I was thinking of that old joke this week.
I was thinking of that old joke this week.
There’s this bloke (of an easily identifiable minority) who is in court, charged with riding his bicycle without lights. Of course he’s found guilty and the judge tells him he’s a disgrace and all the usual stuff, and then sentences him to twelve months in prison. ‘What?’, says the prisoner, ‘twelve months for riding a bike without lights – its a bit harsh’. ‘Silence’, says the judge, ‘If it had been at night, I would have given you a lot longer!’.
The point being that the law tends to apply more to some people than others and it can be very confusing. It is actually very hard to work out if a particular law applies to you or not; its really not clear. Other stuff is like that too. If you take all this global-warming/carbon terrorism bollocks – it only actually applies to certain people. Its all a big mystery. It will not apply to Tony Blair after he’s retired and starts flying round the world to do his lucrative lecture tours. It doesn’t apply to Two-jags or members of the royal family, or Madonna (same thing) for instance. It doesn’t apply to very rich people, who are paraded as aspirational role-models, either. It doesn’t even apply to environmentalists who rack up thousands of air-miles flying to eco-junkets. But it does apply to anyone taking a cheap flight to Spain with the wife and kids for their holidays. And it doesn’t apply to anyone in the happy position of playing the role of finger-wagger (the BBC et al).
So if the law and the rest of the stuff is specifically designed to allow the establishment to let their mates off, should the need arise, then can we be surprised that the FA do the same thing? And let’s say, the consequences for a bank employee for embezzling £30m, was a fine of £5.5m, would it be much of a deterrent? Would, having to pay back 20% of what you nicked, be much of a discouragement? I am not sure. Was allowing West Ham to continue to play Tevez, equivalent to getting them a ride home from court in a stretch-limo?
It gets more confusing when the FA insist that their system of justice cannot be challenged in court. Because that only applies to clubs like Swindon but does not apply for clubs like Tottenham, apparently. In fact there is not a single club of any size on the list of those docked points, its just not the way we do things here. In fact it would be safe to say that had Juventus been an English club they would still be playing in the top flight. Just as the ‘bungs’ enquiry was allowed to run its course but never reach any sort of conclusion, the peccadilloes of the Italian club would never have seen the light of day. Its just the typical English black art of subterfuge, which has served the country so well through every public enquiry since the year dot. Just as we are allowed to participate in the theatre of democracy but not in the actual thing. Mr Blair does what the hell he likes, so why not the old boys at the FA.
Its then left for the rest of us to try and keep up and understand what’s going on. But sometimes this leads to total misunderstandings, like the function of juries for instance (as with Clive Ponting) and the law has to be changed, not only about what serves the establishment’s best interest but, just to make sure, trial by jury (like expensive anti-cancer drugs) has to be made an optional-extra and only allowed the select few. The trouble is that some of the rest of us are just a bit slow to keep up.
Its the same with the machinations surrounding football.
So when Sir Alex, complained that the Premiership didn’t want English clubs to succeed in Europe, by making them play in too many competitions simultaneously, I totally missed his point (too slow again). I thought he was just lamenting the fact that his side had just been thrashed by a team of Italian old men and I had a bit of sympathy for him. But no, what he was really doing, was negotiating the right to play an under-strength team a whole week before the FA cup final. When the penny dropped and I saw most of his stars sitting on the bench, which allowed West Ham to win and drew no sanction from the FA or Premiership, I just thought, ‘Clever Bastard’ (Like Bob Peck in Jurassic Park). Now there’s a man who understands the system, I thought. When he did that famous mind-f**k on Keegan (‘I would love it’) all those years ago, oh how clever we all thought he was, but when Mourinho tried the same game this year, the papers sang a different tune.
The Chelsea manager might be Portuguese, England’s oldest ally, (although America is usually mentioned for suck-up purposes) but he hasn’t quite come to grips with the truth about this proud nation. He could wonder why Paul Whitehouse might be allowed to devote half of his comedy half-hour to attacking himself, his players and the bloke who owns Chelsea, while the BBC tippy-toe around his rival Ferguson. He might wonder why the metropolitan police have enough officers in reserve from their war on drugs, terrorism and gun-crime, to harass his Yorkshire terrier (Pete Doherty and Chris Tarrant are other priorities) but he hasn’t quite got the message, yet.
Most of the natives live their lives in total perplexity as to how the system works. Even when Everton fielded a four-foot-six goalkeeper in a pair of boxing-gloves and a blindfold, against Man United, and Government advisors mysteriously die, I never suspected a thing. But from the evidence available, it seems that someone somewhere, wanted to see Sheffield United put on their bike and are keen for Mourinho to follow them.
And my only advice to either of them, is that once they have got you on that bike, make sure the lights are working.
By Steve Wade