Attacking your paymasters is possible for journalists, but not in football

by Tony Attwood

The Daily Telegraph is a newspaper that supports the Conservative Party, wholesale.  It could no more recommend its readers to vote Labour than it could suggest that in the next election the Workers Revolutionary Party offers a viable alternative to the current government.

And yet, despite this, the newspaper can and will attack the party that it feels we should all vote for. If in its judgement it thinks the Conservative Party in government is getting things wrong it says so – as I’ll show below.

Yet it seems to be quite incapable of such free thinking when it comes to football.  Yes it can say that matches are dull and that clubs are making the wrong choice on occasion, but by and large it tells us day by day that football is doing ok.  Football is good.  OK maybe Arsenal is not good, but Football by and large is a Good Thing.

But now consider this opening to a piece from the Telegraph in relation to the present government under Boris Johnson:

“Our arrogant quangocrats and state “experts” should hang their heads in shame: their reaction to coronavirus was one of the greatest public policy blunders in modern history, more severe even than Iraq, Afghanistan, the financial crisis, Suez or the ERM fiasco. Millions will lose their jobs when furlough ends; tens of thousands of small businesses are failing; schooling is in chaos, with A-level grades all over the place; vast numbers are likely to die from untreated or undetected illnesses; and we have seen the first exodus of foreigners in years, with the labour market survey suggesting a decline in non-UK born adults….”

I noticed that because I agree with it – but that is by the way.  It is an attack.   And yet I can’t ever recall them delivering anything even one tenth as scathing about anyone engaged in football.

And it is not as if there is not a lot to criticise.  After all what is going on in Switzerland as Fifa is torn to shreds is surely enough to occupy any semi-conscious journalist for a week, let alone for one article.

But there is so much more – and to give just a few examples, and leaving aside the current Fifa situation…,

We have had Manchester City being let off its two year European ban because Uefa got its act together far too late.  We’ve got crumbling finances among clubs as their revenue has dried up or at least shrunk and they have made minimal preparation for the future.  We’ve had the absolute farces of Bury and Wigan during this past season…

And in broader terms England, supposedly the home of football, hasn’t been in a world cup final for over 50 years, an FA which is banned from calling a trophy the “Charity Shield” because it didn’t keep proper records of how it paid the charities – and refused to agreed to do that in the future, and indeed a FA which when it bid for the World Cup hosting rights got two votes, one of which was its own (despite spending millions of pounds of public money).

Then we’ve got the ultra-secrecy of PGMO, and its claim that its refs got over 98% of their decisions right (a claim that was published in the Telegraph in fact).  And the PGMO’s insistence on doing things its own way, not the way it is done in  the other major leagues.  And the scandal revealed by the research showing just how much referees are influenced by crowd noise.  Not to mention historic child sex abuse cases which are still emerging today, or the appointment of Sam Allerdyce as England manager only to find him willing to take illicit money from the media and being shunted out after just one match.

And so it goes on and on – scandal after scandal, incident after incident – and yes I know they are by and large covered at the time (although the use of slave labour in building the stadia in Qatar seems to have been as ignored as is the battle royal going on in Switzerland at the moment which seems to be bringing down the whole edifice of the organisation – and those events are very recent.

Plus the Newcastle fiasco – banning the sale to the Saudis not because of their disgraceful human rights record (which never once got mentioned) but because of a copyright dispute.

So I just wonder why: why is none of this mentioned. Of course football is not as important as the illness and death that the virus brings to our society, but in the days before the virus, serious investigations into the running of football in England, and on the world stage, was simply off the agenda.

And why was that?  The fairly simple research that established why England was not competing in world football at the top level was first published in Untold in 2010 and has since been republished (without acknowledgement) in the Daily Telegraph in August 2013.  So they can do it, if someone else does the work for them.  But why don’t they tackle the really big issues more often, as they seem to do when the issues are beyond football – or when I do the homework.

I just really would like to understand why. (And in case a journalist thinks that bringing more clarity to football could be a good idea, here are a few recent pieces from Untold to get her/him going…

4 Replies to “Attacking your paymasters is possible for journalists, but not in football”

  1. Tony,

    get ready for the big Barcelona clearance sale…..wonder who many of their players will be announced coming to Arsenal… !

  2. If the Telegraph is attacking Boris and co, suspect it is partly to do with them worrying about the taxes they, and us will ultimately have to raise to pay for all this. And their island retreats in havens off Guernsey won’t save them from all of it. All I read about the Telegraph owners, an obsession with what I am sure is legal tax avoidance usually features very prominently
    But, take your point, so much wrong with football, so little reported . Players take a knee to support black lives, no issue with that , but Ozil speaks out against the treatment/genocide of the Uighurs, he mysteriously disappears from the team. And nobody takes a knee for the slaves of Qatar.
    As for the post on Barca,and the situation they find themselves in, in the words of Windsor Davies, “ Oh dear, how sad, never mind”

  3. Chris


    We buy William and all the Sun can do is turn it on it’s head and start banging on on about how many players we now CAN’T buy.

    I mean lets be honest given the amount of players we’ve been linked with they could actually claim:


    If we won the treble they’d manage to turn it in to a negative.

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