As the retail shops begin to stack the shelves with Christmas products, spare a thought for the professional footballers and their families. Even if they are lucky enough to land a home fixture on Boxing Day the strict diet and routine cannot make way for Christmas pudding. The money is irrelevant: it cannot buy time with family and it cannot buy that Christmas Day feeling. The wives suffer too. Save for about one month of the year, players are expected to work. All week. All month. All year round. It never stops. No glass of wine or beer after a stressful day. Often just a high-protein, low-carb snack to take the edge off a miserable day at the office. Of course the rewards can be great, but for many it is not.
Acting for football players separated from their partners can create unusual challenges for the courts. Busy fixture lists supplant the usual types of orders made. Weekend care for fathers is not on offer. Mid-week tea time? How about an 200-mile away trip in the Carabao Cup.
This is why players often give up in the family courts. They need robust and sympathetic representation to defeat the attitude of ‘well, they get paid loads of money’. Again, money is irrelevant. You cannot place a price on time with children. It cannot be bought. My only rule when I act for players is that they commit to the process. If not, I cannot do what I do best.
I came across this brilliant piece in The Standard and the quote from Tom Cairney says it all: "We had to travel to Ipswich on Christmas night and stay in a hotel last year," said the 26-year-old. "It wasn't that glamorous, and you'd rather be doing other things, but it's your job."
So this Christmas when you are watching the Christmas special of Only Fools and Horses, eating a mince pie, playing board games with the children and sinking a glass of port, spare a thought for the unlucky football player sitting in a hotel preparing for the Boxing Day match so that we can eat and drink a bit more - all in the spirit of entertainment.
"We had to travel to Ipswich on Christmas night and stay in a hotel last year," said the 26-year-old. "It wasn't that glamorous, and you'd rather be doing other things, but it's your job."