Saturday, 5 March 2011

Football needs to punish its miscreant stars

Graham Norton gets to grips
The BBC's Graham Norton Show isn't normally the platform to gauge public opinion on football, but the instant reaction of his studio audience should send alarm bells ringing at the Premier League.

Norton's routine covered Ashley Cole, who took an air rifle into training at Cobham which he not only used, but actually shot someone with. Norton's fans booed Cole on two separate occasions, taking the entertainer by surprise.
Ashley Cole's story in The Super Soaraway
Obviously with a big midweek game against Manchester United just days away, Chelsea took no action. But neither did the Premier League or the FA. A case of the Three Monkeys if you ask me.

United also faced no censure as Wayne Rooney crunched Wigan's James McCarthy with his elbow.

Sir Alex Ferguson conceded Rooney had been "a lucky boy" not to be sent off, but the only swift reaction we got from football's authorities was the England striker was to face no punishment.

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil

Football claims to be a cradle of English culture and values. The FA have run campaigns with titles such as Respect and Get Into Football. But its ideals will soon be regarded as hollow if it doesn't take even the smallest stands against its biggest miscreant stars.

Sponsorship and TV revenue keeps rolling in - but investment from corporations isn't just reliant on ratings. They're also badging a product and if it's perceived to have diminishing morals, then football will lose its financial value.

Sky took a stand against sexism with the resignation of Richard Keys and the sacking of Andy Gray. That sets the tone for a repositioned morality and style to football from here on in.

Rooney: The 4th Monkey

Football, TV and sponsors need each other in equal proportion. It appears in these days of ecomonic austerity, there isn't one stakeholder which is any more powerful than another.

The FA would have been surprised by the public's positive reaction had they had the guts to punish Cole and Rooney. Graham Norton would bear witness to that.

It's nearly twenty years since the formation of the Premier League. It's never been more successful, but it's probably never been more complacent either.

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