At the risk of sounding like a middle-aged cliché, I am a bald, rough as outhouses, expletive-ridden football fan. Although the beautiful game has changed beyond recognition from what it was, and what it should be, it still appeals. The monetised ‘sport’ is undeniably now more about the result and less about the entertainment with each passing season. With recent events, my belief is it is time for a new paint job and, again, ‘football’ has just been given an open goal and has failed miserably, excuse the pun.

Now in days of yore players earnt well, but not obscenely so. My generation are still regaled with tales as to how George Best, aka ‘Bestie’, would hop on the number 53 and travel with the fans to Old Trafford in the days when boots were made of leather and Ferrari's dominance as the go to daily ride for stars and starlets was but a glint in Enzo’s eye.

Fast forward to today when players are predominantly distant, aloof, overpaid and arrogant in the extreme. They question how the country can ask for some of their £100,000 weekly ‘earnings’ back to help pay for the NHS and other such nice things us commoners enjoy.

Yes, it’s true, not all of them are renegade charlatans. Troy Deeney is one such kind heart, joining in the Players Together charity initiative along with Jordon Henderson, Mark Noble and Harry McGuire, but these mainly one-club stalwarts are the exception, not the rule. In addition, Marcus Rashford recently wrote a letter to the PM which resulted in a U-turn on free school meals this summer, so all power to him.

Others, not wanting to do their bit, maybe through a sense of self-righteousness as to their contribution to modern culture, have kicked up a fuss and point blank refused to ‘donate’ a small proportion of their humungous ‘earnings’ for kicking a football about - or not - in the current climes.

The FA release regular press statements concerning when football will return - as if that is the primary concern of folk at present. Many are furloughed, have lost their jobs and are struggling financially, emotionally and mentally, as BT and Sky continue to take our money for a product that is temporarily off the shelf. And that’s where the truth lies: by the FA completing the fixture list the broadcasters do not need to be refunded, therefore they do not have to do the right thing by fans as they have fulfilled their side of the bargain and belatedly released the product, despite the fanless games likely to have the atmosphere of watching paint dry on a rather large wall.

Us bald, rough as houses fans may sound like uneducated oiks, but we can see through bluff and bluster as well as those with plummy dulcet tones. Fans like to feel they are part of the action and not taken for a ride. By refusing to give up a little of a very large pie, players will win no new fans besides those of the starstruck plastic variety, and many of us will think twice when the Sky subscription comes up for renewal. We are safe in the knowledge that such content can be streamed free through somewhat illegal technological gadgetry that we choose not to employ up to this point, as we play with a straight bat. But loyalty is being tested as never before and maybe now is the time for a moral reset.

Football is on a precarious footing and maybe lockdown is the tipping point when, comfortable in our own company and with the absence of sport, we come to realise maybe we don’t need it or miss it as much as we were led to believe we would. Now is the time for football stakeholders to give something back to us minions, otherwise future players will look back in awe on an era when their predecessors committed daylight robbery. Like Bestie, there may come a time, around midday on a Saturday, when they find themselves struggling onto a bus to get to Vicarage Road, as they dream of a return to the good old days when their like were overpaid, underplayed and forever on the take.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher