Talking Sport - Drunk on obsession with positivity

Phil Wilkinson

Phil Wilkinson

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LEAGUE One club Swindon Town – with an average attendance of 7,900 – have scrapped pre-match press conferences.

From now on, they’ll do their own previews via their own official website and ‘app’.

Which means the club will only answer the questions they want asking.

This pathetic, arrogant, insular view is, sadly, creeping into football.

Many sports are much more media-friendly, because they realise the value of exposure. In a crowded market, airtime and column inches increase their profile ... even if they have to cop the occasional bruising when things go wrong.

Some football clubs, even the small ones, are different. They have become drunk on their self-obsession with positivity, even at the expense of wider exposure.

But more importantly – and I can’t stress this enough – fans can’t rely on clubs for news about the clubs themselves!

It’s the sporting equivalent of mistaking a political party broadcast for the News at Ten.

It’s PR pap. Propaganda. Press releases as chemically sterile as toilet cleaner.

Don’t believe me?

On Saturday, troubled Blackpool FC played a pre-season friendly at Lancaster.The club’s own official Twitter feed sent an update on the 73rd minute – “Drilled effort across the box... is cleared away” – and then, nothing.

Not for a long time.

Then, the next Tweet was post-game reaction!

What happened in the remaining 17 minutes?

So I looked on their official website, which reported: “The game was brought to an end after 75 minutes with Blackpool 3-1 up.”

All good stuff.

Who needs journalists, right?

Trouble was, one detail was conveniently missing.

At no point did it mention the game was halted because of a pitch-invasion in protest at chairman Karl Oyston!

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IN any other July, in any other year, a home game against Widnes would not be a big drawcard.

No matter how you dress it up, it isn’t Box Office.

Last year’s was only memorable because, at half-time, Joel Tomkins walked out onto the pitch at half-time to announce he was returning!

But under the new system, there is a lot riding on the next two matches before the Super 8s begin.

If Wigan stay 3rd, then – as it stands – they will have away games against Leeds, St Helens and Warrington.

Climb to second, and two of those mouthwatering games in the Super 8s are likely to be at the DW. And given the Warriors’ sterling home form, I know where I’d prefer them to be at!

The Super-8s isn’t perfect... but I’m preferring it to the way it was.

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THE victims of the Super League shake-up are the ‘reserves’. To recap, from the end of this month, any ‘fringe’ players must either stay at partner club Workington until the end of the year, or stay at Wigan. So if, for example, Lewis Tierney – too old for the Under-19s – stays put, he won’t play a competitive game for seven months! It’s ridiculous. Rugby league has enough problems without creating their own.