Sports betting PR legend GRAHAM SHARPE writes…
THE GUARDIAN has always gone in for political virtue-signalling. Now, though, it has ramped up its moral credentials by deciding to prevent gambling advertisements from sullying the thoughts of its delicate readers who, they must therefore believe, are not capable of deciding for themselves whether they wish to take advantage of the perfectly legal services available to them, courtesy of bookmakers.
Explained the newspaper’s writer, Barney Ronay: ‘This is not actually a rational commercial decision. It is literally saying no to easy money, opening up the question of how exactly we’re going to replace that money while funding the continued operation of an occasionally quite good sports-based news website entity.’
On reading this, I immediately feared for the jobs of the journalists on the paper involved with reporting on the racing scene, many of which I came to know well during my years liaising with them as part of my day job.
One of their most illustrious racing writers was the late Richard Baerlein, such a dedicated racing man and punter that he named his own house ‘Shergar’ in tribute to the amount of money he – and who knows how many of his readers – won backing that great horse to win the 1981 Derby, urged regularly to do so well in advance of the race by Mr B, who had became racing correspondent to the Guardian in 1968: a job which, observed fellow racing writer, Tim Fitzgeorge-Parker, ‘had till then been likened to that of an admiral in the Swiss navy.’
However, despite this draconian removal of paid-for advertisements by perfectly legal businesses, the paper is, so I have been told by well-informed sources, not about to drop coverage of racing and will continue to offer readers tips for the races.
On which planet is this a logical thought-line? Apparently, I’m also given to understand, the ad ban decision has not gone down well with some of those on the editorial desks.
Meanwhile, the Guardian continues to pester readers to shell out to cover its running costs: ‘Please support us every month so we can rely on your funding and you can rely on our journalism. Give from just £2, or choose an amount you’re comfortable with.’
I’ve offered them a nice, round sum.
Recently, though, I did take out an online subscription to another of our longest established national newspapers ,to enable myself to keep bang up to date with what’s going on, given that I find the huge majority of 24 hour news tv programmes virtually unwatchable.
Although the up-dated news coverage is decent and current enough I have to say that the racing coverage, which I was hoping would be a bonus, has turned out to be little more than laughable.
Take a recent Sunday morning – actually the morning after the Shergar Cup – when my online version of the Telegraph was tempting me with ‘All you need to know’ about the up-coming Glorious Goodwood meeting – which had been over and done with for a week or so. And their two most recent features from their star racing writers, the excellent Marcus Armytage, and the, er, readable-ish Charlie Brooks – had been on site now for, respectively, eight, and THIRTEEN days.
Oh, well, I consoled myself by looking at the ‘racing tips and best bets for today’s races’ – which, I then saw, actually comprised hot selections for the long finished Royal Ascot meeting.
As for the previous day’s racing results from the Shergar Cup meeting – nothing whatsoever to be found, nor any news about what happened on the day and how Saffie Osborne – despite having her name spelled wrongly on her team colours – there’s no ‘u’ in Osborne – and Hollie Doyle – had helped the Ladies Team to victory in the competition.
When I checked again on August 28, a Bank Holiday Monday, the racing section of the paper’s coverage was featuring as its most recent stories, events from August 23. To be fair, the daily tips do seem to be properly up-dated.
A little bit of racing history was made recently as the experienced, established racing writer, John Sexton announced a…..’Big day for me today as it will be my last appearance as raceday presenter at Cartmel Racecourse.
After 16 years, the time has come to hand on the microphone to Craig Thompson, but it will be a bitter-sweet moment.
I have loved every minute of this role since I took it on in 2007 and will be very sad to see it come to an end, but in my heart of hearts I know the time is right.
I am not as young as I was and the old knees are playing me up and it has led to the painful conclusion that this is a task for a younger person.My thanks go to everyone at Cartmel for the help they have given me over the years.’
However, John has another little remembered, but slightly more profitable claim to fame – having been a contestant in the UK version of ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ in February, 2001, from which he walked away with the small matter of £250,000.
Having already been helped out by his 80 year old mother earlier in the show, John had decided against gambling on winning half a million – I’m a disciplined gambler,” said John, “and at the end of the day decided I’d be less disappointed by not gambling and taking £250,000 rather than gambling, but being wrong and losing £218,00.”
More pressure on the betting industry was applied by Geraldine Scott, a political reporter for The Times, who claimed in a recent article in late August that ‘A third of people would like to see gambling banned, research has found.’
My immediate thoughts on reading this were, I soon noticed, precisely the same as those posted on X/Twitter by former Racing Post editor, Bruce Millington:
‘And how exactly do people think it’s possible to ban gambling? All you’d do is force people, particularly addicts, to unregulated sites and illegal street bookies where they would be more vulnerable to harm.’
Answers to Bruce, came there none…….
Views of authors do not necessarily represent views of Star Sports Bookmakers.