“THE GREAT GAME ROBBERY … Football fans protest at Big Six greed as Government vows to punish clubs” screams the headline, under the by-line of, primarily, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, who claims to be the Sun’s political editor - not one of its football writers. Because this is mainly about politics. And lots of money.
But do go on. “ANGER mounted last night at plans for a European Super League — with the Government threatening to punish clubs that break away. Owners of the Premier League’s Big Six joiners were dubbed ‘snakes’ by Uefa, while stars may be banned from the Euros and World Cup”. A graphic proclaims “BALLS TO THE SUPER LEAGUE”.
There is even an op-ed from alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, headlined optimistically “I will do everything I can to give the ludicrous European Super League a straight red”. A Tory free marketeer intervening in the working of the, er, free market? “But you don’t need to be an expert to horrified at the prospect of the so-called Super League’ being cooked up by a small number of clubs” he blusters.
How different it all was when, back in 1992, every club in the old First Division of the Football League resigned its place and went off to form the FA Premier League. Today’s crop of inmates within the Baby Shard bunker may not realise it, but at the time, their predecessors weren’t castigating those breaking away for greed, or indeed for anything else. Because the Murdoch mafiosi had bought their way into the deal.
Too late Rupe - you sold Sky, remember?
During the 1980s, top clubs had increasingly played hardball with broadcasters: their stadia were in need of serious investment - the Hillsborough disaster and the Taylor Report spurring on the demands - and as a result, those clubs secured a lot more money for TV rights. But the Premier League promised yet more money.
And who was the broadcaster prepared to pony up an initial £304 million over five years in exchange for exclusive live TV rights? As if you need to ask: BSkyB, the domain of the Murdochs. Papers like the Sun had been massively profitable, keeping Sky’s creditors from the door during its early years - now Sky itself would become the cash cow.
By 2012, it was estimated that Premier League TV rights, including those to broadcast highlights, were worth £5 billion over three years. BT Sport muscled in on the action; Murdoch papers attacked BT, leading the clamour for the company to be broken up. But now, Sky and Murdoch have parted company. So the boot is firmly on the other foot.
The Murdoch press was all in favour of that greed back in the day, because they were in its vanguard. Now they are no longer there, greed has become A Very Bad Thing.
Hypocrisy and sour grapes never did look good together. I’ll just leave that one there.
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