Players fine with financial punishment

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Football News

News that Mario Balotelli is to be hit with a £240,000 fine will hardly strike fear into the heart of the player.

The mercurial Italian striker has set the Premier League alight with his thrilling style of play on the pitch, although courts controversy off the pitch with his wild antics.

If it’s not setting fireworks off in a hotel bathroom, turning up at schools randomly or paying for people’s petrol, the youngster doesn’t seem interested.

And, for his latest trick, the 21-year-old decided to frequent a gentleman’s club in Liverpool less than 48 hours before Saturday’s 2-0 win against Bolton.

That he scored – and produced a fine all-round display in the victory – appears beside the point for manager Roberto Mancini.

"Tomorrow I will speak with him. If everything is true I will do the maximum fine that I can do. I'm really disappointed,” the boss told BBC Sport post-match.

Reports today claim that this could be a figure close to a quarter-of-a-million pounds, a huge sum of money to the common man.

But, to a professional footballer in the English top flight, it’s merely a drop in the ocean. At £120,000 a week, Balotelli earns £6.24 million a year. So, even after the fine, he’s taking home £6 million in basic salary.

Throw in additional bonuses, as well as lucrative sponsorship deals, and it’s easy to see why the hit to the wallet doesn’t have much of an affect these days.

The only way to hit players is where they will be hurt – playing time.

Ipswich Town boss Paul Jewell made such a move at the end of last week, suspending midfielder Jimmy Bullard for two weeks after he and Michael Chopra spent a night out in Newcastle.

Interestingly, the former Wigan boss gave Chopra a two-week fine rather than suspension, citing it as counter-productive if the striker wasn’t allowed to train.

"You'd love to treat everyone the same but life isn't like that. Suspending Jimmy from the football club for two weeks will really hurt him. He loves playing and training and we've taken that privilege away from him for two weeks. Hopefully it will make him realise his mistake," Jewell told BBC Radio.

"I think if I had suspended Michael for two weeks it would have been counterproductive - both to him and to us."

Bullard, an effervescent midfielder who was once on the cusp of an England call-up, has been blighted by injury in his career, and this unnecessary lay-off will be hurting the former Fulham star. It seems like a great way to punish a player for an indiscretion.

However, to hit two players with different types of punishment has raised a few eyebrows – a brave decision from a manager who isn’t afraid to make a big call.

The problem at the very highest level is that managers don’t want to ban their best players, especially when the title is on the line – as is currently the case for the Citizens.

Balotelli has scored 11 goals in the league this term, and whilst he’s only the club’s third top scorer this season, the former Inter Milan star has been an influential figure whenever he’s played.

Having missed a handful of games through FA suspensions this season, a club-related ban would seem like insanity, from the perspective of the fans at least.

There lies another problem – fans don’t want the best players to miss out when the big games come around. Frankly, the actions of an individual off the pitch don’t matter (if there not breaking the law) if they deliver the goods on it. Balotelli could go and get drunk every night, providing he scores a hat-trick every week on match-day.

It’s the proverbial catch 22 for those in power at any club, and is why the fine is still issued out to players today. In reality, is serves little purpose, other than to pull the wool over our eyes and pretend that an individual has been financially burdened.

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