WE CAN’T LET MONEY RUIN THE GAME WE LOVE

The Football League Paper - - GRAHAM WESTLEY -

I LIVE in the real world. I can un­der­stand that a player might want to dou­ble, tre­ble, quadru­ple – or more – his salary.

I get the ap­peal of mov­ing to a big­ger or bet­ter club, or mov­ing for a king’s ran­som. In fact, I am sure that we all un­der­stand that.

How­ever, if a player has agreed a con­tract with a football club, to play for a cer­tain amount of money for a cer­tain length of time, then that player has a duty to ful­fill his obli­ga­tions and play to the very best of his abil­ity on a con­tin­u­ous and con­sis­tent ba­sis. The club will pay him un­der con­tract if he is in­jured. He must give his all when he is re­quired.

John Stones is per­haps a good ex­am­ple of this. He wanted to go to Chelsea. He was hon­est and sub­mit­ted a trans­fer re­quest. But he played well through­out the saga, showed his club, Ever­ton, de­cency and rep­re­sented Eng- land last week. It makes me an­gry to con­sider that a player could ever let any other club’s in­ter­est get in the way of his pro­fes­sional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. All this ‘head not right’ stuff doesn’t wash with me.

In pro­fes­sional football, there are some priv­i­leged ex­is­tences. Par­tic­u­larly at the top of the game. It is dread­fully wrong for the cur­rent AGREED con­tract to be dis­re­spected by a player.

It also pains me to hear that a player would ever sit back and ac­cept wages for stay­ing where he isn’t wanted rather than move else­where to play the game that he ought to love. It is wrong.

Of course life is a two-way street and a club has to hon­our the con­tracts it agrees just as a player ought to.

My mantra is that if you love football then football loves you. You have to give to re­ceive.

The en­tire football com­mu­nity should stand to­gether and make sure that money does not de­stroy the prin­ci­ples of re­spect and teamship that are core to the val­ues of the game of football.

There is a lot of hard-earned, work­ing class money be­ing paid into clubs to sup­port the game. No­body lucky enough to earn money at any level in pro­fes­sional football should ever be able to for­get that.

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