The England that I, and I suspect, most Recusants, loved, died or, like King Arthur, went into hibernation five hundred years ago. Since then, the Dowry of Mary has drifted from Protestantism to Rationalism to secularism. From a mistake, to a denial to an incomprehension. And it is in this state of incomprehension over who and why we are that parasitical emotionalism has corrupted the country. To understand what I mean by emotionalism, just think back to the death of Diana, the Princess of Wales and the outpouring of vicarious grief by so many members of the public.
Which brings me to the case of West Ham United. Last September, West Ham surprised the footballing world by signing two highly rated Argentinian players – Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano – in the last minutes of the transfer window. But in so doing, the club deliberately broke Premier League rules and then lied about it when questioned over the matter during Mascherano’s subsequent move to Liverpool in January.
A subsequent investigative committee found the club guilty ‘acting improperly’ and lying and on 27th April, West Ham was fined £5.5 million – a record. This might have been the effective end of the matter except that as of this morning West Ham are in 18th place and the last relegation spot in the Premier League on 35 points, equal with 17th placed Wigan , a point behind 16th placed Fulham, and 3 points behind 15th place Sheffield United.
Why do I mention all these figures? Well, for such a serious breach of the rules, West Ham might easily have had points deducted from their current tally. Indeed, other clubs have had points deducted for lesser offences against league rules. For example, as BBC On Line reports, in 1997 Middlesborough were deducted 3 points for failing to fulfil a fixture – 16 players were too ill or injured to play. That deduction saw the club relegated to the old Division One.
Predictably, the chairmen of the other clubs immediately above and below West Ham (i.e. Charlton Athletic, 19th on 32 points) are not at all happy about West Ham only being fined and are threatening to take legal action against the Premier League. This would be a bitter year to be relegated as the Premier League television deal with Sky will see a rise in prize money for Premier League clubs next year.
I am not so much concerned with the rights and wrongs of the investigating committee’s judgement against West Ham United, as I am with the response of the chairmen of the other relegation threatened clubs. One can understand their distress, but they are quite wrong to think about taking their case to court. Ideally, football games should be settled on the pitch, or, at the most, at Premier League or F. A. Invoking the aid of the legal system creates only one winner – lawyers – and makes lots of losers. For example, the game itself. What use is it watching a game when you know that the result may be overturned in a court room?
The chairman of Charlton Athletic, Fulham, Sheffield United and Wigan need to trust the F. A. and let the matter drop. The only grounds they have to pursue it is if they suspect bad faith on the part of the investigating committee. In my opinion, West Ham should have been deducted points, but they weren’t, and can consider themselves most fortunate. For me or for anyone to continue bleating about the unfairness of it all is to buy into the shameful emotionalism (did you think I was not going to come back to the beginning!) that has so afflicted this country. Far nobler to take it on the chin and concentrate on one’s own club’s performance.
And if only Britons as a whole would learn to hold in their tears just a little bit and learn how to practise fortitude. We live in a sinful world. The surprise should not be that evil happens but that even from (the) evil good can come. I mean this as a general statement and in regards specific people because no one is beyond redemption. Having fortitude protects against wanton blubery and surely, insofar as it keeps one emotionally stable, allows for the cultivation of greater wisdom. And goodness knows, we could do with an increase of that in this day and age – not just in the Premier League, but in life in general.