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Judging books by looking at covers, or playing by Aussi rules.

Manchester United Football Club - what does it mean?
What images does it conjure up for you?

Sir Matt, the Red shirt, the blue '48 Final shirt, the "birth of the Babes" at Huddersfield, a snowy night in Bilbao, Roger Byrne lifting two successive championship trophies, Munich, the king's goal at Wembley in '63, the trilogy of Law Best and Charlton, 1968, Doc's Red Army, the '85 Norman conquest, Alex Ferguson, the second coming, the tears after a very long 26 year wait, the double, Eric's double-double scouse buster or the youthful team of today?

Memories of a club which has it's roots - deep, deep roots embedded in Manchester.

A very special tradition that has spread far and wide around the globe. Even in the 60's you could go anywhere and mention Manchester United and whether you were in the remotest part of the Andes or deepest Brazil, the name would be understood and the names of the trilogy recited back to you.

With modern communications the message has been received and understood by more and more and each of those people wants a part of the club. The global appeal has spread ever wider.

It's that very global appeal which has attracted a rather infamous Australian.

The difference between you and me and him though is that he is not attracted by a football team in Manchester with a rich tradition, he is attracted by the opportunity to make millions out of that rich tradition by using us as a "battering ram" (his words) to further his TV empire.

Bastardisation is what I call it.

Do you really think he cares?

He cares so much that he didn't even bother to brief his Chief Executive, Mark Booth about who plays at left back for the team. And Booth couldn't even be bothered to find out.

Now that's caring.

So - judge the book - not the cover.

Take the News Corporation Annual Report with it's corporate full colour glossy cover - "spot varnish sir?" "cover up the cracks sir" "yes please".

Peel back the cover and look at the pages. Examine the words. Read between the lines and look a little deeper. Perhaps a different vision will reveal itself to you.

We are all flawed in some way, we know that. You either choose to ignore those flaws or choose to ignore the person. Sometimes, however, the flaws are so conspicuous that they are impossible to ignore, problem is you can't ignore the person either.

And what about our dear Martin?

"I have to think about the pensioners who might lose out if I don't take up the best offer." He said.

"Is he really concerned with the former state workers in the USA whose pensions are managed by Marathon Asset Management? The current pensioners reduction on a season ticket at Old Trafford is 10 pounds per season. Perhaps Martin should have shown his concerns for the elderly nearer to home." From the latest editorial in Red Issue.

"I will sit in front of anybody and argue the toss. Nobody will convince me that I have done the wrong thing." Martin Edwards stated in the Times. So why has he steadfastly refused to do so ever since?

"I am not about to do anything that destroys the health and tradition of this club. If I do then I deserve to be strung up". Martin Edwards again. He has proposed the selling of Manchester United to Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB - read on................

From India's Economic Times: "In Bombay there are now three outstanding warrants for the arrest of K. Rupert Murdoch. The first stems from a talk show that defamed Gandhi, the second came about because the first was ignored, the third issued in December 1997 is for the telecast of obscene films on the Star TV network."

Is this the man who will look after the tradition of our club - he doesn't seem to have bothered about India's tradition does he?

The following statement from Russ Baker's article in the Columbia Journalism Review, May/June 1998 entitled "Murdoch's Mean Machine" just about sums it up:

"Murdoch uses his diverse holdings, which include newspapers, magazines, sports teams, a movie studio, and a book publisher, to promote his own financial interests at the expense of real newsgathering, legal and regulatory rules, and journalistic ethics. He wields his media as instruments of influence with politicians who can aid him, and savages his competitors in his news columns. If ever someone demonstrated the dangers of mass power being concentrated in few hands, it would be Murdoch."

Do we need to read more? If we do, this is from the same article:

"Murdoch's British tabloid, The Sun, recently reversed its opposition to the controversial Millennium Dome - an enormous exhibition hall ("the world's largest dome") to be built in London - after Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) satellite service became a key investor. The English reading public had seen this before. Murdoch's firing of editors Harold Evans of The Times (in 1982) and Andrew Neil of the Sunday Times (in 1994) were both widely felt to be over reporting by the papers that angered the Tory governments -- during a period when government decisions were massively enriching the tycoon."

Does he seem the right man for the job?

The whole article can be found at:
http://www.cjr.org/html/98-05-06-murdoch.html

Or perhaps you would like to read this, from the Los Angeles Times Monday August 1997: "Playing by His Own Rules" by Michael A. Hiltzik:

It starts: "Potential Dodger owner Rupert Murdoch already knows the power - and perils - of pro sports. His foray into Australian rugby sparked a civil war that threatened the game's future."

And if you do, go to: http://www.csun.edu/~kab42291/latimes1.html

If anyone then has any doubt at all about the pages of this particular book or it's cover, there's plenty more where that came from.

Now let's get back to supporting Manchester United, after we've made sure it still exists.

"If you want to control a people all you have to do is remove their memory." George Orwell.

But remember, "He who owns the past controls the future". So let's keep control.

© Copyright Paul Windridge 1998