Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is the intriguing name that was mentioned as a possible next chairman of the Premier League during informal discussions at the last clubs’ meeting.
Football has never seemed one of Blair’s great passions despite his claims to be a Newcastle fan. And even that was subject to ridicule when it was misreported that he had claimed to have watched Jackie Milburn at St James’ Park while sitting in the Gallowgate End. Blair was four and living in Australia when Milburn left the club — and the Gallowgate was all standing at the time.
Ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair was suggested as a potential chairman of the Premier league yet Blair, who left office in 2007 after 10 years as Prime Minister, certainly has enough charisma and natural authority to keep order among the 20 top-flight clubs.
Other names being floated for the chairman or chief executive are former BT chief Gavin Patterson and Sky Sports boss Barney Francis. But it is considered unlikely that the nominations panel, led by Chelsea’s Bruce Buck, would want to risk alienating other rights holders. In his leaving statement, Ivan Gazidis all but confirmed that Arsenal has finalized their kit supply deal with Adidas, who will be replacing Puma next season.
Departing chief executive Gazidis said: ‘We have recently concluded new primary partnership deals.’ The estimated £40million-a-year contract with Adidas would definitely be one of the club’s primary sponsorships.
There is dismay among the expert camera operators used by Premier League Productions for their feed to global rights holders after production company IMG stopped offering any contracted guarantees of work with little or no warning.
IMG executive Neil Roberts said in an email that he was upset if there were ‘disgruntled’ employees but that these were the working arrangements going forward. An IMG spokeswoman made no comment other than that the email was confidential.
What is it about the Football League and their Carabao Cup draws? After ridiculous trips to Asia to keep in with the sponsors, the FL management must now want their fourth-round draw on Saturday week to be watched by a minuscule TV audience at home.
Otherwise, why schedule it on little-known channel Quest before the FL highlights show, which had an average audience of only 217,000 last Saturday? Sir Nick Faldo will be joining the Sky Sports team for the Ryder Cup in France next week despite being probably the worst European team captain in living memory.
Faldo was in charge in Valhalla in 2008 when Europe’s long winning streak was brought to an end.
The Englishman mystified the team by dropping in-form Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia from the second-day foursomes and then back-loading his singles line-up. Off the course, he bizarrely brought Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and DJ Spoony into the team room.
His opening-ceremony verbal gaffes included calling Dane Soren Hansen ‘Soren Stenson’ and saying Padraig Harrington had ‘hit more golf balls than potatoes grown in Ireland’.
At the closing ceremony, he advised bringing waterproofs to Celtic Manor in 2010, which upset the Welsh Tourist Board. Faldo will share an analyst role with Sky — surely an accident waiting to happen — with his Golf Channel commitments.
It was a shame that England v Switzerland clashed with The Rebel Royal, the BBC documentary about Princess Margaret. Otherwise, more of the FA blazers might have enjoyed the unlikely sight of Malcolm Clarke, who represents the Football Supporters’ Federation on the FA Council and never misses an opportunity to speak at meetings, dancing cheek to cheek with Margaret.
She was visiting Keele University, where she was chancellor, for a Royal Ball in 1967 when Clarke was president of the students union.