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Football: We really feel your pain, Frank. The economy's in meltdown and Chelsea's offer of EUR40m for four years' work is INSULTING; FOOTBALL IN CRISIS: MICHAEL CALVIN'S OPEN LETTER TO CHELSEA'S CONTRACT REBEL.

Dear Frank

WE FEEL your pain. How dare they of fer EUR29million for four years' work in a job you profess to love?

It's an insult. A slight on your professionalism, a blight on the badge you kiss so theatrically, so often.

So what if a nurse would have to work for 324 years to earn your annual salary?

Who really cares that it would take a junior fireman 339 years to make what you do in a year?

We certainly won't waste our sympathy on the Prime Minister, who is paid 39 times less than you.

Far better, surely, to listen to FIFA president Sepp Blah-Blah and his chums in la-la land. They seethe with righteous indignation on your behalf.

And yet, Frank, something bothers us.

The quiet voice of our conscience wonders whether your search for a five-year deal "to secure my future" might be entirely wise. Has Cashley Cole put you up to this? After all, he needs someone to take over from him as public enemy number one.

Let's be clear. You're not making a football decision here. This is about how you will be perceived for the rest of your life.

By taking Inter Milan's money - and camouflaging your self-interest by shifting the blame on to the Chelsea board - you are in danger of being the boy who tipped the beautiful game over the edge.

Prepare to be booed, if and when you play for England. Prepare to go through the Jade Goody experience.

You'll be derided as fat, fickle, and fairly loathsome.

Is that fair? Of course not. But that is the warped world in which you will have to live.

In case you haven't noticed, Frank, our economy is in meltdown. The people who pay to watch you are dealing with soaring supermarket bills, unsustainable mortgages, cars which drink money.

They resent someone who appears uncaring, self-obsessed.

You come from a family with strong values. Your Dad was the epitome of one-club loyalty. Your late Mum was renowned for her kindness and empathy. You owe it across as a cliche-spouting, T-shirt-wearing hypocrite.

We understand that football - even though it encourages agents who possess the instincts of sewer rats - doesn't have the monopoly on greed.

A friend works with a City hedge fund manager who walked out last week, days after topping up his EUR15m salary with a EUR10m bonus.

The word on the trading floor is that his new employers lured him with a golden hello of another EUR10m.

But loyalty is not for losers. A move to Inter Milan is not without its pitfalls, as Dennis Bergkamp testifies elsewhere in these pages.

If I'm honest, I think the die is cast. You'll soon be reunited with Jose Mourinho. You'll be making a big mistake.

Don't break the bank, Frank. Count your blessings, not your cash. Give thanks, and enjoy the privilege of possessing an enviable talent.

Yours sincerely,

Mike

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE REAL WORLD

(Average annual salaries)

EUR175,000: The prime minister

EUR100,000: GP

EUR75,000: Hospital consultant

EUR60,000: Uni professor

EUR57,000: Backbench MP

EUR35,000: Plumber

EUR32,000: Train driver

EUR28,500: Journalist

EUR26,000: Nurse

EUR12,000: Hospital porter

According to the Greater London Assembly, the amount a person living in London must earn per hour to avoid living in poverty is EUR7.20 - equivalent to EUR13,100. A receptionist working at the luxury Millennium & Copthorne hotels at Chelsea FC earns under this amount, so is technically in poverty.

EUR175k

Gordon Brown

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

DO YOU AGREE WITH MICHAEL CALVIN?

Have your say by visiting our website at www.sundaymirror.co.uk/sport or you can also write to The Sports Desk, Sunday Mirror, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP or e-mail sport@sundaymirror.co.uk

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HIT AND KISS: Frank Lampard
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2008
Words:642
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