Date:Tuesday January 6 2009
There was not much to thrill me yesterday, what with it being a quiet day on the transfer front, and freezing weather outside preventing a shopping spree (!). So I decided to entertain myself by looking at some of the reports on Wayne Routledge`s move to QPR last Friday.
I knew from the messageboards that Villa fans were divided in their opinions on the diminutive winger (see www.astonvilla.vitalfootball.co.uk for the discussion). What I wondered was how the Cardiff fans had taken the news!
Most, if not all, Cardiff fans seemed genuinely disappointed that they had lost out on Routledge`s signature. They had been rather impressed with him during his six weeks, or so, and some fans even came onto QPR messageboards to tell us how lucky we were.
But, to my consternation, it seems that the Welsh press was not quite as generous in defeat as the Cardiff fans themselves! Take the South Wales Echo for example. Their headlines screamed: "Wayne Routledge quids in after joining QPR" Terry Phillips, the author of the article, outlined how Rangers had paid double what Cardiff had supposedly offered Villa (£600,000 against £300,000) whilst also paying Routledge a £200,000 signing-on fee and weekly wages of £20,000.
Funny how Phillips had all these figures at his finger tips, and yet no-one in the English press knew the supposedly exact details - particularly as the only official announcement, on www.qpr.co.uk, stipulated that: "the Hoops had agreed an undisclosed fee with the Midlands outfit for his services."(Rangers have made it clear in the past that they would not reveal details of their transfers, because it could make it harder for them to do sensible business in the future if clubs thought they were paying over-the-odds for a player.)
Phillips wrote an earlier article, after the deal went through, which went on about the supposed bigger deal that Rangers offered Wayne Routledge. Clearly Mr Phillips has an issue with this deal and is prepared to paint QPR as the villains and Cardiff City as hard done by: "He had been offered a massive three-and-a-half year contract by the Bluebirds, a deal which would have made him by far the highest earner at the club. Routledge still left and has signed for Queens Park Rangers, who have offered him an even bigger deal."
Simon Kendal-Williams, of the Western Mail, also quoted the Hoops as having paid £600,000 for Routledge. What is interesting is that both journalists are quoting Cardiff City manager Dave Jones. Don`t get me wrong, but where did Jones get his information from - did he ring Flavio and ask him to confirm the figure, so he could know by how much he was losing out to the "richest club in the Championship". I mean, isn`t this what this is all about?
The Western Mail quotes Jones as saying: "We gave our best offer for Wayne, but it wasn`t good enough. I mean, the £600,000 QPR paid is still a lot of money for Wayne, plus what he`s earning, and we can`t compete with that.
"And with the money they`re throwing around, a lot of clubs in the Premier League won`t be able to compete, either." What does that comment sound like to you?
In an earlier article, Phillips reported that:"Cardiff City players are said to be furious about the manner in which Wayne Routledge left the club yesterday.
"The quicksilver winger shocked the Bluebirds when he drove away from the club`s Vale of Glamorgan training HQ without a word to manager Dave Jones or the City players." Phillips quoted a "Cardiff City insider" as his source for the players` disgruntlement over the manner in which Routledge left.
Phillips repeated this charge in his article on Monday: "Bluebirds` players were angry that the winger did not stop to say goodbye to anybody before driving off from the Vale of Glamorgan Hotel, which is 200 yards from City`s training headquarters, to join QPR." Is this comment necessary or even relevant? What is he trying to do other than paint the young man as dishonourable and greedy?
To me, more than his reporting on whether Routledge said goodbye or not, Phillips` articles clearly tried to stoke the fire by claiming that:"mega-rich QPR went even higher." What is it with reporters and this so-called mega-rich label they have to attach to QPR. The club is not rich - we just have rich owners (so our owners themselves like to remind us fans on a constant basis). If our owners have seen fit to pursue a player of Routledge`s calibre, why does it have to be because we are "mega-rich" that sways the player to join us over one of our rivals?
Routledge is a London boy - his family still live here. Plus he was mightily impressed with how much effort Paulo Sousa went to in order to secure his signing - he realised he was really wanted in W12. Why can`t that be good enough and this tedious business of our so-called riches be left out of the equation? Sometimes, a player just doesn`t want to come to a club - like Michael Chopra, for instance, choosing to go to Cardiff instead of QPR on loan. His reasons were valid enough - we didn`t have a manager at the time and he was concerned the new manager coming in wouldn`t want to play him. He knew Cardiff, having been a Cardiff player previously, and Dave Jones - it was a no-brainer for him. So why can`t Wayne Routledge`s decision to join us be something other than based on our supposed wealth?
I think that Mr Phillips needs to take a leaf out of the Cardiff City fans` books, in my opinion, and back down gracefully. City fans have expressed their disappointment but there does not appear to be any animosity from them towards the Rs or to Routledge. And I salute them for that! I wish I could say the same for certain Welsh journalists!
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