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London Comment On Wayne Rooney

Britain's most famous soccer player has been taking a well earned break this week in Dubai. His name is Wayne Rooney, and he has been celebrating in style -- lounging in the pool and sipping champagne while his pals back at Manchester United have continued their fight for our national soccer title. Mind you -- be fair -- it's been a tough few weeks for Wayne. There's been the sex scandal involving prostitutes, which seems to have become part of a soccer player's contract these days. It was a real strain to explain that to his wife. He is injured -- and he has expended a lot of energy negotiating a new 5 -year deal which at one stage saw him threaten to walk out on the team because of what he said was their lack of ambition. Well that new contract is signed now, and the best estimate of his new salary is one and half million dollars every month. That's right -- one and a half million a month. You certainly can't accuse HIM of lack of ambition. And this in a country in the grip of an economic crisis, where everyone is facing deep cuts in their income -- where the fans each week will find it harder to pay the price of a ticket. I hope those fans who cheer Rooney at the next game he does play understand that so much of their money is going straight into his pocket. One estimate I read today is that every dollar handed over by the first six thousand fans on every match day will in effect go straight to Wayne Rooney. Knowing our crazy soccer fans, they won't care -- all they want is to win -- and if that means handing over an obscene bundle of dollars to young Wayne, who celebrated his 25th birthday this week, they won't care. But perhaps they should care, because our national game now operates in the economics of the madhouse. The Glazer family, the American owners of Manchester United, borrowed big to buy the club, but it is the club which has to meet the interest on those loans. If they are going to stay at the top they will need to buy new players. At a guess, they will need to spend one hundred and fifty million dollars. All the clubs at the top of our game are involved in the same madness, although not all have the same scale of debts as Manchester United. And if there is one lesson we should draw from the banking crisis, it is this. In the end, you can't carry on like that. This is Peter Allen for CBS News in London.
PETER ALLEN