Des Kelly: FA forced Levy to do the dirty on Harry… and Redknapp deserved better
23:41 GMT, 15 June 2012
It’s all the fault of the Football Association, muttered Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy as he jabbed a sharp pin into the voodoo doll of Sir Trevor Brooking stashed in his office drawer especially for moments like this.
If it wasn't for those pesky FA meddlers, Harry Redknapp would have led the national side out against Sweden, not Roy Hodgson, and what a different story it would be now. Not necessarily for England, but certainly for Spurs, grumbled Levy as he selected a spot high on Brooking’s forehead and inserted another needle.
The Spurs chief had his ideal scenario mapped out: Euro 2012 would rid Levy of a manager he had never truly seen eye to eye with, allow him to play the unfortunate 'victim' of the FA’s headhunting raid and still reward him with a handsome compensation cheque for ‘reluctantly’ allowing Redknapp to go.
Axed: Harry Redknapp has waved goodbye to Tottenham despite his success
It was a win-win scenario, which was not something Spurs were able to say very often during their end-of-season stagger to the line.
Instead, thanks to Brooking, David Bernstein and Co at FA headquarters, Levy had to fork out 3million to sack a guy he thought was leaving anyway and, in return, he has collected nothing but blame and contempt.
Famous ex-players like Gary Lineker called his decision ‘unbelievable idiocy’, pundits lined up to kick Levy from pillar to post and if Spurs finish below the fourth place that Redknapp achieved before he was removed, the new boss won’t get the blame but the chairman most certainly will.
Nobody is even mentioning how Redknapp brought in Wayne Rooney’s ‘controversial’ agent Paul Stretford to handle contract negotiations, a baffling move that was always likely to become a mess. Instead, they keep talking about how ‘’Arry got the cockerel crowing again’.
Because he did. That’s the trouble for Spurs and Levy now. And, if Redknapp was such a liability as manager, why were the club demanding around 10m in compensation from the FA to let him go
Credibility at risk: Spurs chairman Daniel Levy (right) has made a huge call
Levy has to do something to rescue his credibility here. The board must have had contingency measures in place to deal with Redknapp’s anticipated departure to England, so it would be quite ridiculous to believe the chairman doesn’t have a plan drawn up.
That is why the stories claiming that the likes of Andre Villas-Boas, Rafael Benitez, Roberto Martinez, Alan Pardew, Fabio Capello and whoever else is flavour of the month are on an extended shopping list of candidates don’t quite ring true to me.
The word was an unofficial deal for David Moyes had already been discussed some time back with Levy’s boss, Joe Lewis, the Bahamas-based British billionaire who bankrolls Spurs.
So maybe the current speculation is a smokescreen or perhaps the Moyes switch has hit a snag because of Levy’s love of installing a director of football above the manager. But I’m not buying into the idea Spurs are on some blind fishing exercise right now.
Remeber this Spurs beat Wigan 9-1 at White Hart Lane in November 2009
I certainly fail to see how Martinez can be Redknapp’s successor. That’s really going to win the dressing room over, isn’t it Hello gentlemen, here’s your new boss. He’s the guy who was in charge of Wigan Athletic when you beat them 9-1. I can see the sneers now.
Back in 2001, Levy’s board announced a five-year plan that involved regular European football. That sounded a pipe dream when Spurs were languishing in 14th in 2004 or finishing a mediocre 11th in 2008, but Redknapp helped turn that ambition into a reality.
And, whatever the deposed boss says, he would still be in the job had the Germans not lost that penalty shootout to Chelsea in Munich. Levy would not have had the balls to remove a boss who had delivered Champions League football for the second time in three seasons.
Redknapp deserved better in return. His only error was to believe what he read in the papers, heard on the radio and saw on TV — that he was about to be handed the most important football job in the country. It’s hard to blame him for that and it certainly doesn’t justify Spurs doing the dirty on Harry.
Time for fans to blow their own trumpet
According to a recent survey of, er… me, nobody likes the England band.
The fact that the brass ensemble had their instruments taken away before the first Euro 2012 match against France was the most welcomed silence since Sir Cliff Richard’s off-key warbling during the Jubilee concert came to a merciful end.
Now the England band are probably charming lads and they’ve certainly milked this ploy to wangle free tickets but I had the misfortune to sit in front of them and endure their deafening, phony ‘atmosphere’ throughout one England international.
The banned: England's 'musicians' with their instruments
Midway through their 49th rendition of
The Great Escape I was quite willing to conduct an experiment into
whether an entire trumpet could pass through a musician’s digestive
system, in reverse.
Of course, it is easy to forget why the band were wheeled out in the first place during the mid 90s.
In other news…
Manchester City are to launch a new
club aftershave. It’s made entirely from the most expensive ingredients
of rival aftershaves.
Kevin Pietersen has retired from one-day duty for England. I can’t wait to hear what country he wants to play for next.
It is somewhat ironic, as someone pointed out to me this week, to see Rangers being ruined by men called Green and Whyte.
It was a clever ploy to drown out the moronic chants of ‘No Surrender’ from England’s knuckle-dragging followers prior to Euro ’96.
But times change and, thankfully, the band’s services aren’t required any more. It’s time to let the audience sing their own songs.
It’s what the Irish do. Despite an undercurrent of racism, monkey chants and overt hooliganism in Eastern Europe, the Republic’s good-natured, happy supporters have lifted the roof of every stadium without a brass band accompaniment parping throughout the game.
The Irish team might not have been up to much, but their fans head home with honour. They proved they can blow their own trumpet.
Prepare for the m-a-week deal
Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has been a busy man of late, securing an astonishing, new 3,018,000,000 deal for the game’s domestic television rights for the next three years.
I’ve used the figure in full, complete with all the required noughts, because it is a mind-boggling sum, the magnitude of which just isn’t captured by skipping over the seven-letter word ‘billion’. This deal is up 71 per cent on the current contract at a time of global austerity.
To put Scudamore’s work into context, the team who finish bottom of the Premier League at the end of the 2013-14 season will now collect more than the 60million Manchester City banked for winning the title in May.
Those so-called financial fair play laws look somewhat less restrictive all of a sudden. Scudamore suggested clubs use their new money for ‘sustainability’. But he can’t tell them how to spend the cash — and they’ll do no such thing, of course.
This jackpot means one thing to you and me. We’ll be watching players earn even more extraordinary sums of money than they do right now. Ticket prices won’t come down. Despite the presence of sheiks and oligarchs and this windfall, an average seat costs 1,100 per cent more than when the League was introduced 20 years ago.
This is why: already there are agents out there tearing up their 200,000-a-week deals and scribbling 350,000 on the bottom line, with the 500,000-a-week payday just around the corner.
As things stand, 7 of every 10 the Premier League earn passes straight out of the club accounts and into the pockets of the players and their agents.
But the men who kick a ball about will argue that, if the Premier League are 71 per cent more valuable to BSkyB and the new broadcast partner, British Telecom, then the people putting on the show deserve their reward, too.
BSkyB and BT might have paid 71 per cent more, yet they will not be able to hike prices by 71 per cent. And 71 per cent more people are not going to tune in. So something’s got to give, which is going to be difficult in a game where everybody takes.
There's a trick up Danny's sleeve
Film maker Danny Boyle played a delightful con trick on the world this week when he revealed the supposed details of the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
The director sold a line that his vision of Britain for the 2012 games would consist of the traditional British countryside complete with cows, 70 sheep, cricket and simulated rain all in a tellytubby-style arena.
Columnists fell over one another in the rush to spoof this seemingly nave vision, adding travellers’ caravan sites, hunt saboteurs and traffic cones to the pastoral scene.
Model pro: How the Olympic opening ceremony will look, as designed by artistic director Danny Boyle (centre), famous for films such as Trainspotting
‘We’re bound to fail,’ said Boyle on the level of expectation that awaits. But that was why he was revealing only a part of the plan and it was possible to catch the whiff of manure on the breeze.
This is the bloke who recently directed a stage version of Frankenstein. He made his name with Shallow Grave, a film about three people who dismember their dead flatmate. He followed it up with Trainspotting, a movie about heroin addiction, while 28 Days Later imagined the horror of a post-apocalyptic London.
So he’s not about to create a Cotswolds Lite for one of the biggest global TV audiences in history. I’ll bet half the spoofs are in his Opening Ceremony script already. Anyone who actually believes Boyle intends to present a ‘green and pleasant land’ will surely find the joke is on them.