Is loyalty in football completely a thing of the past?
Events over the last couple of weeks would make you think so. Take Sol Campbell’s decision to sign for Arsenal. The whole Campbell saga has been a protracted one covering the last two seasons. By now, we are all aware that Jean-Marc Bosman’s case set a precedent which has altered players contracts for ever. With this in mind Tottenham correctly saw that June 2001 was looming large as the day when the jewel in their crown came to the end of his contract. Spurs had two options – either sell him well before the end of his contract and bank millions which could finance a renewed side or spend the intervening period convincing (begging?) him to stay and risk losing him for nothing. We know now they chose the latter and lost.
Deep down, Spurs fans knew that Campbell was leaving early last season when he refused to confirm that he would still be a Spurs player this coming season. Campbell it seems wanted to win things and he wasn’t doing that at Tottenham – who had regressed to be nothing more than a midtable club along with the West Hams and Leicesters of the world. The fans had no choice but to accept it but hoped that F A Cup success and therefore European football would sway his mind. Ironically, those hopes were dashed at the hands of Arsenal in the semi final. Manchester United were always the favourites for his signature but there was also a good chance that Campbell would go to Europe and Barcelona & Inter Milan, amongst others, were showing interest.
Finally, Campbell delivered the ultimate slur to Spurs fans and signed for Arsenal – Spurs deadly rivals since early last century. It is hard to fathom what it took for Campbell to come to such a decision. In terms of trophy winning surely Liverpool or Man Utd would have been better choices? But in making that decision, he has revealed that he couldn’t care less about Spurs or the supporters who worshipped him in the time he played for them. Spurs, clearly, were just an employer – the people who paid his wages. Nothing more nothing less. If he did have any feelings for the club he, simply, wouldn’t have signed for Arsenal. The animosity between the two clubs is too great. He’s not the first player to play for both clubs. He’s not the first player to transfer between the clubs. In the last 30 years its possible to rattle off names like George Graham, Terry Neill, Willie Young and of course the great Pat Jennings who made the trip across North London. With most of them there was a sound logic or in the case of Willie Young a joke Spurs played on Arsenal! Jennings for example transferred when Spurs were relegated.
Spurs have since revealed that to stay, Campbell asked for GBP20 million over 3 years AND a clause enabling him to leave if Spurs failed to qualify for the Champions League. The mans greed it seems, has no limits. It not surprising Spurs refused him. Money it seems CAN replace winning things.
One can’t help thinking that justice would be done if a reborn Spurs, under Glen Hoddle, finished higher up the league or beat Arsenal in the cup final.
I wonder what Campbell would think then?