IAN RIDLEY: Now John Terry can focus on the real game, not the blame game
If John Terry gets his hands on the World Cup, one website wag (not WAG) suggested, England had better be careful that the former captain doesn't sell it before they get back from South Africa. Cruel and unfair? Possibly, but like most good gags it tells a truth. It also says a lot about the media and football these days. As well as the joking, in the wake of the Terry revelations there was a backlash from fans and followers on the internet and on phone-ins that has gathered pace. Relieved of duties: John Terry (left) with England manager Fabio Capello It feels about four-to-one that this whole furore is the fault of the media - that is, the papers. A man's private life should be his own, goes the gist. What does it have to do with his ability to lead and play for England? Why is it the media always manufacture a damaging storm when a World Cup is in the offing? My issue is certainly not about morality. This sort of thing has always gone on; it just wasn't reported in less intrusive times. The added edge - which disgusted many players, as Fabio Capello considered - is that the affair was conducted with a team-mate's former partner. The wider problem is that Terry's new advisers, Elite Management, had touted him for sponsorship business as 'Dad of the Year', and his hypocrisy in trying to make money out of the captaincy as some kind of paragon thus made him fair game. More from Ian Ridley - Mail on Sunday Sports Reporter... 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Badly advised by Elite's management of Paul Nicholls and Keith Cousins, he exploited his position. There was insufficient shock a few weeks ago when Terry was caught trying to sell trips round the Chelsea training ground at £10,000 a pop. It is astonishing that his club glossed over it. His 'people' also sought to profit from his captain's perk of a discounted hospitality box at Wembley. One problem is that Terry, unlike David Beckham, was not the most charismatic, marketable of captains, though his advisers should have been telling him that if he took care of the football, all else would follow. There was, though, clearly a pressure to make money, which led to bad decision-making. Terry, who has reportedly taken out four mortgages on his home in seven years, has been linked with gambling. Perhaps that is the real issue to be addressed. To those critics of the media: if a man calculatedly brings his private life into the public domain for gain (faithful father; interviews saying how much he had changed, just when he knew the England captaincy was coming up), what right to privacy does he command? And if this had nothing to do with football, how come Terry has been given permission to miss next Saturday's FA Cup tie against Cardiff City? Few except Capello have come out of this mess with credit. Certainly not the hand-washing FA. Doubtless the manager considered England to be vulnerable to external ridicule and internal division should Terry demand honesty of performance. There would have been excuses for poor displays. Laudably, Capello has treated Wayne Bridge with respect, too, which will play well with squad members. Plenty of punters based their principles on this being an expendable player rather than a crucial Wayne. Terry or Rooney? That might have changed the tune of a few who thought it a storm in a teacup. Relieving Terry of his duties could even do him good, forcing him to look at himself and focus on what should matter most to him - family and football. Following my column last week on football's floundering finances and the lack of leadership from governing bodies, the Premier League helpfully got in touch. They pointed out that new rules and standards were outlined last September requiring clubs to provide audited accounts and assurances over debt to the Revenue and to other clubs. The League can, they say, intervene and impose sanctions when they are not satisfied with the running of a club. This will take effect for 2010-11 and is all very admirable as Portsmouth grows ever murkier. It does beg one question, however. What exactly have the Premier League been doing for the past 18 years, then?
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