DO NOT adjust your set. You heard correctly: the new Premier League broadcast rights deal is worth £5.1bn; the era of the £10m game is upon us; top stars may soon be earning £500,000 a week – and yes, an elite club manager did appear to throttle an opposing player.
In the midst of all this 21st century madness, there has been an antidote embodied by Tottenham’s Harry Kane. Darling of the London media, he is a present–day star yet an old fashioned Roy of the Rovers. He’s blond and scores great goals; no-one would be surprised if he ran out wearing Roy Race’s Melchester Rovers’s famous red-and-yellow top.
Yet without being a killjoy, may I sound a note of caution. Kane can do no wrong right now and it seems every pundit and journalist is calling for Roy Hodgson to do the decent thing and call up Kane for England. That’s fair enough and I hope the kid goes on and scores a hatful.
But 21-year-old Kane only has to look across the dressing room towards Spurs winger Andros Townsend to see why he should take nothing for granted.
Their careers have remarkable parallels. Both were farmed out repeatedly on loan as they struggled to cut the mustard at Spurs. Townsend played for no fewer than nine other clubs between March 2009 and May 2013 before he exploded into the limelight with Spurs – and then England.
Kane – like Townsend at Spurs since he was in short pants – was borrowed by Leyton Orient, Millwall, Leicester and Norwich before he made his 2014 breakthrough. If he makes the jump to England, the comparison with Townsend will be there for all to see.
And in October 2013, Townsend was hailed a superstar in the making as he scored on his England debut against Montenegro and took the man-of-the-match award. He was a shoo-in for the World Cup squad, all the pundits and the London media said so.
But it never happened. Townsend’s form dipped and, worse still, he got injured. In April 2014, he was under the surgeon’s knife for an ankle problem and any lingering hopes of a trip to Brazil were scotched.
After that, there was actually talk of Spurs flogging him off. He was linked with Southampton, Everton and Newcastle but he stayed. Townsend got back into the side and back into the England squad in November, only for another ankle injury to force him out.
So beware, Harry. This season’s Roy of the Rovers can soon be sidelined, injured or even sold off. Take nothing for granted.
But as this week has underlined, we should not be overly concerned about our friends in football. That incredible, vulgar, extraordinary, bizarre (pick your adjective) TV deal, insulates the Kanes and Townsends from the financial knife-edge that threatened players in Roy Race’s day.
Just one season of earning power in the modern day Premier League should comfortably set up a player on an average contract for life. And last week Kane, at just 21, signed a new five-and-a-half-year deal worth £45,000-a-week just as he was being linked with Real Madrid.
Yes Harry, life is good. Enjoy it.