Way back in 1985 Kingsley Amis wrote an article published in The Spectator entitled “A Consumer’s Guide to Sod the Public”; an A-Z of “annoyances perpetrated on the public by those who should be serving us”. Someone more energetic than I might care to bring it up to date, covering all depressing areas of modern life. So meanwhile I’ll restrict myself to sport. It’s a big enough target for it sometimes seems that the required qualification for membership of a sport’s governing body is indifference to public opinion, a willingness indeed to sod the public.
The public isn’t of course a uniform body. There are people passionately and actively involved in a sport. There are people with a keen and often long-sustained interest in it, people who are regular supporters of their clubs as well as of the national team. There are people whose interest is occasional. They like the sport but often don’t follow is closely. They watch Test matches and international matches, Cup Finals, Wimbledon, The Open, The Grand National and the Derby. Administrators should bear them all in mind and recognise that they have a duty to them.
But do they? Do they hell? It only needs Mr Moneybags disguised as a Private Equity firm to dangle the promise of a big “investment” for them to cry out, “let’s grab it – and sod the public!” Who can forget the ECB’s “deal” with the Texan tycoon, Allen Stanford for a $20 million five match T20 series between England and a West Indies All-Star XI? The media highlight was the arrival at Lord’s of a helicopter supposedly stuffed with cash to be welcomed by the ECB chairman Giles Clarke and its CEO David Collier. The shoddy deal fell through only when the US tax authorities moved in on Stanford.