Bale wage didn’t cause Macclesfield demise – but football needs regulation
AT the same time as 146 years of Macclesfield Town history was being wound up, Spurs and Real Madrid were probably haggling over who would pay what percentage of Gareth Bale’s salary.
By less than happy coincidence, the debt that is dragging Macclesfield Town towards extinction is just over £500,000, Bale’s weekly wage.
Meanwhile, Southend United, founded in 1906, is having its umpteenth pint in the last chance saloon.
A winding-up order has again been adjourned and the club has been given yet another chance to conjure up £493,991 for the taxman.
A day earlier, around 50 miles away, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was being filmed gazing wistfully around the Emirates, the subtitles announcing: “THIS IS WHERE I BELONG. THIS IS MY FAMILY. I WANT TO LEAVE A LEGACY.”
Well, with a minimum of £36million guaranteed over the next three years, the 31-year-old is certainly getting a legacy.
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No wonder a club he only joined 32 months ago has become his FAMILY.
These type of contrasts have always been a part of the fabric of professional football.
They might be even more stark now but they have always been there.
But as Macclesfield Town looks set to join Bury in going to the wall – and many others head in the same direction – there has never been a time when it has felt so important for the gross inequality to be addressed.
Let’s get one thing straight. Bale’s wages, Aubameyang’s wages, whoever’s wages, have nothing to do with lower league clubs being run into the ground by rotten ownership.
Even before Covid-19, so many were running at an unsustainable loss that the pandemic will simply be a brutal, coronavrius coup de grace.
According to the pre-eminent expert on football’s finances, Kieran Maguire, Macclesfield Town lost money in seven out of the last ten years, accumulating losses of nearly £5million.
That is not Bale’s fault.
That is a failure of clubs not regulating themselves and/or the Government not doing it for them.
And if clubs get into deep trouble by speculating in a failed bid to move up the ladder, why should those who have managed to do just that while staying within their means bail them out?
We get all that.
But if English football is to continue to have a proud structure topped by 92 league clubs, representing communities the length and breadth of the country, it cannot just be about the survival of the fittest.
Any solutions will be complex. But can anyone, with the good of the game at his or heart, feel comfortable with agents taking an annual £260million from Premier League clubs while the likes of Macclesfield Town face extinction?
Could anyone, with the good of the game at heart, object to a small levy on the dizzying transfer fees at the top of the sport being filtered right throughout the pyramid and down to the grassroots?
Could anyone, with the good of the game at heart, now be seriously annoyed if Government decided the football industry’s finances needed regulation?
Yes, Macclesfield Town’s financial situation has been a car crash of its own doing but listen to fan Ellie Thomason.
“It’s terrible but it is just so sad because it has been such a huge part of my life since I was five years old and, god, it sounds ridiculous – I know it’s only football at the end of the day – but it is a way of life. It means such a lot to us. I’m trying not to cry thinking about it.”
Only Ellie IS sobbing.
A club going to the wall has been a relatively sporadic occurrence but as the ramifications of Covid-19 take a grip, Bury and Macclesfield Town could be the start of a grim procession.
And as Ellie would no doubt tell you, in a game dominated by top-end financial excesses, that would truly be a crying shame.
Sometimes, tributes come across as so heartfelt, are so plentiful, you should feel compelled to learn more about the person whose tragic passing has prompted them.
Jockey Pat Smullen, who has died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 43, is such a person.
AS claims to fame go, 21-year-old Tom Banton can already boast a pretty quirky one.
The Somerset and England batsman has been accused of being disloyal by John Cleese.
Banton will not play in his county’s Bob Willis Trophy Final later this month because he will have started his contract with the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League.
“I’ve always loved Somerset County Cricket Club for their team spirit, their decency and their loyalty to the club,” tweeted four-times married Cleese, presumably from his home on the Caribbean island of Nevis. “So I am appalled that Tom Banton cannot find the time to play for his county in the most important match in their history. Shame on you, Tom.”
Leaving aside the moot point about the game’s importance, Banton has only featured in two of Somerset’s five Bob Willis Trophy matches, playing three innings of 13, 18 and 2.
Those chiefly responsible for taking Somerset to the final should play in that game while the promising Banton gains invaluable experience playing alongside and against the best limited overs operators in the world.
Coincidentally, tomorrow marks the 45th anniversary of the first-ever episode of Fawlty Towers – a timely reminder that Cleese was once funny rather than a laughing stock.
Former Middlesex and England cricketer, and esteemed journalist, Mike Selvey, makes a very pertinent point about the climax to the final England game of the summer when he says: “Isn’t it great that we’ve actually been lucky enough to even be in a position this summer to argue about who should have bowled the last over?”
How very true. But it was still a shocker from Eoin Morgan to give it to Adil Rashid.
First on the buzzer … who knew A Question of Sport still existed?
A lot less than do now. Which is why, whatever your take, the BBC reshuffle has probably done its job.
Gareth Bale plays off a handicap of five while Harry Kane has shot an under-par round off his handicap of four.
Maybe their best chance of silverware next year might come in the Ryder Cup.
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