Stuart Smith on John Terry

Among the many footballing clichés pithily describing the dilemma of putative England captain John Terry my favourite is “own goal”.

Terry was badly advised in applying for an all-gagging superinjunction on the grounds that the revelation of an adulterous affair with lingerie model Vanessa Perroncel might harm his “financial affairs”.

Presumably it was his estimated £4m-a-year sponsorship money he was concerned about rather than the £200,000 a week he earns as Chelsea captain. If so, he had – and I suggest has – little to fear on that account. Samsung, Nationwide, Umbro and Terry are all in this enterprise together.

I have no idea whether it is the stern disciplinarian or the shrewd pragmatist in England manager Fabio Capello that will win out as he reflects on Terry as a fit and proper symbol to lead England. And in the event it doesn’t much matter. Even if Terry is “demoted”, he will still be on the front bench – which is status enough for his sponsors to keep faith.

Ah, but what about the example of Tiger Woods, you say? Once it became apparent the golfing legend was guilty as charged of multiple adultery, Accenture and Gillette jumped ship. Even Nike, which continued to back its man, has begun to withdraw support.

The important difference between these two cases is contained in the word “multiple”. So far as we know, Terry has only had one extramarital affair. Woods, on the other hand, quickly became overwhelmed with an avalanche of revelations which effectively forced his withdrawal from public life. With no further glory on the links in prospect, sponsors became disillusioned.

I doubt they will feel the same about Terry’s singular excursion from the straight and narrow. Unless, of course, there’s something he hasn’t told us yet…

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