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October 2020
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At least this time, the media can’t attack Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

I have several times raised the point that the media hates the question “why?”  And so it seems today as none of the main news outlets in the UK are asking why the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said that he wanted footballers to take pay cuts and thus at a stroke reduce the government’s income at a time when it needs every penny it can get.

Perhaps it was simply that he thought he could swing attention away from the government’s handling of the current crisis, by focusing on football.  But whatever the reason I thought it might be interesting to see what a variety of English newspapers across the political spectrum were today making of this affair.

The Guardian’s lead on the topic is “‘What would Shankly do?’ Not what Liverpool are doing, that’s for sure.”  The opening to the piece is well made, I thought.

“Six months ago the Liverpool chief executive, Peter Moore, was asked what distinguished his club from other European football giants. “We had this amazing historical figure: Bill Shankly, a Scottish socialist who built the foundation,” he told El Pais. “Even today, when we talk about business, we ask ourselves: ‘What would Shankly do?’”

And of course they conclude that he would not have done what Liverpool have just done, but then add, “True, Newcastle and Spurs did the same last week but by now we know who Mike Ashley and Daniel Levy are. Liverpool were supposed to be different.”  Whether this ends the media’s love in with Liverpool, we shall see.

Elsewhere, the Sunday Times yesterday ran a piece by Wayne Rooney in which he wrote that Matt Hancock the Health Secretary, “was supposed to be giving the nation the latest on the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes. Why was the pay of footballers even in his head? Was he desperate to divert attention from his government’s handling of this pandemic?”

The Telegraph is openly critical of Liverpool, saying, “Liverpool FC were supposed to be better than this – their use of government scheme feels like a betrayal” and also have an article that opens “Manchester City have become the first Premier League club to pledge publicly that they will not furlough any of their non-playing staff during the coronavirus pandemic.”  That shows that at least Man City’s PR team are still active even if their players are not.

The Daily Mail has done a very odd piece under the banner “Gary Neville’s five points illustrate perfectly the Premier League’s poor handling of coronavirus crisis… from trying to play on to Liverpool putting staff on furlough, the response has been a DISASTER”.

That sounds like the header of an article by Neville, but in fact what the Mail has done is take five of Neville’s tweets and then explored them, sometimes quite critically.  For example, Neville suggests Premier League football was slow to shut down, and the Mail’s response is to show a picture of the crowds at the Cheltenham Festival (a horse racing event) the same day as a justification for football carrying on.  It’s all rather odd.

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The Mail however does agree with Neville, and pretty much everyone else, that the stance of Liverpool, Tottenham and others in furloughing staff has been a PR disaster.  But then it loses the plot totally with “Manchester City set to hand hefty fine to Kyle Walker after breaching lockdown instructions by holding sex party with two escorts”.

The Sun has finally caught up with Untold by running, “Big Six face financial black hole as sponsorship deals dwindle during coronavirus”, but it also uses the crisis to run its regular anti-trade union stance with “Teams are alarmed by the PFA’s rejection of the proposal for ALL players to take a wage cut or pay deferral of up to 30 per cent.”    The stance is that the union does not represent its members’ feelings – a very regular Sun position on industrial disputes.

The Express which is totally out on its own, with “Premier League set for June return as UK government green light behind closed doors games”.  They also have “Former Man Utd boss Louis van Gaal fumes at Ajax using coronavirus ‘for their own gain’,” over a story in which van Gaal simply says that he would prefer seasons to be finished, rather than abandoned.  The Ajax bit comes because they were top of the league when football was halted.

And beyond that one, for the Express, it is simply transfer rumours all the way.

The Independent goes with “Wage-cut talks turn ugly as players insist cash goes to NHS, not clubs” in which they say, “A heated conference call between all 20 Premier League clubs and captains saw a growing anger with Liverpool’s timing of their decision to furlough non-playing staff.”

After that they seem rather to lose interest in the whole concept of “news”, going with “Lineker wants people to stop using footballers as scapegoats,”  “The Premier League’s audacious World Cup plan” and “Inside story of United vs Newcastle and the 1995/6 title.”

For the media, overall, it looks like a time when, as Bob Dylan said in a song, “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is.”

But at least, on the issue of the virus, for the moment they can’t attack Arsenal

6 comments to At least this time, the media can’t attack Arsenal

  • Steve Vallins

    Would I be right ( haven’t done the homework ) that there are more millionaires than there are Premier League footballers who haven’t been asked to contribute to battle against the Coronavirus .

  • Mikey

    I note that Rees-Mogg is making money out of the virus. Branson is asking for subsidies when his tax paying antics and attitude to employees leaves a lot to be desired. Bezos is still making vast sums of money and paying bugger all tax. Starbucks, yep they’re another. 80% of the uk media is owned by five right wing billionaires who don’t pay a penny in tax in the UK. And the Queen is, supposedly, still wonderful despite being absolutely loaded and still keeping a large chunk of the money we pay in taxes, stashed in her personal accounts in overseas tax havens.

    As has been mentioned on previous threads, the wealthy have creamed off vasts sums of money during the good times (and I include footballers in that). It’s time they started paying something back and not expecting the least well off to pay the price….yet again.

    And before anybody comes back and tells me that the wealthy pay more in tax, don’t bother. The majority of them pay proportionately less than most employees on PAYE. Give me a £1m and I’d happily pay the majority in tax. Most of the wealthy more concerned about finding ways of avoiding paying 40% and, as mentioned, some don’t pay a bloody penny.

  • Nice one Mikey.

    Shame that the Queen gets nothing from our taxes. The income from the Crown Estates gets paid to the Exchequer, and it is a lot, and the Queen then gets a small proportion of it in the Civil List, which is then divided amongst the various royals.

    I really do think that the Premier League players all deserve a great thank you from us all as they are so concerned that the Government gets their taxes, they won’t do anything to save their clubs, and will still demand to be paid their obscene wages.

    I suppose those of them who get the payments for their image rights paid abroad to foreign companies will now declare them for tax here as well.

    They will not agree to defer a part of their wages because they fear the clubs will all go bust anyway, so they won’t get them, so they might as well cash in now before that happens anyway.

    And, if the clubs go bust, there will no tax either.

    All the badge kissing that we see so frequently is nothing but a meaningless gesture because they care nothing about their clubs, the fans or anything other than their money, so they can buy another diamond-encrusted Rolex, or a gold coloured Lamborgini.

    What I find so amazing is that this blog, populated by so many left-wing Guardian-reading liberals sees nothing wrong in the players’ greed.

  • Mikey

    @ jjgsol

    Semantics. The Crown Estates were “acquired” by the monarchy about 1,000 years ago because nobody else owned the land. It wasn’t theirs, it belonged to the country. The money that the royals rake off from this in essence belongs to all of us. Obviously the Treasury does actually retain the profits from Crown Estates but the Sovereign Grant. This was equivalent to 15% of the profits of the Crown Estates but was increased to 25% to pay for repairs to Buckingham Palace. (Strangely I needed some work done on my house recently. I’m not a multi-millionaire. I had to pay for it myself.) The fact is, she doesn’t need it she is absolutely loaded.

    As you rightly say this money is divided amongst a whole host of

    And also, other money spinners of this nature like the Duchy of Cornwall are exempt from paying income tax, thus meaning us ordinary people have to subisdise that too.

    And the way the monarchy behaves is inherently immoral. Just last month for example, the Duchy of Cornwall, which “owns” the freehold of numerous homes in which ordinary people live, put the annual ground rent up on a bunch of them on the Scilly Isles. Some leaseholders have seen a rise from less than £100 to more than £7,000 in recent years.

    And let’s just look at another random royal, Harry. He also receives £4 million a year from the Duchy of Cornwall (for doing what, I have no idea). In March last year when he took an RAF helicopter at a cost of £6,000 from Birmingham to London when an advance rail fare, first class, would cost £34. Who do you think paid for that RAF flight because it certainly wasn’t the royal family.

    And let’s also not forget the renovation of Frogmore Cottage (“cottage” lol), his marital home, was also funded by the taxpayer to the tune of £2.4m. It just goes on and on. I won’t even bother to talk about the cost of security, policing etc whenever they step outside the door. Again paid for by the taxpayer and not the royal family.

    As I said in my original post, I agree with you about footballers and see a great deal wrong, as I said, in the greed of all wealthy people. I just don’t make excuses for some of them just because they were randomly born into a certain, massively privileged family.

  • Thank you Mikey.

    Am I correct that you are withdrawing your statement that the Queen receives money from our taxes?

    The rest of your rant really has no place here, but would be more appropriately placed on one of the, no doubt, many republican/marxist blogs that exist on the blogosphere.

    This is a football blog, and my comments related solely to football issues.

    Keep well and safe.

  • Mikey

    Whilst you contradict yourself by suggesting that a discussion about the royals has no place here yet perpetuating the argument. I will indeed refrain. I would, however be enlightened if you explain to me how republicanism is marxist. I find it extraordinary how the right has convinced itself that anyone who doesn’t identify with flag waving conservatism, is a marxist. The power of a dominant right wing media I guess.

    I obviously accept your statement that “the rest of your rant really has no place here”, I was unaware you were admin for this site and that I had broken the rules.

    You keep well and safe too.