Linda Colling: Clean up the cop outs

Sunderland footballer Phil Bardsley after his appearance at Sunderland magistrates Court on Monday morning.

Sunderland footballer Phil Bardsley after his appearance at Sunderland magistrates Court on Monday morning.

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DOES Sunderland AFC player of the season, £31,000 a week Phil Bardsley consider himself above the law?

It’s a pertinent point given the 25-year-old parked his Range Rover illegally on zig-zag lines approaching a zebra crossing in Newbottle Street, Houghton, because it suited him to collect his winnings from a bookies. Who does he think he is to flout the rules of the road?

What sheer arrogance, and he knows he can well afford the £900 fine. That doesn’t hit him in the pocket, which the chairman of the bench bemoaned, saying the actual fine should have been about £10,000 based on Bardsley’s weekly income, but it was not within magistrates‘ powers to impose this. What a pity. Bardsley got a six-month ban after racking up nine penalty points and then facing this charge.

So many people with money seem to think they are above everything, are not accountable or have to behave responsibly.

There’s Ashley Cole who cheated on his wife Cheryl, who divorced him and who he now thinks he can weasel his way back into her life and buy her a diamond wedding ring with a rock so big “it is visible from outer space.” The sordid lives of too many players have sickened decent, hardworking, faithful, supporters.

Ryan Giggs, was back at work last week for the first time since alleged affairs with his sister-in-law and Imogen Thomas were revealed.

Meanwhile Rio Ferdinand, 32, whose brother Anton plays for Sunderland, took the stand in the High Court accused of having nearly a squad’s worth of other women, and relegating to the subs bench his then girlfriend, now wife Rebecca, 29, mother of his three children.

The England player, is claiming “substantial and aggravated” damages in a privacy battle with the Sunday Mirror linking him to a team of other women including three models, a stripper and an ex-Page 3 girl.

The Manchester United star’s case is over allegations that he accepted the captaincy from alleged love cheat John Terry despite having a mistress himself. For Ferdinand’s lawyers to argue that England captains should no longer be expected to have the “morals of a bishop” is missing the point. What about the morals of a married man? Faithful, decent and devoted?

It is far from old-fashioned in believing the England skipper should have to set an “upstanding” example like the late Bobby Moore, which Ferdinand’s lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC suggested was out of time.

That’s a cop out and the canker that’s relegating this game. It needs cleaning up big time, and players on massive amounts take matching responsibility in both their private and public lives as the role models they are.

I’ll never forget meeting former Newcastle player Shaka Hislop’s dad, George, a magistrate who had travelled from Trinidad to Darras Hall to make sure that the big money wasn’t turning his son’s head and that “he still has his feet on the ground.” If only more footie players had dad’s like that.

High time clubs took control of players who bring themselves and their club into disrepute and impose substantial fines and dock their pay. How different it would be if clubs paid players an average working man’s salary of £28,000 a year, and we got back to what football is all about. It wouldn’t deter any lad with a passion for footie.

Instead we’ve created too many multi-millionaires with gutter rat morals. If you pay monstrous wages you have got to expect the creation of more than the odd monster.