Gordon Sharrock: Recession makes football a whole new ball game

First published in Gordon Sharrock

ALTHOUGH bitterly disappointed that he had something to crow about on Saturday, I was grateful to Arsene Wenger for bringing up the state of the economy.

I’ve hardly heard a mention of the nation’s finances from anyone else attached to the Premier League where megawealthy footballers give the distinct impression of being immune from the recession that is hitting everyone else hard.

So what prompted Wenger to raise the matter now?

Empty seats at the Emirates where the gate dropped below 60,000 for the first time this season.

That might have been a reflection on Arsenal’s uncomfortable start that has seen Wenger under pressure for the first time in his 15-year tenure. But the Frenchman reckoned it was also a consequence of the country heading towards a “huge financial crisis”.

“You can look at all the clubs in England and the Premier League and they are selling fewer tickets,”

he acknowledged.

Players will always take out of the game whatever they can – such is the nature of the beast – but maybe now that things have started to bite, clubs will be forced to look at the bigger picture and understand the support they have relied on in the past can no longer be taken for granted.

And they might start by spending less on the contracts of moderately talented players who are paid salaries out of all proportion to what they are worth.

As the politicians keep telling us, we are all in this together.

Some, I am afraid, are in it more than others.

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