NORMAN GILLER’s got his expensive Wembley ticket for the FA Cup semi-final, which is probably a safer bet that a boarding pass for the good ship Murdoch
If you believe the stories coming from across the Atlantic, it is a footballer – David Beckham, no less – who could finally sink the beleagured Murdoch empire. I use the “sink” metaphor deliberately because Rupert has become transfixed by the legend of the Titanic.
As one of his 215,893 followers on Twitter, I can tell you that as I type, his latest Tweets are all about the 3D version of the blockbuster Titanic film and how it grossed $11.3 million in its first night showing in China.
This has got Rupert’s juices flowing and gives him something to take his mind off the fact that the net is now closing in on him in his chosen refuge of the United States.
Lawyers in California and New York are being rounded up like a posse by Mark Lewis, the British bulldog lawyer who has been taking huge bites out of Murdoch’s legs and now seems ready to move to even more delicate parts of the media mogul’s business anatomy.
It is in the United States where Murdoch’s business is at his strongest, but Lewis is hunting him down and will shortly reveal plans to file at least three separate legal challenges on behalf of clients who claimed their phones were hacked while in America.
One of them seems certain to be former England football captain, style icon and Mr Golden Balls David Beckham, who is convinced that he and his wife Victoria – now there’s a Posh name – were targeted by the now silenced organ, the News of the World.
So far Hackgate has cost the British end of the Murdoch conglomerate the little matter of £75 million, but this is a drop in the ocean – there I go with the Titanic thoughts again – if Lewis can infiltrate the American control centre of News Corp.
Informed opinion is that along with Beckham, Princess Diana’s former butler Paul Burrell and an American citizen friend of actor Jude Law will lead the test cases against Murdoch in his adopted home, where conviction could possibly lead to News Corp losing their licence to operate.
Just in case you’re not up to speed with the ins and outs and up and downs of the long-running saga, it was the once-struggling lawyer Mark Lewis who was the driving force behind detonating News International’s parroted claim that phone hacking was all the work of “one rogue reporter”.
It has boiled up into an international scandal on a scale of the “unsinkable” Titanic, and the next revealing chapter will be when the Murdochs – Rupert and the dethroned James – become major players in the Leveson Inquiry.
It will be fascinating to see what Rupert Tweets as the lynch mob hunt him down. He is still a novice at the Tweeting lark and will soon learn that 140-character messages can come back to haunt you.
Last week, he Tweeted: “Without trust, democracy and order will go.”
Trust in the Murdoch empire has been severely dented, and now David Beckham of all people is being lined up to give him a kick in his golden balls.
The most humble day of your life, Roop? You ain’t seen nuttin’ yet.
ALONG WITH 179,999 other football fans, I will be making my way to Wembley this weekend for the FA Cup semi-finals.
It is not so bad for those of us who support one of the London giants, Tottenham or Chelsea, even though we are having to accept the potty Sunday evening kick-off time of 6pm to suit ITV schedules.
But I would be spitting blood if I were a Liverpool or Everton supporter having to drag myself all the way down to Wembley to watch a Merseyside derby at 12.30 on Saturday lunchtime.
I know Wembley has to be paid for, but it is extracting the urine (as well as hard-earned pounds) to bring thousands of Scouser fans 212 miles to watch a semi-final that in all sanity – and much-cherished tradition of a neutral, but not Wembley venue – should have been played on their own doorstep.
How much longer are supporters going to take these kicks in the pocket?
Where is an activist with the Trenton Oldfield spirit (he was the idiot who put his oar into the Boat Race) to lead a revolt against the football chiefs who continually spit in the faces of football fans?
Every way you turn they are ripping the fans off, whether it is the ridiculous admission prices, the scandalous cost of replica football shirts or the overpriced football programmes and souvenirs. All this to keep overpaid, overhyped, over-here foreign football players wealthy in the obscene manner to which they have become accustomed.
Watching Spurs against Chelsea will bring back mixed memories for this old git of the last time they met in the FA Cup at Wembley, in the 1967 final. You could get a standing ticket for ten bob (50p), and the official programme cost one shilling (5p).
I was chief football reporter for the Daily Express back in those heady days, and earning a princely £60 a week. The players were on a £200 win bonus.
To boost my income I had the bright idea of talking a local printer into producing a souvenir match day programme to sell outside the ground. Okay, yes, a pirate programme for the want of a better word.
I wrote it in partnership with my best mate, the late Harry Miller of the Daily Mirror. The printer got a bit carried away and ran off 50,000 copies, of which just 3,000 were sold.
My performances as a publisher have not got any better.
Think I’ll join Rupert on the deck of the Titanic.
Now that will be worth Tweeting about.
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