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Feb 12, 2008

Spend, spend, spend. And spend again

Are you a football star pulling in £20k a week or more? Don't know what to spend it on? Have a taste for the expensive things in life and want to know where to go, what to wear and who to hang out with? And do you also have a liking for 'tasteful' soft porn? Well, and if you don't mind spending £15 an issue, then Icon Magazine could be just the publication for you and your Gucci-clad, mock-Tudor dwelling team-mates. Former Premier Leaguers Jamie Redknapp and Tim Sherwood are the power behind the throne of this periodical paean to sickening self-satisfaction. British viewers know Redknapp and Sherwood as two of the most anodyne pundits in sports coverage. As immaculately turned-out as they may usually be, the former Spurs midfield duo are masters of talking a great deal while saying nothing of value. It seems their move into the world of magazine mirrors this. Pages of expensive, and strangely odorous, paper are adorned with arty pics of footballers - in the case of the latest issue the cover star is Carlos Tevez - ads for high-end automobiles, watches and the odd interview that the hallowed 'elite' might be interested in. Fancy something to actually read? Look elsewhere. So, 'Hell's Kitchen' firebrand and restaurateur Marco Pierre-White is asked for his advice to Icon readers because 'after all, he's been where many of them are now. Feted for his brilliant skills that pulled him up from humble beginnings. He's had women throwing themselves at him and he is rich beyond his wildest childhood imaginings.' For a common prole it is rather hard not to get angry when being exposed to this level of smuggery. Elsewhere, Alicia Keys pays tribute to Camden Town, Danni 'Mutton' Minogue dresses as a geisha girl, a Pussycat Doll shows off her delectable wares on a beach and one of Canada's top models undresses across no less than 12 pages. It seems that as well as serving as a guide to flash restaurants, cars and the like, an 'Icon' can make use of the mag to pass time during lonely away trips when his room-mate is not looking. Though, considering 'roasting' is rife among the footballing aristocracy, perhaps room-mates can happily look at the pictures together. And the shots of the female form are about the best things available to those of more modest income and aspiration. Although there are far cheaper publications to satisfy those kind of urges. What of the words themselves? Redknapp, to most Sky viewers' horror, is the interviewer, though Fleet St veteran Lee Clayton is credited with 'words'. Sadly, Clayton cannot save the day from Redknapp's sunny, enthusiastic and ultimately plain dull personality. The Tevez interview reads like Redknapp in conversation. 'The cool Nike ad (aren't they always?) is presented by a smouldering Eric Cantona (isn't he always)...?' coos the man with the overly tight trousers and the over-the-top boyish zest for Wigan v Middlesbrough on a Saturday lunchtime. Tevez talks about his golf swing being out of touch as a result of Manchester United's fixture programme and his enjoyment of his partnership with Wayne Rooney, while being pictured in a series of outfits that make him look like a menacing henchman from the film 'Scarface'. 'Carlitos' obviously does not like to smile in front of a camera. Perhaps this comes as a result of being shoved around by the magazine's 'Fashion Director'; none other than Louise 'Eternal' Redknapp. The back pages are where the real raison d'etre of Icon lie. A property expert celebrates the fact that high end houses have not lost value amid the housing market confidence crisis that has mere mortals biting their fingernails. A holiday company peddle hugely expensive trips to isolated resorts where the hoi polloi won't be there to hassle an 'Icon'. Meanwhile, a portrait artist is given four pages to show off his skills so that you too can have a wall-sized mural of yourself to complement the 107-inch plasma screen that is also advertised a few pages on. Need to make a call to a lady you fancy becoming your WAG? Well, there's a featured mobile phone which costs a mere £3,600. It's made of titanium and has a leather cushion on the back and everything... And, after you've finished with her, perhaps you and the lads can enjoy an evening on your new football table, custom-designed for a mere £15,000. In fact, there's many ways you can make that £20,000 a week plus disappear very quickly indeed. But maybe we should credit the footballing community with a bit more sense than they've often been given credit for. Icon is rumoured to be already in financial difficulties, with Sherwood, the majority shareholder, looking for a third-party investor amid 'flagging subscriptions, poor advertising revenue and a lack of editorial direction.' Perhaps not as many footballers are interested in the expensive trimmings of the high life as we thought. Or could it be that the 60% or so of Premier League players who do not consider English as their first language see little point in reading or even looking at its pretty pictures? Should the magazine fold, then it might well serve as a healthy reminder to players and their fellow aspirers to the high life of the old adage that a fool and his money are easily parted.
• Any thoughts on this article? Feel free to e-mail John Brewin