The king is dead, long live the king!
Somehow I have always wondered what bloody little devils the papers are. Ironic isn’t it, considering that you would think of me as “one of them”. Well, I have never been one for holding my tongue despite my deceptively looking all-too civil nature. Plus if I don’t play the firebrand, this column would be boring and lousy columnists often find themselves out of work because they are bad for business.
Okay, enough with my Business 101 tutorial and back to the opening line about newspapers and how Machiavellian they are. It should start properly and this time it is a cockroach that is to blame for this week’s story.
A giant cockroach, mean and meaning to playing games with yours truly until after a minute of near misses, full throttle swearing at the beast and its filthy lineage, I nailed it. Victory at last- reward for my persistence. Standing atop this spoil of a short-lived war and thinking how kitchen’s hygiene ratings would rise by a single percentage, an age old proclamation came into my head: The King is dead, long live The King.
The 2016-17 season is in infancy stages and the shine is yet to wear off but in a case of deja vu, or Groundshog Day, one gets the feeling that nothing really hasn’t changed in this place and that’s worrisome. There are still one or two disputes before the Players’ Status Committee (PSC) and issues of conflict of interest involving club officials. That is a glorious self-defeating circle that seems to have no end in sight- bad for our game but massive business for newspapers.
Bad news, beautiful women and their insatiable shopping habit, politicians generally and or scandals, are a magnet for the green paper and readers. But you know what folks? Even the papers and generally anyone who loves the beautiful games is tired of these schoolboy playground fights and errors that they are pining for good news. Good news! When was the last time you had or heard of any?
You open the back pages and scandal after scandal, some as old as two years, some newly born, spews out like Kardashian TV ratings. Well, I think I speak for most when I say we are tired of this, forgive my French, bullshit! Wow! I can’t believe for the life of me that I said that word but I feel lighter for having spat it out. Feels like a therapeutic experience because that’s how upsetting it is to be stuck in a rut.
It is almost absurd that after so many similar experiences our clubs still fail to properly register their players! It is understandable the first time, forgiveable the second time and if it happens for the third time, not necessarily to the same club, that is a cardinal sin. It is an unwritten rule that we learn from the mistakes of others, the danger however is that those who commit an offence for the first time will always use such in their plea for leniency.
In football however the rule is clear: players not properly registered are defaulters and the punishment, written in black and white, in blood in fact, is the forfeiture of three points by the offender. The monkey on our back however is that different penalties appear to apply to different parties for a similar or same offence. And that, in my view opens room for carnage and properly so.
Once judicial precedent becomes flexible and inflexible to the benefit and chagrin of parties, the rule of law gives way to the interest of man- usually financial or personal. Cue pandemonium- suits and counter suits, allegation after allegation and somewhere in that murky recipe, truth (a fluid concept or whatever it is) and respect for the relevant rules and regulation are lost. In the end, justice or injustice is served. The biggest losers however are always the players who put in so much only to be undone by a careless and reckless club official, and the supporters of course who, through thick and thin, remain loyal in a loveless marriage.
Club officials have fiduciary duties to act in good faith and to exercise care and skill. Personally, I have always interpreted failing to properly register a player a breach of the duties almost a treasonable offence. It is sad really because in all fairness, if clubs and their officials followed the proper channels, within the stipulated time frame, there would be little need for the PSC. Most cases handled therein, are in my view, moot and a waste of the PSC’s time and resources.
Papers being business, that kind of downright inefficiency gets papers off the shelves. But hey, the average sports writer is a football fan first and foremost and I would like think writing about any avoidable scandals must hurt him because he wishes to see the game in a better state every year. Ever realized how pessimistic and dour this column is lately? I don’t like it too- that pessimistic and sombre tone.
It might give one or two a high but I love our football and if it came to a toss between rocketing sales and readership, a date with Miley Cyrus (mayhem!) and our game being in a healthy state, I would choose the latter. For everyone out there, we are all better served by fewer scandals, especially those that are preventable, because, in this game when one takes a hit, there are no winners and it is the game that suffers the most.
So, in the new season, to old shenanigans that are the colour of cockroaches, to individuals and/ or cabals who think this is a game of monopoly, to downright greed and ambiguous club ownerships and ownership models, never ending disputes and lack of impartiality and inconsistency in judgements.
The King is dead! And to new beginnings that smell of promise and some dose of sanity, respect for rules and regulations and consistency in their interpretation and enforcement, to a more beautiful game, choosing to build strong institutions over strong men with fat wallets and deeper pockets, to acting honourably and having pride in our game, to delivering a much better game, earning the respect of the masses and getting supporters back to the stadiums, long live The King.