The devil’s work
Posted by John Beech on September 29, 2011
For someone who has no great love of the media, Sir Alex certainly knows how to get himself in the headlines. His latest claim is that football has sold its soul to the TV ‘devil’ (1). Attractive though his choice of metaphor is, with the vision it generates of a BSkyB ‘evil empire’, it just doesn’t really work when his other complaints he makes are vectored in.
He complains that the broadcasters have too much power, especially with regard to their influence on fixture lists. But isn’t that inevitable when you sell your soul to the devil? It’s exactly that power that the ‘devil’ broadcasters have bought. And I don’t recall that the standard ‘devil buys soul’ contract allows for renegotiation of the terms.
He complains too that the broadcasters haven’t paid enough for the rights. That may or may not be the case, and Sir Alex is not being unreasonable in making the suggestion as it is the Premier League who ‘sold their soul’ rather than Manchester United, Sir Alex’s club.
The Premier League though do not of course distribute broadcasting rights to clubs equally, and Manchester United does rather nicely thank you compared with the weaker clubs in the league (who, to maintain competitive balance, should if anything get more than Manchester United, rather than less).
On the whole, I’m not unsympathetic to some of the points he makes, but, in his case, methinks he doth protest too much