Does loyalty exist in football? Why shouldn’t footballers chase money while they still can?
Former Barnsley and Sheffield United prospect Josh Williams says loyalty in the sport is ‘romanticised rubbish.’
The ex Gainsborough Trinity and Worksop Town full-back, now playing for Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and studying for an accounting degree, writes...
What really is loyalty in the modern day game of football? Showing you only want to play for one club? Not moving to better things when you could do? Giving your all at every opportunity?
Loyalty doesn’t exist from the clubs to the players, but the clubs demand and criticise players for often wanting to move on as they feel that can benefit themselves.
After all, if it comes to finances the club are going to get rid of a player quicker than they signed them if it means it stops hurting their pocket, with little and often no regard for how the player is going to pay their mortgage, put food on their table and pay their bills.
Managers, chairmen, coaches and board members will cry out for players to show ‘loyalty’ when they’re doing well, or if the club feels they may have competition for holding onto their services.
But what happens when the player is going through a rough patch, maybe they’re having a few injury problems, or their partner is having a baby and it’s knocked them off their game?
Simple, the club comes down on the player like a ton of bricks, and we’re lying to ourselves if we say it won’t happen.
They’ll be out of the side, often attempts will be made to get them to move on, or find another club, and that’s where players need to be more selfish as they feel they can better themselves both for their careers and their finances.
After all, the club isn’t going to be paying for their kid’s new pair of football boots when they’ve been retired for five years are they?
It’s an incredibly short career, and at all levels players shouldn’t be criticised for trying to obtain financial security, as they are swept aside with little or no help at 35 - they need to make as much as they can to give themselves a chance of surviving in a harsh world after football.
In non-league, players are hammered by fans because they will move around clubs year on year as the money ebbs and flows between teams.
Fans will taunt and boo a player who returns to their old club, calling them a traitor along with every name under the sun, but this is completely unjustified, and although it may hurt to see a favorite player turn out in other colours, it’s just a job and a way of making a living.
Imagine you worked in Gainsborough as a plasterer, earning £500 a week, and your boss offers you £800 a week to go and work in Lincoln - you’d jump at the chance, and footballers shouldn’t be any different.
It’s a lonely world in non-league, and as I experienced you make friends for life, but when it comes to paying the bills and the club paying people, it’s every man for themselves and a dog eat dog culture.
Players show more than enough loyalty, as they often turn out in pre-season before their contracts for the season start, not getting any money for going in and taking up much of their week and time away from their families.
If you asked the same plasterer who’s calling Jimmy on the right wing all sorts for 90 minutes to go to work for free for six weeks a year do you think he’d do it? Would he hell.
So that returns us to ‘loyalty’, the cry and preach of football clubs, managers, fans and press around the country - it’s a load of romanticised rubbish.
I wonder how much Robin Van-Persie regrets leaving Arsenal, being called every name you could imagine, and more, slated in the press and no doubt on social media, to go to Man Utd?
He won the Premier League in his first year, and was probably the reason they did so, should he regret it?
If it came to it, Arsenal would’ve got rid of him twice as quick if he was woeful week in week out.
Footballers who receive a wage substantial enough to at least cover their costs, are survivors, of a harsh and brutal system that will break a less than mentally tough man, they need to be selfish and focused on bettering themselves both financially and career wise.
After all, if clubs want loyalty they should play a Jack Russell full-back with a tabby cat on the wing, not players who are just trying to do what’s best for them and their families.