Often Partisan

Ethics and Football: The Marlon King debate

Morality and Football – do they mix? This is a question that has reared it’s ugly head again after Blues were linked with Coventry City hitman Marlon King.

This one is a difficult article to write for me, as I know I’m biased and pretty firmly in the “do not want” camp. I thought it was worth looking at though, to see it’s possible to be moralistic when looking at potential players at Birmingham City. I know that there are Blues fans who think that King could be a potentially good signing for Blues, and I want to see if I can see it from their viewpoint.

Marlon King has fourteen convictions against his name for a variety of offences; most recently sexual assault and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He has served two prison sentences, and is on the sex offenders register. King has not shown remorse for the most recent offence as he has continued to protest his innocence, stating that it was a case of “mistaken identity”. However his appeal was thrown out by the Court of Appeal, who stated the case against King was “strong”.

I have to admit that I would find it hard to encourage my daughter to cheer on a player who has been convicted for beating up a woman who refused to have sex with him. I’ll freely admit I’m a little self-righteous, and it doesn’t sit well with me that this a guy who has been convicted of a heinous offence such as this. I’m not sure how far my reticence to support him would go; at first I thought I’d probably return my season ticket if we signed him but now I’ve had a bit of time to think about it I’ve come to the conclusion that I would have to consider it further before doing anything like that.

The thing is though, can we afford to have these ethics? Football is a results business, and King proved last season he can score goals at this level; indeed when he played against us in the FA Cup he frightened our defence. It does seem that Blues don’t have much cash, and as such a proven goalscorer for free might be a good deal – even if he is 31 years old. We’re desperately short of firepower, so it’s possible if we signed him he wouldn’t be first choice anyway as we will more than likely sign three strikers at a minimum.

It’s not like we haven’t had players in our past who have “baggage”. Again, I have to hold my hands up and say I was one of those at the forefront of the protests against Lee Bowyer signing. For all his past transgressions, Bowyer didn’t get into trouble off the pitch whilst he played for us. If anything, you’d see mention in the media of how quiet he was, and how much of a family man he’d become. Jermaine Pennant had just come out of prison for a driving offence when he signed for us, and started his career for us whilst playing with a tag on his ankle. Again, I can’t recall him ever getting into bother whilst in a Blues shirt, and like Bowyer he gave his all for us.

Everyone is deserving of second chances. King has done his time, and thus he should be afforded the chance to make a living as best as he can without the stigma of his past affecting him. There are reports that King converted to Islam whilst in prison, and has renounced his former ways; in the time since he’s signed for Coventry he’s not done anything that I can find in the public domain.

It would be nice if Blues could claim to be squeaky clean, that all of their players and fans were angels and pillars of society. However, reality isn’t like that. As I read on smallheathalliance.com, how many of us have friends that have done things that we don’t like; how many of us can honestly say that we don’t mix with anyone who has done something that isn’t ethically questionable? As much as I don’t like the idea of Marlon King signing for Blues, I may just have to accept it.

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9 Responses to “Ethics and Football: The Marlon King debate”

  • Barking says:

    It’s only a big problem if you subscribe to the footballer-as-role-model world view. As with any potential employee the club needs to satisfy itself on a number of issues – is he good at his job, is he likely to fit in and not be a disruptive influence, is his behaviour and lifestyle likely to impact on his performance? Providing he can score goals, doesn’t cause trouble inside the club and isn’t likely to become unavailable through getting himself banged up then that’s fine. He doesn’t have to be a nice man.

  • Mike Hodder says:

    Posted this on the main bcfc forum, but its relevant here.

    Lee Bowyer was aquitted of all charges against him. Now, at the time he may not have been the nicest bloke in the world, but he was found innocent in a court of law.

    Ryan Giggs may be a lying cheating douchebag, but it is not actually a crime to cheat on your wife.

    Jermaine Pennant was a foolish little berk who got lucky and didn’t kill anyone whilst drink driving. His jail sentance was a wake-up call, and, for the most part, he’s stayed on the right side of the law since.

    Lee Hughes made a terrible, stupid mistake that had tragic consequences, and he’s rightly paid the price for that. Personally I’d have been happy for him never to play football ever again, but I will admit that since his release he’s knuckled down, shown remorse and earned his second chance.

    Marlon King, on the other hand, has a litany of previous charges against him, ranging from theft from a person and from a car, criminal damage, and attempting to obtain property by deception; fraudulent use of vehicle licence document, driving without insurance, speeding, drink driving; a wounding incident while playing amateur football, and two cases involving assault of young women rejecting his advances in the Soho area of London. (taken from wikipedia)

    And then, whilst out celebrating his wife’s pregnancy, he grabed a woman’s backside, felt up her privates, and when she told him to stop he smashed her so hard in the face that he broke her nose and split open her lip.

    He was jailed for 18 months for this and apon release did he show remorse? Did he apologise? Did he keep his head down and go about his work quietly.

    No, he launched a spurious appeal that was turned down by the three judges reviewing it. He was offered anger management classes, but turned these down.

    The man is a misogynist of the worst order, who thinks his wealth and his status entitles him to behave in anyway he chooses without consequence. This is not about second chances, as his had third, fourth, fifth and many more chances, and he’s not changed one iota.

    As a consequence of his actions, his name must remain on the sexual offenders register for seven years.

    What does this all mean to me if he signs for Blues. Will I start a petition? Will I hand in my season ticket? Will I support another club?

    No, of course I won’t, because I support my club, and a little scroat like King isn’t going to change that.

    But I will express my disapointment that the club weren’t able to take a moral stance like Wigan were able to.
    I will cheer if he scores, but I’m not going to sing his name or show him any adulation whatsoever.
    And I will state that I would like the club to offload him at the earliest opportunity, and help consign him to the rubbish heap where he belongs.

    So he’s not like Pennant, Bowyer or Hughes. At all. The man is a feeble excuse for a man who, in my opinion, should’ve been forced out of the game long ago, and I extreamly disapointed that my club should be considering him in any faceat whatsoever.

  • almajir says:

    Just to point out Lee Bowyer does have a criminal conviction for affray

  • prewarblue says:

    Agree completely with Mike Hodder,s comments, could I add another name to the list of players with “baggage” [ and on a personal basis] “Ricky Otto”, did his time for armed robbery,GBH and thought he was Gods gift to football and didnt like being refused by women [my daughters],

  • Dave Shaw says:

    I have been a Blues fan, fourth generation now, all my life… So I’m used to disappointment in bucketfulls!

    I am worried that the present situation seems to be going from bad to worse.. the rumours about Big Eck moving on, the hemorrhage of players, the fear and mystery surrounding the financial position of the club, the ‘strange’ comments eminating from the owner and board, and now the the link with Marlon King….No, he should NEVER wear a Blues shirt! I don’t like this! In the immortal words of Private Jones DON’T PANIC DON’T PANIC…. But I AM panicking!!

    It looks like Blues are in meltdown at the moment and I really think we are going to struggle big time in the Championship…. Prove me wrong Blues! Please!!!

  • Paul says:

    Everyone deserves a 2nd chance and he served his time. He hasn’t put a foot wrong since his release so I don’t see the problem. It’s annoying that my morales are being questioned because I want him here. What about McLeishs morales? The owners? At the end of the day ppl make mistakes. Lord knows I have. But you learn from them. I hope King has too. KRO!!!!

  • Letsby Avenue says:


    But no thanks Marlon.

    I also took the higher moral ground against signing Bowyer, and I was very pleased to be proven wrong. I was expecting red-mists and snarls, what I saw was a pro, earning his wages. One more in McLeish’s dressing room that brought credit and not disharmony to the club.

    It is now rumoured that Marlon King has been offered £15k a week by us – that might just be the first shot in the usual campaigns we see when favoured players choose to leave. We see it from Savage to Rooney. If there is any substance in that wage level – in the Championship – then I can think of a few younger and hungrier players than King who would be worth that wage.


    I am back on the high-ground again. But I know it will do no good.

    If it goes through then he will owe Blues, the manager and the dressing room.
    It starts with humility.

  • Lee says:

    A good read with some good points. I’m not comfortable with the idea of him playing for us BUT I’m worried with all the rumours about money etc that we have to go with what works and like him or not he will score goals and he is free.

    He hasnt committed an offence that I know of since prison and I would hope that it’s in his contract. That if he commits a crime he will be released.

    So to wrap it up I he comes or stays away I will be “ok” with the idea


  • reginald hardy says:

    morality was invented for people who get a a good feeling from thinking they are better in some way than someone else- holier than thou comes to mind and “shadenfreude”. we need goals and i do not care who puts them in. anyone who commits a criminal offence in england is on record for life there are no second or even third chances for anyone so convicted-innocent or not. i am a blues supporter for better or worse and we have had both this season. lets just come back up first time preferably as division winners and lets see what the moralists have to say then!.

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