September 24th, 2010
The Marlon King Question: Prizes Or Principles?
Marlon King arrives at court to face sexual assault charges in 2009. Images: Getty Images/Zimbio
So as Marlon King prepares to make his debut for Coventry City, the controversy surrounding his signing continues unabated. For those not in the know, King was convicted of punching a woman in the face in a night club in 2008 after she rejected his sexual advances. He was in the club to celebrate his wife’s third pregnancy and served nine months in jail.
One long time Coventry City season ticket holder, Ann Lucas, has stated she will no longer be attending home matches at the Ricoh Arena as a protest to the signing of the former Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough striker. She states that she feels unable to support a team ‘which gives employment as a role model to somebody who has been convicted three times for offences against women’.
The situation throws up an interesting dichotomy at a time when the behaviour of footballers in public is under unprecedented scrutiny.
On one hand, there is the argument that Marlon King was convicted by a jury, he served the sentence imposed on him by the judge and should be free to earn a living like any other person. He did the time for the crime, so leave off, basically.
Coventry City are a Championship club on a tight budget and the opportunity to acquire a player with King’s track record and worth is one that they cannot afford to turn down.
But would you be happy if your club signed him, or any player with a conviction of this nature? It should be noted that the club he was playing for at the time of his conviction, Wigan Athletic, sacked him and took a hit on the £5 million they paid for him.
Principles or success on the pitch, Kickettes? While elite European clubs can afford to avoid players with damaged reputations, there are plenty of you out there who support clubs that struggle financially. A player like King could score vital goals that keep your side in your league, maybe even give you promotion or a lucrative cup run. In these times, it could be the difference between survival and insolvency.
Or like Ann Lucas, would you rather take the risk over having a man with his convictions not representing your club? And if this is the case, how far are you prepared to take it? A drink driving offence? Speeding? Do you only want players representing your club who are clean living? Not exactly realistic, is it? Or is the sexual nature of King’s crimes indicative of an attitude toward women that just cannot be tolerated in a sport?
Tell us what you think.