Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Tue 6 March 2007

A decent idea worth disconsidering

Here's an interesting idea: Portsmouth goalkeeper David James has this week publicly suggested football players could give money back to the fans if they put in a bad performance. He reasons that all those fans travelling hither and yon across the country watching their teams playing away from home in all weathers deserve some form of financial reimbursement if their team play a stinker.

The idea came to mind as he travelled home on the coach with his team-mates after a heavy defeat away to Blackburn. When put to them, he found they supported the idea more than he realised. Giving money back to the supporter's club would appear to be the way forward, then... but could it work?

The first thing to consider is how to exactly quantify a bad performance. Could a performance be considered bad if a team loses due of a couple of poor goalkeeping errors, or through one or two players being sent off? Could it even be calculated with the use of the comprehensive statistical systems currently employed in the Premiership, each player's rating being reduced because of few tackles being made or low numbers of accurate passes?

One might even consider that a team could under-perform if their coach makes bad tactical decisions or buys a poor player to bolster the squad.

It seems like an idea that's doomed to failure, so is it worth pursuing? Surely if you buy a ticket to a match, you're entering a contract to be entertained but not necessarily to be given a peak performance?

And what if you support a lower-league side? Could you reasonably ask for superlative achievement week in, week out? Some Premiership fans wouldn't, and the only way you could feasilbly demand it is to ensure they're first part of a twelve-team 'Super Premiership' or some such elitist movement.

Maybe punishing players in the pocket would encourage them to pull together in order to play better. It's an old-fashioned system known as 'team work'. The idea is that you avoid playing badly in isolation by employing a dynamic new approach called 'playing well for each other.'

Just a minute - aren't they supposed to do that already? I seem to have lost sight of that small fact, and it pains me to say it but I think David James has too...

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