Sir Alex Ferguson has defied the Premier League and the BBC by yet again refusing to give a post-match interview to the TV rights-holders after watching his Manchester United side draw at Fulham yesterday.
Sir Alex has boycotted the BBC since a 2004 Panorama investigation into transfer dealings of his then football agent son, Jason. No legal actions arose as a result of the programme being broadcast, although clearly the Fergusons have harboured a grudge ever since.
The Premier League has underlined its requirement on team managers to co-operate with rights-holding broadcasters and the Press after matches by threatening to enforce escalating fines. The League Managers Association and United’s chief executive David Gill has also spoken to Sir Alex over the situation.
Last night’s Match of the Day 2, after running an interview with Fulham manager Mark Hughes, carried shots of the United manager leaving the Craven Cottage pitch with a line of script, “Sir Alex Ferguson once again respectfully declined to speak to the BBC despite a Premier League directive.”
But Match of the Day staff were told before kick-off at Craven Cottage that requesting an interview with the United manager would be pointless.
Sir Alex, who is thought to be worth more than £20 million, now faces a £1,000 fine.
He has told colleagues he is waiting for an apology before he speaks to the BBC again. He has accused the institution in the past of “breathtaking arrogance”.
The matter will now be referred to the Premier League board to decide the extent of the first fine, with the amount set to rise every week he continues to ignore the different Match of the Day shows and Radio 5 Live.
In previous years Sir Alex was immune to punishment because the rules requested that managers talk to the broadcast rights-holders under a “best endeavours” clause. The idea of tightening up the rules was specifically to tackle Sir Alex and was voted in by all 20 Premier League clubs, including United.
The Premier League issued a statement: “The Premier League is disappointed that the BBC and Manchester United have, as yet, been unable to resolve the issue of Sir Alex Ferguson providing post-match interviews.
“We will, of course, continue to monitor the situation and offer any help deemed necessary by either party to try and help remedy the situation. However, this is a breach of Premier League rules and the board will consider the appropriate course of action at their next meeting scheduled for late September.”
Paul Gaskin told the Mail on Sunday: “I did not want to move to Manchester and so decided to leave. It is as simple as that.”
He is not the only one. Peter Salmon, the director of BBC North, and his deputy Richard Deverell, will not be moving with their families to the area, nor will BBC Radio 5 Live controller Adrian Van Klaveren.
Roger Mosey, the former head of BBC Sport, took on an Olympic planning job and will continue to be based in London, as will Dave Gordon, BBC Sport’s head of outside broadcasts.
James Porter, the head of sports news, and Gordon Turnbull, the head of radio sport, have declined the move, as less than half of BBC Sport’s 114 middle managers have agreed to re-locate.
BBC Sport is expected to move in 2011, barely 12 months ahead of the Olympic Games being staged in London. With so many senior managerial staff not making the Salford move, the fear must be that this loss of experience may affect the BBC’s coverage of the London Games.