James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Please don’t drone on about working over Christmas

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Nurses will be doing it, firefighters will be doing it and, dare I say it, a fair few journalists will too.

I’m talking about working on Christmas Day which, in this age of austerity, might not bring many financial benefits but does at least get you out of charades, watching the Queen struggle with an auto cue and doing the washing-up. Three things which many footballers do not seem to appreciate given the thinly-disguised sob stories which get trotted-out at this time of year.

Yes, I appreciate they get a raw deal at times. But, let’s be frank, most of these puff-pieces about the festive sacrifices they make are nothing more than self-serving cobblers designed to curry favour with supporters and let us know how deeply, so very deeply, they care about their respective clubs. Plenty of public and private sector workers have family commitments. And get, pardon the pun, Sweet FA in terms of gratitude for working the holiday period.

Not so long ago, an email landed in my ‘inbox’ from ‘Dribble Down Economics’ which revealed that, if wages were equally divided at Manchester City, a cleaner would earn £527,244 a year. It’s important to acknowledge that, outside of the top-flight and increasingly the Championship, most players do not earn astronomical amounts. But if the Football league’s combined annual wage bill was to be sliced up the same way then, according to the good folks at DDE, the average annual salary among employees would be £126,050. I’d bet double, if I had it, that ticket office staff or receptionists aren’t responsible for inflating that amount.

Albert Einstein once said that “the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.” No sane person could argue that sporting skills are worth more to society than, say, the ability to save lives, keep water running or even the lights on. But the market insists otherwise. A morally perverse state of affairs we are all complicit in maintaining either by paying our satellite television subscriptions or purchasing replica merchandise for often grossly inflated fees.

But this isn’t a rant about what footballers earn. Or a slight on their characters because most of those I have encountered, with a few notable exceptions, are decent, well-mannered lads. Just a plea for some of them to stop droning on about working on Christmas Day. After all, it’s in the job description. They know the score when they sign-up and, without wishing to sound spiteful, do get well-recompensed.