Shields is free, Crewe taps and the “moral” posturing

No one likes to see a miscarriage of justice regardless of who it involves. However, the fact that Michael Shields, wrongly accused of assaulting a Bulgarian barman after Istanbul 2005, was a red inevitability made it more of an issue for Liverpool fans as the various protests at games (Sunderland and West Ham spring to mind) since his conviction proved. Rafa and Steven Gerrard also spoke kind words about the issue this week.

Thankfully Michael is now a free man but what does the gap between the date of his arrest and that of his freedom say about the speed of the wheels of justice? In July 2009 Jack Straw, despite the existence of evidence supporting Michael’s innocence, felt unable to pardon him. This was despite that fact that this evidence had been in the public domain for some time. Straw was eventually convinced and this week Michael was released via a “royal pardon”.

The relief and joy felt by the Shields’ at Michael’s release must also be tempered by annoyance and frustration at the time and effort it has taken to resolve his case. One can’t replace the four years Michael has “lost” through this miscarriage. Thankfully he has eventually seen justice done and hopefully can achieve some form of closure unlike those relatives and victims of the Hillsborough tragedy who have been waiting twenty years for the various governments and legal authorities to get their respective acts together. Good luck to Michael and I hope he manages to settle and begin living a normal life once more.

The other news in what, due to internationals, is a normally quiet time is our alleged tapping up of a Crewe player, Max Clayton. The “whistleblower” was former manager Dario Gradi.

I don’t know if anyone has noticed but all of a sudden sport has suddenly become very moral not that it wasn’t before but now it seems intent of going on and on about it. Rugby has taken action and slammed Harlequins over “bloodgate”. Diving is now suddenly an issue in the light of Eduardo’s fall at the Emirates. “England don’t dive” said John Terry as Wayne Rooney, in the next game, does a passable of a dying swan. Now it’s tapping up. Chelsea have been bought to book over Gael Kakuta. They’ll be issuing Ten Commandments on tablets of stone, sponsored by Adidas, next!

Although Harlequins, Chelsea and Eduardo are, or have been, in the dock one wonders if these are just the “fall guys” (apologies to Eduardo) examples to be made, and to serve as warning to those who have indulged in such stunts in the past and might be thinking of repeating them in the future.

Even if the Crewe story were true, the club have yet to complain, I can’t believe we, along with Chelsea, are the only club where the tapping up suspicion lies. Indeed The Mancs have also been accused. No doubt the truth will out eventually but one can’t help wondering if part of the allegations are just an attempt to add seasoning to the Chelsea story by, rightly or wrongly, implicating other high profile clubs? No doubt, if we’ve the mind, the lawyers might decide?

Don’t get me wrong, we should stop big clubs from exploiting the small ones. However, let’s go forward and prevent it from happening in the future rather than looking back, getting hypocritically moral about it and making examples of individual clubs after the horse has bolted especially when I suspect it was part of a steady stampede?

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