(RINGING ENDORSEMENT: Departing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore is to receive a £5m golden handshake. PICTURE: PA Images)
By Matt Badcock
To the millions of football fans in this country, to the thousands of football clubs, the army of volunteers who put in all the hours they can.
To the lower league and Non-League clubs sweating on their next home gate so they can have some vital cash flow to pay their bills, to the players getting changed in grotty dressing rooms before going to play on sub-standard pitches.
To the people who rattle the buckets to help build their club a new covered terrace, the people who dig up the weeds, the volunteer groundsmen who lovingly fork their pitch and mow their grass, the people who hang up the nets, the people who give up a day in the summer to paint the tea bar, to the people who work in tea bar just because they love to be involved.
To the match secretaries who fill out all the forms, speak to the opposition clubs, make sure they check over and over again they haven’t made a mistake that could end up with a points deduction, make sure the kits don’t clash and to the person who washes it in the first place.
To the league secretaries who don’t get paid a penny, but have to be available at all hours of the week to answer queries, issue fixture amendments, write bulletins, register players and give up family time on a Sunday just to make sure their workload doesn’t get on top of them.
To the managers and coaches who work a full day before turning up to training with enthusiasm even though it’s hacking it down with rain and it’s freezing cold, the scouts who hunker in the shadows hoping to spot the next big thing.
To the parents who drive their kids to games on a Saturday morning, cut the oranges, buy the latest flashy boots, celebrate the goals and wipe away the tears.
To the hard-working people at the FA trying to grow the game, to the County FAs desperately trying to battle against cuts to implement their vision of the future on their own patch.
To the referees who turn up to parks by themselves so there can be a game of football, to the young people trying to get into the administrative side of the game, to the people who have been doing it for more than 50 years and who without we wouldn’t have football as we know it.
To the people who are following road diversions into backwater towns because there’s a late night motorway closure, but they just had to be at the game even though they knew their team would get stuffed, to the fans at all levels dipping ever deeper into their pockets to watch a game of live football. To the Sky TV viewers who know they should cancel their subscription but enjoy watching football and put up with the annual increase in the bill that drops onto the door mat.
To all the boys and girls who are yet to even kick a football, but will do because their parents love the sport and want them to as well.
To all of us, the Premier League clubs have a message: F*** you!
By giving outgoing Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore a £5million golden handshake says all you need to know about the disdain they hold for football in this country.
When it came out Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck had the bright idea to remunerate Scudamore – a man who let me assure you doesn’t live in a tent – to the tune of five million notes, there was a temptation to roll the eyes and think, ‘Well, they won’t actually do it. I mean, for all the Premier League’s faults, they wouldn’t actually score an own goal quite like that’.
But, turns out, they don’t give a stuff what you, I, or anyone thinks. If you were dying on the side of the road, they’d cross to the other side.
They couldn’t care less about anything that’s not cool enough to be at their swanky party even though they could transform football with a click of their fingers.
So, instead, they’re having a whip round – although Watford, Fulham, Leicester, Southampton and Huddersfield are reportedly against it – and chucking £250,000 into the leaving card. ‘Good Luck, come and see us again soon!’
Then we have to listen to bods like West Ham owner David Gold and Tottenham supremo Daniel Levy come out of Thursday’s meeting, look cameras in the lens and say, ‘He deserves it, why the uproar?’
The Premier League will argue it does do good work and contribute finances through the money it puts into The Football Foundation to help clubs improve facilities and set up community schemes. Excuse me, while I finish engraving the medal because, from the looks of things, if they can conjure up £5million then they can extend their solidarity payments well beyond the National League.
We all know these clubs are swimming in their billions and severely lacking a social conscience, but this is the latest example of the bare-faced greed that poisons our game. And they could not care less.
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper which is available every Sunday and Monday for £1.50 in all good newsagents and supermarkets