Yesterday saw economic figures released which were, by common consent, shockingly bad. To summarise, there was a surprise 0.5% fall in GPD for the last quarter of 2010 where The City had been expecting a rise of up to 0.7%, following 9 months of steady economic growth. The December snow has been cited as a contributory factor, but the Office of National Statistics said that even without the cold weather, growth would still have been at zero. Even when the figures are upgraded, the picture is still very gloomy – raising the distinct possibility of a ‘double dip’ recession – which would be catastrophic for the UK economy.
What practical implications would there be for the man on the street if there were indeed to be a double dip recession? There would undoubtedly be more job losses and pay cuts, and possibly more Bankruptcies and house repossessions as a consequence.
It would also have the effect of throwing the Government’s austerity plans for reduction in public spending into chaos as the backdrop for those cuts was for the private sector to take on the economic and jobs growth in place of the public sector. All that would be lost if we were to enter a further recession.
Anyway, that is enough of the depressing stuff. What (seemingly) really mattered news-wise yesterday was the sacking of Andy Gray from Sky Sports for sexual comments about a female assistant referee, or as Andy Gray might say – linesman. Surprisingly, this was actually the headline that greeted the nation yesterday teatime, rather than the catastrophic economic figures detailed above.
The big question is whether Andy Gray was actually guilty of gross misconduct and consequently liable for instant dismissal, or whether this was just a means to an end to get rid of a Sky employee who happens to be suing the News of the World in respect of their phone tapping controversy. (News of the World newspaper is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s news corporation as is Sky TV).
It certainly seems strange that the requisite evidence of his alleged sexism suddenly ‘came to the attention’ of his Sky bosses to allow them to issue the initial caution. Further footage then conveniently ‘materialised’ of further allegations of sexism, which allowed Sky to give him the boot.
Whether you believe in conspiracy theories or not, the fact remains Andy Gray has now left his Sky Sports post as a football pundit and it remains to be seen whether he may have a case for unfair dismissal. Maybe one for our Employment Law Solicitor, Victoria Mitchell to answer, or as Richard Keys may phrase it: “Has my mate Andy got a decent case, love?!’
What is clear, however, is that while football may not be as important as life and death, it is certainly more important that the economy!