Open season on interns?
Posted by John Beech on March 10, 2011
Yes, it’s the Gunfight at the Cobham Coral saga.
For those of you not up-to-date with the jargon of Higher Education, an intern is someone who, in Old Speak, was on an industrial placement from a sandwich course. Typically this would be the third year of a four year undergraduate degree programme. The thinking is that such a placement, or internship, gives a broader education and enhances the student’s employment prospects once he or she has graduated.
Reports that no charges are likely to be brought, and that the police investigation was so thorough that, it is reported, they didn’t even include speaking to either Ashley Cole or the shot intern, Tom Cowan, (1) simply beggar belief.
Chelsea are really sorting this one out though – Cole might be fined up to two weeks’ pay (2) and Ancelotti’s reaction is reported as “I am angry, obviously, but to read that [the training ground at] Cobham is out of control is totally wrong. I’ve been a manager for 20 years and one of the most important things is discipline. Players have to observe the rules. Ashley made a mistake. When he said sorry he was really disappointed [with himself]. But what do we have to do now? Kill him?” (3) Ancelotti ‘angry’? Cole ‘disappointed with himself’? For God’s sake get real guys – someone was shot in the workplace!
Imagine for one moment that the situation had been reversed – that Cowan had brought the air rifle to work and accidentally shot Cole. Would everyone have been quite so laid back about it? I would suggest they wouldn’t.
The incident, or more specifically its aftermath, bring shame on the club. The silence so far (at least so far as I’ve been able to trace) of the Premier League and the Football Association speak volumes about the power of the club and the indifference of the governing bodies to such an incident. What would it take to get them to condemn Chelsea – the death of an intern?
I find it staggering that the club hasn’t even bothered to make public more detail of what precisely happened, or what their internal investigation has shown. After all, this incident took place two and a half weeks ago. In the Ancelotti world of chronic understatement, I’m ‘disappointed with Chelsea’.
The police have said that they will not be taking any action (A). There are two impediments – the incident took place on private property (in which case, the law is an ass; this is, in my opinion, utterly absurd – the incident happened in a place of employment, and employees should be legally protected), and Tom Cowan has declined to file a criminal complaint. Make of the latter what you will.
The same report suggests that the club can fine Cole up to £250,000 (two weeks salary). Have they? The silence from the club remains deafening.
Latest ‘jolly jape’ involves a dart and a youth player (see here). What sort of injury is it going to take before clubs take this kind of behaviour seriously?