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Tyne Talk

Reaction to suggestion of Kevin Keegan for top job at Premier League sums up where we are at

11 months ago

Newcastle United fans dream of the day when Kevin Keegan is welcome back at St James Park.

Amongst the many shameful acts of these 14 years of Mike Ashley, were the PR campaigns Ashley instigated against both Alan Shearer and Kevin Keegan after he had treated them both so badly.

Maybe one of the most poignant sights that sum up this owner’s era, was when Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer were pictured at the unveiling of the Shearer statue next to St James Park.

A statue to Newcastle United’s greatest ever goalscorer that had to be positioned OFF club property, due to Mike Ashley.

Newcastle fans dream of both Shearer and Keegan once again, some day, playing an active part at Newcastle United. Not in terms of management anymore but more to do with the fact that they are two massive NUFC figures, who are seen as having integrity and the total trust of the supporters. Two people who if working with new owners, could play key roles in helping to make Newcastle United the club it could potentially be, by contributing away from the actual football side of things. Helping to make NUFC a successful and credible business AND football club, a club ran the right way.

How about though somebody like Kevin Keegan having an active role in an organisation with a far wider scope?

Well, both he and Alan Shearer aren’t just Newcastle United greats, both were England captains and the star players of their day who everybody looked up to.

It is just over two years ago, October 2018, when Kevin Keegan had his name put forward as somebody who could do a great job if given the top role at the Premier League.

The Newcastle and England legend was interviewed for the BBC’s Football Focus, as he promoted his excellent ‘My Life in Football’ autobiography.

After the programme was screened, Garth Crooks declared ‘How good was it to hear from one of the greatest players England has ever produced this week?’

He pointed to Keegan’s ‘passion and enthusiasm’ and says he can’t remember ever seeing ‘a player with more courage.’

Kevin Keegan of course is never afraid to speak his mind and to do the right thing.

Garth Crooks thought that this ‘man of the people’ would be ideal for a key role at the Premier League, putting forward Keegan’s name as an ideal candidate to be the new Chairman of the Premier League.

Richard Scudamore was set to be leaving his post of Executive Chairman of the PL by the end of the year (he later resigned in December 2018) but as for the chances of Kevin Keegan replacing him…

About as likely as Mike Ashley changing his ways and running Newcastle United for the benefit of the football club instead of purely for his own and his retail empire’s gain.

Honesty and openness are the words you associate most with KK, not exactly words you’d put in the same sentence with Mike Ashley or the Premier League.

The suggestion by Crooks met with much hilarity by people at the time, though for all the wrong reasons.

Garth Crooks speaking to BBC Sport – 8 October 2018:

“How good was it to hear from one of the greatest players England has ever produced this week?

“The interview with Kevin Keegan on Saturday’s edition of Football Focus could have, in my view, lasted an hour.

“The two-time European Footballer of the Year spoke with the same passion and enthusiasm for the game that made him one of the greatest competitors I have ever seen on a football field. In fact I can’t remember seeing a footballer with more courage.

“It was that courage that led Keegan to take the England job and that same nerve that saw him lead his beloved Newcastle United to the top of the Premier League table in January 1996.

“ It was also the same man who, as a player, made it crystal clear that he would stand squarely behind the PFA in the event of any attempt by the Football League to renege on their contract with the players’ association.

“How fitting then, as he promotes his biography, My Life in Football, that the one matter that troubles him more than any other is the ticketing prices Premier League clubs are charging fans in this period of unprecedented wealth in the sport.

“His almost desperate concern that businessmen appear to be running the game, at the expense of the man on the street whose presence brings the game alive, sticks in his throat.

“Keegan was always a man of the people, and should be at the heart of the game in some capacity to quell the game’s commercial excesses.

“The new chairman of the Premier League perhaps?”

The reality of course was something very different when it came to the Premier League deciding on their next man / men.

When Richard Scudamore resigned in December 2018, Richard Masters replaced him on an interim basis with a title of Chief Executive of the Premier League, then given the job on a permanent basis in November 2019.

The Premier League then followed that up by appointing Richard Keys’ mate Gary Hoffmann in April 2020, with a title of Chairman of the Premier League.

It is funny how football is constantly referred to as the ‘people’s game’ and yet those people have absolutely no say in anything that happens in football, with also pretty much not a single person appointed high up in any organisation that has any credibility with football supporters.

Whether that is the Premier League, the FA, the EFL, UEFA, FIFA…

The corruption that has been exposed in recent years has surprised nobody. One day summed this up more than any other, Russia awarded the 2018 World Cup to the astonishment of football fans around the globe, disbelief which then went into the stratosphere when on that same day it was revealed that Qatar would be hosting the 2022 World Cup.

Coming back closer to home though, this week we saw Parliament’s DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) committee grill the top people in football, especially in regard to how they are confronting the impact of the virus on the sport.

Rick Parry was there representing the EFL, Richard Masters from the Premier League, then Greg Clarke from the FA.

Clarke was then forced to resign following his embarrassing out of touch comments to the committee regarding female players, homosexual players and black players.

Maybe the most telling aspect of all this, is that for many football fans, whilst seeing Greg Clarke as a disgrace and somebody who should never have been allowed to carry on so long in his role, they will also see both Masters and Parry as people who have shown themselves to be totally unsuitable for the roles they continue to hold. Obviously they didn’t make the same comments as Clarke BUT in their answers to the DCMS committee, they also made clear that they are no friends to football fans.

Both Parry and Masters simply expose further the disease that is at the heart of English football. Key figures happy to go along with and facilitate the shameful plans from Liverpool and Man Utd to grab power for a small number of clubs.

Their plans dressed up to try and make out that it was all about how to save football, especially the smaller clubs in lower divisions who are facing such severe financial pressures, when the devil in the detail exposed it as being anything but the sort. Instead the usual suspects looking to grab total power and with that, various changes that would divert more cash to the ‘big’ clubs AND give them the power to then vote through any further changes for their own benefit in the future. Whilst any initial help for clubs below the Premier League would be very shortlived, as the actual details of the plan showed that in the future there would be LESS money overall going into the leagues below the top tier.

So, back to Kevin Keegan.

Just ask yourself, if Kevin Keegan had by some chance been given the top job at the Premier League back in 2018, would he now be acting like Richard Masters and Gary Hoffman have been doing?

The answer to that question is of course exactly why the likes of the Premier League would never appoint people such as Kevin Keegan to key roles.

Having started off at Scunthorpe before having a stellar career in football, Kevin Keegan is bothered about the health of football in this country and not just trying to make the most powerful and richest clubs even richer and more powerful.

As the DCMS committee hearing this week showed, the Premier League couldn’t care a less about the other leagues and clubs, they still haven’t came up with credible plan to help the lower divisions get through this virus crisis.

Hardly a surprise when the Premier League isn’t even ran for the benefit of all 20 members, never mind football as a whole.

The Premier League was set up solely due to greed and so it is no surprise that nothing has changed in that respect 28 years on, whilst what chance have the EFL clubs got when they are relying on somebody like Rick Parry to lead them to safety?

It doesn’t of course have to be Kevin Keegan, it is simply a case though that until the institutions controlling English football have people of integrity of the calibre of Keegan and others involved in key positions, English football will continue to struggle and have zero trust from football fans.


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