Rooney, a cash perspective …

Okay, I’ve deliberately avoided the issue until now. But no more shall I remain silent! Now I must wade in with my balanced and to be frank realistic view of a much maligned and sensitive subject: Wayne Rooney and his enormous pay packet.

I’ve seen a number of FB posts vociferously questioning the size of Rooney’s new pay deal. Coupled with Wayne’s physical appearance (the relevance of which escapes me), these posters have suggested that the monetary rewards and prestige afforded Rooney, would be better spent on our noble snow bound Olympians.

Let’s start with a short appraisal of the young Rooney. A catwalk model he isn’t – and I say again, what’s that got to do with anything – neither has he been a sporting role model for our ambitious young. He’s been petulant, rude, selfish and after his little tirade at the England fans in South Africa, some would say an unworthy recipient of an English shirt. He has improved, matured even, but I suspect he will never be a Bobby Charlton.

As a footballer he’s undoubtedly gifted. One of the best Englishmen since Paul Gasgoine graced a football pitch and thus he is, for all his personal foibles, a valuable footballing commodity.

And that dear misbegotten, armchair sports critics and beauty advisors, is the crux of the matter. He is a commodity. Like it or not (and personally I don’t) top class football is no longer the beautiful game but a supply and demand business based on huge merchandise and wage budgets.

Any business with a responsibility to it’s shareholders has to ensure that it has the best products and the only way to ensure that is to ‘purchase’ and reward those products as the market demand dictates. Rooney is worth 300,000K a week to Man Utd, because other clubs would be willing to pay the same amount to have him as a business asset.

It matters not that you or I think his salary is excessive, because you and I do not have any vested interest in the ‘company’ or it’s assets. The shareholder has a vested interest in the money earning potential, calculated in merchandising and trophies and the paying customer, the fan, dictates a players worth and value by continually buying tickets.

Are these tickets overpriced?

Yes to me they are, but they are also hard to get hold of, so clearly I’m in the minority because the market forces of supply and demand illustrate otherwise. Man Utd have a season ticket waiting list that, once you’ve been accepted, adds you the waiting list proper – a waiting list for a waiting list!

Commodities, supply and demand, merchandise, franchise, business – you armchair warriors slowly getting the picture?

I’m willing to bet that these same armchairatarians, while sporting their knowledgeable hyperbole on Wayne’s resemblance to the famous Dreamworks donkey,  are quite happy to indulge in a bit of flag waving and cap doffing to the largest group of overpaid asinines this country has the misfortune to call their own, the Royal Family.

So why, pray tell are you quite happy to finance the sponging lifestyle of a family elevated to superior status by historic stupidity and myopic negligence, but malign the salary of an individual who makes no demands on your personal tax contributions.

Did somebody say double standards?

…. but I digress.

And what about this ludicrous comparison with our winter sport athletes?

Quite simply there isn’t one! The comparison is like equating an elephant to a dog, both are animals and both walk on four legs, but thereby ends the comparison!

If lying on a tea tray and hurling yourself down at dangerous and insane speeds were considered a major all year round sporting entertainment, followed by millions of overpaying viewers (or fans), you can bet your bottom dollar that the media moguls would have caught that particular band wagon and be, even as I pen this rebuttal, milking it for all it’s worth.

But they ain’t! Why? ‘Cos there’s no sustainable large scale financial interest in these sports except for 2 weeks every 4 years.

Please don’t think I’m undermining their athletic achievement and the hardships both physical and financial that these athletes have endured to reach the peak of their sport, I’m not, if you want role models they are far superior than the selfish and quite laughable, glove wearing specimens that pass for professional footballers these days, but they are not business assets. They are not products hoisted to lofty commercialism, they do not generate global merchandise sales, global viewer interest, increased gate receipts or increased payper view tariffs.

Wayne Rooney is no different to the top US stars like Kobe Bryant, Alex Rodriguez or Aaron Rodgers. They all command huge salaries because they are deemed to be at the top of their sporting fields and as ‘products‘ they are in high demand – the same cannot be said of Lizzy Yarnold’s and her terrific gold achievement, because those that really care are outnumbered massively by those who don’t.

Only the likes of the legendary Tom Finney, who died in the same week Rooney’s salary was made public, would be justified in passing comment. A world class player at the peak of his profession who returned to the family plumbing business on retirement. What would he have said on the subject? We don’t know, but he was asked his opinion in the past on the state of players salaries and worth:

“Tom Finney eyed the players’ Porsches, Mercedes and Ferraris in the stadium parking lot some years ago. “Good luck to them,” he said. “I don’t envy them.

“But all this money that we’re paying, sometimes for very ordinary players, means they’ve lost the common touch.”

That in a nutshell encapsulates the underlying problems of over inflated salaries, but then Tom was a true sporting legend and gentlemen, superior to Rooney and his ilk in so many ways.

So please, chastise the poor examples and pathetic displays of sportsmanship displayed by todays footballing stars but lay off their salaries ‘cos they have no relevance to you or I.

Still want to have a go at a group of overpaid, useless good for nothings?

… ladies and gentlemen let me introduce you to the London Underground – but that’s another story.

The long and winding road – part 1…

I don’t believe in fate, we are masters of our own destiny and choose which path to walk upon, even when we may have asked for divine inspiration. So, it’s a little strange how a recent conversation with my sister about something that happened over 40 years ago may shed some light and provide proof, that the road I’m currently treading is the right one.

I’ve always loved sports and always played them, even those I didn’t like, cricket and golf for instance, at least I tried them and, if I’m honest, I was reasonably okay at most them and a little better at some others.

Martial arts though, was never really on my radar. I tried Judo once, didn’t like being thrown by a smaller guy (when you’re 14ish the arrogance of youth does tend to cloud the actual purpose, I kick myself now for not understanding this purpose) and I tried boxing, which I enjoyed, but the guy I went with didn’t so I never went again.

I count myself reasonably determined and, although growing up I was ridiculed for being part Italian, I seemed to develop a self resolve that to some extent protected me. I was bullied (like many kids) for being slightly different, accentuated by my parents ridiculous request that I be excused morning assembly on the grounds that I was a Roman Catholic, great!  Because it made me even more different and an even better target.

Now funny thing is, I never ran to my parents, teachers or friends about any of this treatment which involved, pinching my football (I was seldom without one) slapping me around the head, calling me names, challenging me to a fight or having me walk a gauntlet of punching and kicking.

I always stood my ground (and got verbally and physically slapped) and I never ever crossed the road when the bullies, having spotted me, advanced in my direction. My fighting prowess at the time involved stoic determination to take the slap and move on, or to push my way through. I never ran, because that meant they would just look out for me the next day.

Why did I do this? I don’t know. And I cannot for the life of me remember any individual I looked up to who behaved in that way. My mindset, even at that age was not to show fear, hide it (even though I was afraid) don’t cry (even though at times I was in pain) and eventually the bullies gave me up as a hopeless case.

This attitude stayed with me well into my teens, but became suppressed after a few years exposure to the grown-up world. Yes I got into scrapes, some of them, looking back now quite funny. Like the time we were being chased after attending a disco at Ashcroft by a large group of ‘tin town’ neanderthals, and my bright idea of convincing my group of mates to stand our ground and fight.

Great idea until I stopped, faced our pursuers, challenged them and then realised that my ‘pals’ had actually not stopped running and I was now on my own. In those days (before I stupidly started smoking) I was quite fast, so I legged it and while overtaking my mates, called them all the names I could think of!

But anyway I digress. Even though I clearly remember these episodes others have been clouded and misfiled over the years so that they are beyond re-collection until someone jolts them into place.

I had the good fortune to spend Christmas with my two sons in Australia at my sisters house. It did take  a while to accustom myself to both the jet lag and the most awkward feelings of displacement when looking at Christmas decorations in over 30 degree heat – and don’t even get me started about Boxing day on the beach! Anyway, my sister started re-calling for the benefit of my sons some of the things I’d done as a kid.

I wasn’t a great fan of my siblings, I was sporty they were the opposite, I read loads of comics and books they rarely did – so little in common. One day as my sister recalls she told me about a problem she was having with a girl at school (I was still at school myself at the time). This girl was bullying her, telling her she was going to get her, etc, etc you know, the usual bullyish two consonant, single vowel, guttural vocabulary.

Now apparently (and I have no recollection of this episode, but her telling it did fire up another memory later) I told her that she was to look the girl directly in the eye, to show no fear (even if she felt it) appear confident and to demand of her what her problem was – in short, not run away or cross the street.

And it worked! She left her alone!

So, it appears that over 40 years ago I was teaching the same principles of ‘confidence’ as a means of defence, that I am teaching now!

I was a little surprised, having forgotten the episode so we continued reminiscing, then, when we were clarifying other ‘memories’, I recalled the occasion I persuaded a violent drunk to leave the ‘Chelsea Girl’ shop she was working in next door to the Currys store I was working in, merely with a firm word and the offer of a cigarette (possibly the only occasion my bad habit came in useful).

So there you go, full circle!

Seems my vocation was mapped out for me all those years ago and I’ve just re-discovered it.

What was that I was saying about fate?

Must be predestination, preordination, predetermination, what is to come, the writing on the wall, luck, chance, predestiny – think they call that kismet.