Imagine a world designed for politicians. Philandering would be approved of, illicit drug use wouldn’t need to be covered up, cash in brown envelopes wouldn’t need the envelopes, lying and cheating would be saluted…actually, it’s all sounding pretty good so far. But in this world transparency would be a confusing smokescreen and deception the clearest and best way forward. Money grabbing suits would openly profit at the expense of the rest of us, and could happily refuse to be accountable. Funnily enough, that world exists, in the Blue Square Premier. Let me explain.
BSP clubs are currently engaged in a collective head scratching session in the wake of revelations – or the lack of them – surrounding the league’s deal with shady Irish gnomes from broadcaster Setanta. Under the terms of the TV deal, Setanta will cram at least 79 live BSP matches into a busy schedule also featuring Premiership matches, England games, and potato cultivation. However no-one from Setanta or the BSP will reveal how much the overall deal is worth, and how much each club can expect to receive if they’re televised.
The BSP fixture list, released about a fortnight ago, is now being used as bog roll at Setanta HQ as games due to be televised are subject to changes in the date of the fixture. So, the first live match (Torquay vs Grays, on the evening of Sunday 12th of August) will be played over 24 hours after the rest of the league has kicked off. Inevitably, attendances will be adversely affected as Saturday games are moved to Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights. Can you see 100 Grays fans travelling down to South Devon for a Sunday evening match when they have to make it back to their urban hell-holes in time for work on Monday? Exactly.
Of course clubs could accept all this if they were well compensated by the Setanta deal. But no-one knows how much the televised clubs will be paid. It was initially suggested that each team would receive £25-30k; more than enough for club suits to get over their despair at the lack of away fans. But it’s now being suggested that £5-10k is a more realistic figure – not nearly enough money to keep everyone smiling.
Big Bad BSP Bullies Oxford United are worried. As are the folk up at York.
“Nobody knows what’s going on,” said Bullies manager Jim Smith recently. “It seems to me that the League has maybe just taken the money and not thought about the full consequences. We don’t know what money we’re getting out of it.”
York City boss Billy McEwan also said: “You always get an official figure quoted in the Premier League’s negotiations with Sky, and information on how it will be distributed, but Setanta won’t divulge what the deal is. We need to know.”
And here comes the climactic, article-inspiring quote that really explains what I was blathering about at the start. Everyone’s favourite suited wanker John Moules (chief executive of the BSP) has been quick to allay the fears of those he represents. What? Eh? Oh…no he hasn’t. He clearly doesn’t give a crap as long as his pockets are lined by dirty Irish lira:
“We will not be revealing the amount of money involved, no matter what Billy McEwan is demanding,” Moules bellowed, before adding (and here’s the clarity-is-a-smokescreen bit): “Releasing exact figures into the public domain does little but mislead people.”
What?! Genius. That really is pure genius right there. Or maybe it’s pure Guinness. Perhaps Setanta are paying Moules in pints of the black stuff, and in his wasted warped world that final sentence actually makes sense. He may as well have just said: “Bollocks to the lot of you, I’ve been paid handsomely and if I reveal owt you’ll know you’re all screwed, so I’m saying nothing. Mine’s a pint of Guinness.”
TMN has a feeling that this is going to run and run.