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.

Halloween Adverts

What, there’s such a thing as Halloween adverts now? For ‘party food’ and kidult entertainment and the kind of clothing, masks and other shit that is designed to be bought, worn once and thrown away. Yup, Halloween adverts are a thing alright.

Where next? Pentecost adverts? Clock Going BACK adverts? Cupcake and Cunnilingus Day adverts? Advertising is great at finding new reasons for us to buy stuff – we do rejoice in an era of the Afternoon Snacking Market, for example – and Halloween is just another reason to convince people to buy pointless junk.

Halloween adverts

Think I’m overstating this? Google ‘classic Halloween advert’. There is the odd one, all American. There aren’t any old British Halloween adverts because Halloween was a hollowed-out turnip and some kids at your door wearing their nan’s old coat in exchange for a toffee. Women dressed like tarts? Adult Halloween parties? Halloween Tesco adverts? These things never happened in the recent past.

My brother told me that some of his students – people who are legally allowed to vote – hugged and wished one another ‘Happy Halloween’ on 31st October. Think that’s fucking ridiculous and kinda depressing? Well blame advertising.

However a relatively new element driving the commodification of every single area of your life is the rise and rise of social media celebrities, bloggers and vloggers – all of whom are desperate to make money or at least get free shit from covering every conceivable aspect of a brand’s marketing activities.

Look on Youtube and Instagram, to name but two, and there are dozens of videos and images about some pictures the supermarkets have released of biscuits that look like ghosts, cakes that look like ghosts and various other foodstuffs designed to make your kids’ teeth fall out of their mouths several years early.

Here’s an example where a young man who sounds halfway between bored and constipated drones through a few sort-of facts and ‘I can’t remember’ costs relating to some plasticky shit that Morrisons is selling, with precisely three pictures of said shit and a voiceover that sounds like a hostage reading a transcript against their will.

Here’s another and it’s not without skills on show but get past the adverts and the CGI intro and you have someone walking around a supermarket literally describing what they’re seeing, wielding a vocabulary that probably doesn’t reach three figures.

I watch these with feeling that include but are not confined to pity, contempt, annoyance and genuine wonder. Above all, however, a feeling of unease that something has gone wrong. It’s bewildering to me seeing the way people react to adverts for Halloween, the utter crap that we’re encouraged to buy and the uncritical way people appear to lap it up.

And then we have these mindless, weirdly popular, blogs devoted to getting free bits of plastic and discussing them with the descriptive powers – and stamina – of a bison. Supermarkets have become our bingo halls, pubs, libraries, holiday destinations – and now even workplaces. It’s as if the physical, mental and conceptual limits of these people extend only to their nearest Tesco.

This is what is truly terrifying about Halloween these days – the pointless and quite appalling consumption of plastic, nylon and sugar that has been elevated to the closest thing to employment many of these bloggers will ever get.

And what will they have to show for it? For all the baroque, sensual and thrilling pleasures promised by Halloween marketing they show us shaky videos of them turning over baubles as if they were arcane artefacts in their overlit asylums, full of people haunted by how utterly mundane it is, in a perfect evocation of their lives.

And their sad homes, temples to stuff, packed full of orange textiles, green plastic and pumpkins because Halloween.

Our planet has been turned into a giant machine for creating junk and when we are all gone the monument to the human race will be a plastic cauldron atop the biggest construction humans for which humans will ever be responsible. A towering pile of shit.

Happy Halloween.

Halloween adverts

A rundown of what appears to be Halloween adverts season.

Asda Halloween advert

Asda – feed your kids enough Halloween food shit and something like this will probably happen to them.

Sainsburys Halloween advert

An insane clown mask with a load of exposed chest cavity details? Why not go the whole hog and have a Fred West outfit?

Lidl Halloween advert

Lidl, where cheap shit is even cheaper than usual.

Aldi Halloween advert

The Aldi Family. In fairness I have visited Aldis that looked less inviting than Cemetery Lane.

Tesco Halloween advert

Throw a party for your awkward friendless kid this Halloween. If you don’t you’re a bad parent, but not in a Morticia Adams way.