Tag Archives: Rupert Murdoch

Sun ‘Newspaper’ Confirms New Manager Contract By Reporting Leeds Have Sacked Monk – by Rob Atkinson

The Scum

Leeds United fans can rest assured that a new contract is on the table for manager Garry Monk, with notorious lie-sheet The Scum reporting that the Whites boss is on the point of dismissal.

Wapping’s most odious piece of bogroll, a publication so mendacious that it has people checking their calendars if it reports on Friday that tomorrow will be Saturday, launched into an orgy of wishful thinking after Leeds’ home draw with with Norwich ended their play-off aspirations. Those familiar with The Scum‘s record for inaccuracy and fabrication will see this as a cast-iron indication that Monk’s future is at Elland Road.

Recent achievements at the notorious Murdoch rag have included the comparison of Everton’s Ross Barkley to a gorilla, and the assertion that the only other people on Merseyside earning Barkley’s level of remuneration are drug barons. This piece of “journalism” saw well-known moron Kelvin MacKenzie suspended pending an investigation, and also the complete disappearance of The Scum as a Merseyside football resource, with Everton applying the blanket ban that Liverpool FC instituted some decades ago, following the disgraceful Hillsborough reportage. It is now thought that Tranmere Rovers FC benefits from an army of Scum correspondents 37 strong.

Current Leeds United co-owner Massimo Cellino commented “You know I’mma dodgy character, my friend, and even I don’ read that sheet”.

Rupert Murdoch is 142.

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‘Grateful’ Man United to Unveil Statues of Rupert Murdoch and Howard Webb – by Rob Atkinson

Theatre of Hollow Myths - due a name change?

Theatre of Hollow Myths – due a name change?

Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything can exclusively reveal that Man Utd – the former football club now known throughout the observable cosmos as The Pride of Devon – are to show their appreciation of two massively important figures in their recent history, by erecting statues in their honour.

The legends concerned are Aussie media tycoon Rupert Murdoch – who single-handedly ended Man U’s 26 year title drought by buying the game for them in 1992 – and former referee Howard Webb, who still holds the all-time club record for career assists, beating even Ryan Giggs and Mike Riley into second and third positions. Mr Webb is now the technical director of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, where he will be able to continue in the service of Man U, ensuring that the “right” referees are selected for their fixtures.

A Theatre of Hollow Myths insider, speaking on a lobby basis to Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, confirmed that the two statues have been commissioned in recognition of the club’s immense gratitude for the contribution of these two individuals towards their unprecedented and frankly suspicious level of success. The identity of our source cannot be revealed, but we are able to confirm that he has an elder brother, a centre-half for the best team around, who won a World Cup winner’s medal for England in 1966, and that he himself is now mainly occupied in the “unofficial match ticket supply chain”, going under the nom de guerre of “Ticketmaster“. His anonymity guaranteed, he was able to give us full details of the nature and locations of the planned statues.

The first surprise is that the statuary tributes will not be a feature of the Theatre of Hollow Myths itself. “We thought that might be overkill,” our source told us, flicking nervously at his comb-over, “After all, we already have a statue to Alex Ferguson, and various tastefully-sponsored reminders of the Munich Air Disaster. Alex himself was none too pleased about the possibility of “yet anither piece o’ mairble clutterin’ up ma groond”, so we’ve had to move to reassure him that the new statues will be located elsewhere. And, to be fair, they were likely to be just too big for the space available. The Murdoch statue in particular would have been the biggest erection in Manchester within living memory.”

So, we asked, Alex was happy – as long as the statues weren’t actually outside the ground, then? “I wouldn’t say happy, exactly,” our man admitted. “He doesn’t really do happy – but he has calmed down a lot since we told him we’re planning to name the whole stadium after him. He was quite pleased about that, I think.” Startled by a second big and exclusive piece of surprise information, we indicated that this was news to us, and doubtless would be to many armchair-bound gloryhunters throughout the world. “Yes, it’s been kept under wraps,” conceded “Ticketmaster“, “but we think it time to make a lasting tribute especially to S’ralex. The change of name from Old Trafford to Old Pillock will therefore be registered in time for the start of next season.”

Finally, then – where will the new statues be – ahem – erected? It turns out that this has been the subject of heated debate within the club, who are ever conscious of their need to maximise merchandising income involve their loyal and faithful Sky TV subscribers throughout the country and beyond. “In the end, it came down to the two real hotbeds of support – so we’ve decided to apply the Wisdom of Solomon – and give one statue to Paignton and the other to Milton Keynes.” Sir Bobby Our source nodded, contentedly. “We feel that this is an equitable solution.”

Sir Bobby “Ticketmaster” Charlton is 103.

How Premier League CEO Scudamore Blew the Gaff on Man Utd Bias – by Rob Atkinson

Pet lip:  Premier League CEO Scudamore misses those Man U days of success

Pet lip: Premier League CEO Scudamore misses those Man U days of success

As a Leeds United fanatic, a card-carrying cynic and someone with no faith in the football authorities these days to run a fair and disinterested league competition, I have written many times on this blog about my belief that the Man U domination of the game in this country after 1993 (the FA Premier League début season) was deeply suspicious. The last season or so’s steep decline, with a squad not at first markedly different to the one that romped home in Taggart’s final season, begs the question: what’s really different? It has appeared ever since The Demented One left that the change of stewardship is behind this relative failure. But was Alex Ferguson the sole factor in the unprecedented success enjoyed by the Pride of Devon over the last two decades?

These days, following a series of revealing comments over the past year or so from people who should know whereof they speak, it appears that at least a couple of other factors have been at play throughout that twenty year period. I have said over and over again in Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything, that the Fergie years have been trophy-laden for three well-defined reasons, none of them all that adjacent to the quality of their playing squad. They may be summed up as: Ferguson, match officials and the rulers of the game itself. These three influences conspired over two decades to exaggerate the success of Man U out of all proportion to the abilities of their playing and coaching staff in that period, many of whom have gone on to enjoy sustained mediocrity elsewhere. Add into the mix the drip, drip, drip effect of blind, unquestioning media adulation, spearheaded by Murdoch’s Sky empire and endorsed by lapdog attitudes from the terrestrial broadcasters who know which side the commercial bread is buttered, and you have what is technically known as a “Scum-friendly environment”.

This may to the unwary sound like just another conspiracy theory.  But you only have to look at the unprecedented before and after picture of Man U’s record pre-Murdoch as compared to their success under Uncle Rupert. After all, we’re talking an almost total domination of the Premier League era here, by a club that – for the 26 years immediately preceding the league reorganisation – couldn’t buy a title. Seven times Champions in their whole history prior to 1993, and then thirteen Premier League titles in the first twenty years after Rupert Murdoch bought the game.

That’s such a sharp delineation between failure and success – it’s not coincidental that the demarcation line is the inception of the Premier League, the changing of football in this country from a sport to a brand – and the new understanding that the game was now about markets and money to a much greater extent than it had ever been before. Man U were the new brand leader, and they had better succeed – or the Premier League product might not fulfil its immense potential for dominating the world in terms of TV audiences, syndication and merchandising. And that would never do. So the game leant the way of the Man U scum – as we at Leeds United fondly refer to them – and the pressure applied by Ferguson to match officials was allowed to take effect. Professional sport is a matter of extremely fine margins; a slight bias over a long period will skew outcomes to a massive degree – and that’s exactly what has happened.

Naturally, none of this has ever been acknowledged. It’s been of paramount importance, after all, that the Premier League should at least retain the appearance of being a fair competition, on the proverbial level playing field. But now – Ferguson has gone, Man U are failing, the referees are not by any means as intimidated, opposing teams are not scared any more; not, as they used to be, beaten before they took the field. And now people are speaking out, very revealingly – and in some cases that is clearly intentional, in other cases less so. Ex-referee Graham Poll is one who has made his views known quite deliberately; he has spoken out about the feelings of a ref in the Fergie years, how the priority was to get off the field without having made any close calls against Man U – and, ideally, with them having won the game. What is the cumulative effect of that kind of insidious pressure over twenty years? Self-evidently, it’s significant; look at the trophy records, the penalty for and against statistics, the time added on if Man U weren’t winning – and so on and so forth.

Poll has also written about the unprecedented scenes when three penalties were given against Man U in a home game against old rivals Liverpool. Even though things have changed in terms of the favourable decisions enjoyed by Man U, these were the first penalties awarded against Man U as the home team since December 2011 – well over two years without conceding a home league penalty. Poll’s observations on that make for interesting reading for anyone who, as I do, strongly suspects that Man U had it easy from match officials in the Fergie years.

And then, to put the tin lid on it, we had Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore sounding off, in earnestly worried tones, about how the Premier League “brand” is being adversely affected by the difficulties Man U were having last season (happily, it’s carried on in pretty much the same vein this time around). It’s difficult to believe that he was quite aware of the import of what he was saying – this was a tacit admission, after all, that the supposedly disinterested rulers of the game actually have a vested interest – as I’ve been saying long and loud – in the regular success of Man U. “It’s a double-edged sword,” said Scudamore, at the time. “When your most popular club isn’t doing as well, that costs you interest and audience in some places.” The hapless Peter doesn’t identify the other edge of that sword, but he’s clearly perturbed by the prospect of a future with Man U as the also-rans they’ve been this last two campaigns.

Speaking in greater depth about the ethos of the Premier League, as well as its duty to fans around the world, Scudamore went on: “There are lots of fans around the world who wish Manchester United were winning it again. But you have to balance that off against, generally, we’re in the business of putting on a competition and competition means people can compete.” The wistful tone of that last sentence was massively telling. Other clubs will insist on competing, particularly now that Ferguson is history. How very inconvenient and bad for business. What a deuced bore.

The FA Premier League mandarins at a high level clearly see even competition, where any old Tom, Dick or Manuel (or even Jose) can win the League, as their cross to bear, something that will inhibit their ability to market their “brand” around a global audience in thrall to Man U. But they have made a rod for their own back in allowing the creation of that trophy-winning monster, under the inimical sway of a tyrant from Govan, to become so all-consuming in the first place. Now they’re reaping what they have sown – in pumping up the bubble of unrealistic success for one favoured club, they have left themselves without a Plan B for when that bubble bursts – as bubbles inevitably will.

For real football people – the fans out here, the people who have always gone along to the match, with little if any thought of global markets and syndication deals – this new reality of genuine competition has come as a breath of fresh air. There’s a new top four out there, of varied make-up which usually excludes Man U, and they’ve all played wonderful football and succeeded on their own merits.

We’ve also seen less of the media-beloved “mind games” which are so tiresome to the fan in the street. We’ve not missed that old curmudgeon, railing at authority whenever he gets any less than his own way and intimidating anybody who gets in his way. Football seems fresh and new again; Man U were seventh last time – which is probably about where they should have finished the season before. The first twenty years of the Premier League can be seen as a statistical blip, the product of a tyrant dominating and bullying the people charged with the responsibility to see that the game is run fairly. The evidence is there; listen to Poll, listen to what Scudamore is actually saying. Look at the results and standings this season and last.

We’re so very sorry, Mr Scudamore, if your product and your brand are suffering from the failure of “your most popular club”. Perhaps you should take the view that popularity is there to be earned by whichever club can succeed on merit? That it’s not something to be inculcated by the favourable treatment of one chosen club, amounting to institutional bias over twenty long years. Perhaps you can learn that – and then all we will have to regret is the two decades when, aided by Ferguson and a terrified cadre of referees and officials, you – blatantly and with malice aforethought – sold the game down the river.

Sky TV Fail to Sell Leeds United Skipper Ross McCormack – by Rob Atkinson

Image

Ross Restores the Faith

As transfer deadline day wound its way down to the 11pm cut-off, you could tell that – from an earlier peak of feverish excitement – the Sky TV staff on the Jim White + Bimbo Show were starting to lose hope.  At around 8pm, in the wake of a shocked McCormack’s on-the-spot interview, the hype was palpable as the hacks demanded of him whether he would now be looking to move, having pledged himself to Leeds only two hours before.  Ross sounded distressed, unhappy – as was only to be expected.  Thousands upon thousands of Leeds United fans were out here, feeling very much the same.

That the trashy gutter reporters of Murdoch’s cess-pool of a TV station should try to capitalise on this was as sadly predictable as it was disgraceful and unprofessional.  But we have come to expect this from Sky.  When they’re not trying to pile the agony on for Leeds United, they’re leaning over backwards to reassure the Devon-based fans of that lesser United, Manchester’s second team. You may have noticed that Juan Mata has been elevated to the status of dream signing and world-class star, since his move to the Theatre of Hollow Myths.

But, in the end – all the Sky hype, excitement and pressure not withstanding – Ross has shown with the above tweet that he’s very much his own man.  He’s exhibited that “Keep Fighting” resolve and grit that were in the very DNA of the great Revie team.  He’s shown that he can bounce back, be a professional, and do it for the fans, the shirt, the badge – and for his equally-shocked team-mates who face a local derby tomorrow.

Bloody well said, Ross.  We’re so proud of you.  Now let’s show the world what it means to be Leeds.

Murdoch to Hammer Another Nail Into Football’s Coffin?

Uncle Rupert

Uncle Rupert

News is emerging that Rupert Murdoch may be about to unveil a “Summer Super League” plan for football, whereby 16 “elite” clubs would compete in a league-type competition throughout the traditional European close season.  Matches would be played in cities around the world in a transparent move to open up new markets and further popularise the Sky/Murdoch brand before an international audience possibly running to billions.

The drawbacks to such a plan spring readily to mind.  There is an obvious issue around the physical and mental demands upon players who might now be called upon to perform without a break in the whole calendar year.  That is, assuming that the players involved would be the senior players of the “elite” clubs envisaged as making up this league; but that does seem a fair assumption.  It is hardly likely that a project like this would have the necessary appeal and marketability if the competing teams were to field development squads – stars would be a pre-requisite for success.

What, then would be the impact on existing competitions?  It would be easy to imagine that the effect on, say, domestic cups could be quite shattering.  We’ve already had the precedent of Man U withdrawing from the FA Cup one season for some money-making prestige junket to South America where they competed for a version of the World Club Championship, and predictably sank without trace.  If the likes of Man U, Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal were to be invited (as they most certainly would be) to compete in Murdoch’s latest commercial fandango, then we could quite probably predict that – at the very least – the FA Cup, and certainly the League Cup would slide yet further down the priority list for these in-demand clubs.  Already we see shadow squads competing for the League Cup, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see withdrawals from that competition, and the treatment of the FA Cup as a proving ground for promising younger players.  It would be the eager crowds in the Far East, Australia, the USA and the Middle East who would have the pleasure of seeing the Premier League’s major talents performing in the flesh.

The question also arises: what of the World Cup, and the slightly lesser competitions held on individual continents?  Would FIFA be prepared to take on Murdoch and his increasingly omnipresent empire?  The days when domestic cup competitions caused a thrill of excitement and a sense of occasion are already receding into golden memory.  Will the same happen to the four-yearly cycle of the greatest international tournament of them all?  It’s not impossible; and if it were to happen, we’d know what to blame – the three M’s.  Murdoch, Money and Markets.

The time is fast approaching when Football as we know it will be in sore need of rescue by seemingly the only people left who actually care enough to want to preserve its proud history and tradition: the fans.  Obviously, I mean those of us who are old enough to remember the game’s great days, before Murdoch got his talons on it; when you stood on a packed terrace and sampled an incomparable atmosphere as you cheered on your favourites for under a pound and moaned mightily when that went up to £1.50.  When the only games shown live on the box were really big ones, Cup Finals, major International games, European nights and maybe the odd smattering of League games here and there.  Those were the days when you would have laughed out loud at any suggestion that one day you might be asked to fork out £60 a month for “entertainment” which might include Norwich v Wigan on a Monday evening.

That’s the reality we have now, and it’s scary to look ahead and see how much more our game might change now that Uncle Rupert has had this spiffy new idea.  He’ll want to make sure his audiences have their entertainment in a way that doesn’t put undue strain on their attention-spans, and allows enough time to sell, sell, sell in those commercial breaks.  Didn’t someone once have a great idea about playing four quarters instead of two halves?  What about time-outs?  Why bother with boring draws, can’t we have an exciting shoot-out?

If you doubt things might actually go down that road – just cast your mind back 25 years, and see if you could have imagined then the kind of game we have to watch today, and ask yourself: couldn’t it maybe happen?  Aren’t we in real danger of losing the last vestiges of the game we used to know and love?  And isn’t it maybe time to think just what the hell we can do about it?