I ‘ve started to write something about Marlon King about five times over the past few days. It ‘s not that I don ‘t feel strongly about what happened, just that it ‘s hard to know what angle to take on it. I have been wanting to say that it ‘s one of those things that really don ‘t have anything to do with football, that when you get idiots who are going to do that sort of thing, they ‘re going to do it regardless of their profession. But it ‘s simply not true.
If he was any other profession, it ‘s unlikely that someone of King ‘s ability would be so handsomely rewarded, or have the petty adulation to swell his ego to put him in a nightclub with the view that the pretty young blonde thing in the corner had to want him. After all, don ‘t you know who he is? He ‘s the millionaire with the Hertfordshire mansion and entourage to match.
And that ‘s where it stops being about football. Take a largish group of young men, make sure they ‘ve got more money than most people around them and then throw an unhealthy dose of hero worship at them and you can guarantee that a few of them will end up being pr*cks of the highest order. Whether it ‘s bankers, rugby players, just your average toff or, yes, footballers, history is littered by people who thought they could go as far as they want.
And usually they get away with it. The fact that King hasn ‘t (appeal pending of course) is more than refreshing, especially since it looks as if he ‘ll not only have to pay the legal price as football has gone out of it ‘s way to condemn him. Whether it ‘s Whelan, Redknapp, Hodgson or (perhaps surprisingly) the PFA the message is a loud and clear “we don ‘t want your type round here”, all well and good until you consider the more sordid truth.
King ‘s agent, whilst on one hand protesting his innocence has been quick to point out that there ‘s little to no moral judgement in football. After all, Lee Hughes didn ‘t wait too long to find a club after serving his sentence and Joey Barton continues to be handsomely rewarded for his anger management issues. No less a luminary than Arsene Wenger has pointed out that people in King ‘s position will almost only get a second chance.
That carries through to Latics ‘ attitude on the whole thing. Our chairman expressed surprise at the severity of the crime, but it was reported quite clearly back in February of course it would have been wrong to sack him until he had been found guilty but surely it was equally wrong to have him pulling on our shirt or to be trying to offload the problem in the meantime.
Crime is one thing, but a dollar is another. It hurts me to say it, but if the sentence were shorter or King a 20 goal a season man, then you have to wonder whether the condemnation would have been quite so quick, whether the conversation would have been less about employment law and more about rehabilitation schemes, less about turning our backs and more about turning the other cheek.
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