Early Doors

When Harry met Salomon

Early Doors

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Chelsea descended on swanky Mayfair nightspot Whisky Mist on Wednesday night to
celebrate Salomon Kalou's 24th
birthday with a drink or 10.

The gory details of the £105,000 bar bill are spread across the pages of this morning's tabloids,
featuring 30 bottles of spirits, several £5,000 jeroboams of Cristal champagne
and 10 cocktails costing £400 apiece.

The Daily Mirror cranked the moral outrage up to 11,
warning: "These pictures of Chelsea' mega-rich stars enjoying a lavish night out while
the rest of us are forced to tighten our belts are hardly going to lift your

Self-appointed Man Of The People and possible millionaire
Brian Reade adds a sidebar whining that today's
sports stars "just don't get

"As far as misjudging the country's
current mood goes, spending £105,000 in a few hours on champagne is up there
with MPs closing Westminster's roads to hold an all-expenses paid outdoor party
to celebrate the start of their three-month holiday."

Just to ram the point home, the Voice of the Mirror then vents
its editorial spleen, claiming Chelsea's "extravagant antics ... show how out of
touch they have become with the rest of the country," calling their boozing
an "insult".

In short, it is confused, knee jerk nonsense of the worst

It is not footballers'
job to be 'in touch', to use that most vague term often employed by the
papers. It is their job to win football matches.

Unlike MPs, they are not there to serve the public, they
have not been elected and they are not there to set a moral standard.

Nor were they using taxpayers'
money to keep the Dom Perignon flowing. Their wages are paid by supporters who
are - like it or not - happy to pay £1,000 for a season ticket to watch their heroes at Stamford Bridge.

And there is not, as far as ED is aware, a clause in any
player's contract stipulating they
must use their millions to build orphanages and not fritter it in overpriced

Incidentally, the fact that Prince Harry - who is
publicly-funded - was in the bar and had to move from his "usual
booth" merited just an aside in most reports.

The Mirror banged on about the financial sacrifices ordinary
people are having to make, and in the same article criticised the Chelsea players for
leaving a £10,000 tip for bar staff.

players are always going to be paid millions of pounds a year. That being the case, surely it is a good thing for some of it to
find its way into the pockets of Joe Soap?

In any case, what on earth did the players do wrong?

As far as ED can tell, they went to a posh bar for a
team-mate's birthday, had some drinks (with a plethora of female companions, by
the look of things) and went home.

They did not fight any bouncers, they were not caught
cheating on their wives and none of them spent the night in police cells.

You might question whether they ought to have been consuming
alcohol so close to as massive an occasion as the Community Shield, but
otherwise their behaviour appears to have been exemplary.

This was no scandal. There was no misappropriation of public
funds, no deception and no debauchery. It was just a bunch of rich blokes going
for a drink.

- - -

Speaking of the Community Shield, ED must admit it has a
soft spot for the match it is contractually obliged to refer to as "the traditional
curtain-raiser" to the football season.

The game is often seen as anti-climactic, but surely that is
only the case if you take the Gerard Houllier line and count it as a proper trophy
(the Frenchman included it in Liverpool's
risible 'quintuple' in 2001 along with the European Super Cup).

Of course there are too many substitutions and neither team
is ever really committed. But as a deluxe pre-season friendly played between
two good sides in front of a full house at Wembley, it is really rather good.

- - -

Darren Bent on Harry Redknapp saying his wife could have
scored a chance missed by Bent: "No
one goes out to deliberately miss. When you miss a chance and your manager
comes out and supports you rather than criticises you, it's
a big help. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting (Redknapp's wife) Sandra!"

FOREIGN VIEW: The coach of
the Australian women's football team
has slammed the Asian Football Confederation for fining the country's U19 team following a post-match brawl against China earlier
this week.

The AFC handed Australia a £2,000 fine for "initiating a scuffle" at the end of Monday's match in the Chinese city of Wuhan, for throwing
bottles at spectators and for the coach's
"misbehaviour" during the post-match news conference.

China were fined £1,000, and its football administration £1,500 for failing to control spectators, some of whom pelted the
Australian players with bottles as they exited the venue.

Tom Sermanni, coach of the
Australian women's senior side, said
the Chinese had started the brawl and suggested the AFC had taken the easy way

"Definitely unfair
(the fine), but that's par for the course,
really. It's an easy way out,"
Sermanni told Australian state radio.

"It gives the AFC an
opportunity to hide the main factors that caused these incidents and to sweep
things under the table."

COMING UP: We have live coverage of the Champions League draw from 11:00 UK time. We have text comments, plus it's on the Eurosport Player and you can also get live audio.

the start of the Championship season tonight, and we will have full
whistles-and-bells coverage of Middlesbrough v Sheffield United at 20:00 UK

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