If anyone ever believed that waltermitty footballers were restricted to playing in the Premiership or the World Cup then they may think again. For Cardiff City (who are currently under a transfer embargo) striker Michael Chopra has threatened to quit the debt ridden club if they don’t start signing players. In doing so he has asked many questions of the Cardiff board, but the real investigation must look into finding out exactly whose cupboard Chopra has been locked away in over the past two years.
Is he completely unaware that the whole world has been in a recession? Does he not know that people with PHD’s are applying for cleaners jobs in Burger King?
However, before we fully look at the level of stupidity that Chopra’s threats can claim we must first examine the reasons behind Cardiff City’s current predicament.
In October 2006 Peter Ridsdale took over as City chairman from Sam Hamman. At this time the club was in a perilous financial state with debts reported to be upwards of £30 million. However, when the new owners took over the club they wiped out the debt in turn promising to bring Premiership football to the Cardiff fans. In true Peter Ridsdale style the former Leeds chairman refused to bring stability to a club that desperately needed it, instead electing to sign aging players on high wages whilst also pursuing the development of a new stadium and using the club’s season ticket sales to avoid winding up orders. Before you knew it Cardiff were in the mire and reaching the Premiership for the 2010/2011 season became critical. But in a game that will forever be remembered for Blackpool reaching the promised land Cardiff lost in the playoff final and their future looked grim.
Ridsdale proceeded to trawl the globe for investment in an effort to persuade anyone and everyone that English football was a prosperous industry to be in, and he somehow managed to get a Malaysian businessman by the name of Datuk Chan Tien Ghee to pay £6m in return for 30% equity of the club. Cardiff appeared to be safe but it emerged that they still faced winding up orders and owed other clubs money for players they bought a year previously. This in turn meant that they faced a transfer embargo restricting them from signing anyone for a fee.
Cue uproar from Chopra who told a local Welsh newspaper: “I’m well hacked off. If this club doesn’t bring in new players, I’m off. I’ve had enough. Nothing is moving, with just a couple of weeks until the new season.”
Then, in a further outburst that gave the term “irony” a whole new level of meaning, Chopra demanded that his employers get real. “I can see that we will struggle this season if people at board level don’t get real and sort this matter (the financial struggles) out sooner rather than later.”
Pah! Get real? How about he gets real? Does he not understand what a transfer embargo infers? Is Chopra unaware that his employers owe the general public £1.3 million largely down the fact that him and his colleagues have such unrealistic wage demands? Is this distinctly average footballer oblivious to the fact that around one in twelve people in the UK are currently unemployed and many of them simply aren’t bothered about paying over odds to watch over rated footballers such as himself? Clearly not.
“It’s a ridiculous situation to be in.” Chopra continued. What is? Getting paid large amounts of money for essentially failing at your job as you did last year? My heart, along with everyone struggling to make ends meet at the moment, bleeds for him.
Despite acts of selfishness such as Chopra’s, football will always be a game for the masses that the vast majority of people can identify with and there is no doubt that it will eventually prevail from the darkness of debt it currently finds itself in. However, as the new season starts one feels that in order to make this happen then the game is in need of one of two things. Either the whole of football and Michael Chopra is brought down to Earth with a bump or we are all given a fairytale story that we can tell our grandchildren about.
Last week I watched a re-run of the movie The Damned United wonderfully portraying the story of how Brian Clough and Peter Taylor managed to take Derby County, a team representing a town that at the time had a skyrocketing unemployment rate, to the very top of English football and in turn giving everyone a sense of hope.
Clough and Taylor’s philosophy was simplistic genius. Find players with potential and then mould them all into a side that that plays attractive, winning football whilst installing a balance of confidence and discipline into every member of the squad. How great would it be to see something like this happen again?
In many ways, the methods used by Clough and Taylor in this situation are exactly what Michael Chopra needs. A dose of reality in knowing that all the while he pulls on the Cardiff City shirt he is representing the hopes and dreams of thousands of people who may not have had things their own way the past few years. And if he doesn’t carry out his duty he would be duly told about it in no uncertain terms.
But one wonders just how someone like Michael Chopra would react under this kind of management. Well, judging by his complete ignorance of the general circumstances that currently surround us inside and outside of football, he would probably be well hacked off.
Written By Kieran Lovelock