Under the Ionian skies, I made a rather big decision. When I return to Britain this week, I am getting rid of Sky TV. I have tried all the excuses, including the one that says (rightly) that Rupert Murdoch owns just 39% of Sky. For now. I have also pointed out that actually the Sky coverage I enjoy comes to me via Virgin, but that’s a very dubious claim since Virgin is obliged to pay a hefty wedge to Sky, and so to Murdoch. The dirty digger is in the process of buying the 61% of Sky he doesn’t already own. When he gets it – and who seriously believes he won’t, given the weakness of Theresa May’s pitiful government? – I’d have to unload Sky so this is my pre-emptive strike.
Cost does come into it. Getting rid of Sky will reduce my Virgin bill by 50% and given the increases to inflation, the extra costs of going on holiday and so on, I cannot justify the cost. In many ways, the cost of Sky is worth it. I watch some football (including every Barcelona game), a very small amount of cricket, a lot of rugby league, a lot of golf and occasionally some darts. I’ll lose all that and more but then again, I’ll be able to afford an extra short holiday, perhaps. It will offset some of my losses from – oh no, he’s going to mention that again – leaving the EU. Don’t forget that through his media empire, Murdoch campaigned for Brexit which has already caused a hike in inflation and a falling pound. I am getting some money back from him.
My decision was also influenced by a book I read here in Greece, And the sun shines now by Adrian Tempany. Flawed in places, it remains a compelling read and it taught me things I didn’t know about Hillsborough and Murdoch’s Sun. And I was reminded how, a year later, England’s national team changed football in this country during Italia 90 which laid the way for Murdoch, who so slandered and defamed Liverpool fans through his Sun newspaper, to become football’s biggest player.
And Hillsborough still haunts football like no other tragedy. I have to be careful here, given imminent legal proceedings, but we now have the truth and soon we will get justice. The Sun’s apologies were weasel words, they remain weasel words. And if you are like me, the Sun and Murdoch can never be forgiven. And part of my decision to get rid of Sky is because of Hillsborough.
The TalkSport broadcaster Colin Murray quit the station when Murdoch bought it and it will be intriguing to find out what happens when Murdoch buys the rest of Sky. Will Jamies Carragher and Redknapp still take the shilling? I expect Graeme Souness will given that he sold his story about his heart problems to the Sun not three years after Hillsborough. Will Liverpool FC still take the Sky money? Ooh, there’s a one for you. Given the Premier League, which is far more reliant upon Sky subscriptions than gate receipts, would even remain a desirable place for Liverpool is anyone’s business. If I have a crisis in confidence, what price Liverpool FC?
I happen to think that being a Sky subscriber, which I have been since the start, has fed the Murdoch revolution and the gentrification of football, where subscribers are more important than supporters. I am guilty as charged. When Murdoch gets his hands on the whole Sky operation, anyone with a sliver of conscience, anyone who cares about football the game and not football the business, will surely have to unsubscribe. Otherwise, Murdoch wins. Do you really want that?