We have all become used to players “Kissing the Badge”, and assuring the fans of their undying love for their Club by uttering facile mantras, such as “Once a Blue, always a Blue”, and many other similar clichés.
We have recently heard, more and more frequently, particularly in the case of Cesc Fabregas, that a player possesses this or that “DNA” in their blood.
This “possessive identifier” does not only refer to players who have been born overseas, such as Cesc, but British players, such as Gerrard, Neville and Shearer, born in the vicinity of their clubs, who are inextricably linked to their geographical heritage.
On the other hand, fans become emotionally involved with their Clubs, out of choice, and once they become Gooners, Dippers or Spuds they will remain loyal supporters for the rest of their lives.
Whether a fan is born or lives within a stone’s throw of their club, or is born many thousands of miles away, makes no difference. Their love of their Club, their team and its football is what unites them all.
Gooners all over the world love to get together, either in the Pubs or on the internet, and talk, discuss or argue about their beloved Gunners; to discuss the latest rumours; to worry about who will be bought; who will be sold; and how successful the team will be in the coming season. And this is true for fans of all the other teams too.
The loyalty of the fans is absolute and unquestioned but what then about the “loyalty” of the players, with or without DNA.
Fans because of their identity with the Club extend this loyalty and love to the players.
In return, they expect the players to respond in kind and give their love and loyalty back to both their devoted fans and the Club itself. Sadly, this emotional link is very often misplaced. At root, players are professional sportsmen who in their relatively short careers want to make as much money and win as many trophies as possible.
When Arsenal develops young players through their youth system, a very important milestone is passed when they reach 17 years of age. The Club and the player now engage in a purely business transaction which can often be brutal. Love and loyalty play no part in these discussions.
Firstly the Club will decide in a hard-headed businesslike manner, whether, or not, a young player is good enough for a professional career with them. For those who are unsuccessful there are broken dreams and broken hearts! No love or loyalty there then.
For the successful ones a contract is awarded with plenty of dosh, dependent on the deemed ability of individual players. No love or loyalty is evident there either; just haggling over money and security!
Immediately, from that moment, the dye is cast and the fans’ love and loyalty is divorced from the business of the financial contractual relationship of the Club and Player.
When Arsenal, Manchester City or whoever buy a player, they are in fact buying the player’s contract and the hard-headed business negotiations kick in again. No mention of love or loyalty! No siree Bob.
No matter how much fans would wish it to be different, it is this contractual relationship which governs Club and Player until the end of that contract or the end of the player’s career. Consider the statements we continually hear from players and what they really mean;
“Once a Blue always a Blue”? Sod that, if more money and trophies are there for the taking.
“I love Arsenal”? Well until I am offered more money elsewhere, by Citeh.
“I am proud to be an Arsenal player”? Well until my DNA kicks in and I can go to a Club likely to win trophies and pay me a salary beyond my wildest dreams. Don’t cry for me Barcelona, the truth is I never left you £££££.
“I can only say it is in the hands of the manager”? If I say I want to go, it may cost me a big payout.
This is not to be overly cynical. It is reality! In truth, the players are not the only ones to blame for this state of affairs. From the age of 17 onwards, the legal business entity which is the Club, under the FIFA and UEFA guidelines, negotiates and dictates the financial relationship of the player to the Club.
The fans have no say in any of this, other than to provide the emotional and financial support without which the Club/Players would not exist. Cough up, pay more and watch the game!
Players’ Loyalty? Players’ Love?
Pahh! Don’t be naive, it’s just a MYTH!
Written by Red Arse