The Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun are once again in the spotlight, and, not for the first time, for all the wrong reasons, after a sponsorship and betting stunt involving Sutton United FC and their stand-in goalkeeper Wayne Shaw not only went horribly wrong, but was seen to go horribly wrong. Alleged editor Tony Gallagher once again showed that he was exercising little control over his unprincipled rabble.
There was rather more than just today’s front page splash proclaiming “Sutton Roly-Poly Goalie Axed … Fury as keeper sacked over snack … Cup novelty bet sparks OTT probe … HUNG OUT TO PIE”. Laugh? I thought I’d never start. The reality is more prosaic.
Sutton United had reached the last 16 of the FA Cup. For their match against Premier League Arsenal, Sun Bet sponsored them, and then the cheap and nasty stories about Shaw began, starting with “Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw is famed for his red hot ‘Roly-Poly Goalie’ chilli sauce and has had offers to do a NAKED PHOTOSHOOT” which also mentioned “Shaw’s been given odds of 8/1 with Sun Bets to be seen on TV eating a pie!”
Just remember that line: after the match, which Sutton sadly lost, Sun readers were then told “Sutton reserve keeper Wayne Shaw chomps a pie gives two fingers up to the modern footballer’s lean diet”. But then Shaw departed the club, with the Sun admitting “A betting row erupted as a result of the incident and manager Paul Doswell confirmed Shaw’s departure on Tuesday afternoon”. It seems Shaw’s pals bet on him. Whoops!
Guess who's empathising with pie-eating?
And there is an investigation going on into the whole affair, prompting the Sun to demand that everyone Look Over There: “Celebs lead fans demanding Sutton keeper Wayne Shaw get his job back as he’s SACKED by club for eating a pie in the dugout thanks to OTT novelty bet probe after club’s Arsenal heroics”. But FA rules BAN players betting.
The Murdoch mafiosi are adamant, though, and have signposted a “Piegate Petition”. So who is the enterprising person starting this one? To no surprise at all, it has been started by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, just to showcase (a) Staines’ sheer shamelessness - nobody embodies the phrase “who ate all the pies” quite like The Great Guido - and (b) the still very close relationship between the Fawkes gang and the inmates of the Baby Shard bunker.
Also not told by the Fawkes rabble, but put directly by the Tweeter known as Sun Apology, is “That footage of Sutton Utd sub Wayne Shaw eating a pie wasn't all it seemed. It was a grubby PR stunt set up by The Sun. Shame on them both”. And MediaWatch has put it yet more directly: “If Mediawatch weren’t so disgusted by The Sun’s deliberate obfuscation of the facts, we would be amused by their use of the words ‘novelty bet’ on the front page. Because of course ‘novelty bets’ are placed by ‘novelty gamblers’ who can win or lose ‘novelty money’ … The Sun are right to say that Shaw has been ‘HUNG OUT TO PIE’. They’re just wrong about the identity of the executioners”.
The Great Guido is so desperate to be thrown a biscuit by the Murdoch mafiosi that he and his rabble are willing to participate in this sham. As for some of those well-known faces who have also been pitching in, well, I’ll deal with you later. Another fine mess.