I’ve never heard of the Daily Mirror’s Brian Reade, and in many ways I am quite thankful. Today he’s written a ridiculous column which seeks to blame West Ham for football’s ills. Read it HERE if you must. Here’s an extract…
West Ham chairman Eggert Magnusson says he’s doing nothing wrong apart from trying to take on the top teams. But he is. Forget morals if you will and look at economics. When Viduka was offered £75,000 a week by West Ham he used it as a bargaining tool with Newcastle, who were forced to pick up an extra £2.4m tab on his contract. Not that all players snub the Icelandic sugar-daddy, who is rapidly earning the nickname of Father Christmas. Look at Lucas Neill. He could have been playing in a European Cup Final with Liverpool last month, but chose a relegation fight for £60,000 a week. Think of the knock-on effect when agents thump these new numbers into their calculators. Andy Johnson and Craig Bellamy have reputedly been offered £90,000 a week by the East End Santa.
They might not take it but they may use it to win even heftier salaries. Salaries their agents will use as starting points when other clients’ deals are up for renewal. West Ham’s obscene rewriting of salary bands won’t affect the Big Four. They will still draw men who want medals as well as cash. But it will dramatically hit the teams below them who need a form of sanity in the wage market to operate. When the extra TV billions poured into the Premiership there was talk about significant cuts in ticket prices. A few clubs have, the majority haven’t. Instead they’ve decided the best way to stay viable is to hand the new wealth to agents and players. Magnusson’s Law says that the only guaranteed way of keeping your head in the Premiership’s deep trough is to bribe players with outrageous offers. And the likes of Newcastle have been forced to comply. But at what price?
The trouble is he is completely wrong. Magnusson has a £55,000 a week wage cap. The papers all seem to act, as Tony Blair might put it, in a herd. If one of them mentions Lucas Neill is on £70,000 a week, the rest follow like sheep. These feral beasts of the sports pages must be held to account. Brian Reade, hang your head in shame.