Where's my new shirt? Where am I off to? - Clive Mason
If you or I decided, even in the heat of the moment, to use the language John Terry used on the pitch at Loftus Road nearly a year ago at work, we'd be sacked, and have nothing to say about it. Why then is JT allowed to keep his job after using such language?
Of course, I have to start by pointing to the fact that John Terry was technically found not guilty in his criminal trial earlier this year. I think it's safe to assume, however, that his story was not the likely version of events. In that case, why is he still a Chelsea player? Many are asking the same question. Several journalists have come out in support of such a move, and, after all, I did say you or I would be sacked without hesitation if we said similar things. As in my earlier piece detailing the reasons he's still our captain, the reasons he hasn't been fired are pragmatic in their nature. I would honestly have no philosophical qualms about him being let go because of it, but that's impossible for us, as I'll try to demonstrate.
First off is the fact that we'd be left without a key central defender. Sure, David Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic could probably make it to January, but that means we'd be two injuries away from an extended run for Paulo Ferreira. We all love Paulo, but how many of us would trust months of him in a row? Even if those three were able to survive until the next transfer window, we'd still have to buy a new defender. That's a transfer fee, signing bonus, and salary which now has to come out of the Chelsea transfer budget. Still, we were going to have to replace him in a few years anyway, so it's not a giant price to pay right now.
That assumes Terry would drop off the football map. I would hope none of us are naive enough to think that no club with fewer scruples would take a shot on John Terry. He's not as good as he once was, but he's still a good footballer. Good enough that his options wouldn't be the likes of Stoke or Fulham, no disrespect to either club. His suitors would be some of Europe's elite. He'd be cup-tied in the Champions League this season, but on a free, that wouldn't matter much to any team, really. He could still play in all league games and be a very useful piece to have around. And, really, do you think he could resist a call from Uncle Jose or Uncle Carlo? It's hard to imagine either making too much of a fuss about offering him a contract.
Speaking of which, how would this affect his contract situation? As we all know, one can offer a higher wage to a player on a free, since there is no transfer fee involved. After all, an increase of £100k p/w works out to just £15.6m over a three-year deal. If, as would be likely, there were several suitors, he won't be low-balled on the contract. PSG at least would be able to throw money at him, as would the likes of City and Anzhi. Releasing Terry in a situation where he can get a sweetheart deal elsewhere is likely to see him land a larger contract than his current deal at a Champions League or even Premier League rival.
Where does this leave us? Let's look at the scores:
From JT's point of view, he's sitting on a shiny new deal worth more than he's ever made somewhere in Europe where people don't really care about his actions in this incident.
The rival team has just signed a great defender on a free, making them a more dangerous team, even if his Champions League advantage is allowing other defenders more rest for the competition.
Chelsea, however, are suddenly down a defender where they're already a little thin, and with a lessened transfer budget due to requiring a new one.
Who's really punished there? Is it the man who did the thing requiring the punishment? No. If anything, he's now better off than he was before. The big loser is Chelsea, who are therefore punished for something their player did on his own. Yes, it's nice to imagine the club taking a moral stand on the issue and doing to him what would be done to us in similar circumstances, but John Terry isn't one of us. If we're sacked for using racially-abusive language, we'll struggle to find a new job. Terry won't. He'll remain employable to somebody.
In any business, but especially football, it's not good practice to hand your best assets to someone else for nothing. It's sad that there would likely be no shortage of clubs lining up for Terry after what he's allegedly done, but it is what it is. We have to make the most of the situation as it is, and in the real football world, it's hard to see how sacking Terry would punish anyone but the club, who have done nothing deserving such punishment. That's why John Terry is, for now anyway, still a Chelsea player.