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13Aug/180

Jeff Stelling Sky Bet Superboost Advert

Sky, Sky Sports News, Soccer Saturday, Jeff Stelling, Chris Fucking Kamara. If there's a nexus point for all the fuckwittery, hyperbole, vulgarity and utterly shit bantz engendered by modern football it's these quite dreadful things. As if to amplify and clarify just how awful, they're all at the centre of a raging conflagration of football betting. If I were to line up the things I hate most about the United Kingdom most of these things would feature - and that was before this genuinely devastating Super Boost advert.

I parted ways with football 15 years ago, just aghast at the horribleness of it all. When Newcastle sacked Bobby Robson - one of football's finest for several decades and a truly great bloke to boot - that was it for me: a totem of how thuggish, stupid, greedy and simply divorced from reality the whole thing had become. Very little I've seen since - perhaps apart from the slight blip of the 2018 England Word Cup team appearing to be decent human beings - has convinced me that I've ever been wrong.

Football has been bought. Pride in your town / city or conurbation of choice has been bought. The family memories forged through football - bought. Very rich people who don't live in this country and couldn't give a fuck about your club - which they have bought, or its players, which they have also bought - own all that stuff now. They are prepared to sell little snippets of it back to you at vastly inflated prices. And that is the relationship you now have with football, whether you know it or not.

Where best is this evidenced? You might think the hilarious prices of season tickets, the terrible food and drink available at matchdays, for which you need to remortgage your home, or the eye-watering mark-up on replica shirts. Or you might look at how much a subscription to Sky costs and think it's there. But no. The most obvious example of how football has been sold is in how closely intertwined the football, media and betting industries have become is in Sky Bet and this Super Boost advert.

If you like football you will almost certainly have a Sky subscription. With that subscription you basically have a 24-hour Jeff Stelling channel. In fact it's only a matter of time before Stelling is wired up with seven Go-Pros so he can loudly comment on whatever mundane events are happening around him at any given time. Enjoying his breakfast, giving his wife some flowers or just having his first dump of the day.

And now he's all over the telly urging you to piss whatever cash you still have into some depressing little Sky Bet app on your expensive smartphone that only exists to rob you of money. Well, that and sit on your smartphone quietly feeding back information about your smartphone use to its evil masters anyway.

Where exactly does Sky Sports end and Sky Bet begin? Is there any real difference between them? And what is Jeff Stelling's job now - as an anchor on coverage of football or a shill for betting companies? Having Stelling as the face of both seems deeply problematic, a bit like your gynaecologist trying to set you up with prostitutes.

Unconvinced? Here's a tweet from Sky Bet where Stelling refers to the Soccer Saturday Price Boost. Sky Bet? Sky Sports? Is there any difference?

The reason this is so concerning - and why it's astonishing that it's even allowed - are the alarming rates of gambling addiction in the UK, a leader in the western world in entwining sport and betting so ferociously.

And Stelling, for all that I dislike what he does and stands for, is a consummate broadcaster. A man who engenders trust, respect, attention. The perfect man, in other words, to encourage you to gamble.

To see him clapping and shouting into your face - like something from 1984 only worse - is to understand how indistinguishable sports are from online betting. The football-chant-like mantra; the handclap; the repetition. The insidious suggestion that football amounts to nothing unless you bet on it.

And I hope that somewhere on the A19 in his plush, expensive car, Jeff Stelling occasionally pulls over onto the hard shoulder and sits, dabbing the occasional silent tear away with his Hartlepool United scarf, thinking about what he's done.

18Aug/102

Sky Sports News Advert

Sky Sports News is utter shit. That's an important first principle. It consists of football gossip culled from newspapers and Twitter reported as exclusives over looped footage of training ground tedium.

It shows endless shots of minor Premiership footballers walking to their cars with the same reheated gossip you can read anywhere on the internet.

It has the kind of absurdly trumped-up graphics, 'infobars' and music that would leave Chris Morris scratching his head.

Anchors read the most fatuous footy tittle tattle as if they're delivering the news of the Berlin Wall coming down.

Endless adverts appear for it all over Sky's network - which you have to pay for anyway - and Sky Sports News itself is constantly interrupted by advert breaks.

And now it's in HD. So fucking what? Why would I want to watch perma-tanned middle-aged blokes witter on about lower league transfer in gossip IN HIGH DEFINITION?

I once sat in a mate's house while everyone watched, anesthetised, the same shit looped over and over and over again - while there was actual sport on.

The only place where there's any point whatsoever to Sky Sports News is when you're at the bar in the pub, when you may just possible catch a glimpse of something you actually want to see.

When you're watching Sky Sports News you're not living, you're simply existing. I like sport, pretty much all sport, but there's something wrong when people actually care about an interview with the child who caught Craig Bellamy's new Cardiff City shirt.

And in what crazy fucking world does the the news 'Blackpool agree fee with Bournemouth for striker Brett Pittman' warrant a BREAKING NEWS banner?

And now, absurdity of absurdities, Sky wants to charge you to watch Sky Sports News. It's a piece of work so incredible it can only reasonably be described as genius, albeit evil genius.

Take something of zero value, pretend it's important, and make people pay for it. That's Sky all over, but the idea of paying to watch a bloke sitting a desk reading a teleprompter while stock footage of Deepdale on an overcast Tuesday afternoon plays in the background is sheer insanity.

Sky Sports News is the closest thing to TV simply broadcasting an incapacitating drone and blasting subliminal messages into viewers' heads.

WATCH FOOTBALL. BUY STUFF YOU DON'T NEED. CARE ABOUT WORTHLESS THINGS. LOOK AT JIM WHITE. That's pretty much all you need to to know about it.

Stupid, stupefying, witless, pointless, numbing, worthless, idiotic, empty white noise.

Am I the only one wearing the sunglasses?

   

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