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Our shy, introvert Premier League footballers must have ticked ‘no publicity’ on their donations

OPINION: Surely our impossibly paid soccer stars are not holding back?

01 April, 2020 — By Richard Osley

AS we have always known, Premier League footballers are generally the wallflowers at a dance, shy introverts who need coaxing out of their shells.

They rarely like to brag or show off about their wealth, the watches they wear or the cars they drive. This can be the only explanation, then, as to why so few top-earning footballers have declared what they are giving to help a national and worldwide response to the coronavirus crisis.

These self-effacing little mice must have ticked the “no publicity” box when handing a generous share of their blimped wages to the various relief funds helping health workers respond.

Yes, this can be the only possible explanation as to why only a handful of cases of altruism from the football world have managed to leak through into the public domain: Pep Guardiola’s 1million euros donation, and financial help from Joe Cole and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

The only other explanation is impossible to consider – that people who earn in a single week what a nurse on the frontline of this nightmare would eventually receive over four years, are keeping their heads down and simply waiting for sport to one day begin again.

Sadly, there are one or two indications this week that “the football family”, as it’s known when sympathy is sought, has still not quite clocked what’s going on outside.

While hundreds are dying every day, there still seems to be endless discussion about when the football season will come back.

If the football authorities can chart the course of a virus better than the medics in order to predict when play can resume, maybe they should be the ones taking the 5pm daily press conferences from Downing Street.

Their hopeful suggestions that we might get the season done before August, with a host of near-comical ways to play in a pandemic, would give the nation an anaesthetising crack pipe high; ten seconds of dangerous suspension before the shuddering reminder kicks in that sponsorship deals, telly revenue and lots of other things to do with money largely lie behind the push to get balls kicked again.

The disconnect is revealed.

Tottenham Hotspur, and this may well turn out what many clubs end up doing so do not read this as a partisan attack, explained this week it will be ‘furloughing’ staff – the process where the state pays for the wages of people who cannot work due to the crisis – or reducing salaries by 20 percent.

Many had surely believed this unprecedented government measure was aimed at helping employees of small companies thrashed by the storm, rather than seeing tax-payers foot the bills of football clubs which… last year made an operating profit of £100 million, have some amazing assets in store – um, footballers – and whose owners include a guy on the Sunday Times rich list.

If you ever doubted that football, ‘the football family’, is just one big business, this crisis is letting the numbers do the talking.

 

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