He announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring from Kick It Out at the end of the season, when he will be 74, and it probably sums up the modern‑day sport that he will be lucky to receive a thank you from some of the clubs that decided a gold clock was clearly insufficient as a farewell gift for Richard Scudamore, the Premier League’s chief executive, if the alternative was to parachute £5m into his account.
Instead, it will be interesting to see whether Lord Ouseley intends to go out with a bang now he might no longer feel obliged to tread a delicate line when it comes to questioning some of the people at the top of the sport.It cannot be easy, after all, calling out the people who need calling out when, simultaneously, you are relying on their financial backing.Football should not carry the can for society’s ills – but can help to remedy them | Barney Ronay Read more
It is a strange dynamic for Kick It Out, which takes its core funding from the Premier League, the Football Association, the Football League and the Professional Footballers’ Association, and has to retain diplomatic relations even in the moments, I suspect, when Ouseley and his colleagues have felt badly let down.
Still, nobody could accuse him of tiptoeing round the subject since recent events have introduced us to a Chelsea fan by the name of Colin Wing and made fools of all us who thought a banana skin being hurled at a black player, as experienced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the north London derby, was something that belonged to an era before the Arsenal striker was even born.
Ouseley wanted to know why Scudamore and the FA chairman, Greg Clarke, were nowhere to be seen when it came to leading the condemnation for what happened to Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge.Why, he wanted to know, did the people at the top always hide behind Kick It Out? Football, he said, still lacked authoritative leaders, a quarter of a century since he first accused the relevant bodies of turning a blind eye to racism. “And those responsible for this failure should carry the can for this as much as the perpetrators of hate themselves,” Ouseley said. A risky take, you might think, when Kick It Out is in the process of negotiating its funding from the three-year television cycle.But hats off to him for saying exactly what he thinks.
Scudamore duly trundled into view on Wednesday, writing a column for the Times in which he was very keen to promote all the work his organisation does in this field. “We recognise the influence – and the responsibility – that the Premier League holds in every aspect of our work. From 75,000 fans in a stadium to scholars in our academies, from community engagement programmes to millions of viewers across the world, we understand the power that our competition has to change attitudes in areas of equality, diversity and inclusion.” Facebook Twitter Pinterest Lord Herman Ouseley with Gareth Southgate at the 2018 PFA Awards. Ouseley has never been paid for his work with Kick It Out.Photograph: Steven Paston/PA
All of which would sound very noble, perhaps, were it not for the fact the Premier League’s last television deal amounted to £8.3bn but Scudamore and his colleagues currently put in just under £280,000, yearly, to help keep Kick It Out ticking over. It works out at roughly 0.01%. Or, to put it another way, it will be 18 years at this rate before Kick It Out has received the equivalent from the Premier League of what the top division clubs rattled together to make sure Scudamore, without his £2.5m annual salary, did not end up on Skid Row when he stands down next summer.
Not that this is just a matter for the Premier League.When the FA announced its chief executive, Martin Glenn, would also be moving on at the end of the season it congratulated him in a 651-word statement – as opposed to the 71 words of copy‑and‑paste devoted to the Sterling incident – for the way, under his leadership, “our culture has changed”, meaning the hiring of more female and more black, Asian and minority ethnic employees.
That was a generous write-up, if I may be so impertinent, for a man whose tenure coincided with the most chastening experience of the FA’s recent history, involving three different inquiries (two botched) into the discriminatory remarks of Mark Sampson, then the England Women’s manager, and a calamitous appearance before the digital, culture, sport and media committee where Clarke described claims of institutional racism as “fluff” and Glenn was accused by Eni Aluko, the black player whose complaints had finally been proven, of behaviour “bordering on blackmail”.The FA’s contribution to Kick It Out is just under £125,000 a year and it does not give a penny to Show Racism the Red Card
Apologies for going over old ground, but if the FA insists on portraying Glenn as some kind of trailblazer that was the point, in October 2017, when he really ought to have resigned, and let’s not forget some of the other apologies he made during all this culture change. The time, for example, he compared the Star of David to a Nazi swastika, Robert Mugabe and an Isis badge. The time he said women players didn’t get banter as much as male counterparts. Or the time he said he had deliberately appointed Katharine Newton, a black woman, as the barrister for the Sampson investigation because of her sex and ethnicity.Glenn, you might recall, withdrew those comments at the subsequent parliamentary hearing, explaining he had been tired “at the end of a long day” and adding that it was not “a pack of lies but it was an embellishment” – an about-turn, the MPs noted, that might have had something to do with his initial line being illegal in discrimination law.
Under Glenn, meanwhile, the FA’s contribution to Kick It Out is just under £125,000 a year (the same as those of the PFA and the Football League) and the governing body evidently does not think it necessary to give Show Racism the Red Card (SRTRC) a penny. Indeed, the only organisation that helps SRTRC financially is the PFA, to the tune of £50,000 a year.Which is not much when you consider the PFA has more than £50m in the bank, moved its London operation into a £5.2m office in 2016, pays Gordon Taylor anything up to £2.3m a year (even before we get to bonuses) and appears to have no problem with its chief executive spending huge sums on particularly expensive artwork and football memorabilia.
By now, you might see a pattern emerging. How many times, for example, have you heard somebody accuse Kick It Out of not being powerful enough? And, to a point, maybe that is true: its workforce amounts to 18 people and it has needed bailing out financially more than once. Everybody agrees that it needs beefing up. But how can that happen without a proper leg-up from a sport, let’s face it, that is drowning in its own wealth? The money is there, but is the desire?Do the relevant people think it is important enough?If every racist at football was silenced stadiums would still be full of racists | John Barnes Read more
Nor is this a particularly new story. The first time I wrote on this subject was in 2013 and again, three years later, remembering the time when Rio Ferdinand used his autobiography to dismiss Kick It Out as “useless”, complaining that nobody from the organisation had bothered attending John Terry’s trial for shouting what he did at Anton Ferdinand, Rio’s younger brother.
That story, more than any other, sums up the way people who should know better are too quick to make the good guys their punchbag: a representative of Kick It Out attended all five days of that court case, sitting beside Ferdinand’s parents, Julian and Janice, in a show of unity.And Rio, who claimed his family would disown him if he wore one of the organisation’s T-shirts, would have known this if he had been there a single minute.Sign up for The Recap.
At least Scudamore is willing to admit that “it is glaringly obvious that more needs to be done” and that his own organisation must “redouble our efforts”. If he means what he says, let’s see if he is willing to back it up with hard money to help the sport’s anti-racism groups expand.Otherwise, it just looks like more of the same – empty PR promises, ticked off by a press officer – and if that sounds overly cynical just remember this is the industry where, until a few years ago, the Football League expected Kick It Out to work with all its 72 clubs but did not contribute a single penny.
The explanation was that the Football League was too hard up. So hard up, indeed, that Clarke, in his days as the league’s chairman, once claimed a lack of finance meant the required tests of owners and directors could not always be carried out to the highest standard. Just not so hard up, plainly, to dissuade the relevant people from turning their annual meeting into an Algarve jolly every summer, block-booking a five‑star hotel in the resort of Vilamoura and, well, you do the maths.As always with football, it is all about priorities.Ban is a farce but watching Bolton is painful viewing
What to make of the news that Bolton Wanderers have banned Marc Iles, the Bolton News correspondent, from attending matches for considering it newsworthy that the players go without wages, the team are drifting towards relegation and the whole operation under Ken Anderson appears to be built on the theory of chaos?
The thinking behind this ban, apparently, is that negative coverage might affect Anderson’s opportunities to sell the club, the final straw being when Iles announced on Friday that the players had finally been paid their salaries from November and tried to inject a little bit of humour by accompanying the news on Twitter with a gif from The Muppet Christmas Carol.
It could have been worse.I went to a Bolton game earlier this season, when they lost 3-0 at home to Nottingham Forest, and it was shocking to see the apathy in the stands, the lack of hope and the staleness when I can remember covering the club in vibrant times. If Iles wanted to be really cruel he would have kept to the Muppets theme and dug out one particular clip of Statler and Waldorf to sum up what Bolton have become under this regime.The clip where Statler realises his companion has dozed off from their seats in the audience. “Wake up, you old fool, you slept through the show.”
“Who’s a fool?” Waldorf responds. “You watched it.”Time for Mourinho to put his own house in order
“It’s like a house,” José Mourinho says, explaining the process of trying to return Manchester United to the days when the Premier League’s leading pack was not rubbernecking in their direction. “It’s not just about buying the furniture, you have to do work, you spend money on the best possible furniture and then you’re ready to live in an amazing house.” A nice line from the man who has spent the last two and a half years living in a hotel.