How do we clean up our game?

There’s always a club that will forgive and forget

Dave Whelan Copyright Dan Farrimond and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence 2
Dave Whelan

A couple of years ago, Wigan forward Marlon King punched a female student in the face because she had rejected his advances. When he was at Man City, Joey Barton beat up team-mate Ousmane Dabo after a disagreement on the training pitch.

What makes these people think this is acceptable behaviour?

To his credit, Wigan chairman Dave Whelan said that King would never play for his club again after the assault.

King served time in prison for his crime but when he was released there were a queue of clubs willing to offer him a way back into football. A striker who can score 20 goals a season is a much sought after asset for any football club, even if that player punches women in the face.

Similarly, after Barton had been punished with fines and bans for his vicious assault on his team-mate, Man City decided that he was the player they wanted to keep instead of Dabo.

The two obviously couldn’t play in the same team again, so Barton was considered the better option. Joey Barton is a very good midfielder and despite his history he has always had a contract with a big club that are willing to look only at his football ability and disregard his violent background.

Punish the clubs, not the players

So how do we improve the behaviour of the stars of the world’s most watched league?

The answer, I think, is to put the onus back on the clubs.

If a player is found guilty of any extreme offence such as violence or racism, then the club that employ should be faced with the choice of either terminating his contract or having league points deducted.

Is Joey Barton worth 5 Premier League points? When Marlon King was released from prison, would so many clubs be interested in him if they risked losing points if he re-offended while on their books?

Of course they wouldn’t. A player that may cost you five points as soon as a young woman doesn’t find him irresistible is a risk that few chairmen would be willing to take.

Force these thugs out of our game

This system would work on more than one level. Players that continue to commit disgusting violent offences, such as Joey Barton, would be forced out of the game.

No club would think it is worth the risk signing them, and the players would be forced down the leagues until they disappeared from the game altogether.

With that being the case, other players with similar arrogance would think twice about their behaviour. If a woman spurned their advances, or they disagreed with a team-mate they would have to consider that an outburst of violence could effectively be the first steps to finishing their career.

The bruised ego would have to be accepted, either that or playing in the next division down next season.

This would act as a genuine deterrent and make footballers behave in a more civilised manner.

Then we can watch and enjoy the fabulous football on offer in the Premier League, without that pang of disgust with the idea that these men are above the rules of civilised society.