Ben Burgess column: Such a sad week for all connected with Blackpool FC
Losing the legend Jimmy Armfield was such an unbelievably sad way to start the week.
The hundreds of tributes that have flooded social media and the press from the likes of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Jimmy’s ex-clubs Blackpool, Leeds United, and Bolton Wanderers only scrape the surface of the huge respect and admiration that people had towards this great man.
Jimmy had a tremendous career as an overlapping right-back, and the word ‘legend’ doesn’t go far enough to describe a man who made a club record 627 appearances for the Seasiders back in the glory days.
He represented his country 43 times, including 15 as captain, and was even in the England squad when they reigned victorious in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany.
Jimmy was just an extraordinary man.
A man who has his own statue outside the club he represented so well, a man who is revered around the country – if not the world – for his career in football.
Yet, he was also a man who found time to talk to everyone.
He was a regular visitor to our Squires Gate training ground during my time at Blackpool and he was such an interesting and engaging gentleman, that he would always have a group of us around him hanging off his every word
I know that Ian Holloway, especially, loved his tete-a-tetes with Jimmy and really valued his advice and opinion.
For me, personally, I had something in common with the great man, which made our interactions even better.
Sadly, my career on the pitch could never come close to emulating Jimmy’s all conquering spell, but we did find common ground on our passion for journalism.
Jimmy worked as a BBC Radio commentator for more than 35 years and it’s testament to his wealth of knowledge and his personable style that he was retained on the airwaves for so long.
It’s almost embarrassing when you hear some commentators now – for example Michael Owen and Steve McManaman – who have neither the insight or style that Jimmy carried into his journalistic work.
He knew I was studying for a journalism degree and always took the time to ask how it was going and also to give me advice on certain aspects of the broadcasting world.
Jimmy was all that was good about Blackpool Football Club and I just hope we can get a football club back that is even half worthy of his name.
One can only speculate as to how much Jimmy would be worth and how much he would earn in today’s transfer market.
Rest assured, he wouldn’t have minded being a few pounds behind Alexis Sanchez with his new Manchester United deal.
A reputed weekly wage of £500,000 is just way beyond comprehension.
It’s actually hard to fathom or even imagine what it would be like to earn that money.
I’ve spoken to many people who are disgusted with the amounts being bandied around football, but we must remember that it’s not the football clubs’ fault per se.
All the billions of pounds sloshing around is the result of TV money and clubs feel they have enough of this guaranteed cash to make these purchases.
The one concern would be if the likes of Sky or BT went bust like ITV Digital did around 15 years ago.
Unbelievably, though, it looks like even more money could come into the game with the likes of Facebook, Amazon and YouTube possibly entering into a bidding war for Premier League TV rights soon.
The one rule I would introduce would be that a good percentage of that windfall be passed down to lower league clubs and grassroots football in particular.
There’s no reason why everybody can’t get a slice of the cash pie.