Why does football insist on placing itself so far from the
rest of humanity?
The idea that it can exist divorced from reality pervades
At the top, FIFA refuses to recognise national governments
and insist on investigating allegations of criminal acts within their own four
secretive walls - and insists on total tax immunity from prospective World Cup
And further down, the game operates an employment system completely
removed from that used anywhere else in the known universe.
Witness the almighty barney engulfing the Second City, as
Aston Villa try to sign up ex-Birmingham manager Alex McLeish.
The Blues' magnificently-named acting chairman Peter Pannu (who closely resembles a tanned Gregg Wallace) has
been gloriously outraged throughout the saga, first taking umbrage that McLeish
resigned by email, then turning Villa's attempt to give the Scot a job into a
John Le Carre yarn.
goes on a trip to Corsica and Villa owner Randy Lerner has got a jet,"
Pannu yelped. Two plus two equals how many?
do I, unless I've got a satellite device, know that they have not met? There is
no way I can actually find that they have planned anything together.
just got an email from Aston Villa, finally replying to all of our queries.
expected, their legal department said 'Now that Alex McLeish is a free agent
having resigned we are free to speak to him'.
confirms all suspicions. This shows what has happened."
ED also gleefully notes Pannu's sound grasp of the case's intricacies: "For McLeish to make bulls**t excuses alleging that Carson
interfered and blah, blah, is totally unjustifiable." That clears it up...
Of course ED understands the cause of Birmingham's
incandescence - McLeish had a £5.4 million release fee in his contract. By
resigning, then joining Villa as a free agent, his new club might get around that
But does everything have to be so arcane and acrimonious?
Now just to clarify for anyone who might be in any doubt -
Early Doors is not a contract lawyer.
It does not know the ins and outs of the McLeish situation,
and it certainly does not know if any legal fact backs up Birmingham's (self-)righteous
But in the real world, most people work on contracts that
allow either side to get out subject to a notice period.
If this were any other line of work, McLeish could just hand
in his notice, go through the motions (or tend the garden) for four weeks then
Some businesses write 'non-compete' clauses into contracts
to stop their employees joining rivals.
In this case, if McLeish wanted to work for Villa, he would have
to wait a specified amount of time after leaving Birmingham (usually three or
six months) before he could do so - but that would be clear in the contract.
Most importantly, if Villa wanted to give McLeish a job,
they would be free to approach him (or indeed, he could approach them) without
asking Birmingham for permission first.
In fact, they could go all the way through the employment
process, and the first Birmingham would know about it was when McLeish walked
in and said: "Er, by the way, I've just signed a contract with Aston Villa."
Why does football have to be so different?
- - -
A further example of football's disconnect from reality is
the uproar over the Bosman ruling, which to this day is treated like a Big Fat Belgian
Curse on our game, causing wages to spiral out of control and smashing the
But what exactly does the ruling state?
That football players in the European Union are allowed to
move freely (i.e. without a transfer fee) to another club once they reach the
end of their contract.
All it does is allow a player who is no longer under
contract with a club to leave. Man the barricades! Those crazy foreigners are
at it again with their wacky ideas! Whatever next - straight bananas?
ED knows the threat of losing players for free makes life
harder for smaller clubs, but how can anyone seriously argue against Bosman?
All it did was bring football in line with the rest of the world
on a small part of employment law, and 15 years later people still whinge about
- - -
QUOTE OF THE DAY: More conspiracy news - Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov hits out
against the £100,000 fine for the club's poor disciplinary record: "If
with this fine they want to camouflage all their unjustified decisions against
Hearts throughout the season, then it is a normal practice for them - since it
happens for the seventh year in a row. For me, everything became evident some
time ago after that infamous match against Dundee [in 2008] when three Hearts
players were red-carded and three penalties were awarded against us."
FOREIGN VIEW: Cristiano Ronaldo pledges his future to Real
Madrid in just about the most arrogant way possible.
"I could double the amount of money in my account, but
for me the way you treat people is more important. If today the president told
me to sign for 10 more years, I would do it."
Estimated value of Ronaldo's six-year contract: £107m.
Damn you, Jean-Marc Bosman...