Taken from the Yorkshire Evening Post, March 9th 2012

“Former Leeds United striker Robbie Fowler looks set to reject Blackpool’s advances after they offered him a £90-a-week deal.

According to reports, the 36-year-old, right, has turned down an offer of a £5,000 appearance bonus and just £100 per week if he did not play.

But ex-Liverpool star Fowler, who has been without a club since leaving Thai side SCG Muangthong United in January, spoke out on his Twitter account.

“Actually it was £90, but would need to play full 90 (minutes) to get full appearance bonus…,” he tweeted.”

The Scratching Shed published an article earlier this year concerning some fans lamentable lack of charity towards our former trainee Michael Woods who had been released by Chelsea following his failure to cement a place in their midfield.

The above then raised some other rather different emotions upon reading.

Robbie Fowler, reputedly on £40,000 a week in the Ridsdale era, was a luxury we simply couldn’t afford. 14 goals in 30 games is a far from poor return, but our initial outlay of £11m raised many an eyebrow. A squad already containing Robbie Keane, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell & Alan Smith surely didn’t need another striker?

But so went the wisdom of O’Leary, and indeed Ridsdale. Lest we forget Seth Johnson was signed at the same time. We’ve of course continued the tradition of signing completely needless players on high salaries since then (I digress).

A key motivation of selling Fowler less than 18 months later to Man City for a £5m loss was simply that we could not afford to have him on our wage bill.

Further eyebrows of course were raised when the much knocked Krasner led board revealed during the 2004-05 season that he was amongst numerous others still being paid by Leeds United, as we struggled to field a first XI versus Derby County for our first game in `the wilderness’ –  remember Steve Guppy & Craig Hignett pulling on a white shirt for £50? It still haunts my nightmares.

The fact that Fowler stuck to his guns concerning his contract as he was legally entitled to do, sticks in the craw somewhat. When one hears that Alan Smith waived his contract annulment fee to aid Leeds United in their financial plight, you get the real measure of players like he and Matteo who clearly held some affection for the club. Leeds were spiralling towards one of the biggest falls from grace of any major football club in Europe at the time.

I recall visiting the club shop on the eve of our first season in the Championship, and it was carnage; quarter full cardboard boxes of last season’s key rings, empty clothes racks where replica kits used to be. Unbeknown to most of us, behind all that the glitterati of the Premier League dream continued to pick up their massive salaries. It’s interesting that whilst our football has been of a generally poor standard the financial and business understanding of a lot of Leeds United fans has probably scaled heights we might not have considered some years ago.

A much publicised chant at the City of Manchester Stadium – now the Etihad stadium, was “We all live in a Robbie Fowler Home” (to the tune of yellow submarine) of course borne out by Fowlers extensive property portfolio. Many Leeds and Cit-eh fans discussed the fact that Fowler didn’t `need’ football any more thanks to his lucrative wage packet(s) and those sensible business investments.

But Fowler seems of late to be prepared to turn up anywhere for a game of football, Thailand, The A-League, even Cardiff City and Blackpool, where the latter are only prepared to offer him a pay as you play deal, not unsurprisingly for a 36-year-old who’s been away from the English game for a number of years. He’s seen fit to turn that down, but this must be huge blow to the ego of a man used to picking up a six figure salary every month, and playing for his country?

So do Leeds fans feel sorry for Fowler? Do they think he’s finally had his comeuppance? Or do they even care. I think most Leeds fans probably fall into the latter category of indifference to a player who took much but gave little to the cause. A lost opportunity perhaps, but where fans might have more of care is the thoughts of chances that passed us by as we were still paying off Robbie Fowler – how far did it push us towards administration? Stop us competing for better players?

Personally I feel some sympathy for him, he – like many of us – bought the dream Ridsdale peddled, and his only crime was to pick up his salary. It might strike us (though we don’t know the truth) that he seemingly needs a few more quid to add to the pot if he’s prepared to consider a pay as you play deal at Blackpool?