The former WAG tells Now why she thinks its the most overrated lifestyle of all
Women are finally questioning how good the WAGs really have it.
Yes, there are fancy cars, designer clothes and fantastic jewellery but is cheating just expected – even accepted - in the WAG world?
Former footballer’s wife Michelle Gayle, 39, thinks so. ‘With these women it’s very much about the lifestyle. They know that if they give that up, there are hundreds of girls just waiting to take their place and live their life,’ she says.
‘What stops a lot of WAGs from leaving when their partners cheat is that they think they’ve already gone through so much, so why should they let another girl step into their shoes?’
She says footballers are treated like gods and get away with murder because as long as they’re good on the pitch, they’re worth a fortune and everyone will run around to cover it up.
‘Managers encourage players to marry young and have kids quickly as a way of controlling them,’ says Michelle, who was married to Sheffield Wednesday and Crystal Palace star Mark Bright for 10 years.
‘Once they start a family, they know they’re likely to go home to the wife instead of out drinking and causing trouble, which could jeopardise their performance on the pitch. It also means once the children start school the footballer is more likely to stay in one area and therefore the same club.’
LIVING IN FEAR
While cheating seems the norm in the football world, there’s an unwritten rule that WAGs never admit their fears to each other.
‘I’ve been on girls’ nights out with WAGs when the boys have been out together too,’ says Michelle.
‘We’d visit a few clubs, then some of the girls would get anxious and we’d “accidentally” end up where the boys were. No one said that’s what we were doing, but we all knew.’
But once news of an affair breaks though, the WAGs rally round.
‘When we find out, we’ll support the girl like any friend – you know you’d hate to be in that position. But at the same time, you can’t blank the guy as it’s business and he’s friends with your partner – you have to keep everything sweet.
‘Keeping up pretences is a lesson WAGs learn fast, according to Michelle.
‘There’s pressure to be a certain weight and look beautiful as competition is so stiff. They worry that if they let themselves go and aren’t the perfect wife, their husbands will turn to someone else. It’s very isolating, particularly when the code of conduct dictates that you can’t speak about your anxiety.
‘Many WAGs have to live vicariously through their men in ways most women don’t have to. They tend not to work, not necessarily through choice, but often because their man expects them to be home when he finishes training at 1pm so he doesn’t get bored.’
WAGs are well aware that their men regularly face temptation.
But Michelle explains: ‘I don’t blame the footballers. I know lots of bankers who cheat. I don’t think footballers are worse than any men who have money and are attractive.
‘Footballers are well known, so women target them – and believe me, they’re ruthless. I’ve been to clubs where girls will push you out of the way to get to a footballer.
‘They’d flirt with Mark in front of me, but we’d laugh about it. Luckily Mark was 35 when we married, so he was happy to settle down and didn’t stray.’
Michelle, whose book Pride And Premiership is out next year, says a worrying number of girls think bagging a footballer is a career plan.
‘We’ve had the Cinderella story ingrained in our psyche from childhood and seen Coleen Rooney go from her school uniform to being worth £5 million. It’s very tempting.’
Despite having women on tap, many footballers marry their childhood sweethearts, says Michelle.
‘They know these women aren’t with them for the money as they were with them when they were nothing. Even when they cheat, they usually go back to their wife as they’ve got such a long history together.’
It’s when WAGs hit their thirties and get more independent, or tire of the cheating that things change. ‘As they get older, a lot of WAGs realise they haven’t developed themselves,’ says Michelle.
‘They start wanting different things – things that’ll take them away from their husbands. It becomes a real clash for attention as footballers are mollycoddled from an early age.’
Ultimately WAGs know what they’re getting themselves into.
‘There are great perks – that’s why they stay,’ says Michelle. ‘If that means turning a blind eye to affairs, for some, that’s the price they’re prepared to pay.’
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