If you’re a football player and you need some extra cash, selling the tickets allotted to you by your football club is a risky business. Selling it on a public platform such as Facebook, thus making it ridiculously easy for the club to find it, is foolishness.
And that’s how Aston Villa described Nathan Baker’s action after the youngster sold his five tickets for the Carling Cup final against Manchester United for £200 each on Facebook.
Nathan Baker is currently on loan at Lincoln City, and is hardly earning the six-figure weekly salary that would cause you to wonder why he needs to raise cash through other means. The kid is just 18 and probably figured it would be a nice way to earn some extra cash on the side for a game he wasn’t going to take anyone to in the first place.
Fair enough. This went against club policy (the tickets were for friends and family only) and as a result Villa have punished Baker by withdrawing his tickets and banning him from the Wembley final.
An Aston Villa spokesman had the following to say:
“The club is saddened that Nathan has been so foolish. All of the players were made aware that tickets for the Carling Cup final are available for their own use only and, following this incident, the message has been repeated to them. It shouldn’t be forgotten, however, that Nathan is just 18 years old and he has a lot to learn. His actions were naive and he is extremely embarrassed and regretful at having let down himself, the club and Aston Villa fans.”
Taken in context of what passes for ’embarrassing and regretful behaviour’ these days, an 18-year-old youth player selling tickets is hardly the same as sleeping with your team-mate’s wife, but Baker was apologetic and sent out the right PR message even though, IMO, he didn’t need to.
“I wish to apologise unreservedly to the fans for my actions. I appreciate it is a privilege to be part of Aston Villa Football Club and one day I hope to play in the first team, but I understand that my behaviour off the pitch must speak as loudly as my actions on the pitch.
I have been informed by the club that I will no longer be receiving any tickets for the Carling Cup final and, while I will be sorry not to be able to cheer Aston Villa on at Wembley, I understand and appreciate that it would be inappropriate for me to have these tickets given my actions.”
Keep in mind that this is the level of discipline and respect to the club that is expected of a young player out on loan who has yet to see first-team action. The bar would be incredibly high for a first-team, a senior member of the squad, the captain.
Seen in isolation Baker’s treatment is a strict but fair decision by Aston Villa Football Club where players are expected to respect the club through their actions on and off the pitch.
Seen in context with Chelsea FC – and here I’m not contrasting the behaviour of Terry and Baker but the position / actions of the two clubs in question – Aston Villa have either been draconian or Chelsea find it acceptable to accommodate players who will drag the club’s name in mud as long as they give them a chance of success. And before you complain that this is just about Terry, this applies to Drogba’s and Ballack’s antics last year as well.