Harty on how times have changed at Albion and the Rooney saga

ALMOST 14 years ago to the day, the Albion propped up the Football League.

They were being made homeless as the club had been asset-stripped, the Goldstone had been sold to development, and desperate fans arranged a boycott against Mansfield which saw the lowest-ever league crowd at the Goldstone.

Had you said back then, that in 14 years’ time the Albion would be six points clear of the league above, months away from moving into one of the best stadiums outside the Premiership with a highly-rated foreign manager, you probably would have been carted away.

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But that’s the reality, and Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash at Peterborough is testament to the fact of how Tony Bloom and Gus Poyet have moved the club on to the next level.

Win, lose or draw at London Road and the Albion will remain at the top of League One, all the more sweeter for thousands of fans who chose to reluctantly boycott that Mansfield game all those years ago.

n When Belgian footballer Jean Marc Bosman went to court over his right to freedom of contract it changed football forever, but will the events in the north of England last week pale that into insignificance?

It appears that the nation has been split into two camps over this; some think Wayne Rooney is in the right but I would imagine that the majority think he is in the wrong.

Personally, in some ways I don’t blame him, if he has an agent astute enough and a club stupid enough to give into his excessive wage demands then good luck to him, but what does it create in the future?

Every player of any note that United attempt to sign will want wage parity with Rooney?

It came as no surprise that before the incredible u-turn last week John Terry was publicly inviting Rooney to join Chelsea, to strengthen the squad no doubt, but also by smashing the wage structure that could only be of advantage to the current squad at Stamford Bridge?

And in a time of the savage public spending cuts, will a wages explosion eventually turn the public away from our national game?

Probably not, as many wives will testify, the love of the beautiful game seems to transcend all levels and boundaries. However, will it take a top club going bankrupt to make football in general come back to reality?

Only time will tell...

n And, finally, an appeal to all of the readers to please vote for Brighton and Hove Albion FC’s Disability Project at the Brighton and Hove Public Service Awards.

You can see what great work the Albion in the Community department do all over the county in this field by logging onto: www.seagulls-specials.org.uk

To vote for them and to help them get the recognition they so richly deserve, please click on Celebrating Excellence Brighton and Hove City Council and click on Brighton and Hove Albion.