The Michael Wood Column

Thursday 22 November, 2001

Backing the players strike despite the PFA

I would not want to see a footballer's strike.

Despite the idea that City would field a team of ringers, Grattan B side's best keeper and forward coming forward to play for the Bantams in a When Saturday Comes style tale of amateurs going for glory. Sounds interesting, but not for me.

However one can see exactly why the players would strike. Football is awash with money, especially at the Premiership, and we all know the distribution of it is woeful. If the players think that they can do a better job of handing out the funds then who can blame them, after all they can hardly do a worse job than the failed trickle down Reaganomics that the top division, ergo football, works on.

The problem the players, that is the PFA, have is the PFA. As far as Union's go it is poor. The PFA are run by like something out of On The Waterfront, not like a modern representative body. Gordon Taylor's "ball breaking" is straight out of the Jimmy Hoffa textbook, not really appropriate for a man who no matter how often he denies the fact that it does not constitute the majority of the membership, represents third division players who pull down £50,000 a season.

The PFA puts it's head in the sand on the issue of player on player violence as we have seen at City with Grey/Watson and (York City's) Paul Barnes/Gary Williams. It failed to stop the influx of foreign players taking the jobs of it's members and it fails to get the players voice heard at the top level in anything other than a whine or shout. It is never constructive in it's communication.

The PFA is a poor Union, but a Union it is and it speaks for the players who are the game.

Players are the work force. They are who we pay the money to see. If the money is there then why should it stop before it gets to Benito Carbone or David Beckham. City paid out significant dividends to The Rhodes family in recent years. Some City fans might not think that Benito Carbone deserves £40,000 a week, but all of them are sure that the Rhodes should not get £1m of our money a year.

And although it might not be matched in other careers if the players can get a system where they look after there own in cases of injury during their career or after then more power to them. If only with that the Web Programmer's Union could assure me a future if my fingers seize up after typing thousands of words a day for years or my eyesight goes from looking at VDU's for fifty hours a week.

There is a job to do for the players. A job to do for the Gordon Watsons, although the £1m pay out will do Flash well enough, and the Graeme Tomlinson's who get injured and fade away. It has a job to do for the Adam Hardy's and Ben Jones' of this world, booted out of pro clubs as teenagers.

Football, and the Premiership especially, is about selling a dream. It tells kids that with application and skill they can be the next Beckham, or at least a professional footballer. When these kids fail football on a whole has a responsibility to pick them up and help them out.

It is just a shame that the body that currently does that job is the PFA.

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