After an Tuesday evening function attended by nearly all of the Manchester United squad resulted in a claim of sexual assault, The Times’ Tony Cascarino wearily muses, “Here we go again. Christmas parties, footballers, drink, an allegation of rape.”
Once again, though, the festive season is marred by claims of footballers behaving badly, of rich kids out on the town and out of control, of horseplay gone wrong. Even in an apparently secure environment, danger can lurk around every corner.
Frankly, it is time for the club Christmas party to end. The all-too-rare night on the tiles may be good for team bonding, a time for the players to break out of the football œprison in which they live 24/7. But is it worth it any more? Certainly, not when the potential fallout is so severe.
Imagine Sir Alex Ferguson this morning. He won™t like the headlines one little bit. He will have given his blessing, albeit a guarded one, to the party and given his players a chance to relax in each other™s company, to get away from the humdrum routine of the training ground, away from the pressure-cooker of matches, away from prying eyes. And now this.
OK, some players can go a bit mad at the Christmas œdo. Any group of young men will want to enjoy themselves, especially if “ like most footballers “ their social lives consist mainly of a quiet dinner with the wife or girlfriend. These days there are so few places for them to go without attracting unwanted attention.
In the past, these parties were often not a problem. When I was at Celtic, we had a fancy-dress party. I went as Popeye, Chris Morris [the full back] was Tina Turner. He looked fantastic in his high heels and stockings. Yet nothing untoward happened when we were out and about Glasgow, even when we met some Rangers fans.
Cascarino may or may not be interested to know the ever-reliable Sun reported late tonight that Norther Ireland international defender Jonny Evans, 19, was arrested in connection with the above incident.