Crocodile Tears for Christmas

Sky’s determination for a blockbuster match on their Christmas Eve Super Sunday became a call to arms for fans. The prospect of travel chaos if Liverpool’s trip to Arsenal kicked off a 4pm was nothing to that faced in the back-up scenario of West Ham vs Newcastle.

Dare I mention Boxing Day football when there has never been any public transport? Where was the outcry in years gone by? We needed stewards, policing and other workers in the stadium to sate public desire for a match?

Some kind of sanity prevailed with the Arsenal game kicking off at 1pm but begs the question whether there was something too precious about the response. Cynics wondered whether we’d been taken over by Germanic culture such was the determination to paint Christmas Eve as a special day. We know it’s really the day for dad’s to panic buy the presents for their nearest and dearest.

While the Windsors and their ilk tuck into Christmas dinner on the 24th, the rest of us go about our business as usual. The hordes of office workers won’t be filling trains; they will mostly travel during the day or even earlier in the weekend. Theirs is the weekend when they arrive home to find nieces and nephews disappearing upstairs on PS4 or Snapchat while granny is sitting in the corner playing the best online games on her iPad. Her cries of “house!” intersperse the parental rows.

Am I Living In A Box? Not If You Give Me The Living Wage

Stewards at the match were the issue but were they paid the living wage, would it be a problem? If football fans want to be up in arms, that’s the subject to lose their rag over.

Why do clubs like Arsenal (laudably) pay direct staff the living wage but contractors aren’t held to the standards? Why must they make do with zero-hour contracts and a minimum wage? If Chelsea can take the step to insist their contractors pay their staff the living wage, why not Arsenal?

It’s time football took up the cudgels of social responsibility and vigorously pounded the living wage into their structures. Arsenal offered Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez £300k per week but can’t force contractors to pay their staff a wage which drags them out of the government-agreed poverty levels?

There’s no surprise that the inclination isn’t there. Kroenke’s wife is a Wal-Mart heiress; the US grocery conglomerate has an appalling record on pay and conditions; it’s far to say that Stan doesn’t care enough to make this an issue. Surprisingly, Ivan’s parents suffered the iniquity of apartheid but sadly, he hasn’t picked up the baton for social justice.

If Arsenal want to make Christmas special, insist all staff get fair treatment irrespective of whether they are direct or indirect employees.