The tweet and tender hooligan Joey Barton may have meant well with his latest social media compaigning, but Laura Moulden detects the definite whiff of hypocrisy in the air.
Last night, Joey Barton got another ferocious wasp in his bonnet. Taking to his Twitter account, he set out to promote an e-petition calling for the Premier League to contribute a percentage of its TV revenue to ‘grassroots football’; the thousands of amateur clubs throughout the country responsible for introducing the game to millions of kids.
Though he acknowledges that it may seem a tad ‘cheeky’ to request the Premier League foot the bill for these amateur bodies, we must, as he puts it, “delve a little deeper and issues surrounding the demise of grassroots football becomes [sic] clear, and the need for funding is glaringly apparent.”
The Grassroots Plea
According to the petition, “Government cuts mean that many Local Authorities are no longer able to fund grassroots football. Fees for basic facilities are climbing to the point where ordinary people are being priced out of our national sport.
“The Government must encourage the FA to ensure that 7.5% of money from broadcasting rights goes to fund grassroots football. If the FA and Premier League are unable to do so voluntarily the Government must be willing to take further action to make this compulsory.”
A keen football fan myself, I have no qualms with this plea; grassroots football is without doubt a cornerstone of the English game. The problem I have is accepting that the Premier League should be held accountable for its financial deficiencies.
And aren’t the demands advocated by our outspoken hero not slightly hypocritical?
“Please, Sir Richards, can we have some more?”
The Premier League has, and continues to be, crippled by the ever expectant demands of player wages. According to the BBC, almost 75% of the Premier League clubs’ revenue increase in 2011-12 was spent on wages, which grew by £64m, or 4%, to £1.7bn. It meant the overall Premier League wages-to-revenue ratio remained at 70%.
For the coming season – as Barton quite rightly points out in his blog – the Premier League’s revenue is estimated to grow by around £600m (almost 25%) as money filters through from the new £5.5bn three-year broadcasting deals with Sky, BT, and oversees channels. However, Deloitte predicts that clubs will plough around £480m of it into players’ wages.
For good cause or nay, I find it trying to comprehend that Barton, who until this season has himself taken in excess of £3m a year from the Premier League kitty, can reach out his hands for more.
And as he boldly requests the Premier League rummage in their own pockets in support of grassroots football, he casually skims over the fact that it also gives around 15% of its revenue to the football league, largely in the form of parachute payments; consolation expenses that his own newly relegated club will undoubtedly welcome in order to quell their raging wage-bill-hangover from the top flight.
I’m not asking for him to give his wages back, I’m merely suggesting that his mandate is woefully ill-advised. And, if I was to play devil’s advocate, I might questions whether it would hurt so much to put his hand in his own pocket for a cause he cares so dearly about…
According to his blog, only £4,000 is required to fund a grassroots league for a year. And exactly how long would Joey need to spend on a pitch to earn that very same amount? Well, let’s say he plays the full 4,320 minutes of QPR’s 48 Championship games this season. On his purported £70,000-a-week salary, £4,000 equates to just less than five minutes play.
‘The Joseph Barton Sunday League’. Now isn’t that a thought.