By Tony Attwood
It was on one of my earlier trips to Australia to visit my daughter that I heard the news that Harry Redknapp had been found not guilty in a high profile court case. Now, with myself being in Oz doing the visiting once again I find Arry is also in the news once again.
But this time it is not for anything he has done specifically, since he seems to have little engagement with club football now, but rather what he has done in the past.
You see, Mr Redknapp has been a manager of seven English clubs. And three of those seven have become embroiled in questionable activities.
The latest to be caught out is Birmingham City who have just been deducted nine points for breaking Financial Fair Play rules during his tenure. He was, you will remember, also involved with Portmsouth when they collapsed financially, and with Queens Park Rangers when they got into so much debt that there was serious talk of them being kicked out of the league totally (although this was reduced to a more modest penalty later).
Of course this might all be coincidence, and we must admit the man has won trophies – the Intertoto Cup and the FA Cup. He was also manager of the season for 2009/10.
To be fair to Mr Redknapp, he denies that the Birmingham buys were anything to do with him – although he has in the past taken credit for some of the signings (Jota is one such – the club record signing for Birmingham claimed at the time, claimed to be nothing to do with him later when the problems with money came to the fore).
The point is that Redknapp was the manager who was in charge of nominating players and seeking to buy them. The owners of the club have the right to say yes or no, but if the manager manages with a quick talking patter to convince them into take insane risks, then blame should be shared, surely.
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Meanwhile in their evidence to the League ahead of their points deduction Birmingham City attested that Redknapp, during his tenure, showed “no or no adequate regard to the rules or the club’s financial health generally.”
That doesn’t exhonerate Redknapp; the board should have checked. But then so should the board of other clubs that were wrecked due to Redknapp’s engagement. Are we seriously expected to believe that none of it was ever his fault? Seemingly yes, for both times he was arrested on separate counts of fraud related matters, he was acquitted, once on a technicality concerning the gathering of evidence, once by the jury.
And thus for much of the media the answer is probably yes Arry should not be held to account for club failings, because most of the media are not drawing the connection between Redknapp the manager. and clubs in deep financial troubles.
But then the media always chooses what it wants to cover – and that really has been one of my central points all these years on Untold. If they want to be Redknapp Positive as most of them do, they will not talk down Arry, and will not see the link. So Arry’s reputation is not sullied and he can sail forth without besmirching his good name.
Of course such decision making is not just a football issue. Writing, as I have mentioned, from Australia, I am dependent on getting the news from various websites, and I notice this morning (Oz time) that the Guardian has as one of its major leads the story that the largest peaceful demonstration ever in London has just happened – a march in favour of a second vote in the UK on leaving the EU. Turning to the Telegraph the story does not appear at all – at least not at the time I looked. If you read the Telegraph on line today it seems the march is not a story.
That is not to say the Guardian is right and the Telegraph is wrong – as you may recall I have oft criticised the Guardian for what seems to me its horribly biased coverage of Arsenal through manipulated headlines. Rather it makes the point that in all things, the media makes choices and presents reality – but just because it presents its reality, it does not mean it is the actual reality.
Sometimes of course all the papers and other media outlets move together – as with the fact that they all ignored the story that Sport England had cut all funding to the FA because the FA had failed to use its funding for building more 3G pitches for youngsters to play on, and were just sitting on the money (thus effectively reducing the interest payments on their debt).
It seemed an important story to me, so I ran it. It was not important to others so they didn’t.
All of this comes as I have been thinking about another issue – the recent rise in England results, and what that means for earlier Untold Arsenal research into the link between countries that do well internationally and those that don’t.
That story is interesting to me in that I did the research, showing the link between the number of top qualified coaches in a country, and its population. The higher the number per 1000 people, the more likely there is to be international success. It was a piece which was subsequently used by the Telegraph in an article they published.
But now England seem to be doing better – despite not having greatly increased the number of fully qualified coaches nor invested in youth football. So was I wrong?
Actually I think not – but I will leave that for further ruminations later. It is a blisteringly hot day here in Manly, a suburb of Sydney, and my daughter and her partner are taking my partner and I out on their boat. But I will try and develop the notion later – as long as I have remembered to apply sun cream across all exposed areas.
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