Tag Archives: Daily Telegraph

Why Allardyce leaving could be a blessing in disguise

Just when you think the England men’s national football team could not sink any lower after June’s humiliating Euro 2016 defeat by Iceland they do. It has to be said in fairness that this time it is not the players that are to blame it is the now ex manager Sam Allardyce. Just sixty seven days – and one game – after being appointed on Tuesday Allardyce left his England post by “mutual consent”. The FA had no other option.

Allardyce’s reign came to an end as a result of a “sting” by British newspaper the Daily Telegraph. Allardyce met with two bogus businessmen who offered him £400,000 for being “a keynote speaker”. He also made plenty of controversial remarks criticising predecessor Roy Hodgson saying he’d send them (the England players) off to sleep. He criticised his own players for being physiologically weak, and his own employers the FA for wasting £870 million on redeveloping Wembley. In both those cases a lot of fans would probably agree with him but it’s not a very good thing to criticise your players and your bosses.

If that is all he said he might – might – have survived. But something else he said sealed his fate. He said that there are ways around the FA’s ban on third party ownership – that is the rule brought in by the FA in 2008 where individuals have a stake in the ownership of a player rather than him being owned wholly by his club. Whether you think the rule is a good idea or not is irrelevant. No one in any industry would survive being caught giving people advice on how to get around the rules of their own employers. Once that remark appeared in the Telegraph it was all over for Allardyce. 

Predictably this week’s events have been called a disaster for English football. It is certainly embarrassing. TV pundit Rio Ferdinand said the affair made English football look ludicrous. And yet long term this could be a blessing in disguise for English football as the FA made a dreadful mistake appointing Allardyce in the first place and by making a fool of himself in the press he has given the FA a chance to redeem themselves and get rid of him before his appointment could cause much damage.

An article in yesterday’s Sun by Neil Ashton showed why Allardyce was unqualified for the job. The article said even his own wife did not want Allardyce to take the job as she knew what he was like when he started guzzling pints of lager. Apparently he was famous for his boozing sessions that lasted until 3 am. Earlier this month he apparently had a monumental night out with his coaching staff Sammy Lee and Craig Shakespeare. The next day he turned up for work and a number of FA staff said his breath reeked of alcohol. How on earth is that guy fit to manage a school team never mind his national team? 

But although it was the UK press that brought Allardyce down they cannot be exempt from criticism either. They must have known about his boozing. Also the Ashton article yesterday mentioned Allardyce’s “skewed social views” and that “his comments about females have bordered on sexism”. So why did the press not expose them? They were quick enough – quite rightly – to slaughter Malky MacKay and José Mourinho for sexist behaviour but somehow they didn’t expose Allardyce’s remarks. Even Ashton admitted that they should have exposed him “Shame on us, if the truth be told”. Shows that football thinks that crimes against itself – ie corruption – are more serious than crimes against society – ie sexism (Allardyce was brought down during an ongoing Telegraph investigation into corruption – no UK paper has investigated into sexism in football). It is highly likely that Allardyce would have been brought down by some scandal anyway and had it come say a month before the World Cup in 2018 it would been a disaster. 

But it’s not just Allardyce that is a problem – its English football managers generally. Chelsea fan David Baddiel said in an article about Mourinho in the Radio Times in 2014 that today’s English managers – Allardyce, Steve Bruce, Alan Curbishley, Alan Pradew, Harry Redknapp – could have managed in 1954. That is not a compliment. It is very possible that there are hidden sexist views among those men – in fact Bruce questioned the rape conviction of Ched Evans – how would he know he wasn’t in court for his trial.

It is clear that most British managers are unfit for purpose – it is interesting that most of the Telegraph’s corruption allegations so far have been against British managers and assistant managers. If I were the FA I would not even consider appointing an English manager. There is a reason why the elite Premier League clubs avoid English managers. It is because they are stuck in the 1950s and they represent a horrible macho culture that really should have died long ago. The Allardyce scandal has given the FA a chance to atone for its mistake in appointing him and instead appoint a progressive foreign manager. It is interesting that according to the book “Soccernomics” by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski (page 370) that Fabio Capello was the most successful England manager (in terms of win percentage) of all time and Sven Goran Eriksson was fourth both way ahead of Steve McLaren who was manager between the two foreigners (and therefore had the same players to choose from). England’s cricket and rugby teams have been improved by foreign coaches after disastrous 2015 World Cup campaigns under Englishmen. If the FA take heed of this and appoint a progressive foreign manager the Allardyce shambles could be a blessing in disguise.

Rape is rape. Why is that so difficult to understand?

To say 2014 was not a good year for gender equality in the UK is an understatement. A report for the United Nations Security Council by Rashida Manjoo said the UK was the “most in your face sexist country” with a “boys club sexist culture”. That of course is a matter of opinion. What is a fact is that last year the UK slipped to 26th place in the World Gender Equality League – below the likes of Rwanda and Burundi! – a big fall from 9th in the first table back in 2006.Also last year I read one of the most horrific things I’ve ever read. It was in a Daily Telegraph interview with Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates and was a quote from an unnamed girl who said :

I am scared of going to university when I am older. Not because of exam stress but because of the horror stories of girls that have been subjected to assault for ‘banter’. I am scared. I am actually scared of being a female (my emphasis).

To my mind any man reading that should be ashamed. I know I am. And even worse her fears are justified. A survey in the Daily Telegraph (January 14th 2015) said “A third of female students in Britain have endured a sexual assault or unwanted advance at university”. And it gets worse. Another survey last year said that “A third of girls are groped or suffer some form of sexual assault while still at school”. What is wrong with this country?
There are two problems here. The first is the UK’s awful rape conviction rate. The Daily Telegraph (January 29th 2015) said that 85,000 women are victims of rape here every year. Of those rapes just 15,670 (18.4 per cent) were even reported to the police. Of that number 2,910 (18.6 per cent) got to court and of those just 1,070 got convictions. That is 36.8 per cent of those that went to court, 6.8 per cent of those reported to the police and just 1.3 per cent of all rapes. The Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales Alison Saunders sated that “men accused of rape will need to convince police that the woman consented”. That is all very well but the problem is not just with the police but with the UK public. A lot of people in the UK amazingly still think that if a woman wore a short skirt or dress that “she was asking for it”. Nonsense. Women should be able to wear what they want without it being seen as an open invitation to rape. Or if a women was drunk she is in some way to blame. Again tripe. Or if a woman doesn’t resist her attacker it means she was happy to accept sex. But some women would just freeze with fear when attacked. Some might take the pragmatic view if they try to defend themselves they’ll get killed. It didn’t mean they agreed to be raped!
But why do the public think like that? To my mind they are brainwashed by our awful media. A lot of the right wing press in the UK is full of sexist sewage. The Sun and the Star still have naked women for goodness sake. And in an awful editorial (January 30th 2015) the Daily Telegraph stated “A more honest approach (to rape) would be to consider once again whether a lesser offence of date rape is needed”. Nonsense. Rape is rape. It doesn’t matter whether its done by a stranger or someone the woman knows (which is the case in 90 per cent of rape cases). Just because a woman agrees to go on a date and is then raped it does NOT make it less serious than any other kind of rape. Good god. No wonder people think like that when the press is pumping such sexist propaganda to them on a daily basis.
So how to cut down the number of rapes/sexual assaults? We must improve the UK’s awful rape conviction rate. One way of doing that is to get rid of juries. It is clear that if a woman wore a short skirt/was drunk/didn’t resist her attacker a big group of the public(by no means all male) won’t have sympathy for her. Rape victims should not be at the mercy of the prejudices of the public. Rape trials should be heard before judges and magistrates who know the law and are would not be prejudiced against victims. Secondly the press have to be dealt with. The appeasement of Rupert Murdoch must stop. Page 3* should be banned and the likes of the Daily Mail should be stopped from publishing sexist sewage.
Long term however the key is to quote Tony Blair “Education, education, education”. We men have to learn that women aren’t playthings that we can treat whatever way we like. We have to understand they are human beings with a right to go through their lives without being subjected to rape/sexual abuse. Boys have to be taught at school that they should treat girls the way they want to be treated. if we teach them young that women aren’t our sexual playthings they hopefully will carry that on into adulthood. And then in the future maybe we can look forward to a UK where the rape conviction rate is zero. Not because of the prejudices of the police or the public. The rape conviction rate will be zero because men will have learned to respect women and there will be no rapes committed. It might seem like a dream. But there is no reason why we shouldn’t aim for a world where that happens.
*Page 3 is the page of the UK’s gutter press that has naked women on it.

No Turning Back…

At 11.07 am today I voted in the Scottish independence referendum. I voted No. There is no turning back. But I’ve learned a lesson. Don’t reveal how you are going to vote too early. Because had the referendum been yesterday I would have voted Yes in a fit of pique.
The reason is I am sick to death of some people in England. I read the Daily Telegraph. A lot of writers to their letters page said that the rest of the UK should have voted on Scottish in dependence. Why? This is a matter for the people of Scotland alone. If say the majority of Scots had voted “Yes” but the rest of the UK had voted “No” the SNP – who are paranoid moaners at the best of times – would have been moaning even more than usual. And the point is I can’t think of an independence referendum where it was NOTdecided by the people of the part that wanted to break away. From Kosovo to Quebec it has been the people of the part that wanted to break away that decided not the greater whole. Why should the UK be any different?.
Secondly a lot of Telegraph readers (and the paper itself in today’s editorial) have been complaining about the fact that if a simple majority of Scots vote “Yes” independence will happen. Some want to make it say two-thirds of the vote should be for “Yes” for independence to happen. They don’t realise that causes more trouble than its worth.
Two examples prove this. In 1979 there was a referendum on wither there should be a Scottish Parliament. The UK Government at the time had no majority so it was forced to accept a clause by a rebel MP George Cunningham that 40% of the total electorate had to vote “Yes” for the parliament to happen. That meant dead people who had died since the electoral register had been compiled would count as “No” voters. As SNP MP Douglas Henderson pointed out if that rule had applied to post war UK General elections the country would never have had a government (Seasons In The Sun, Dominic Sandbrook, page 525). As it turned out, 51.6% of those who turned out voted “Yes” but that was only 32.6% of the electorate so the parliament never happened causing resentment to this day (the Scottish Parliament finally happened in 1997). In another context the former editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly Tim de Lisle was spot on. After a blocking minority of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) members had voted against admitting women members in 1998 (the vote was 55.7 “Yes” and 46.3% “No” but the motion needed a two-thirds majority*) he wrote in an editorial (October 1998) that “the only majority that works is a simple one. Otherwise you are likely to get the few dictating to the many”. A majority “Yes” vote that was stymied by an artificial barrier would be a disaster. It would fuel resentment and the Scots would not accept it. A repeat of 1979 can’t happen.
To my mind these people have no trust in the people of Scotland to do the right thing. I was so angry yesterday I snapped and said “F*** them I’m voting “Yes”. But I never wanted independence and realised I was being childish. The people down South should trust the Scottish people. I suspect the polls – that are predicting a “No” win by 51-49 – will be proved wrong and “No” will win by a bigger margin than that. Today is the day for the silent majority.
But the result of the referendum will not be the end but the beginning. On Saturday I will write about what should happen next – depending of course on how we have voted today.
* Later in 1998 there was another ballot on the issue. This time the two-thirds threshold was reached and women became eligible for MCC membership.