I watched the 'Alan Sugar Tackles Football' programme on the BBC last night with great interest.
He is of course a phenomenom because of his 'The Apprentice' series. He also knows his stuff from his period as Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur between 1991-2001.
As a football fan first of all, I found his programme fascinating. My Alyson, having watched the first installment of 'The Apprentice' earlier in the evening in my absence and who is not one who is usually interested in football, watched the majority of it with me. She got rightly increasingly annoyed as I continuously nodded my head in agreement and said 'Yes' to much of what was said on the programme by Sugar himself and former players/managers/owners on the current state of British football.
The main concern raised by all of those who spoke was the escalating cost of wages in the Premier League and rightly so.
But there a few comments that stunned me.
One was from current Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp who admitted that he does not know how much the players that he manages are paid per week. To say that my jaw hit the ground on this revelation is the understatement of the year. I can not believe that a manager of such a successful club that reached the quarter-finals of this year's European Cup (the Champions League) does not know such basic information on his own players. Yet, I have no reason too disbelieve him. If this therefore be the case, then the shudders go down my spine when I think of how many Premier League managers are not aware of these basic facts of their players because such decisions have been made by executive officers and club owners higher up the chain of command.
Alan Sugar's Conflict of Interest?!?!
What also shocked me was the revelation (maybe not a new one generally, but certainly one for me) that Alan Sugar, the then Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, was the only representative of the 'Big 5' (Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United being the others) who voted in favour of SKY's bid for Premier League television rights at the monumental meeting that occurred in 1992 at the inception of the commerically successful Premier League. The other four voted in favour of ITV's bid who had promised to show 'big five' games more often. At the time of the vote, Sugar's company Amstrad was developing satellite dishes for SKY.
As an (unbelievably) humble (in these particular circumstances) local Councillor, I again had to lift my jaw from the floor when I heard this last night. As a Councillor, I quite rightly have to declare an interest if I am expected to make a decision on an issue in which I have a personal or prejudicial interest. What then of this decision by Alan Sugar?! His company had a monetary interest in the pivotal interest of the new Premier League's commerical rights as a partner in SKY's financial bid. He says in the programme in disbelief that a vote had to be taken initially to decide on whether he should've had a final say on this question which has played a critical part in the Premier League's development over the last 20 years.
Yes Sir Alan - disbelief. But disbelief that the vote went in your favour.
Alan Sugar should NEVER have had a final say on this issue in which his company Amstrad had a financial interest.
He spoke much footballing and financial sense last night, but it can not undo in my mind the fact that he felt it right and reasonable that he should be allowed to vote on this critical decision in 1992 in which his own company had a financial interest.
The financial future of Premier League clubs could benefit by the ideas put forward by Alan Sugar last night and yet, to me, they hold less sway coming from a man who felt it reasonable to decide on an issue in which he and his company had a financial interest.
Alan Sugar speaks a good game but he should in fact, hang his head in shame.