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All Things Footie | Saturday, January 11 | Jordan

Moving to a lower rung

I believe that if Lee Bowyer had got his head down, kept his mouth shut and his personality problems in check; he could have recovered from what is politely referred to as his ‘high profile court case’. As it happens, he's gone from bad to worse; his sizable European ban for stamping on a players head is testimony to that.

I do sympathise with Hammers fans, I've always had a soft spot for the club and I will not criticise any of them for defending Bowyer, it's only natural in the heat of the moment. I'd like to think however that if they look back on this in ten years time they'll realise that their club did the wrong thing.

On one hand you don't want your team to get relegated, and the addition of a committed, hard working and talented midfielder to your team — who also just happens to be a fan — definitely helps. On the other hand, a week ago you'd have called him a racist thug who had no part to play in modern football. You weren't wrong.

There are many worse individuals in this country; more violent, more racist and more unpleasant. There are few of them held up to be role models and few of them with their name on the backs of eight-year-old kid's shirts. How can a club promote acceptance and anti-racism if — though not openly condoning his behaviour — they are willing to pay his wages and the best part of £4 million for his services? I'd like to bet the club hasn't spent that kind of money on ‘community relations’.

I still think West Ham will go down. If they had dropped with the team they had a week ago, it would be with dignity and with almost all neutrals respecting the attitude of the club, the players and the manager. Personally I don't know if I want them to stay up, there are certain issues that I feel are more important than football. By signing Lee Bowyer, Glenn Roeder has effectively said to all West Ham fans that the club tolerates violence and racism.

I love Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Paolo Di Canio and Jermaine Defoe. Great footballers and by all accounts I have read, great guys. I had a lot of respect for Glenn Roeder, and unless the decision to sign Bowyer came from above, a lot of that respect has now been beaten up in a dodgy nightclub and kicked in the face until totally unrecognisable.

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