Martin Smith: Premier League footballers are an 'easy target' in wages debate

Footballers eh?
Wayne Rooney has made his feelings on the matter clear. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty ImagesWayne Rooney has made his feelings on the matter clear. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Wayne Rooney has made his feelings on the matter clear. Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Feckless, greedy, selfish working class footballers.

Who says so?

Not Matt Hancock, oh no.

No, our minister for Health and Social Care merely pointed out at the weekend that footballers ought to: ‘make a contribution, take a pay cut and play their part’.

Admirable sentiments Mr Hancock.

As Health Secretary Mr Hancock’s primary role is to look after the nation’s health via the National Health Service.

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But before we look at his advice to footballers - which he is qualified to offer, being a Suffolk-based Newcastle United supporter who grew up in Chester - we could look at his recent contribution towards helping the lower paid in the NHS.

According to charity-funded watchdog Mr Hancock has voted consistently in Parliament AGAINST higher benefits for the sick and disabled, AGAINST increasing the tax rate on income over £150,000 a year, almost always voted AGAINST a tax on Bankers’ bonuses, FOR cuts in housing benefit under the ‘bedroom tax’ and FOR cuts for grants to 16-19 year olds in further education.

This is the Matt Hancock who went to the £4,590 a term (for senior pupils) King’s School in Chester, then Oxford AND Cambridge and married the grandaughter of a Baron.

His mates probably call him Robin Hood.

On TV at the weekend Mr Hancock compared his: ‘colleagues in the NHS who have continued to work and made the ultimate sacrifice’ to footballers to cajole them into coughing up for lower paid workers in the football industry.

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No-one is doubting the dedication and sacrifice of health and social care workers, many of whom earn a pittance.

But just last month Mr Hancock voted AGAINST ending austerity and increasing investment in public health and in February sided AGAINST the reform of Social Care.

Could football and footballers have taken the initiative earlier?


Was anyone really ready for this devastation of social and economic life by the Covid19 virus?

No, especially Mr Hancock.

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Everyone, tragically, is playing catch-up, including footballers some of whom already run foundations, pay a lot of tax and regularly contribute to charities and social projects.

Premier League footballers making an average £3.5m a year, are an easy target for the likes of Mr Hancock.

There’s talk of a ‘reckoning’ in society when we have this virus under control, a re-setting of our values.

It’s long overdue, but footballers won’t be anywhere near the top of the list.