From June, 2003
Marc-Vivien Foe died this week. It’s a tragedy and while no one would want to diminish the loss of anyone’s friends or relatives the details of Foe’s death seem to make that tragedy worse.
Foe, a 28 year old physically fit man, should not drop dead on a football field. His wife Marie-Louise Foe said Marc-Vivien had been struggling with illness. “He should not have been playing at all. He had dysentery for two or three days. He also had gastric problems and he knew he probably wasn’t well enough to play.” she said. Foe, it appears, had been desperate to play in the game in front of his home fans at Lyon.
This week City’s players returned to pre-season training after not kicking a ball since the start of May. It will be six weeks until the season starts yet Foe and for that matter Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Alpay and the other players at the Confederations Cup who play in the Premiership are still carrying on a season that with the Japanese Wolrd Cup proceeding it barely had a preparation period.
French public prosecutor Xavier Richaud said of Foe’s death
“It is surely cardiac, but we need to make further anatomical and toxicological tests. But one can’t draw conclusions.”
I am not a medical man. I am not an expert on stress levels on the body and I am not making a decisive statement but when a physically fit man drops dead and all that can be found wrong with him is “gastric problems” is it not times to examine the rigours that football is putting on it’s players?
Arsene Wenger said as a complaint about the tiredness levels his players will suffer next season in an interview before Wednesday that no one would remember the Confederations Cup of 2003 in 2013. Sadly now they will and the sight of Foe, eyes rolled over on the field, will speak a thousand times louder than Wenger has managed to do. Will anyone listen?
The Italian courts have been arguing over procecutions for motor racing men Frank Williams and Patrick Head over the death of Ayrton Senna for years with the idea being that Senna was sent out to his death owing to the Williams team’s negligence, that although Williams and Head did nothing to cause the accident that killed Senna, they knew that there was a risk of a potentially fatal accident occurring and that that would make them liable for manslaughter charges.
From August 2001 to June 2003 an International Premiership footballer playing in the World Cup in 2002 and the Confederations Cup 2003 may have played over 100 high-pressure games in just under 100 weeks. While the situation is not the identical it is within the same area and questions should be asked if only to get an answer to “Why does 28 year old physically fit man die playing football?”
Marc-Vivien Foe is part of a generation of footballers who play more stressful, higher paces and more intense football than any that have followed it and they do it more often for more of the year. The human body has a breaking point and what football, from managers like Arsene Wenger in the Premiership to Sepp Blatter at Fifa, need to find out is has playing too much football contributed to Marc-Vivien Foe passing his?
Popular wisdom: Simon Francis had to be sold because City are in administration. Balderdash! Simon Francis should not have been allowed to leave Valley Parade.
No one at Bradford City at the moment has authority to sell Francis for what is a modest amount. If this club were not in administration then this is not an unturndownable offer for a player. £250,000 for one of our finest performers as we fight relegation? If we were not in administration then this would be called footballing suicide.
However we are in administration so we have to take whatever money is offered right? Wrong.
City are currently in a period of funded administration and have at least one confirmed offer on the table for the club. The Rhodes family have financially guaranteed this period of administration and, as is my understanding, have put in an offer to buy the club at the end of it.
Administration was called “a technicality”, something that could not be avoided but would not seriously effect the running of the club, and we were not to worry about the future which would be assured under the Rhodes family. For the record I still believe it will be but this is not about Julian and/or David Rhodes.
It is about the administrators who have received more than the single Rhodes bid to buy Bradford City as of Friday afternoon. When the club was made available for sale the playing squad was given a value of none although since then Andy Gray and Simon Francis have left for cash leading anyone who would be interesting in buying the club wondering how come the assets are marked down and why what is of value at their potential purchase is being sold.
Administrators are not asset strippers or liquidators. It is not their function raise money only to keep the club going until a deal that best suits the creditors is made and that administrative period had been guaranteed by the Rhodes family.
So if the administrators did sell Simon Francis then how could they be said to be acting in the best interests of the creditors? 19 year old footballers very rarely go down in value and Francis was, as I understand it, on very reasonable terms at Valley Parade.
Unlike seeing the back of Benito Carbone, Ashley Ward, Stan Collymore, Dan Petrescu, David Hopkin and just about every other face to leave VP in the past few years we did not need to get Simon Francis off the wage bill. His was the kind of wage club’s dreams are made of – good players on low money – and just as it is understood by all when a business goes into administration that it needs it’s staff to continue to run to allow the best deal for creditors a football club needs footballers.
We did not need to get Simon Francis’ modest wage off our wage bill to help us in administration – Hell it probably appears on the balance sheet as tiny next to the amounts being paid out to Ashley Ward to not play for us – and so administrators had no business selling him.
If it was not the administrators then perhaps it was on the order of the Rhodes family who, it is assumed, will be taking control of City after administration? I doubt that the Rhodes could have had much of a hand in this as a potential buyer of the club but if they had then they should not have been allowed to. They are one of a number of potential buyers and have no remit in changing what has been put up for sale after the event.
Like I say though it was probably not the Rhodes family and we all look forward to the day when they can complete the takeover of City and we can stop being subject to the financial melee we seem to find ourselves in and get some stability.
So if it was not the administrators, and one hopes it was not, and it was not the Rhodes family then who did sell Simon Francis? In my mind neither have enough of a remit to justify making this sale.
Perhaps it was someone at the club. One hopes it was not Shaun Harvey because he seems too canny a chap to allow the club to be raided like this and as chief executive he also does not have the remit to decide who stays and who goes. He enacts decisions made by the board or in this case administrators (and as said above they should not have been making them and by whoever is in control of the playing side which at the moment is Bryan Robson.
Robson has no remit to start selling players unless he puts pen to paper on a contract for next season.
It’s that simple. Until Bryan Robson commits to next season then he should not be getting rid of players who are contracted longer than he is. If Robson walks away in a few months time then the new manager will find a huge hole in the team where Simon Francis used to be and would justifiability ask how he is expected to bring in a player of similar quality for £250,000 should he get a transfer budget which one seriously doubts. A new manager might also look at Andy Gray and ask why no contract offer was made. He might wonder if this club had any concept of long term planning and he could be right if he concluded that we did not.
Robson can walk away and if he was the one who rubber-stamped Simon Francis leaving he can walk away leaving us much less of a squad than we had when he arrived. We accept that in the name of rebuilding but only if the one doing the releasing will be doing the signing in the summer. In my opinion Robson does not have the remit to start selling our players until he makes it clear that they are his players.
So who has sold Simon Francis? I’m sure that one of the parties I’ve talked about has a good reason why we have sold one of our brightest prospects for what most would say is a disappointing fee but frankly I am unable find a reason.
Despite the popular misconception we do not need the money short term for administration because that time is being funded by the Rhodes family. We do not need to get Simon off the wage bill to make the club work financially in the medium term because his wage is not an issue next to those going out to the likes of Ashley Ward on one hand and the host of not good enough players like Robert Wolleaston and Luke Cornwall on the other and in the longer term any profits we can get from selling him are only enhanced buy having him at the club as he develops which is saying nothing about the increased chance of avoiding relegation we have with him in the side.
Three summers ago we weighed up who “The most exciting signing in the club’s history” could be before seeing the dominative Italian walking into a maelstrom.
Benito Carbone was the zenith of the summer of madness and now that the battle that began between Geoffrey Richmond and some at the club has been won and the history written by the winners Carbone was always a bad idea.
He was a giddy head rush of an idea. He was starting on a bottle of Jack Daniels while lounging on your freshly cut lawn knowing that you will pay for the hangover and that you had not finished the weeding. He was football transfer as binge.
Like all head rushes it felt great at the time.
Today things are different. Bradford City are making a major signing at a Press Conference at Valley Parade this afternoon but no one is whispering and rumouring. The club sign Alan Combe seems to be the most popular assessment of the events although names from Danny Forrest to Teddy Sheringham have been mentioned.
We have modest ambitions these days.
When Carbone signed many thought City had spring boarded into the top half of the Premiership. Even if today’s major signing was the little Italian there are few who would thing that this one player would face anything more than a play off push at the very best.
Perhaps we have learned something in the time between August 8th, 2000 and today. We have seen Benito Carbone and a cast of others including Stan Collymore, Ashley Ward, Dan Petrescu, David Hopkin et al be able to do nothing individually and in some cases collectively against the decline of the Bantams.
Add to that the catastrophic wages of Carbone that caused a strut on the day but cost so much in the longer term.
The lesson is that you cannot focus on one man and ignore other problems. That whomever we sign today the aim of the game is to get the best out of the squad.
Promotion in 1999 depended not on the great works of Stuart McCall and Peter Beagrie but on the fact that work a day squad men like Robbie Blake and Jamie Lawrence emerged as quality players. If we are to get on at this club then it is not important if we sign Alan Combe, Danny Forrest or Teddy Sheringham, it matters that we get the best out of Michael Standing and Danny Cadamarteri.
That said though if we break the bank to sign Freddy Adu I’ll be wandering away from VP a happy man.