While I was ‘away’ at the Asian Cup, English football ‘personalities’ maintained their capacity to infuriate – through stinking hypocrisy as much as the usual pig ignorance.
Everybody on the planet bar a couple of Buddhist monks in Bhutan (only a couple, mind) has had their say on Andy Gray’s and Richard Keys’ departures from SKY. So I feel almost duty-bound to join in, late though I am. Although at the risk of upsetting a few feminists who aren’t concentrating (a risk I’ve taken before), Karren Brady is the source of my ire.
At least the Key/Gray sackings haven’t been turned into ‘Graygate’ or ‘Keygate.’ And the “only a bit of banter” excuse has been well and truly squashed. But Brady’s attempted climb to the moral high ground fell ay base camp. As well as being unoriginal and unfunny (“perhaps Richard thought I was too busy making the tea and washing up to take his call”), Brady’s suggestion that she refused to take Keys’ call of apology because she was “heavily occupied with the West Ham and Newham Olympic Stadium bid” doesn’t wash.
How long would it take to tell Keys to shove his apology where the sun doesn’t shine because he wasn’t sorry for his views, just for getting caught airing them? I’ve just timed it. Admittedly, I speak quickly. But it took me ten seconds – including answering the phone and ending the call. Add a few seconds for Key’s probably snivelling ‘hello’ and you are done and dusted with change from a minute. I can’t imagine that minute would have handed Tottenham the Olympic Stadium, or made West Ham’s bid comply in any way whatsoever with the rules of the Premier League of which they are still a member…despite never, ever considering replacing Avram Grant as manager with Martin O’Neill…no, never.
And if Brady wanted to save time, perhaps she could have foregone her Sun newspaper column for a week? Or perhaps spent a little less time on BBC Radio Five Live early on Monday morning telling the world about her boiling blood? Brady’s point that “only females in our industry are judged by their gender” was a good one well made. Far better to judge people on the jobs they do, and the abilities they have in them, such as Brady’s long history working for the ex-pornographer David Sullivan – to pick an example purely at random. As Private Eye magazine put it better than I, there are certain things a man can’t say. Like Brady “being employed by someone who’s made his fortune from the porn industry.”
Light the blue touch paper… and retire.
The smelliest hypocrite is a character who has graced these pages before – ‘Olly’, the alter ego (with heavy emphasis on the ‘ego’) of Blackpool’s mercurial manager Ian Holloway. Holloway has long-since surpassed the achievements of the last ‘next big thing’ in Premier League management, the perma-tangoed Phil Brown, who took Hull to unimaginable heights before losing his personal plot somewhere in the clouds. And despite Blackpool’s recently nose-diving form (losing at home to West Ham, for pity’s sake!!), I believe – and hope – they will survive their first Premier League season with greater comfort than Hull’s skin-of-their-teeth effort of 2009. And I believe and hope this, despite Olly’s recent pronouncements, which spread the fear that he will become as distracted by his own alter ego as Brown was by his actual one.
Olly felt the need to ask at a recent press conference, in true populist style, who “these people at FIFA” were to suggesting that the 2022 World Cup be played in January. Leaving aside the rights and wrongs of that issue (an article on Eurocentricity in football awaits), “these people” are, of course, the organisation whose competition – and sole source of income – the FIFA World Cup is. It is, literally, their business. The clue’s in the title, Olly. I suspect there might have been FIFA people wondering who ‘Olly’ was to tell them they couldn’t hold the competition whenever they damn well liked…if there were any FIFA people who gave a stuff about him either way.
And Olly has been soapbox-climbing on one subject which was literally his business. Mercurial midfielder Charlie Adam and Liverpool’s disgraceful transfer window bid of £4m. At times like these, you wonder where Olly lives while the real world is going on. Transfer negotiations, like any financial negotiations, start with both sides at their ideal point. The negotiation gets them closer together. Just as newspapers are going to see Olly bitching about the transfer fee, notice that he is on 10% of said transfer fee and are going to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the two are linked.
Olly wasn’t wrong in saying that Adam was and is worth multiples of £4m. £14m, he said in his Independent on Sunday column. And that figure is easily justifiable in the current market, for the football Adam has produced not just this season but throughout his time at Bloomfield Road. But low first offers are not unusual. Even during the week Olly was sounding off about Liverpool’s disgraceful insult, ‘cash-strapped’ Plymouth Argyle were being similarly disgustingly insulted while undertaking a fire-sale of their best players (a sale run by Peter Ridsdale – which is nowhere near the half of it in Plymouth’s case).
Striker Bradley Wright-Phillips was valued at £300,000 and Reading were about to pay that money until Wright-Phillips failed a medical. But other clubs had expressed an interest at what Olly might describe as a disgusting, insulting £30,000. One of those clubs was… Blackpool. I guess I must have missed Olly’s Independent on Sunday column that week, because I’m sure he would have branded that club a “disgrace” too. It would have been stinking hypocrisy for him not to.
Oh… and Olly said he was going to resign if the Premier League fined him over his team selection for Blackpool’s match this season at Villa Park. The Premier League did. And Olly did. But chairman Karl Oyston wouldn’t accept Olly’s resignation. Now you might think that an outspoken, breath of fresh air and man of principle would leave the club anyway, and to hell with the consequences – even the financial ones. And you might think that a stinking hypocrite whose only principle is self-publicity (and who is prepared to be a stinking hypocrite in that cause) would back down immediately, weakly, meekly and pathetically.
I know I think that.
And finally, to end with a genuine question, or two. I did hear right, didn’t I, that Arsene Wenger said he was next to his captain Cesc Fabregas in the players’ tunnel at half-time and that Fabregas had not spoken to the referee Lee Mason, as alleged raaaaaaaaaather strongly by Everton boss David Moyes? And I did read right, didn’t I, that Fabregas has since apologised for what he said to the referee Lee Mason in the players’ tunnel at half-time? And that does strongly suggest that Fabregas is a nasty piece of work and that Wenger is a liar, doesn’t it?