Private Eyes Follow The Stars

TO THE best of my knowledge no English club have – yet – employed a private detective agency to study the nocturnal wanderings of their errant stars.

Barcelona seem to be the pioneers of this unusual practice, according to Interviu magazine who claimed Deco left the Nou Camp for Chelsea after private eyes concluded the midfielder’s night life was excessive.

The Catalan club are alleged to have paid agents to spy on Deco, Gerard Pique, Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o in 2007/8.

Pique was in his first season back at Barcelona after his spell with Manchester United. It is claimed representatives from the agency Metodo 3 followed the Spain international 24 hours a day for a week while the others were watched sporadically over a longer period of time.

The magazine claims the investigations were initiated by the Barcelona president at the time Joan Laporta and had ‘very positive results’ for Pique with ‘nothing objectionable’ discovered so there was no need to continue following the defender any longer.

However, the findings against former Chelsea midfielder Deco, Ronaldinho and Eto’o were less favourable. The reports concluded that over a period of several months the trio committed ‘constant acts of indiscipline’ against the club. The following summer Deco and Ronaldinho left Barcelona while Eto’o joined Inter Milan last year.

From what we hear about Ronaldinho’s love of the good life anyone trying to keep up with the Brazilian would have needed the energy of the Duracell bunny.

It adds a new dimension to how far a club will go to ensure players are living what they would deem as a lifestyle in keeping with that of a professional footballer.

One of the best jobs I have heard of is held by an ex-policeman friend who is employed to go into pubs to see if they are showing live football on Sky Sports and whether they have paid the appropriate fee.

“Goodbye darling…just off to work…yes, another pub crawl…”

But being a private eye paid to follow Barclays Premier League headliners such as – no, I don’t really need to name names – the usual suspects…

“Goodbye darling…don’t wait up for me…I may be home late, very late…”

It is said Sir Alex Ferguson has a lookout system in Manchester hotspots that makes radar seem obsolete. And these days, it is not so much the paparazzi as the punterazzi that photographs well-known footballers doing things tabloid editors drool over.

The era of mobile phones with their digital cameras means it is virtually impossible for anyone in the public eye to do things they would rather the public didn’t find out about.

Employing a private eye over a period of several months may be seen as madness, certainly it is one step beyond (sorry).


“IT IS with regret that I have decided not to speak to the paper for the foreseeable future. Over the past 18 months on four occasions my words have been taken out of context. I have not taken this decision lightly.”

A familiar moan…a Premier League manager?

No, it was, er…Hayes and Yeading manager Garry Haylock on the Uxbridge Gazette. A scenario far too common at all levels of the game.

IF I HAD one wish – okay, if I had 100 wishes this would be one – it is that any team with striped, hooped or quartered shirts must have their numbers on a patch. Covering West Bromwich Albion or Queens Park Rangers – I use them as examples – can be a nightmare for reporters. It is virtually impossible – and you can probably take out the ‘virtually’ – to see the red number printed over the blue and white stripes/hoops. Football writers, especially those covering the away team, need to see the number on the back of players’ jerseys for immediate identification. A 6 looks very much like an 8 from 70 yards and a familiar cry at press boxes where Neil Warnock’s impressive side play is: ‘Who passed the ball?’ Or ‘Was it 3 [Clint Hill] or 13 [Kaspars Gorkss]?’

UEFA’s regulations stipulate numbers on non-plain shirts must be on a patch to help TV and radio commentators, those in the press box plus fans. The Premier League and Football League should follow the lead of European football’s governing body.

IT IS difficult to have sympathy for clubs that sign African players and then moan about losing them for up to a month for the African Cup of Nations.

But sympathy must go to Everton’s David Moyes (and other managers in the same situation) who faces losing the influential Tim Cahill for five games when the Australia international is on Asia Cup duty in Qatar in January.

When Everton signed Cahill from Millwall, Australia were in Oceania but they subsequently switched to the Asia confederation. Others who could be involved include Mark Schwarzer (Fulham), Brett Emerton and Vince Grella (Blackburn), Brad Jones (Liverpool) and David Cairney (Blackpool).

A NUMBER of FWA members believe it is wrong that it is a mandatory caution for any player who removes his shirt after scoring a goal. That is subjective but the law was brought in mainly for two reasons. Firstly, football is a global game and in many countries, for religious reasons the sight of a bare male chest is deemed offensive.

Secondly, some players have contracts with sports manufacturers who supply undergarments which bear their logo. Sponsors who have paid huge sums to advertise during matches became annoyed a company can get 30 seconds free advertising if a player whips off his shirt in ‘spontaneous’ celebration. The authorities also felt messages scrawled on T-shirts saying ‘happy birthday’ or whatever to someone was becoming boring.

But whether you agree with the law or not, it is the most brainless of yellow cards to collect. Surely players should know by now not to do a half-Monty after scoring a goal?

UPDATE on the three remaining unbeaten teams in Europe. Manchester United (P22 W14 D8 L0), Real Madrid (P19 W15 D4 L0) and FC Porto (P20 W18 D2 L0) go into the weekend hoping to extend their records.

Sam Allardyce would probably disagree but United, who host Blackburn Rovers in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday, appear to have the easiest task. FC Porto visit Sporting Lisbon on Sunday while on Monday it’s el clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Christopher Davies

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