TV View: Owners attempt murder of proper British football

Jürgen Klopp took aim at Gary Neville in what was an eventful week in the game

File photo of Joel Glazer (right) and Avram Glazer (left). Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

File photo of Joel Glazer (right) and Avram Glazer (left). Photo: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

 

It was a week when it was forgotten that billionaires have feelings too, Jamie Redknapp a lonely voice when he popped up on Sky on Thursday evening to ask us all to demonstrate some empathy towards their plight. “They’ve made a huge mistake,” he said of the owners of the six former future Super League Premier League clubs, “but everyone makes mistakes in life.”

And that is undeniably true. Which one of us hasn’t tried to set up a Super League to rip the arse out of football?

By contrast, during Sky’s modest summing up of the week’s events on Friday, a two-and-a-half-hour special called ‘FOOTBALL IN CRISIS’, Gary Neville demonstrated no empathy at all. And certainly no forgiveness.

“Apologies can never be accepted,” he told Nick Powell, “because last Sunday what they announced was the attempted murder of English football - they attempted to kill English football FOREVER.”

While none of those involved in the murderous plot escaped Gary’s ire, he reserved quite a chunk of it for Manchester United head honcho Joel Glazer who, he said, when it all kicked off, had “parked his weasels and come out”. To which the bulk of viewers would have said, “excuse me?”

But, apparently, this meant that he had taken a hands-on role in the plot, rather than doing what he usually does, i.e. stay hidden from view, leaving the dirtier work to his underlings.

Graeme Souness’s weasel-parking radar suspected as much, but he directed his anger at all the Americans involved, including Liverpool’s owners, concluding that “we are not America - Britain’s a proper country, full of proper people”. If Graeme had designs on an MLS gaffer gig, there ended his hopes.

But it was a week of unlikely heroes, Sky and BT Sport becoming sort of the Tolpuddle Martyrs of our time, standing up for the common (subscription-paying)-football-fan. Jamie Carragher wondered out loud if there was a bit of hypocrisy in the air, if Sky had actually contributed to the changing face of the game in a not so positive way, resulting in host David Jones turning a whiter shade of pale.

There were plenty of salutes, too, for another hero, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin who, along with Gary, had led the resistance, Ceferin noting with a heavy heart that “greed is so strong that all human values evaporate”. All you can hope is that the €450,000 increase in his salary last year, bringing it to €2.19 million, at a time when half the football world was being laid off, will bring him some solace.

One person who wasn’t saluting Gary was Jürgen Klopp, his mood on Monday evening already on the low side having learned that Liverpool’s owners are just as grubby as the rest. And the club motto ‘This Means More’ actually refers to what Fenway Sports Group thought the Super League would do to their profits.

But he went after our Gary, football’s Che Guevara, not FSG, suggesting that he’s always gone “where the most money is”, i.e. Manchester United and Sky. “I don’t know why I’m living in his head, to be honest with ya,” Gary replied, the entertainment now so mighty, you’d be tempted to sing ‘can we have a failed Super League coup every week?’

Yellow ticker tape

Tuesday evening was the highpoint, Sky Sports News following the domino-tumbling stream of clubs withdrawing from the two-day-old Super League, much like they cover Transfer Deadline Day. Every time there was a whoosh of BREAKING and an excitable yellow ticker tape, you knew another one was gone. Magnificent.

“That 48 hours was the most I’ve enjoyed football in my lifetime - and I say that as a football fan,” as comedian Josh Widdicombe put it on Friday’s Have I Got News For You. “You had anger, you had excitement - and then, we won! I’ve never experienced that before.”

Paul Merton: “Which team do you support?”

Josh: “Plymouth. We weren’t in the Super League twelve.”

Paul: “You’re lucky to be in the 92.”

Murderous.

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