Bad day at the office 8   Recently updated !

Nation reels in shock as UK challenger bank accused of harbouring thieves and paedophiles

Loadsamoney-UKCC

If you haven’t read the Sunday Herald today I suggest you nip out and get a copy before they all sell out. If you have, I’m guessing you may already have choked on your Chocolate Weetos. Especially if you’re an employee of the chippy UK challenger bank UK Cash Cowboys, as I am, headed up by our ex-RBS storm-trooper of a CEO Cleopatra LeGrande, who was awarded an OBE for services to bullying last January.

A double whammy of a scandal broke at Cash Cowboys headquarters this morning after it was revealed that the organisation, which likes to position itself as the new, caring face of modern banking, was secretly harbouring paedophiles and thieves in our midst. It was news to me, but then again I only work in the marketing team. They never tell us anything.

Apparently, first news leaked of a story Cleopatra LeGrande had been trying to keep completely under wraps, for understandable reasons. Word is that Darren Darkes, a long-standing junior member of Cleopatra’s corporate culture team, has been part of an evil paedophile ring swapping disgusting images of children online. Struth. That one came out of nowhere. Who’d have thought, old Dazza Darkes, married with two kids of his own. Shared many a beer with him at corporate off-sites. How do you spot these people? The company, which had apparently known about the allegations for some time but not told us, had refused to dismiss Darkes, and he had continued to work at Cash Cowboys while on bail leading up to his court case. Only when he was found guilty and sentenced in January, did the powers that be terminate his contract. Oh, so THAT’S where he got to! We were all wondering where he’d disappeared. We’d assumed he’d just been taken into the car park and shot for under-performing in his role, in one of Cleopatra’s summary executions. They happen all the time at the Cowboys. She runs a tight ship here.

Anyway, the next thing is, we read in today’s Sunday Herald that Ashok Strange, a financial adviser working at our Griffnock branch of UK Cash Cowboys in Renfrewshire, has been jailed for five years for stealing almost half a million quid from Stanley and Doris Gulliver, a 90 year old couple suffering from Alzheimers. Bloody hell.

Personally I didn’t know the bloke, but his deed definitely fits the culture of merciless competition and greed Cleopatra has instilled in the workforce here, since we became a ‘challenger bank.’ According to the Herald, Strange even had his own fundraising page on UK Cash Cowboys Giving, where he purported to run marathons in support of good causes. Which it now emerges was just a smokescreen to hide his unscrupulous behaviour. Bit like the company, I suppose.

The Sheriff at the Paisley Court said Strange had befriended the two pensioners in 2011 when they had sought financial advice about investing a £1.4 million nest egg they’d inherited from a long lost American relative who had recently died. Taking advantage of the oldies’ failing mental health, Strange apparently siphoned off £465,000 of their dosh into his private bank account between January 2011 and December 2012, in an “appalling breach of trust” as the Sheriff put it. What a complete scumbag. I’m surprised Cleopatra hadn’t promoted him to her Senior Human Inquisition Team (fondly known as the SHIT here at Cowboys). With that kind of track record he’d have gone a long way in this organisation.

The Herald went on: “Pleading his innocence, the financial adviser tried to claim the old couple had given him the money as a gift to help him buy a new toaster after his old one went up in flames. Admitting that he may have slightly exaggerated the price of the toaster to embezzle £465,000 out of the old couple, Strange put it down to an innocent miscalculation he had made in the rate of inflation.

“When asked how much he’d need for his new toaster, Strange told the pensioners his old one had cost him £46.50 from the Argos in Sauchiehall Street, in 2007. Then using an inflation figure of 10% (it had averaged 2.5% a year from 2007-2011), Strange should have calculated the cost of the new toaster at £50.65. But the decimal point had inexplicably slipped several places, leading him to arrive at an inflation figure of a million per cent.

Asked by the Sheriff whether, as a professional financial adviser, a figure of that magnitude shouldn’t have alerted Strange to an obvious error in his calculations, he replied, “well we were in the middle of the credit crunch, there were some scary numbers flying around. I think it’s a legitimate error anyone could have made.” Strange added, in his defence, “I hadn’t got my calculator with me on the day so I worked it out on the back of Mr Gulliver’s cheque book. Admittedly it does seem a bit on the high side now, looking back. But hindsight is a wonderful thing. At the time I was in a bit of a hurry as I had three other old couples I had to r… see that day, so I needed to crack on. It was a genuine mistake, for which I am most humbly apology, your Lordship.”

Sheriff Tom McGonagall was unmoved by the financial adviser’s plea, as he was by the submission of Strange’s solicitor that thanks to his client’s advice the Gullivers’ remaining £935,000 had benefited from £7.62 growth on the stock market between 2011 and 2012, even after the deduction of his client’s £27,899 fees. Sentencing the evil scumbag to five years in prison, Sheriff McGonagall remarked, “how in God’s name that tawdry company UK Cash Cowboys were ever awarded a banking licence is a bigger mystery to me than the origin of the universe itself,” which seems a bit harsh.

Our great CEO Cleopatra LeGrande OBE was apparently unavailable for comment this morning when the double whammy broke in the news. No shit Sherlock. Nor was Group Chairman Sir Richard Pickle, apparently, who was refusing to comment from his Caribbean island getaway of Slapper Island.

When asked for a comment, our Culture Director Steve ‘WD40’ Lovett was quoted in the press as saying Cleopatra LeGrande was “completely unaware of any bad shit whatsoever happening anywhere in the organisation. Yeah, technically you could say it was paedophilia and criminal fraud on a massive scale, but we prefer to call it inappropriate behaviour. UK Cash Cowboys is an equal opportunities employer who wouldn’t allow any bad shit like that to happen. Our CEO has made a very public statement about the company’s commitment to supporting good causes, like saving the whales and the environment, and all that shit. Plus she sends a member of staff out to buy a copy of The Big Issue from the stinky guy on the corner every morning. OBE’s don’t just fall off a shelf, you know. There’s the UK Cash Cowboys Marathon, and our charitable arm UK Cash Cowboys Giving. I mean, what more proof do you vont, fool, zat ve are ze company viz ze heart of gold! All ze staff get free luncheon vouchers and nobody iz shot wizout ze express permission of our great leader Cleopatra LeGrande, UNDERSTANT! Dumbkopft. Heil LeGrande! No wait, scrub that. Ashok who?”

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Bad day at the office 7

UK CEO gets OBE for services to Bullying

Cleopatra LeGrande shouting

 

These are dark times indeed.

Unless you were paying attention back in December it may have slipped under your radar that Cleopatra LeGrande, CEO of UK Cash Cowboys, the sweat-shop payday loan company I work for (recently rebranded as a ‘Challenger Bank’, woo-fucking-hoo) was awarded an OBE for Services to Bullying in the New Years’ Honours list.

When you look at LeGrande’s track record since she took over Cowboys in 2007, it all falls into place. Here are the changes she brought in:

  • Concentration Camp dress code – Cowboys traditional ‘smart cas’ banned – an early shot across the bows.
  • Time clocking implemented – arrival and departure times closely monitored by management. Transgressors flogged in car-park ‘group humiliation outings’.
  • Worksheets – logging start and finish times on each job.
  • Personal phone calls – not allowed, monitored.
  • Personal email access – blocked.
  • Access to social media – blocked.
  • Sending attachments outside the business – blocked.
  • Use of computer files to store personal information – forbidden and monitored.
  • Music in the creative studio – banned.
  • Laughter in the office – banned (management ruling that ‘fun’ and ‘work’ are incompatible).
  • Whistle-blowing (reporting colleagues showing a bad attitude or lack of ‘engagement’) – encouraged and rewarded.
  • Compulsory attendance at ‘engagement’ workshops.
  • Enforced attendance at ‘fun’ corporate team events.
  • Absenteeism from work-related stress – quadrupled.
  • Staff Satisfaction rating in National Opinion Survey down from 85% to 15%.
  • Brutal weekly one-to-ones with line managers, where staff are sworn at, threatened, intimidated.
  • Corrupt annual review system resulting in a low performance rating for high performing staff.
  • Annual pay review and bonus – frozen indefinitely.
  • Senior management and ‘yes men’ get above inflation pay increases and bonuses.
  • CEO’s annual bonus for “managing down the costs of the business” – £1.5 million.

Think that’s bad? That’s nothing. LeGrande’s Nazi credentials are even better illustrated by a case study leaked to me by a colleague in HR today who has asked to remain anonymous. If her name gets out she’s bricking it she’ll wake up one morning to find her cat’s head next to her on the pillow, with her P45 stuffed in its mouth. Things like that happen around here, since LeGrande took over.

The case study concerns three colleagues in the Marketing Department who were bullied out of their jobs recently, despite having 35 years loyal service between them. They had consistently resisted the company’s efforts to ‘indoctrinate’ them, and spoke out against the growing culture of intimidation and harassment. For their sins they were given a new manager, who was told to ‘bring them into line’. My boss, in fact, Norman Shylock, a particularly nasty piece of work. LeGrande gave our CMO Dick Holder a mandate, and Dick passed it down the line to Shylock. “Shut them the fuck up, or make them disappear, kapeesh?”

First Shylock tried to ‘fix’ the three ‘troublemakers’ by trashing their end of year performance appraisals, on which their pay and bonuses depended. He basically fabricated a bunch of bullshit about missed deadlines and poor work, so he could pin the ‘failure’ tag on them.

When they appealed against his bungled attempt to blacken their name in the appraisals, and had his bullshit ratings overturned, he unleashed a campaign of bullying, intimidation and harassment on them.

It started with hideous amounts of work being piled on, then constant micro-management, nit-picking and fault finding over the most trivial thing. If they were a few seconds late arriving in the morning he would take them in a room and scream at them aggressively, using the most foul, obnoxious language. Man and woman.

It went on for several months until eventually, one by one, they all broke a little inside, and were signed off by their doctors with long-term work-related stress and depression, and suicidal thoughts.

The shit really hit the fan when the three employees filed a grievance against Shylock, for systematic bullying.

Camp Commandant that she is, LeGrande told Dick Holder to work with HR to make sure that, on no condition, was the grievance to stand. I can picture her drawing a finger across her throat as she spelled it out.

So HR conducted a charade of an investigation, taking a sham interest in witness statements and conducting fake interviews, then presented a complete whitewash, saying no bullying had taken place. They found Shylock guilty of some minor infraction like, ‘inappropriate behaviour’, and gave him a 15% pay rise for getting the job done.

For the three employees, when they’d exhausted the process internally and their six months statutory sick pay was up, they were given three alternatives by the company.

  1. Return to work and report back in to Shylock, the management thug who had bullied them to the point of depression and suicidal thoughts.
  2. Accept much inferior roles elsewhere in the team.
  3. Walk off into the sunset without a job or a penny in compensation. After 35 years loyal service.

“That’s what I call a result,” LeGrande was overheard saying to Dick Holder, as they high-fived round the coffee machine in our London head office.

Welcome to the new face of British Banking.

Stop Press – Bullying Works! UK Cash Cowboys see 127% increase in profits

Today at UK Cash Cowboys we heard the company had released its full year results for 2014. And wow, we got some idea just how lucrative LeGrande’s culture of bullying and intimidation has become around this joint. “The company have coined in an extra £120 million in profit,” said our PR spokesman, Scott Trotter. “We’re absolutely fucking minting it.”

There’s a rumour going round the office that Sir Richard Pickle, our Global Group Chairman, serial entrepreneur and darling of the British media, has invited Cleopatra to spend a week with him at his Caribbean hideaway of Slapper Island as a thank you. Not that she needs one, as the figures released also revealed Cleopatra awarded herself a staggering 21% pay increase last year, earning an eye-popping £3.65million.

So much for George ‘Ozzy’ Osborne’s brave new world free of greedy fatcat bank bosses. LeGrande also trousered a handy little £1.5million bonus on the side. While most of us here in the creative studio at Cash Cowboys Towers, where we’re labelled ‘trouble-makers’, got a BIG FAT ZERO. Thanks, Cleopatra. Makes it all feel worthwhile.

LeGrande was quoted as saying in the press today, “Our staff are at the heart of all the money we rake in from customers and I would like to thank them for their hard work for, well, practically peanuts, all year round. Without them I wouldn’t have been able to line my pockets with such an eye-watering amount in personal salary and bonuses. To those who might say I’m greedy and that’s a disgusting amount of money, I’d say shut up, I’m far more important than you and you don’t know what you’re talking about. The figure quoted in the press that it would take an average employee at UK Cash Cowboys 145 years to earn what I earn in a year, while factually correct, is merely an accurate reflection of my superior status at the bank. I get paid to make big decisions, the plebs don’t. What’s your fucking problem?”

This is a woman, let us not forget, who from 2001 to 2007 presided over a mortgage division at a well-known high street bank that lent money to broke people like there was no tomorrow. When the credit crunch finally struck in August 2007 LeGrande’s bank had run up enough toxic debt to fund a small banana republic. A black hole of money that you, I and every other UK taxpayer are still picking up the tab for, seven years later.

But they don’t call her the Teflon Lady for nothing. Like some Auschwitz guard slipping silently away to South America, LeGrande quickly jumped ship on Thursday 9 August 2007, the day the credit crunch went off like a time bomb around the world. That black Thursday when Sir Richard Pickle unveiled LeGrande as the new CEO of the UK arm of the Cash Cowboys franchise. A black day indeed. We didn’t just get LeGrande and her Nazi management philosophy, we got her personal Gestapo of brutal oberleutnants from the Royal Bank of Snodland. These are the goons who now strut about UK Cash Cowboys slapping their rubber batons in their palms.

Cleopatra LeGrande’s strategy for business success is brutally simple. Take over the company, make half the staff redundant, and bully the remaining employees into twice the work for half the pay. It’s a strategy she’s employed at every company she’s ever worked at, destroying the culture and sending morale through a trap door and profits through the roof, over the bodies of her employees. Not for nothing is she known in the industry as Voldemort, on account of the cheery effect she has on employee wellbeing. At Cash Cowboys, most days it feels more like we’re working in a chain-gang than a marketing department. Maybe the fifteen-foot electrified barbed-wire fence, searchlights and machine gun posts have something to do with it.

Here’s the thing about Cleopatra LeGrande. For anyone who doesn’t know her. For anyone misled by the friendly air-brushed photographs our Public Relations team put out in the press today, of Cleopatra as the smiling face of business, standing alongside a beaming Rich Pickle. She should be fucking smiling, she’s just trousered £3.65 million. But here’s the thing. Cleopatra LeGrande likes to pretend she has a heart. But she doesn’t have a heart. Oh no. Cleopatra LeGrande is a machine. Let me tell you. A ruthless terminator in woman’s clothing. Like something out of Orwell’s 1984.

If the definition of a psychopath is a cold, calculating, dispassionate, manipulative, uncaring individual with sociopathic traits, LeGrande ticks all those boxes, and then some. She kicks those boxes’ asses, until they run away and hide. In public she likes to portray the Cowboys as a business with a conscience. Like we’re some kind of co-operative run by philanthropists whose only aims are saving the planet and putting something back into society. A company where profit is a dirty word. Hence her blatant attempts to curry favour with the establishment through our charitable arm, UK Cash Cowboys Giving, and our funding of the UK Cash Cowboys Marathon.

If you believed all that crap you’d think we were one big happy family. You’d maybe imagine, for one misguided moment, that all the staff here are treated like royalty and everyone loves coming into work. That we all buy into her self-serving bullshit about Cowboys being on a mission to change the world. Uh-ho.

Let me tell you something. Anyone who has worked here for longer than a second would tell you this. Cleopatra LeGrande would knock over a cripple if he got in her way. She would steal a disabled person’s wheelchair. Then let down the tyres. And sell it. That’s the kind of selfish, greedy, despicable human being she is. She’s a tyrant, plain and simple. A petty little corporate dictator. One of the coldest, most ruthless operators I’ve ever had the misfortune to work for.

Behind the façade here at Cash Cowboys she’s unleashed a Kristallnacht of bullying and intimidation that’s slowly snuffing out the last vestiges of morale and engagement among loyal staff who have worked here for years. Day by day, piece by piece we are witnessing our company being turned into the worst kind of corporate hell-hole, run by LeGrande’s personal mafia of corporate thugs. They bully and intimidate with impunity. They harass and humiliate on a daily basis, piling on the work, driving down pay, punishing the least ‘insubordination’. Speak a word out of turn, say a thing off-message, you’re out. History. These are people with families, kids, mortgages, who can’t afford to lose their jobs.

As Cleopatra is fond of getting up and saying at company all-staff get-togethers, smiling like a crocodile, “either you’re on the bus, or you can fuck off and work somewhere else, make up your mind”.

For LeGrande to preside over a company pretending to stand for good causes and the wellbeing of staff, feels like having Jimmy Savile in charge of a refuge for abused children. There’s only one cause LeGrande cares about, as today’s revelations about her fatcat salary have revealed. Her own bank balance. As for the rest of us, we’re just tiny pawns in her big power game. Paper napkins that get used up and thrown out with the trash. We’re faces to be ground under her jackboot as she fast tracks her career among the great and the good. Fuck you, LeGrande.

So what exactly the Chancellor thought he was doing by giving one of the prime authors of the biggest financial crisis since the 1930s a licence to operate a high street bank out of a seedy little two-bit financial services company like the Cowboys is anyone’s guess. My guess is that Cleopatra spent most of 2013 on her knees in front of Osborne to make it happen. And I don’t mean tying his shoelaces. No doubt she milked the David v Goliath angle for all it was worth. Plucky little challenger brand standing up to the big bad high street banks. If Osborne only knew the truth he’d run a mile. This is a Mickey Mouse operation from its head to its toes. A corporate concentration camp where staff are brow-beaten and bullied into churning out over-priced, dumbed-down Mickey Mouse financial products that any sensible customer would run a mile from. One day the truth will out. Remember the name, Cleopatra LeGrande, OBE. The new face of banking.

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Since when has grievous bodily harm been part of the beautiful game? 1

Barnes tackle on Matic

Anyone who was at the Chelsea v Burnley game yesterday afternoon, or watched the highlights on TV, may have come away thinking, like me, that there is something seriously wrong with the way football is being run in this country. Let me start by saying I am not personally a Chelsea supporter. But I am a fan of football, and what happened at Chelsea, and to Nemanja Matic in particular, disgusted me.

The two tackles by Burnley thug Ashley Barnes on Ivanovich and Matic are supposed to be the kind the authorities have pledged to root out of the game. They were cowardly, sly, to all appearances pre-meditated and could have seriously injured both players. Particularly Matic, who was lucky not to have had his leg snapped in two.

Chris Waddle described the tackle on Matic as ‘horrific’. While Jose Mourinho, when interviewed on Sky’s ‘Goals on Sunday’ this morning described it as “criminal”, and I can’t disagree with either description. “Matic is a lucky guy,” said Mourinho, “this was a career ending tackle… I can’t find words to describe what the guy did. The consequences for Matic could have been the end of his career”.

Barnes first ‘assault’ on Ivanovich (I hesitate to distinguish it with the word ‘tackle’) was little better than a flying kung-fu kick of the kind Eric Cantona received a lengthy ban for back in the day. At least Cantona had an excuse, as he was reacting to a thoroughly abusive fan in the crowd. But the way Barnes deliberately tried to hurt Ivanovich was criminal. Ivanovich was in mid-air, trying to head the ball, and couldn’t defend himself when Barnes jumped into him, ramming his studs down into the back of Ivanovich’s leg. It was a malicious lunge, clearly intended to injure the Chelsea player, and but for the grace of god could have done serious damage.

The worst thing about this kind of thuggery, as anyone who has ever played the game will know, is when it’s done in such a cowardly way. Barnes is clearly no hard man like a Norman Hunter or Nobby Stiles, not man enough to go into an honest fifty fifty with the likes of Ivanovich or Matic. His lunges yesterday were done from behind or the side, studs-up, trying to injure players while they weren’t looking. In short, the kind of player football would be better off without.

Even the way Barnes threw himself to the deck when pushed from behind by an incensed Matic was clearly calculated to get the Chelsea player sent off. Barnes wasn’t punched, kicked, or even grabbed round the throat (any one of which would have been a justifiable reaction from a player who had almost had his leg broken) yet he hit the deck like he’d been steam-rollered. And such are the farcical FA rules that Atkinson had no choice but to send Matic off for ‘raising his hand’ to an opponent. To compound this miscarriage of justice, Matic will now miss next week’s Capital One Cup Final, while the real villain of the piece (a journeyman thug who would grace a few of the pub teams I played against in my amateur days) has so far gotten off completely scot free. So laughable are the FA rules (which are frankly turning English football into a laughing stock), that if Martin Atkinson claims he saw both tackles but thought they didn’t merit punishment, then Barnes may well escape any punishment whatsoever, despite video replays clearly demonstrating to millions of viewers that he deserved not just one red card, but two.

The fact that Barnes remained on the pitch after his assault on Ivanovich clearly affected the result of the game, doubling the injustice to Chelsea. Paul Merson summed it up perfectly on Soccer Saturday, when he refused to fall for the ‘plucky Burnley deserved something from the game’ crap that was being trotted out by some.

“They had a go but they were absolutely dominated. And they get by with the sending off. I can’t give credit for that… I’m not giving them credit for a geezer who could have broken the lad’s leg and they get a result through that. That’s how they get a result, because 11 v 11 they wouldn’t have scored a goal in a month of Sundays.”

The fact is, Barnes deserved a straight red for his flying stamp on the back of Ivanovich’s leg, plain and simple. That would have reduced Burnley to 10 men and Chelsea would have been out of sight by half time. More importantly they’d have finished with 11 men, three points, and Matic wouldn’t have been robbed of his Wembley cup final appearance next week. Shame on Barnes, Atkinson, and the F.A.

This brings me to the equally farcical spectacle of an intelligent man like Mourinho having to resort to ever inventive linguistic charades in his after-match press conferences, to speak the truth without falling foul of the FA’s totalitarian dictat against any criticism of match officials. With almost childish petulance they punish any such ‘infractions’ under the blanket crime of ‘bringing the game into disrepute’. Stop to think about that for a moment. What brings the game into disrepute more? A manager being able to criticise an abysmal performance by a referee, or bunch of faceless football mandarins who sit in judgement behind a wall of anonymity, whose pronouncements often fly in the face of common sense and justice? Who are these dictators to hand out harsh fines to a manager for merely exercising his right to free speech in a so-called liberal democracy, while protecting their own sycophants from any criticism whatsoever? Are we living in North Korea? It would seem the FA have styled themselves on Sepp Blatter’s joke regime at FIFA, where a self-appointed clique wield totalitarian power, are beyond rebuke and accountable to no-one but themselves. They might do well to remember that the mistakes they and their officials make can have disastrous consequences for football clubs, and cost many a manager their job.

I’ve often wondered, if video evidence can be cited retrospectively to award or rescind player punishments, why couldn’t it also be used retrospectively to judge whether a manager’s comments were fair, before condemning them out of hand? If a manager lambasts a referee without justification, fine him. But if the evidence supports his case, why punish him for merely pointing out to the F.A. the errors of their officials? If football were a court of law, the F.A. would be laughed out of it.

On the subject of using technology, I still can’t for the life of me understand why the football authorities don’t put more of it at the referee’s disposal. Refs are only human. They get things wrong, just like you and I. They see things at normal speed, without the benefit of slow-mo replays. There are a hundred and one things they have to keep an eye on all over the pitch. It would be a miracle if they WERE able to see every tackle in real time, with a kind of superman-like freeze-frame infallibility. They never have and they never will. So why not help them out?

To my mind it’s simply daft that more than half a century after we put a man on the moon referees are being denied simple technology that would enable them to make the correct decision on practically every major incident in a game. I’m talking goals, penalties, sendings off, critical offsides, and so on. Bring in tech and overnight you’d rid the game of the majority of refereeing blunders which cause so much controversy and bad blood. They may even, dare I say it, lead to MORE respect for officials, not less, reversing the current downward spiral.

When asked about it on ‘Goals on Sunday’ today, Mourinho was unequivocal. Technology would actually help “protect the integrity and honesty of referees… if I was a referee I would welcome it.”

I know the issue of video technology splits fans and pundits down the middle, but I believe a majority of fans are now in favour of it. And but for the clown Blatter repeatedly blocking it over the years, it should have been implemented many seasons ago. However, it’s depressing to think that the even more Luddite Michel Platini, President of EUFA, seems determined to bury this particular head even deeper in the sand, ensuring football becomes a technological dinosaur among sports for many years to come. You only have to look at the way rugby, cricket, tennis and American football have all been enhanced by their early adoption of technology, to see how mistaken that view is.

To those who argue technology would slow the game down I would say this: look at the amount of time lost when players surround the officials when they get a decision wrong, often for several minutes at a time, many times during a game. With tech at their disposal referees could have the correct call relayed to them within seconds from the fourth official, who would have seen each incident from every beneficial angle. Players would know that, the managers would know it, so they’d have to respect the decision there and then. It’s been proven by the one small concession to tech that’s been (reluctantly) brought into the game, goal-line technology. It’s made a massive difference. Gone are the days when players chased the referee all over the pitch claiming the ball had or hadn’t crossed the line. They know the technology has got it right now, so they no longer question the decision. If technology were utilised more widely in football there’d be less dissent and more respect shown to officials across the board. Plus fairer decisions and game results. Isn’t that supposed to be the end goal all along? I hope you’re listening, Mr Blatter and Mr Platini.

I’d like finally to return to the incidents at Stamford Bridge yesterday afternoon, and say this. If Barnes doesn’t receive a retrospective ban of the harshest possible length, following his grievous assault on the two Chelsea players (which, had it occurred outside a football pitch, would have resulted in a prison sentence) it will be beyond a travesty. Beyond farce. It will be a sick joke. And that is what the F.A. will have turned themselves into, and our beautiful game with it.

Personally, I’d be happy never to see that nasty piece of work on an English football pitch again. I don’t mind hard tacklers per se. Football is a contact sport. And players get hurt. But there’s a world of difference between a reckless or miss-timed tackle from an honest player (like the Ryan Shawcross one on Aaron Ramsay) and a malicious one trying to deliberately hurt a player. Players like Charlie Adam drive me nuts for the same reason. So much talent, yet when I see him accidentally-on-purpose raking a player’s Achilles, treading on ankles or going over the top in studs-up tackles, for me it cancels out all his good points.

And lest anyone think I’m a closet Chelsea fan, Diego Costa definitely needs to cut that side out of his game too. I’m not referring to the ‘no-nonsense, I’ll give as good as I get’ attitude which has endeared him to fans up and down the country, but using a player as a stepping mat when they’re underneath you isn’t part of the game. However, there’s a clear distinction between Costa’s lightweight treading on a Liverpool player’s calf in a previous game (which had more naughtiness about it than a serious attempt to cause injury) and Barnes’ pre-meditated thuggery yesterday.

On that note, and returning finally to the theme of ‘plucky Burnley’, I confess that before yesterday I had a bit of a soft spot for them. I warmed to their indefatigably cheery manager Sean Dyche who seemed a breath of fresh air. After the events of Saturday, I’m not so sure. What I am sure of is this. For me, either Barnes was sent out with instructions to get about the Chelsea players, take someone out of the game or get someone sent off. Or, he did it of his own volition. Whichever is true, when their manager tries to defend that kind of thuggery, Burnley Football Club are tarnished, in my eyes. And if that’s what it takes for them to achieve Premiership survival this season, personally I’d rather they got relegated.

As for Mr Dyche’s post match comedy routine, it was frankly beneath contempt. “Barnes was involved in something earlier in what sense? Playing football? A charge in the back? Is there anything else? The grass was too short?” Sorry Sean, but you’ve gone from amusing nice guy to sarcastic dick.

I’ll leave the last word to Paul Merson, who summed up his feelings to Geoff Stelling on Sky’s ‘Soccer Saturday’: “For me Geoff it’s a bad tackle, and that’s not the way to play football, I just don’t like it.”

I couldn’t agree more Merse, absolutely spot on.

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