By Drewza on January 9 2012
It must be a bitter pill for Theo Walcott to swallow, if he agrees to £90,000-a-week for the next 5 years, as the English papers are saying he will do by the end of the week when/if he pens a new contract with AFC; especially as other journeymen compatriots are earning double that at Manchester City and Chelsea.
There’s a little sugar in the deal, though: a £3m signing-on fee to take the overall package to £26.4m, says The Sun newspaper.
But, hey, in these days of heady cup-grabbing competition what’s a few thousand quid a week between friends, or enemies, or frenemies if you consider your average above-average pro-footballer?
As Theo ponders his future – much like he’s been known to linger on a decision about which way to pass/ cross / shoot – there are other reports that Manchester City fans have returned about 1000 ‘away’ tickets for the game at the Emirates this weekend. The £62 tag, they aver, is too much.
Last night I paid R100 (about £12) for a ticket to witness a festive but ultimately barren international friendly for Bafana Bafana at the Cape Town Stadium: South Africa versus Norway. (0-1, the final score)
There is no comparison, I know – a critical premiership game as against a meaningless ‘friendly’ whose outcome supposedly didn’t matter, except to affirm South African patriotism and reconfirm Bafana’s inability to restore pride in this particular national institution.
Even by local standards, last night’s tickets were reasonably cheap. And it would have been a helluva bargain if Bafana had been able to score. They weren’t. And that is a crisis when you are about to host the African Cup of Nations tournament. (One Tweep said of Gordon Igesund’s Dream Team that this was more like the Dreaming Team…)
In fact, football is all about dreams, and how much we are prepared to pay to make our dreams come true.
For Cape Town City, denied the chance to host any of the upcoming African Cup of Nations games in South Africa – in part out of spite because the people of the Western Cape did not elect the national ruling ANC to run the province – last night’s game, attended by the Mayor, was done for the pride. The snubbed city could wish the national side well in the African tournament and, as Cape Town likes to do, show off its hosting skills.
There is a cost involved in the most hospitable gestures.
Since the operating company Sail Stadefrance ran out on the operating contract soon after the Fifa 2010 World Cup, Cape Town City council has been saddled with running the “legacy” of a national World Cup bid. In 2010/ 2011, the operating costs were R56m. The City recouped R12m. And so, here we have a R4.4 billion investment that costs at least R44m to run every year.
On a summery evening, as I wandered past remnant minstrel troupes from Tweede Nuwe Jaar, fire dancers and stilt walkers, accompanied by thousands of Capetonians and visitors enjoying the safe, policed streets and the wide fan walks that beat a march to the basket-shaped stadium beauty, I couldn’t help thinking, there’s a price to pay for this freedom. And while last night it was good to enjoy the end of summer holidays, it also felt like there will be a reckoning one of these fine days.
It seems the moment has come for some UK fans.
The heist of football clubs by the super-rich is all very well as long as the super-rich are able to keep up their extravagant spending to import the best players at the most foolish fees.
There is, in Theo’s ridiculous contract stand-off, however, a whiff of a much broader economic contagion, even if – let’s face it – the £3m sweetener he’s getting is trifling compared with players who earn up to £200,000-a-week. If we haven’t already learned from our recent, and ongoing, economic woes, the super-folly of ballooning leagues and super-leagues and swollen TV revenues cannot be sustained. FFP is surely a way to stave off football’s fiscal cliff…
Before the sub-prime crash it took the US banks years to digest the obvious: that a seasonal strawberry picker earning $1500 a month can’t afford a mortgage on a $200,000 house. The moment interest rates are hiked, the ‘owner’ defaults. The banks minimized the possible credit defaults: predicting a 5% homeowner fallout at most. By 2007, that figure was 10 times that amount… and what followed was banks collapsing, the bail-out, and now the fiscal cliff. It’s only taken 5 years – and the world is no better off in 2013 than it was at the beginning of 2008 when Obama stepped in to try and clean up.
This morning on one of the news channels there was a piece about the ‘pauperisation of Europe.’ 1 in 5 Germans can’t afford to live in a proper dwelling. The powerhouse of Europe! In England it’s bad. In Spain it’s far worse.
I can understand Man City fans handing back 1000 tickets because they simply can’t afford the cost of a ticket, transport and a day away…
Let’s get one thing very clear. Arsenal has pushed the sustainability line for years now. Changing the plan for the sake of a hatrick-Theo will be disastrous. Yes, I can understand how we might want to push the envelope a little. Put him on par with Podolski, for example. Show him what he’s “worth”. But I am 100% for prudent running of the club. And I believe, even if it ultimately affects our ability to sign big, very big, that we should cut our cloth according to our means. (My grandfather was a tailor, by the way)
I am happy for Cape Town to put on a show, if it means that we express our solidarity with the national football team (even if they don’t repay the gesture with results). I am also happy that Arsenal stops the bleeding of our “best” players like Theo (am being kind here) if by doing so we become a stronger, more integrated unit.
But if Theo thinks we owe him anything more, or anything like the outrageous pay packets of clubs like City or Chelsea, he has another think coming, as far as I am concerned.
When he has signed, if indeed he does, it’s Walcott who has the paying back to do. Here’s how: He must score goals and make assists (more even than he has done till now). He must recognize that being English is not an entitlement to ‘better’ wages (as if over a R1m a week is not a bloody fine reward for what he does). He must understand that he doesn’t need to be central to score (or assist). And he should also be re-educated to understand that he’s doing us no favours by sticking with the Arsenal. He’s doing it presumably because he actually wants to; that he loves the club, as Wenger asserts; and that by staying he believes this club does have a future and a direction, unlike van Persie who did not and pissed off.
If Walcott satisfies those basic tenets, then I guess this week the club would have done good business.
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