Australian football coaches adept at diverting attention away from their poorly performing teams having nothing on Luton Town (otherwise known as the Hatters) manager Mike Newell, who presided over an “entertaining” press conference after his team crashed 2-3 at home to fellow Championship (the second tier of English football) strugglers Queens Park Rangers at the weekend.
Speaking to Sky Sports in the aftermath of the defeat, Newell questioned how the referee and his assistant missed a penalty appeal after one his players was brought down in the box at a critical juncture in the match. Nothing strange there.
But the difference here was that one of the officials in question was assistant referee Amy Rayner, one of the most successful female match-day officials in England. Not satisfied with just slagging off Rayner’s performance on this particular day, Newell went one step further and questioned the validity of female refs full stop.
“She shouldn’t be here. I know that sounds s-xist but I am s-xist,” Newell said. “This is not park football, so what are women doing here?
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
“We have a problem in this country with political correctness – bringing women into the game is not the way to improve refereeing and officialdom. If you start bringing in women you have big problems. It is tokenism for the politically correct idiots.”
Not quite your standard “one week at a time”!
But it didn’t end there. Warming to the task of turning what could have been a rather mundane press conference into his own personal soapbox, Newell decided to tip the bucket on his boss, Luton chairman, Bill Tomlins, who took over the club two years ago.
“The club has gone backwards off the pitch during the last two years,” Newell bravely ventured.
“He (Tomlins) has not made any decisions and he has contributed nothing. Everything he has got involved in, he has messed up. I will not suffer fools – I never have and I never will.”
Possibly not the wisest comments when your team is sitting perilously close to the relegation zone with just six wins from the first 17 matches.
While Newell has since apologised privately and publicly to referee Rayner, its these latter comments that could seal his fate, with the result of an emergency board meeting convened after his extraordinary outburst set to be known later this week.