How on earth can it be right for someone to earn £10 million a year for kicking a ball around? When the rest of country is facing £81 billion in government spending cutbacks and millions are fearful for the jobs?
That was the general tone of the media and public reaction to the Wayne Rooney will-he-won’t-he leave Manchester United story this week. I’ve completely ignored it here so as not to allow my considerable influence to affect the negotiations, but here is an observation now it’s over.
Is anyone worth £200k a week for playing football?
Maybe not, but then was Johnny Depp worth $74 million dollars for Pirates of the Caribbean 2? Is Lady Gaga worthy of her $62 million earnings? Should the Queen have got a 15% pay increase this week? How can an anonymous winner of the Euro Millions lottery deserve £113 million just for being lucky?
The only answer is: life isn’t fair, by which we mean it isn’t fair that it isn’t us. Wayne Rooney is being paid £200,000 a week because someone is prepared to pay it and if it hadn’t been Man United, it would have been City, Chelsea or Barcelona. And would we have thought any better of him if he’d said: “No thankee, half a million a month is more than enough for my humble needs.”
The other argument is that it will ruin the game, and perhaps it will. Ticket prices will go up, more merchandising will need to be sold and if it isn’t then the whole Premier League system may implode. If it happens, it happens, but it won’t be Rooney’s fault.
If the world at large really thinks that Premier League wages are obscene, here’s what they should do. Media: don’t run put Wayne Rooney on your front page and especially don’t complain that you had to pay £300 for the photo of him and Alex Ferguson. It makes you look like a mug that you obviously coughed up.
British public: Tear up your season ticket if you have them and don’t go to matches. Eschew your club’s megastore and don’t buy replica shirts with your favourite player’s name on the back, particularly Jan Venegoor of Hessellink when it’s 50p a letter. Don’t buy a sports subscription from Sky or ESPN and don’t watch it at the pub instead.
Record Match of the Day and Match of the Day Extra then delete it without watching it and never, ever listen to footie coverage on FiveLive or Talk Sport, whether it be a match or the interminable analysis and phone-in programmes.
Rest of the world: Follow your local teams and not a bunch of prima donnas in the UK. Don’t fly from Australia to watch your childhood team just because they’ve got to an FA Cup Final and don’t tune into the BBC World Service to listen to the last 20 minutes of the match on Sunday, which is all you seem to get anyway.
That’s all we have to do to restore financial sanity to our national game. But we won’t, will we?
* Luke 10:7