Thursday, 3 February 2011

Being a lefty Chelsea fan

I've always found there to be something of a contradiction between my political beliefs and my support of Chelsea - especially since it was bought by Roman Abramovich.

On one hand I think that there are much better uses to which £160,000 a week can be put than paying John Terry's wages, and yet I have a season ticket so that I can go and watch a group of hugely overpaid people play a game. It is hyped, discussed, built up, dramatised and promoted more than almost any other occupation, but it is still a game.

These incredibly well paid people are professionals, and despite the behaviour of many of them off the field (this includes several of the current squad) they are skilled at what they do - though I am still at a loss to explain the 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland. The contracts football players at the top levels are on are a fairly solid proof of the most solid foundation of capitalism - people earn what the market will tolerate them earning, for the skills they have. But just because you can pay someone £10million a year (before bonuses), doesn't mean that you should.

From a political, and moral, point of view, there is something wrong when you have a Russian oligarch, who is not entirely free of controversy, hands over £50 million to a group of Americans, so that one Spanish player can move from Liverpool to London, and sign a contract rumoured to be worth £175,000 a week - surely there are better uses to which all this money can be put? I do not know what kind of tax avoidance is undertaken by footballers, but I am certain that, though many clubs like Chelsea are involved with a variety of charities, there is certainly more that could be done to help those not fortunate enough to be on multi-million pound deals.

The conflict between politics and football arises here, since despite everything written above, I am delighted that my team has signed Torres and David Luiz, because I love watching Chelsea play, especially when they are winning. Signing one of the worlds best strikers and one of the best defensive prospects in the game will help us do that.

I think that the contradiction is causes by how I think about Chelsea. When I use my brain, applying logic and reason to how I feel about the club, then I agree that there are better ways to spend all that money, and certainly no one person is worth handing over that much cash, no matter how skilled at his job he may be.

But when I think about how being at Stamford Bridge at the end of last season to watch us lift the Premier League trophy, all the other stuff goes out the window. I remember the elation, the joy of myself and everyone else who stayed in the ground singing, chanting, clapping and dancing as the trophy was paraded before us. I remember it being one of the best moments I have shared with my dad in years, both of us jumping up and down, clapping, cheering and generally making fools of ourselves. I remember the guy sitting in front of me, who must have been approaching retirement, who had tears running down his face. Those feelings make all the valid points about the excesses go out the window. For a fan, watching your team succeed is an incredible thing. It manages to make all the worries you have about your future, your job, finances or relationships disappear for a little while, so that you and 41,000 other people inside that small part of west London can go absolutely mental.

When I am asked by people who are not football fans how I can be happy that we have signed someone on a huge contract, making more money in a week than I might see in a decade, I don't really have an answer. That is what they have been paid. I don't think it is right that footballers earn the insane amounts of money that they do. But I still want my team to win.

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