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October 2020
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Disappointments this season, hopes for next season: the journalists’ vision

By Tony Attwood

Carefully ignoring the fact that there is still one match of the domestic season to go (some sort of cup final I believe) the Daily Mail has a piece asking its journalists “10 key questions” about the season.  It’s quite interesting generally, and I thought I would highlight a couple of bits, and the key omissions.

Biggest disappointment of the season

It was to be expected, but it is still a disappointment, that no one journalist could bring himself (and I think they are all male, although I am not to sure about one or two of the less common first names) to mention the complete absence of interest in the fact that the world cup venues in Qatar are being built by slave labour.  At a time of the Black Lives Matter protest we see at the start of each game it is beyond belief that the media utterly refuse to take up this issue, and that players let the media get away with it.

It seems the equality of peoples across the world matters… except if it interferes with players getting another few games at the end of the season.

Other non-topics were the lack of referees employed by PGMO and the way refereeing in the Premier League differs from the rest of Europe.

Only one person, (Sami Mokbel) mentioned the horrific upsurge of abuse on social media, but no one but no one mentioned CAS, Uefa and the Manchester City fiasco – it is as if it didn’t happen.

Tottenham did however come up as the biggest disappointment for a few journalists, as did Mauricio Pochettino’s for his failure to explore “the next level”.   There are also comments to the effect that after a Champions League final this was a disaster of a season for the Tiny Totts.   “They fell from such a height and landed in such a heap. The demise of Pochettino was sad and the appointment of Jose Mourinho simply bizarre.” (Riath Al-Samarrai).

But Martin Keown still does have his sense of humour under that grim exterior, I’m glad to see, as under “Howler of the season” he says, “I’d like to nominate myself for suggesting that Sheffield United would be relegation fodder this season.”

However no one but no one notes the howler of the media en masse failing to notice the bizarre statistics of Leicester City – by far the most tackles, but so few fouls given and so few yellow cards.  Totally out of line with the 19 other clubs in the league.  And then…

What you’d most like to see next season

Chris Sutton goes with “Stronger punishments put in place for divers because it’s as bad as ever. Start dishing out three-game bans because until there is a strong enough deterrent, players will keep doing it.

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Martin Keown talks about wanting to see fans back in the stadium, and Riath Al-Samarrai continues an out of the box approach with the answer of “No VAR, no mention of VAR, no prospect of a return for VAR, no questions in press conferences about VAR, no dotted lines from armpits for use by the VAR. Wipe its grubby seed from the earth.”

No one mentions the need for journalists with more knowledge of what is going on in the game, but that perhaps is to be expected.  These are, after all, journalists.

So yes it is a fairly interesting and amusing piece, but oh the bits that are missing… They are to be expected and yet are still heart-breaking.

Because when it comes down to it we have a range of subjects that absolutely must not and cannot be talked about at all by the media, and this article continues to keep the fence around these issues.

I mentioned Qatar and its slave labour above, but what about PGMO and the way our approach to refereeing is so very different from the rest of the world?  I mentioned Leicester’s weird statistics, but what about the financial insanity of the Championship where around half the clubs spend more than their entire income on salaries alone.

Or what about the way it became clear that the media run the Premier League.  Sky and BT laid down their requirements after the pandemic started, and the league had to fall in line with that because the clubs could not afford to do otherwise.  BT refusing to allow fans to buy a ticket for individual matches, and as theur

And the fact that it is if the Manchester City v Uefa issue had simply not happened, that is so sad.  The gross incompetence of Uefa in presenting its case out of time, and the insistence of holding the case in secrecy for absolutely no valid reason at all, was hardly mentioned in the media…

Or the admission that the great battles going on in Europe between Fifa, the banking authorities and the Swiss legal authorities which has just taken another turn (more on it anon) is simply not covered one tiny bit by any of the media.  And yet this could shape football for years to come.

Above all, entertaining though the Mail’s piece is, it is a statement that says, “we set the agenda, and we are not varying it one jot.”  Nor indeed anything on the impact of leaving the EU.  Ah well.,..

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