The Roland Harris Column

Thursday 14 November, 2002

Payback time for the Golden Goose

Bradford City Chief executive Julian Rhodes has confirmed that he will be asking some of the club's highest paid players if they will take a cut in wages in exchange for longer contracts. Less cash for more job security.

Footballer's are a lucky bunch. Most employers would not give them the option or the chance to refuse. "Take a pay cut or we go under" is not that uncommon and it stinks when you are bringing up a kid on your own for 13,000 but if that's your weekly wage not your yearly then you have less room to turn it down.

Goose that laid the golden egg. Never has a phrase been more apt.

Ashley Ward is being offered a wage of something between 5,000 and 13,000 with a contract up to his 35th birthday. Whichever way that goes he is stupidly well paid and don't give me that short career rubbish. People getting employed to program JavaServer web pages lasted around two months but that did not justify five figures a week.

This deal that City are offering makes a lie of that short career talk anyway. We are extending that career. Wetherall might get another club on similar money but none of the other big earners would. How can Peter Atherton expect to get a new job? He is good at football but bad at being fit. Ashley Ward has proved that he cannot find anyone to pay him the smae as Geoffrey Richmond and Chris Hutchings did on that stupid day in August.

The likes of Ashley Ward (18,000) and Peter Atherton (12,000) and David Wetherall (15,000) can hold the club to the contracts they signed years ago, although all three are on shaky ground morally two of them barely kicking a ball because of injury and the other frankly under performing or being overpaid, but in doing so they will push this club to the wall. 99% of CVAs fail. With those odds it likely that the three of them will not get to the end of their contracts. They can cut a deal now and get paid regular or they can be selfish and not scare about the club going out of business aslong as they get some green up front.

Footballer's are a stupid bunch so I'm only hoping for them to agree.

The real kick in the teeth is not when you look at the wage per game of the likes of Atherton and Wetherall or the price per goal of 18,000 a week striker Ashley it's the fact that when you go away from home supporting City, when you have shirt and season ticket and car flag and all you put a bit of your yearly spend into the club with the illusion that these guys are bothered.

The strike in the summer showed what footballers think of the fans. I'd love to see the players take a look at the situation they have, the situation City are proposing and do the right thing. Even the media created "mercenary freeloader" Benito Carbone did the right thing and took a small pay off to help the club.

After all it's not like we are asking the likes of David Wetherall to have to live on the breadline or Ashley Ward to have to sell his Bentley. We are offering them a chance to extend good living a few years and while they are doing it save the club.

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