Friday, March 1, 2024

Mismatch of the Day

There is an interesting Premier League weekend ahead. We’re playing Fulham tomorrow and we should get some Mikel Arteta chat a bit later today. We’ll cover that over on Arseblog News as and when it happens.

In this part of the world though, the focus is on the TV coverage after Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker was suspended for allegedly breaching the BBC’s impartiality rules after comments critical of the British government’s asylum policies.

It prompted a show of support from fellow MOTD colleagues:

And as the BBC scrambled to find anyone stupid or desperate enough to do the job in their places, we got this:

No scabs. Good.

I am watching this from a slight remove, obviously. Here in Ireland we live side by side with Britain, for geographical reasons, but there are historical aspects that are obvious too. We grow up supporting English football teams, we share many of the same cultural references, we get UK TV channels and radio (this was much more influential when the choice was not as great as it is now), and so many of us have crossed the Irish sea to make homes and families there.

I honestly find it astounding that with everything that’s happened under the watch of this government that the outrage is directed at a mildly liberal TV presenter who expressed his displeasure at a particular policy. Even if immigration is always a divisive issue, it’s pure distraction.

Without going into too many details because you all know what they are and it’s a bit redundant to rehash things like corruption, financial impropriety, cost of living crises etc, a lot of very bad things have happened directly because of this Tory government. Now they have whipped up the right-wing press into a frenzy over Gary Lineker and this is what people are talking about instead of the really important stuff. The things which affect the day to day lives of everyone, and that impact the availability and quality of public services. Things which can literally mean life or death.

It also strikes me that the BBC’s rules on impartiality are rather fluid. Lineker is suspended, Alan Sugar can Tweet what he wants without censure. Neither are BBC employees by the way, but they are contracted for their particular shows. How can any organisation whose chairman, Richard Sharp, failed to disclose he facilitated an £800,000 loan to Boris Johnson, have any credibility when it comes to impartiality?

What’s sad about this is that the BBC used to be an organisation to cherish, the creme de la creme of public broadcasting. Instead, they are now kowtowing to the likes of the Daily Mail and their ilk – as well as a government which is actively trying to destroy everything that was good about it via this kind of malign influence over its values. A man criticised the government, the government then used its position to remove that man from the airwaves. Forget the nonsense about impartiality, what does that sound like to you?

It would be fair to point out that the UK isn’t unique when it comes to some of the problems I mentioned above. Here in Ireland we have a housing crisis that is intolerable to even think about, and as our Taoiseach (Prime Minister) revealed for the first time that he’s a landlord, the government did away with an eviction ban that is going to create even more homelessness than we have already. What a coincidence.

We are fortunate in these countries that we can speak our mind via the ballot box, there are elections not too far away here. There’s only one way to elicit change in that sense, but as the response to Lineker, Wrighty et al shows, there is far more goodwill and compassion for the stand they are taking – based on the principle of treating desperate people with dignity – than there is anything else.

That gives me some hope. Silent Match of the Day is an embarrassment to the BBC, who haven’t just shot themselves in the foot here, they’ve blunderbussed their own legs off.

We’ll have a Fulham preview podcast for you a bit later on. For now, look after each other.

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