On principalities

WHILE everyone waits for the winter ice to thaw on Austria Salzburg’s season, let’s take the opportunity to gather up some of this blog’s underlying strands.

The two months since Austria’s unterligas went into deep freeze has seen match-fixing rear its pug-ugly fizzog in Spain, Bulgaria and Poland, serious question marks emerge over who was in referee Steve Bennett’s earhole during his last minute penalty u-turn, and Graham Poll claim he often ‘deadened’ the later stages of level cup ties in order to collect bonus match fees from replays.

Speaking of arseholes, the Premier League’s Richard Scudamore, true to form, bounced into the sack with the governers of some of the most corrupt football on the planet while continuing to assert his own competition’s airworthiness while all around him nervously eyed the emergency exits.

With the transfer window flung open to allow in the tumbleweeds and let ‘Appy ‘Arry give bookies’ mate Stephen Appiah the once-over, up for sale West Ham, Blackburn, Everton and Arcadi – sorry, Alexandre – Gaydamak’s Portsmouth remain unfloggable.

chelsea01Just as Newcastle United’s Mike Ashley stopped looking for some other cash-rich sucker, fans of Manchester City were staring up the league table wondering why chief executive Garry Cook ever bothered and Ken Bates’ Stamford Bridge bailers were having to shelve attempts to resuscitate his deadweight developments.

If all this seems a bit Machiavellian, then small wonder it should lead to the man who in a previous life sneered ‘You’ve lost!’ in the faces of clubs – Leeds United among them – who had unsuccessfully opposed Sky’s bid to de-terrestrialise the top of the English game.

Governing, these days, from a principality far from his own, Ken Bates channels as effectively as ever Niccolò Machiavelli’s tracts that it’s always better to be feared than loved, and a good prince should only seem to have certain humane qualities because it’s often necessary to act against them.

Acquired more by force than skill, and unwilling to move there himself, Bates’ only secure way of retaining Leeds United was to destroy it and re-establish it in his image.

Deep within the vacuum of the self-same Football League the Sky deal he backed was designed to smash, Bates’ toytown media appears to be a godsend to fans who, despite the lack of evidence that his mediocre longview is in their best interests, are often informed over a bed of mind-numbing 80s and 90s pop efforts that it is.

Old Machiavelli would’ve approved.

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