give a further example of his traditional largesse towards his teams’ managers by sacking Alan Irvine on the spot. Not so fortunate, though, were Ilkeston Town FC, who were closed down over a £47,000 tax bill in 2010. Bobby Zamora could have paid that off in a week and still had plenty left over.
In the 1950s, Preston North End’s Tom Finney played on the left wing for England while also working as a plumber. If you like football in the 21st century but don’t like greed, cheating or racism then clearly the best thing to do is to find a local non-league team whose players are just like Tom Finney, i.e. not hiding in gated communities and paying accountants to help them avoid paying their 50p tax, but living similar lifestyles on the same housing estates as the fans who watch them.
Thurso FC, Totnes & Dartington, Matlock Town, Bedlington Terriers and Abergavenny Thursdays, the future belongs to you!Tags: Sport
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This post was written by Felix McHugh