OpinionRoy Curtis

Roy Curtis: Jamie Carragher ‘can’t have it both ways’ on ticket price row

Jamie Carragher
Jamie Carragher

IF he was, for years, a triumph of defensive devotion, Jamie Carragher’s recent relocation to the left wing exposes him to sustained mockery.

The hypocrisy, the absence of self-awareness, the cheek required for Comrade Carragher to reach for his inner Karl Marx and rail against Liverpool ticket prices was nothing short of breathtaking.

For Carragher to join last week’s Anfield walk-out was as outrageous as if his Sky pal Thierry Henry had accepted a role as poster boy for a protest movement against players who seek to con referees.

We can only hope the Scouse socialist had managed to digest his smoked salmon prior to his publicity-seeking 77th-minute exit.

What Carragher chooses to wilfully ignore is that he is the precise cause of supporters being fleeced at the turnstile.

Jamie might return The Communist Manifesto to his local library and instead seek out a basic tome on market economics.

The primary reason why ticket prices are such a flagrant scandal is because player wages are so outrageously astronomical.

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t remember Carragher being so concerned about rip-off admission charges during his distinguished playing career that he offered to take a pay cut.

Rather, in the last six years of his career he was happy to collect some £26million in wages.

The greater chunk of that salary came from the pockets of supporters he now believes are being ripped off.

In 2007, Carragher agreed a four-year contract with Liverpool worth £4.16million per annum. That had risen to £4.7million-a-year by the time of his retirement some 30 months ago.

Clearly his grasp of cause and effect is not as strong as his understanding of 4-4-2 or the offside rule.

If Carragher wanted to protest, he had more than 15 years as a Liverpool player to make a stand.

He could have announced that he was forfeiting 50 per cent of his £90,000-a-week salary and called on his team-mates to do likewise. Then he might have had a leg to stand on when he screamed injustice.

And, having put his money where his mouth has latterly arrived, he would still have banked £2million a year.

But back then Carragher was too busy catapulting himself onto the Sunday Times Rich List. He was a sporting Red, not a political one.

If Carragher was going to stage a walk-out over the fleecing of customers last week, it should have been from the Sky Sports studio.

Given his recently activated social conscience, he must surely be outraged by the €400+ Irish subscribers must cough-up for their annual seven-channel sports package?

Is this not the same blatant profiteering at the expense of blue-collar supporters that so inflamed Jamie’s moral code last week?

C’mon Jamie, now that John W Henry and FSG have been cowed into submission, how about fixing Rupert Murdoch in your crosshairs?

But, of course, Sky have replaced Liverpool as Carragher’s paymaster, so don’t hold your breath.

Here was the gushing quote from the Englishman as, having barely had time to shower and change after his final Liverpool appearance, he charged into the studio to claim his share of the pie.

“What Sky has done for football for over 30 years is incredible and I’m thrilled to be part of their exciting plans.”

Many would argue that “what Sky has done for football” is to accelerate the gentrification of the sport, to contribute to the corporate takeover of grounds at the expense of the working man.

But hold on, isn’t that precisely what is convulsing Carragher?

The mobilisation by Spirit of Shankly and other supporter groups was a stirring, uplifting example of people power. A magnificent antidote to shameless corporate avarice.

The fans landed a concussive slingshot on the temple of FSG’s goliaths, dizzying the giant, compelling them to backtrack.

Carragher, though, had no right to gatecrash the rebellion.

The total Premier League player salaries are in the region of £1.86billion. Or to write it in longhand, £1,860,000,000. Liverpool will pay their players £152million.

But I don’t see Jamie marching up and down outside Daniel Sturridge or Christian Benteke’s house demanding they take a pay cut.

He can’t have it both ways.

Patently he is dancing on quicksand by joining a protest staged by supporters unhappy that they are being screwed to pay the wages of men like him.

Frankly, it seems as absurdly self-righteous as an oil-sheikh railing against the high price of fuel at the pumps even as he climbs into the leather-upholstered, petro-dollar financed private jet.

That Carragher is properly revered at Anfield for a stellar, one-club career does not alter the source of his vast wealth. 

In the 2013 Sunday Times Rich List he was at number 16 in the catalogue of wealthiest Premier League footballers with an estimated net worth of £16million.

His great buddy Steven Gerrard was nine places higher, the best guess putting his assets at £33million.

Back in June 2007, Carragher and Stevie G each signed four-year contract extensions at Liverpool which cost the club (and by extension the fans) £44million.

Good luck to them; it is nice poke if you can get it. But that money isn’t magicked into existence from the ether. 

It comes from the people who stand or sit on the Kop week after week, frequently the same folk who cough up for the TV subscriptions to finance Carragher’s latest lucrative career.

So if Jamie wants to prove his credentials as a man of the people, the challenge is simple.

Lay off Liverpool and turn the heavy guns on Sky: Take a pay-cut and threaten to quit unless customer subscriptions are reduced.

Alternately, shut up, continue coining it and leave to one side the irritating working-class hero shtick.